Return to…

A return to Garner country is demanded. I will confess here what Mat already knows: I dream of Ludchurch and spend a lot of sleep time in Thursbitch.

It is unfulfilled business, I guess, that takes me back. While these chaps seem to have done the things we might have I am left feeling that there is more to do, more to say. Is this because I am looking for a “safe” way of looking at the experiences we had, a tame Analytic Autoethnography (Anderson, Journal of Contemporary Ethnograph, 2006: thanks to Jon Reid for the source)? Am I just fighting shy of the overwhelmingly evocative? Would categories and Digimaps tame our experience? A lengthy quotation follows, although I would discourage this in a student essay:

Evocative autoethnographers have argued that  narrative fidelity to and compelling description of subjective emotional experiences create an emotional resonance with the reader that is the key goal of their scholarship. The genre of auto ethnographic writing that they have developed shared postmodern sensibilities—especially the skepticism toward representation of “the other” and misgivings regarding generalizing theoretical discourse. Evocative autoethnography requires considerable narrative and expressive skills..

and these are skills beyond me, or maybe the hugeness of the experience simply dwarfs my skills.

It is as if (clumsy extended metaphor alert) I foolishly took up a challenge and find the Big Thing (Garner’s translation of þurs)  bigger and more humbling than I had expected, and the Gawain quest provides a suitable framework.



In the comfort of Camelot the quest was achievable, but in Thursbitch I found something- a project, an attraction, a something that cannot be reduced to analysis. I note Garner talks about the bigness of the þurs…  So this brings me to the ambiguity of the relationship between Thursbitch and Gradbach. In Ludchurch we met up with the big, slow awesomeness of the Green Knight, but just because it is big, is this Thing the þurs? My instant reaction is to say that if Ludchurch is safe, Thursbitch is danger, the Valley of the Living Dread in Erica Wagner’s tricksy phrase,  and for me maybe Ludchurch is (as I’ve said before) masculine, and Thursbitch, feminine: Sarastro and the Queen of the Night.  Lost on the moor, in the fog, lost in the folklore, and in some hinterland of Jung and Freud… Two different big things – lots of different big things – in my mind.

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