Ramblings pt. 2: Basic England

“Yet I suppose it was not like that at all really. One changes everything after by going over it”“But the real thing,” she said, getting her teeth into this, for she liked arguments… “the real thing is the picture you carry in your eye afterwards, surely? It can’t be what you can’t remember. Can it? “I don’t know” he said, “only the point about the blitz is this, there’s always something you can’t describe, and it’s not the blitz that’s true of. Ever since it happened I feel I’ve been trying to express all sorts of things”

-Henry Green, Caught 

If you have talked to me in the last year, you know I have an irrational attachment to Last July, my month in London. Pardon me for bringing it up again. While there I wrote a fragmented thing about my experiences up to that point. I quickly ran through the photos and jotted down the main points. I did this with the intention of having a partner piece, which would cover the happenings of the second half of the trip, featuring a full exposition of photographs, and even perhaps round off the month into a fine conclusion that is only possible through extrapolated hindsight. I haven’t done this for several reasons: the first being by inclination to procrastinate (I have yet to go through and post all of the pictures from a trip to Africa in 2013 lol); the second being an irrational fear of crystallizing and weaning my experience, which has been breathing and heaving as illusory nostalgia in my psyche. There is something sacred about going somewhere else; not quite there, but somewhere between gone and having been.

While in London I did everything you are supposed to do. So much of it was really very basic. In the spirit of a class over romantic novels places during World War II, we visited the Imperial War Museum and Winston Churchill’s War rooms and I obsessively read a poem called “In Distrust of Merits” by Marianne Moore, which asserts “There was never a war that was not inward; I must / fight till I have conquered in myself what / causes war.” I took another a class over Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and English homes, leading me to obsessively read Virginia Wolf, and join her “in thought through the streets of London feeling in imagination the pressure of dumbness, the accumulation of unrecorded life.” London brought the joy of learning and walking simultaneously—through the actual city and through neighboring countries—both literally and imaginatively. More than the actual city itself, London represents an uprooted-ness for me, one that recalls the joy found in portability, in other places and terrains. The same class took us to Chawton where we visited Jane Austen’s home and saw an original manuscript of one of her childhood plays, and to Chatsworth where we had high tea and consumed scones in bulk. The associations I have with London are appropriately dramatic, as they consist mainly of the joy discovered in inquiring of the relationship between lands and people and history and war, and an individual life to each; in short, the joy in the basic-ness of movement.

So Here I begin my complete ramblings, beginning with England. Ramblings of Amsterdam, Scotland, and back to London will follow soon!

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