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Bad Weather and Glorious Views – (some foughts)

August 20, 2013

PICT2126I’ve always had cause to reconsider my experience of growing up in Cornwall – you can take the boy out of the county but not the county out of the boy etc… yadda yadda.

I have always failed to summarise this essential attitude that seems to pervade much of the Cornish being – previously, the best I could come up with is a curious ‘contentedness’ with their meagre lot. A brash humility, not necessarily humble contentment, but a brackish contentedness… a rough softness… a sugary saffron bun on a salty sea wall.

The steam engine and 3000 foot shafts were Cornish…
At sea, the most dangerous civilian job in the UK was Cornish…
The lichen and moss (soft silky) that coats many a granite outcrop is “Cornish”…
Causley’s Tim Winters was/is essentially Cornish…

Cornwall is the the second poorest place in the UK. It’s a place of contrasts: with expensive yachts and luxury second homes for Tarquin and Jessica’s summer sojourn, a place of union-jack shorts, Carlsberg nites, plastic buckets and chicken nuggets for Vince and Pat. It’s a place of community eating and religious feasting. It’s a place of craft and art as well as back-of-a-lorry markets. It was a place of place of warm chapels and cold pews. It was my home. It has a deep rich if damp past and an unknown future. Fantastic weather and a harsh climate.

Moving on from ‘contentedness’, I have recently reconsidered the notion of ‘reverence’.

In her book “An Altar in the World”, Barbara Brown Taylor, quotes Paul Woofruff “To forget that you are only human… to think you can act like a god – this is the opposite of reverence” Reverence – a virtue that keeps people from trying to act like gods. Barbara says “While most of us live in a culture that reveres money, reveres power, reveres education and religion, Woodruff argues that true reverence cannot be for anything that human beings can make or manage by ourselves. By definition, he says, reverence is the recognition of something greater than the self – something that is beyond human creation or control, that transcends full human understanding.”

My recollection of the Cornish world-scape recalls a sustaining reverence. The land sea and sky are so much bigger, the engineering and raw-material trades are harsh, the summer sun burns harder and brighter than man’s endeavour.

The Cornish love of music is another essential quality that I have always lived with.
Moving ‘up to England’ and losing touch with a ‘contented reverence’, I similarly found that a love of real music can be lost in the manufactured world that we find ourselves consumed by.
Bjork and David Attenborough recently discussed that essentially “singing is more fundamental to us than speaking”, and notions of the sublime, symmetry, transcendence, simplicity.
Musical expression is essential to human life? Live music, sound, reverberates, resounds, emotion… Song and rhythm agitate energy that can lift and stir…
Can I posit that feeling is more fundamental than thinking?…

The combination of emotional expression and an essential reverence, now there’s a thought.

Bad Weather and Glorious Views (just some foughts)

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2 Comments
  1. August 20, 2013 9:53 pm

    Just bought “an altar in the world” – not started it yet

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