The Taking Part – Why I love the process of travel

I love travel. Not just travel itself, but the process of travel.

There are many methods that can be taken. I am going to recount some of my personal favourites below.

Fly, sail, propel

By Plane

I had my first long-distance air flight in April 2012 on a flight from Dublin to New York. I was heading to Vermont to take part in an artist residency, and chose to detour through the metropolis. The compelling thing about air travel is the series of strange experiences associated with it. For example, the process of moving through an airport requires manners and behaviours that are bizarre in normal circumstances. Unlike other forms of public transport, arriving at an airport two hours before a flight is common practice, even when the flight itself will last less than 2 hours. Security checks, long cups of coffee, window-shopping for nothing in particular – each flight involves these unusual rituals Continue reading

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Filed under Travel, travel: adventures, travel: exploration, writing: opinion

Broadening The Mind – Flying machines and art

In Ancient Greek literature sudden and vast travel occurred regularly. As the nomadic and expansive ideas of the writers of that era sought to understand their world through travel they often created mystical methods of transcontinental journeying. Great waves tore Odysseus and his crew from his homeland, and the wings that Daedalus built helped him soar to freedom from his island prison. Airplane travel in the 20th Century led to unprecedented opportunities for travel and communication that mimic the adventurous nature of these fictional tales. If travel should broaden the mind then broader travel may have stretched the mind even further. The concept of travel has been broached across the arts, culminating in works in the late 20th Century and early this century that create a reality from the myth.

Sunset photograph of clouds from above, taken from an airplane

Visual artist Franz Ackermann has made a career from his indefinite nomadism, developing an exciting collection of paintings, photographs, drawings and installations that reflect the idea of skipping to and from urban locales Continue reading

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Filed under Art, art: contemporary, Travel, travel: culture, travel: exploration, writing: fiction, writing: opinion

“Blow In” – Nomadic ownership of place

“Sure, cried the tenant men, but it’s our land. We measured it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we killed on it, died on it…That’s what makes it ours – being born on it, working it, dying on it. That makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it.” – from John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939, p38

People move. In the 20th Century, with the invention of the aeroplane, people began to move faster and further than they ever could before. But moving place is something that people have always done. From nomadic cultures and tribes to those who have moved out of necessity (due to famine or crisis), people have always crossed borders and scrambled into unexplored areas in search of a place that they can be born in, work in, and eventually die in.

A photograph of clouds from above, taken from an aeroplane window

The landscape of clouds from an aeroplane window is a territory that we will probably never blow in as far as.

People also “blow in”: the dismissive term blow-in is regularly bandied about in Ireland and other countries to describe people who have moved into and settled in a town or village Continue reading

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Filed under travel: culture, travel: exploration, Words, writing: anthropology, writing: non-fiction, writing: opinion

Workshop of Pot*ntial Blogging – Avoiding using “E”

It is sad to think on how long ago MUW last had a post, but it is 2014 now, and activity will start again. Writing sank down a priority list in 2013, but is now kicking off with inspiration from a Franco-artistic group of authors, known as Oulipo. For this post, I will avoid all utilisation of that most common of all symbols in our vocabulary, “E” (apart from just now!). In illustrations using a book, film or author’s call-sign, a * will stand in for that infuriating symbol.

A graphic of the word lipogram surrounded by the letters E

A lipogram is a block of writing avoiding a particular symbol

From its foundation on 24 Nov 1960, Oulipo was a group that brought works of writing to our world with strict canons Continue reading

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Why I Write – Celebrating MUW’s 50th post

“[W]riting is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin. Writing is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away, the negative where all identity is lost, starting with the very idea of the body writing.” – Barthes, Image Music Text, p 142

Last year I took the time to read Why I Write by George Orwell. This book is a gem in the Orwell bibliography, mainly due to its often brutal honesty and informal tone. It reads like a diary, or like a blog. Orwell’s conclusion (in my own far too shallow words) was that he wrote to help people think differently about politics and society. Orwell’s goal was for people to understand how competition and greed make us worse as a species, and wanted people to see how working together is working toward a more utopic common goal.

Blogging is a relatively new phenomenon, developed in the 1980s by and for computer programmers and users Continue reading

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Filed under Words, writing: blogging, writing: opinion