Our new read, listen and watch list is inspired by nature’s ability to enliven the senses, rouse our emotions and stir memory – weaving past with present.
A briny bite in the air, the coconut warm scent of gorse, the delicious sting of an icy mountain loch. Time spent on the fringes of land and water forges powerful sensory impressions that are hard to forget and harder to capture. So we’ve turned to the writers, artists and musicians that do it so well. Quieten your rational mind, take a deep breath and take yourself back…
The Living Mountain – Nan Shepherd
Nan Shepherd’s lyrical account of a life spent loving the Cairngorms captures better than most the bodily sensations of being in, and alive to, nature.
“The whole skin has this delightful sensitivity; it feels the sun, it feels the wind running inside one's garment, it feels water closing on it as one slips under – the catch in the breath, like a wave held back, the glow that releases one's entire cosmos, running to the ends of the body as the spent wave runs out upon the sand. This plunge into the cold water of a mountain pool seems for a brief moment to disintegrate the very self; it is not to be borne: one is lost: stricken: annihilated. Then life pours back.”
Fishpeople – Keith Malloy
From a free diver to a big wave surfer to an open-ocean swimmer, this beautifully told documentary meets people with an intimate relationship to water. Each of them embody what’s become known as Blue Mind theory – that being in and around water can be truly life-transforming, for body and mind.
Marcel Proust: À la Recherche du Temps Perdu – Backlisted Podcast
Proust’s seven volume ‘In Search of Lost Time’ is a famously perceptive and sensuous exploration of memory, except no one we know has read it. So, for the uninitiated (us included), this witty and insightful podcast is an accessible way in.
Resurrecting the Sublime
In search of a sensory connection to a lost past, artist Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, smell researcher and artist Sissel Tolaas, and a team of synthetic biologists at Ginkgo Bioworks create stunning installations that bring back the scent of extinct flowers.
Island Songs – Ólafur Arnalds
Journeying the wind-battered bays and mountain-sheltered inlets of Iceland, musician Ólafur Arnalds collects stories and collaborators in a film and album that paint portraits of lives lived on the shoreline.
The Peace of Wild Things – Wendell Berry
American novelist, poet, farmer and environmental activist Wendell Berry’s moving verse draws on his reverence for nature and the freedom of wild places. Read, reread and let his words linger on:
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.