Friday, 18 November 2011

a field student of Blake, Bunyan and Defoe stays at a bug hotel

As Field Study's Man in E17, I made for home via the ravines and gullies of Bunhill Fields; some of the time being the size of a blood sucking tick tucked away in the tunic of the pilgrim, Christian. I waited to latch on to any unsuspecting psycho-geographers who had come to pay their respects to the fore-fathers of their discipline. Would they rub up to me? Many years ago, while at college, I attended a slide show and talk by a visiting lecturer. He was influenced by tombstones and memorials and had been to Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris where Oscar Wilde is buried. The slides included an image showing how pilgrims to Wilde's tombstone had rubbed at the genitalia of the statuesque angel; the gesture rendering them distinctly polished. Along with the lipsticky kisses and graffiti the devotion overall has caused some distress to the family of Oscar Wilde. Back in Bunhill Fields there was, thankfully, no evidence of such attention at the tomb of John Bunyan and I was there in a strictly platonic vampiric nonsense. I continued my journey, a blood thirsty creepy crawl, across the way to where William Blake and Daniel Defoe are remembered.

Tomb of John Bunyan at Bunhill Fields.

Merlin Coverley sees Daniel Defoe as the provider of 'the prototype psychogeographical report' - this being, A Journal of the Plague Year. I considered paying imaginary gothic homage to Defoe in the form of a flea in order to make a thematic connection with the source of the plague of 1665; fleas (on rats) carrying Yersinia pestis - the bacterium that causes bubonic plague. I opted instead for an arachnid - the tick, another purveyor of horrible pestilence. I made a link to The Guardian, so in the interests of non-bias here is a link to a report from The Daily Mail which tells of an invasion of blood sucking ticks able to induce (hypothetically) a mass outbreak of hallucinations. This seems to be a rather prosaic psychogeographical scenario here in the shadow of Defoe's grimy memorial. The grime, perhaps from traffic pollution, has rendered the inscriptions all most unreadable. I was tempted to rub them clean but thought better of it. 

Tomb of Daniel Defoe at Bunhill Fields

Attention to the grave of William Blake was less gaudy than that for the tomb of Oscar Wilde although a person or persons had left an assortment of items on the stone (17/11/2011) perhaps as a part of a ritual gathering around the stone to remember and celebrate his life. The things appeared innocent enough.

Gravestone of William Blake at Bunhill Fields
(the actual grave is a short distance away)

As Field Study's Man in E17 I've had cause to think about dance recently, in particular, the painting, La Danse II, by Henri Matisse. When applying for a job as an art teacher I was required to give a lesson on the theme of movement. La Danse II was one of the images I presented in a slide show. I was asked by some of the students why the figures had to be (or were) naked. I began to answer while also thinking of how I might creatively turn the question on the students so they might give their insights. I faltered as I realized my interpretations were potentially contrary to the edicts of the Islamic faith of the students asking the question - a situation for which I was not prepared. Having attended the DV8 performance, Can We Talk About This?, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, I have been reflecting on relevant situations in which I have censored myself. I was interested to read Matisse may have been influenced by Blake's, 'Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing' . Blake's figures are less raw and more diaphanous. William Blake produced a body of works based on Dante's Divine Comedy, for which there seems to be a complex relationship with early Islamic philosophy. I do wonder how Blake's depiction, (along with many others) of Muhammad in the 'Sowers of Discord' could be appropriate in a setting where I feel compelled not to offend. A picture I think more closely related to La Danse is Lucas Cranach the Elder's, The Golden Age - click on this link to view some painstakingly protected modesty.   

Scuttling quickly on, as darkness began to close in on Bunhill Fields I wondered where a creep and crawly such as I might find safe haven in that neighbourhood?

Field Study's Man heading for E17 can recommend the 'bee boutique' having spent a night there snuggled up with all sorts of fellow spineless creepy crawlies.

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