As the title of this post suggests, these are Phil’s notes rather than mine. He had meant to work them up more formally, but couldn’t find the time. Personally, I think they have an appealingly raw, performative energy even in their unvarnished state, so with Phil’s permission I’m posting them here alongside photos of my own. SB.
the Normans as non-racist colonialists
the abbey – a place of capital accumulation – the expansion of which generated a crisis in the 14th century (the manilla ring – holding the price of a slave in one’s hand – what is the equivalent here?)
origins in ascetic resistance – a riot that became a march/quest – the choosing of a bleak place
ENACT THE 13 REBEL MONKS – BLOK’S ‘THE TWELVE’ – IN THE SNOW REJOICING IN POVERTY – THEIR INITIAL REBELLION INSPIRED BY THE SIGHT OF A PROCESSION OF HUMBLE CISTERCIANS – BUT THEIRS WAS A FAILED UTOPIA AND THEY EVENTUALLY TURNED TO THE CISTERCIANS TO KEEP THEM GOING
every year a meeting in France – globalisation under Rome
birthplace of capitalism
not so sure we should jump to the assumption that these were Chaucerian figures (with a brothel over the hill) – what if they were Ayn Rand types worshipping the more ascetic and minimalist pleasures of power (the generator of pleasurable hypocrisy – the tension between the display of humility and the exercise of power through exchange and fastidiousness and accumulation)
INSTALL A RAILWAY THROUGH THE NAVE (a railway track was installed when the removal of rubble from the nave was effected – an early Pope Pius ordered the roofing of Christian places of worship – the establishment of interiority)
INSTALL A BMW IN THE NAVE (a pair of swans fly down the nave) vapour trails
RESTORE THE DIVISIONS OF THE NAVE – TODAY IT SUGGESTS A HUGE DEMOCRACY, REPLACE THE WALLS WITH GIANT CURTAINS
the attitude to nature – it is not a fixed ‘given’, but a gift, a tool – the river is redirected – floods – the past reasserting itself
“surprise” views – the engineering of ‘spontaneity’
the eighteenth century Serpentine Tunnel – this seems to be a symbolical device, for there is a moment when the tunnel twists cutting off light from the entrance and it is necessary to take a single step into pitch darkness in order to see the first glow of light from the other end of the tunnel… this is a suggestive of a spiritual or esoteric process – through darkness into the light. – Stephen, you called the tunnel “completely gratuitous” but I wonder if it is not part of a very carefully constructed symbolic machine…
ENACT A MASS INDUCTION THROUGH THE TUNNEL – FROM THE HIERARCHICAL LOOKING TO THE BRUTAL AFTERMATH OF CARNIVAL AROUND THE POOLS – DARKNESS INTO LIGHT – THE RITUAL OF THE EARTH’S MASS EXTINCTIONS … EVERYTHING COVERED IN ASH, A CRASH SITE
there is a hierarchy of looking – the gardens here have been constructed to be observed (from the Temple of Fame) – spied upon – from the upper path – taking pleasure in looking (the manilla ring – holding the price of a slave in one’s hand – what is the equivalent here?)
MASSIVE CHILDREN – HUGE PUPPETS OF MASSIVE CHILDREN – PLAYING AMONG SKELETONS – THE ABANDONED CHILDREN NINE MONTHS AFTER CARNIVAL… A PARTY IN THE TEMPLE OF VENUS, AND ORGY DRESSED UP AS PIETY
(it should be noted here that I am proceeding as usual with low level paranoia, over-explaining in order to contest the ideological over-determination of under-explanation)
CLEAR THE PATHS OF TALLER SHRUBS AND TREES – THE IDEA OF THE UPPER PATH IS THAT THE GEOMETRICAL PATTERNS FADE IN AND OUT OF ECLIPSE, THEY ARE MOON POOLS – USE PERFORMANCE SO THAT THE AMBULANT SPECTATOR BECOMES THE LOOKING-PERFORMER, SEEING THE DIFFERENT NATURES/HERITAGES/MOONS COMING INTO ECLIPSE
we are told that the micro climate is “more and more unpredictable” – this is a fascinating description… what records are there of predictions for this micro-climate… if none, then how subjective are such comparisons between weathers that might be characterised as unexpected (a storm) and those that are not (a grey overcast day), but may equally have been unpredicted? – the role of storytelling and narrative in the discourse of climate change.
