Sunday, January 21, 2007

Urbanicide

Parts of this article will appear in 'Why Lawyers Should Surf'' (co-authored with Dr Michelle Tempest) which is now available on Waterstone's website here or can be ordered from XPL Publishing on 0870 079 8897 (p&p is included). Extracts from the book can be found here. To see a review of the book in The Independent click here.

One of the most universally accepted factors connected with happiness is that of nature in all its wildness. Whether this is because it is a revelation of God or because it is simply an escape from the noise of the towns is a matter of opinion. In St. Exubery’s words about flying, “it releases [one’s] mind from the tyranny of petty things.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh in Gift from the Sea said:

“Rollers on the beach, wind in the pines, the slow flapping of herons across sand dunes, drown out the hectic rhythms of city and suburb, time tables and schedules. One falls under their spell, relaxes, stretches out prone. One becomes, in fact, like the element on which one lies, flattened by the sea; bare, open, empty as the beach, erased by today’s tides of all yesterday’s scribblings.”

A phrase we often use is that of feeding the soul. We look out to sea and the feeling is almost visceral. Like a filling up of the spiritual tank. In On Whales, Roger Payne describes it in this way:

“I believe there is something akin to a substance that flows into one’s being from the wild that cannot be seen or measured…but which is nevertheless very real and very important to mental well-being. It is a sort of celestial phlogiston, which comes from flowers and vast beaches and deserts and oceans populated by species other than our own. This substance restores souls and sets minds straight, and rebuilds moralities, and cleans up the wrack and wreck and rust that we generate by endlessly rubbing against our fellow humans. It is the substance that is drained entirely out of city dwellers until they are a hollow husk of the full ripe ear of their pastoral ancestors. In this husklike state, urban humanity falls prey to such things as heart attacks, hypertension, stroke, and addictions to violence, drugs, and God knows what – a syndrome I’ll call urbanicide. It is a kind of self-destruction by reason of nervousness, an aggressive state that is sometimes hastened by disconnection from the fountain of nature.”

The picture above is of my Dad and it has appeared in both The Independent and The Daily Telegraph newspapers in articles about him in his role as Rob the Rubbish.

2 comments:

Mr Pineapples said...

Tim...if your dad is called "Rob the Rubbish" does this mean that you have a Welsh heritage?

Tim Kevan said...

Only to the extent that my Dad lives in Llanwrtyd Wells in Mid-Wales.