READ | Pathways and wayfaring

Posted on 15/03/2013


For my current research on Fieldworking, I am reading various works on walking. Several tabs are open on my browser as I flip between key texts to develop the framework for the project: Art of Fieldwork, Mental Maps, Ways of Walking

This morning, and pursuant to my earlier post about pathways, sites and territories, I’ve stumbled on a collection of Tim Ingold’s essays, Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. A review written by Sharon Blackie and published by Earthlines reveals that wayfaring, as an unending process, is a core concept for Ingold and is “the fundamental mode by which living beings inhabit the earth”. Wayfaring and pathways are fundamental to being human and becoming:

In the context of developing his ideas about movement, Ingold discusses ‘dwelling’, a term and concept usually attributed to philosopher Martin Heidegger, originating from his 1951 lecture ‘Building Dwelling Thinking’ (published in Poetry, Language, Thought, 1971). You can’t read a work of academic criticism on eco-literature, it seems, without running right into Heidegger and dwelling: Heidegger has become the darling of the ecocritics. But Ingold would have us believe that Heidegger’s statement of what it is to ‘dwell’ on the earth misses a key point: for Ingold, dwelling is ‘literally, to be embarked upon a movement along a way of life.’ For him it is not, as Heidegger suggests, to be in place, but to be along paths. The path, and not the place, is the primary condition of being – of becoming.

He also explores a concept ‘meshwork’, as a distinction from network: “The web of life is not a network of connected points, but a meshwork of interwoven lines”. Seriously beautiful. Blackie also notes that “Ingold’s world also is a storied world”, which helps me explore the Fieldworking process as storying, pathmaking and wayfaring. In turn, this leads me to consider Long Time, No See? as a storying of the world for futuring … Or, as discussed with Luke J this week, a storying of the world for a future that matters.

The idea of wayfaring is compelling as I consider some gender implications of this: for Long Time, No See? I’ve developed a process of pathmaking which plays out along a narrative arc for making futuring possible. I had, in my earlier post about my recent surgery (recovering well by the way for those who have kindly inquired – thanking you) asserted women’s lives and stories as epic, contoured and worldly. Women ARE wayfarers and storytellers: this is multifold. My reference to Tracey B’s current work and her retracings of past work recognises gendered wayfaring.

Another find from this morning’s early rising is Ben Woodward’s On an Ungrounded Earth: Towards a New Geophilosophy.