“things never used to be like this” … there is an appealing quality to this, the idea that we live in unique times, it gives us importance and significance…
the political aspect to thinning the woods – is there a sentimental attachment to the individual tree that overrides concern for the wood as a whole? “the empathy paradox – closeness to individual stories can often limit grasp of a ‘bigger picture’”
– foresters were pleased and relieved when in 1987 so many trees blew down
“BEHOLD THE WOOD OF THE CROSS, BEHOLD THE IRON” (DEATH OF TREES, EFFECT OF INDUSTRY)
there’s a strange concept – the “wood as a whole”? do we resist that making ‘organic’ and ‘machine-like’?
is the wood a leaderless mass, a form of large scale slime-mould? Are the imagined as Ents? Or attractive stage scenery. Animosity to the appearance of a thinned landscape – is this animosity the result of the democratisation of the eighteenth century picturesque – that there is an assumption that a healthy wood will be picture-like?
the thinned forest is an assault on the fantasy of the thick impenetrable forest as the place of human origins, the fairytale, Vico… and yet rather than these sexual forests, some believe that deer may have restricted (thinned) the great forests of Europe – that the ‘primal forest’ is much more like today’s New Forest than the dark forest of the Grimm Brothers.
today the deer are giving birth later
there are honey bees about that may be a legacy of the monks’ bee-keeping
gardeners’ diaries… fund of climate information or seductive dramatic narratives?
we walk the site together –
there is the industrial-religious complex of the abbey. with its machine of hospitality, the hotel a mark of its influence – this great expense, but to have great trains of opinion-formers and policy-makers entertained, rulers and soldiers pacified – entertained and inducted, accommodated and accommodating
SET UP WHAT APPEARS TO BE A PERFORMANCE, BUT THAT IS “AN ECONOMY OF BELLS” – each hour marked out by duties – RE-ESTABLISH THE ORDER OF SAINT BERNARD OF PROGRAMMES – the raising and the lowering of gaze, the art of living by bells, compartmentalisation (as the prerequisite for mystical happening)
this is now a cleaned ruin – like an eighteenth century painting – where was the romantic, theatre of such ruins – after Shakespeare and the desolation of the heath, it would return in the popular horror-gothic adaptations – the icy wastes where Frankenstein dialogues with monster, the ruined castle of the vampire. there is a kind of ‘dread on a billiard table’ feel to these manicured ruins, the lawns around them are no less surreal than the green bathmat on which a stuffed bison once stood in Exeter’s museum …
the linkage between the abbey ruins and eighteenth century gardens (geometrical, symbolic, with its Temple of Venus (later changed to Piety!) – the Temple of Fame is made in wood, the Temple of Venus in stone… were we intended to draw some conclusion from this? Fame is temporary, but lust is eternal… I feel very uneasy in this area of linkage… I walk too quickly… I feel that I am being rushed by the landscape… I am being en-functioned…
it is a bad joke in reverse – the eighteenth century garden is an insincere contrition – in the guise of a work of art, it is a massive act of enjoyment and sensuality – it laughs at those who do not recognise it – it is elitist and esoteric (as if the misunderstood and romanticised Green Man in the abbey had begun to believe his own publicity and spread himself across the property)
“eyecatcher” – hmmm, that is too comforting
the Visitors Centre is incoherent – and this feeling of illegibility remains with me all the way down to the abbey ruins – the paths feel over-policed and enclosed… nothing begins the story of religious worship or commercial machine
PUT A RAILWAY THROUGH THE VISITORS CENTRE AND REMOVE THE RUBBLE THAT IS FILLING IT
there is no helpful direction into the abbey – one must make sense of it oneself… driven to the information boards… this is a rather helpful incoherence… as one struggles to picture the processes – aware that what remains may have been selected… selected ruins… ruin is not a natural process alone, there is choice, there is action, there is omission and commission…
“let’s see the killing of the deer”
NUMBERING THE TREES – USING THE LADDER USED WHEN SHOOTING PHEASANTS
EVERYDAY IN THE NT SHOP THERE IS A LECTURE ON THE POLITICS OF THE SHOP
THE NT SHOP SELLS BADGES OF CCTV CAMERAS – TO REMIND PEOPLE OF HOW THEY DISCIPLINE THEMSELVES – NOT SAFE, NOT FOR ME, NOT THE RIGHT WAY…
in protecting the tender feelings of the public, the Trust perpetuates an unrealistic narrative of their own management
what if we could see the excarnation of our own dead? (I recently came upon a huge pile of human ashes beneath a tree in a ‘local beauty spot’.)
