Words hold the power to shape our sense of place. And it is with this idea in mind that renown nature writer Robert Macfarlane pens an evocative piece for The Guardian. In it, he stresses the importance of rebuilding the lexicon of landscape.
In the tradition of John Muir and others, Macfarlane’s work is based on observations made during walking journeys. His new book, Landmarks, will be published in March 2015. Landmarks is described as “a field guide to the literature of nature,” and includes the language of working landscapes, such as farms.
“Yet it is clear that we increasingly make do with an impoverished language for landscape. A place literacy is leaving us. A language in common, a language of the commons, is declining. Nuance is evaporating from everyday usage, burned off by capital and apathy. The substitutions made in the Oxford Junior Dictionary – the outdoor and the natural being displaced by the indoor and the virtual – are a small but significant symptom of the simulated screen life many of us live. The terrain beyond the city fringe is chiefly understood in terms of large generic units (“field”, “hill”, “valley”, “wood”). It has become a blandscape.”