The logos industry
On Wednesday the 7th November I will be giving a talk called ”Sung through the forest mirror’: the forest echo and modern British poetry’, at the Writing Sound symposium at Oxford Brookes University, bringing together sound theorists, musicians, and scholars. (The quote in the title is from Eric Mottram’s A Book of Herne – a musical setting of which by John Kenny is online here.)
This is following up on an aspect of the PhD research for my forest chapter, ‘the logos industry’, which considers various genealogies of thought around language and the forest, from the imposing of a global fixed language for forestry (starting with the publication of the Terminology of Forest Science Technology Practice and Products in 1971, which Anthony Barnett has reworked in A Forest Utilization Family and Forest Poems), and the modern histories of forestry dictionaries. The struggle for a uniform terminology for forestry – which Judith Tsouvalis has addressed in her work on language and forestry classification and specifically the term ‘ancient woodlands’, and Matthias Buergi has written on in a Swiss context – is countered with literary troping of the forest as a space of linguistic otherness, whether it is in Ciaran Carson’s writing on translation (particularly ‘Whose woods these are’ and For All We Know), Derrida’s writing on Francis Ponge’s Notebook of the Pinewoods, proper naming, and the forest, Walter Benjamin on the translation echo in the Bergwald der Sprache, Paul Valery’s ‘dialectical hunt’ in the forest of language, Caroline Bergvall’s various Dante wood translations in ‘Via’, Susan Howe’s garbling of Thoreau in her ‘Thorow’ sound recordings and visual texts, Edmund Hardy’s re-adaptation of the oral history Echoes of Epping Forest in his babble of human history ‘A Forest Set’, or Jeff Hilson’s use of obsolete terms for leases and customary rights in In The Assarts, which on the first page declares ‘Sometimes I think we all need a little forest glossary’. (And he in fact draws several references from the Langton and Jones online glossary, from the project Forests and Chases of England and Wales, c. 1000 to c. 1850.) I’m hoping to get in a few sounds too – some transmissions set in the forest, such as the radio installation which was part of the Charter of the Forest arts weekend in Nottinghamshire – and some of the musical references of echo in Peter Riley’s ‘call of the forest’ in ‘Reader. Lecture. Author.’
Last week I presented ”Time spirals out of seed’: dendrochronology and modern British poetry’, at ASLE-UKI‘s annual conference, Composting Culture: Literature, Nature, Popular Culture, Science, and Harriet Tarlo mentioned that the slides themselves were of interest – so I am posting a few online here.
On an unrelated note (while I am posting), ASLE-UKI have just launched their new open blog, while the Literary Geographies resource site and blog has had a preliminary meeting regarding the setting up of a new network, where we discussed the potential of a new journal, of a series of three conferences, and of a meeting addressing the pedagogies of literary geography.