the area around the ponds today is a democratised picturesque shorn of its ideas – and this is to destroy it entirely – the grotto had once had its hermit – the brain in the landscape – this spreads out and coats the rest of the complex (until it is disrupted by the banal policing and the commercial accretions of the Visitors Centre)
there are people in the wilderness, but they are not white, they are not industrialised, so they are invisible – the wilderness is empty… scenery for travellers… ‘natural’ as a kind of genoicide of the mind
re-wilding A DAY OF RUNNING ON ALL THE WALLS
wild by design (a neo-sublime) … will always be comical
wilderness – a place of wild beasts –
ecology: to preserve for future speculation/expropriation/exploitation
misreading tailored landscapes as “wildness”
after listening to John Fox, a strange Mister Punch-like character said to me – “I want to save the world, but I don’t want to be Barry Bucknall.” the set square, a shape in the cliffs – the freemasons’ symbol, the roof of masons buildings… MAKE A MASSIVE SET SQUARE AND PLACE IT IN THE GOUGE IN THE CLIFFS – rebuilding and fit the roof into the gouged shape – invite a Masonic lodge to meet there – in what sense is the abbey a simulacra (and a recreation) of an imagined and never existing Jerusalem?
this is the dark re-creation inside today’s recreation at Fountains Abbey
“THEY BUILT FOR ANGELS – DARK GEOMETRICAL ANGELS”
“THEY HAD A DIFFERENT IDEA OF THE FUTURE TO US”
“THE ANGELS THEY PAINTED AND CARVED ON THE WALLS HERE WERE THE FUTURE INHABITANTS”
there are assumptions about the righteousness and efficacy of the ‘idea of nature’ – but I cannot help thinking of the nature imagery of horror-dictatorships – of Ultima Thule and the Externsteine and the Eternal Forest and Ice Theory and the Hollow Earth… worries about what is “essential” (to protect and preserve)
Q: WHAT DOES THE PREY HAVE IN COMMON WITH ITS PREDATOR?
A: WHAT OTHER QUESTIONS RENDER ‘NOTHING’ AS THEIR ANSWER?
Q: WHAT DOES NOT THE MASTER HAVE IN COMMON WITH HIS SERVANT?
A: THE WOMAN.
Q: WHAT SENSE DOES ‘NATURE’ OR ‘HERITAGE’ MAKE WITHOUT GOD?
A: A PERFORMANCE ENTITLED ‘THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS…’
restore… but nowhere was “as it was”
ACKNOWLEDGE, SOMEWHERE, THE MALENESS OF THE ABBEY
we need a new kind of wild – a social wild – a machine wild – a virtual wild… thinking of the dangerous ‘jungle’ playground of Huxley’s Brave New World – so, must a new wild be some version of tourism… is that such a problem… an anti-tourism, a post-tourism…the precedents have been recorded, the models are already in place
A BETTER WILDING WOULD BE THE PREPARATION FOR CATASTROPHE – COMMUNAL PREPARATIONS THAT REVERSE EVERY DISASTER AND APOCALYPSE MOVIE TROPE
wilding as a hobby – the abbey as primitive capital accumulation – how can we communicate ‘more lightly’? (this worries me) – at home/our place – surely the two are one? –
PERFORMERS DRESSED AS PEREGRINES HUNT PERFORMERS DRESSED AS PIGEONS
PERFORMERS IN DEER COSTUMES, RUTTING, HUNGRY
Mike: “resisting the vertical” – falling things (challenge to ‘the vertical’) “bits that fall off” (without putting an importance or unimportance to that)
Mike: not “intervention” and “connect”, but ablative “in the shadow”, “beside”
ruin and anxiety = nostalgia
miniaturisation as a means to ‘holding’ values (I hold these values, I have a model in my pocket)
replace the National Trust with the Verfremden Trust – for Fountains Abbey is a place of ‘making separate’
a helicopter flies in Neptune – IN THE PERFORMANCES THERE IS MOSTLY SILENCE WITH AN OCCASIONAL NECESSARY PHRASE
“I’m part of the food chain”
what is it that migrates through all the species (memes?)
