Jessica Gregson’s blog

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Change of pace

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I spent last night with three friends and a dog at Sanctuary, a 24-hour arts festival in the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park. Unfortunately we were under several layers of cloud, so there were no stars to be seen (though apparently on a clear night, the Milky Way is visible), but in some ways the way the heavy skies intensified the darkness added to the atmosphere. We drove down in a state of increasing hysteria, clouds low on the hills and isolated houses giving the whole thing a sinister feel, and before too long literally everything that came out of our mouths sounded like a scripted line from an extremely self-referential horror film. Happily we avoided being murdered, and spent a cheerful and bemused few hours stumbling through muddy fields, Looking at Art. The definite highlight for me was Yann Seznec’s Ritual, which paired lit candles with recordings of people’s prayer requests: my friend and I blew out all the candles but one and squatted silently in the tent for five minutes, listening to a man requesting prayers for his ill uncle. I also loved Martin O’Neill’s Will o’ the Wisp: a simple idea (projected words + smoke) that felt properly magical – and Hide, which let us listen to forest sounds through headphones; this was particularly atmospheric as it was set quite far away from the rest of the festival, requiring a long, lonely walk down a boggy path lit only by our torches, moving slowly towards a little circle of fairy lights in the darkness.

Things are changing a little around here. After many years of living abroad, and the last three years of extreme peripateticism, I have enrolled in a masters’ degree at Glasgow University and am seeing how it feels to be at home for a while, staying in one place, living in the place where I have theoretically lived since early 2011, but where I have probably never spent more than a maximum of three weeks at a stretch. I got back just over a week ago, after six weeks or so of backpacking around South East Asia and the Pacific (posts, possibly, forthcoming), coming right on the back of the Camino (ditto), and I am vacillating wildly between the novelty and excitement of not having to go anywhere, getting to have a routine and make plans weeks in the future because I know I am going to be here – and a predictable sense of dislocation and confusion and loss of identity: because if I am not bouncing around dangerous places and working on the floor of airports and scraping adventurous holidays out of conveniently located long weekend, who even am I? Right now I am quite enjoying the discomfort of it, watching my reactions with a degree of detachment, but a number of my friends have predicted that I will have a full-blown freak-out sometime in the next six to eight weeks. We will see.

I’m going to try and use this blog as a way of focusing myself on exploring my city and my country in a way that I’ve always (claimed I) wanted to, but have never actually managed. Perhaps not so exciting and glamorous as the itinerant existence I’ve had for the past several years, but novelty is novelty and exploration is exploration, even if the scale is somewhat different. We will see how it goes.

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Written by Jess

September 24, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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