“The immensity of Durham Cathedral engulfs the wanderer within a great wilderness of towering stone.”
– Peter Ackroyd, Foundation
When travelling with a loved one, there’s a certain sense of excitement at the chance to share a beloved haunt. This is how I felt about bringing Kristen to Durham Cathedral.
I can still remember the overwhelming sense of awe I felt the first time I visited this beautiful building. I was just me and my Dad, my friend choosing to stay at the hotel for a nap. Spending time alone with my Dad was a treat, one exciting enough to make me want to talk non-stop, but my usual unending stream of senseless conversation was suddenly halted when we turned the corner and I was faced with the soaring stone towers of the cathedral.
Come to think of it, maybe that’s why Dad had suggested the visit in the first place: to earn some peace and quiet for a few moments.
“They say it is the first step that costs the effort. I do not find it so. I am sure I could write unlimited ‘first chapters’. I have indeed written many.”
Wow, I’ve been sitting on this one for a while. I agree with Tolkien… Beginnings are easy, endings on the other hand? And so, for the past few weeks, I’ve written us out of York 5 or 6 times. None of them felt appropriate.
I’ve finally settled on something – it’s a little different from the novellas that were the last few posts. But, well, here goes.
– Latin phrase commonly attributed to Julius Caesar
Photo Credit: Kristen
Well, it took about two months longer to get here than it did in reality but finally…Kristen and I reached the York City Walls.
And a glorious sight they were.
One of the incredible things about the UK, and most of Europe come to think of it, is how extraordinarily interactive their large-scale historical attractions are.
Unless you’re visiting an art museum in which most of the works of art are in constant danger of being damaged beyond repair, the historical enthusiasts and authorities alike across-the-pond are remarkably supportive of proactive exploration.
“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.”
My writing desk at home…Where these posts are drafted!
It’s a funny thing, writing. You can do it for days and days at a time and enjoy every minute of it and yet at some point you need to leave the comfort of your literary reveries – often just for a couple of hours – to take a deep, rejuvenating breath of real life’s fresh air.
Admittedly, I spent much of the holidays taking deep, frequent, even greedy breaths of the free air and I’ve been rather reluctant to dive back in to the chasm – both wondrous and intimidating – of the writer’s mind. But I am back. Truly. These posts should become much more frequent.
Wow this post was a long time coming. I actually started it on the 16th of June if you’ll believe it and suddenly a month had passed and an ocean and half a continent had been crossed before my thoughts returned to the quiet beauty of Wicklow National Park. I’m hoping the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to visit the county 3 times in my life will make writing this from memory easier so lets see how this goes. I have a feeling this will end up a 2-part post.
History, “(must) first ‘die’ in the heads, hearts, and bodies of the affected, before it can rise as knowledge like a phoenix out of the ashes of experience.”
-Aleida Assmann as quoted by Alexander von Plato
This post is about a week and a half in the making and was inspired by those very same academic readings that actually kept me from writing it for so long.
But getting back to this wonderful turn of phrase, the image of history as knowledge rising from the ashes like a phoenix admittedly got my heart racing a little and immediately set me down the never-ending path of the perpetual question from those perplexed people whose pulses do not quicken when they read an historical passage (or, apparently, for super nerds – read a passage about the passage of history…).