where do the accidents happen here?
the bound man being breast fed
better to shoot the deer than let them starve – in order to save the village it was necessary to destroy it (General Westmoreland)
FILL THE NAVE OF FOUNTAINS ABBEY FOUR FOOT DEEP WITH PLASTIC RUBBLE (a swirl in the centre of an ocean)
use the hotels to entertain “those responsible”
BUILD A CURTAIN BETWEEN THE ABBEY GROUNDS AND THE EIGHTEENTH CETURY GARDEN – A PORTAL (MARK THE CHANGE) … does the general visitor perceive the change or do they regard it all as a single entity (and what entity?)
“we will exploit you, but we will become you” (THE NON-RACIST COLONIALIST)
Chapel of Excuses: “I want to, but…”
PLACE 200 HUGE BOOKS IN THE ABBEY AND LET THEM SLOWLY ROT IN THE RAINS
the abbey as giant body… whale ribs
the monks had collectively owned breeches which they took out for travel and then returned to the collective ‘wardrobe’
white robes (of coarse undyed sheep’s wool) – put these on sale… the purchaser then takes a series of ecological vows – can only remove the robes when the vows have been fulfilled (by the world)
‘we are predicting the unpredictable’
install a whirligig on the river
BRING BACK THE HERMIT TO SIT AND THINK ABOUT NATURE ON BEHALF OF EVERYONE ELSE
DESIGNATE THE TRUST PROPERTY AS AN ARISTOCRATIC TEMPLE OF NATURE TO WHICH ONLY THE FIT AND YOUNG MAY HAVE ACCESS – CHANGE THE ENTRANCES TO AIRCRAFT FUSELAGES (being honest about travel)
rename the Deer Park as Venison Park
rename all the animals according to human usage of them – pigs become porks, horses become competitions (or exercises) , etc.
A WEEKEND – FOUNTAINS ABBEY IS CLOSED TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND OPENED TO ALL WHO WISH TO PARTICIPATE DESPITE THE WARNINGS
ON FRIDAY EVENING AND SATURDAY MORNING THERE IS BUILDING AND REBUILDING IN THE ABBEY, THE RE-ERECTION OF SCREENS, ASCETIC, BELLS, THE STRUCTURAL COMPOSITION OF BEHAVIOUR
ON SATURDAY EVENING THROUGH TO SUNDAY MORNING, THE UPPER PATHS ARE CLEARED OF OBSTRUCTIONS AND THE INITIATES FROM THE ABBEY ARE DIRECTED ALONG THE UPPER PATH, THROUGH THE TUNNEL, TO THE TEMPLE OF VENUS – PARTY AND BATHING – INDIFFERENCE – AROUND THE PONDS ARE NUMEROUS MOTHERS WITH BABIES- THEY CREATE A SERIES OF GEOMETRICAL DANCES, SLOW WAX AND WANE
ON SUNDAY MORNING TO SUNDAY EVENING – THE GENERAL PUBLIC ARE ONCE MORE ALLOWED ENTRANCE TO THE GROUNDS – THE WORK IS ON SHOW IN THE ABBEY – THE DETRITUS OF THE PARTY IS ELEGANTLY CLEARED AWAY – THE INITIATES/PARTYGOERS ARE DRESSED AS DEER AND LIVE AS DEER IN THE DEER PARK
deer births are coming later