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Landscape and Memory: cultural landscapes, intangible values and some thoughts on Asia KEN TAYLOR Research School of Humanities The Australian National University Canberra ACT 0200 Australia k.taylor@anu.edu.au Abstract One of our deepest needs is for a sense of identity and belonging. A common denominator in this is human attachment to landscape and how we find identity in landscape and place. Landscape therefore is not simply what we see, but a way of seeing: we see it with our eye but inte
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  1 Landscape and Memory: cultural landscapes, intangible values and somethoughts on Asia KEN TAYLOR   Research School of HumanitiesThe Australian National UniversityCanberra ACT 0200 Australia k.taylor@anu.edu.au Abstract One of our deepest needs is for a sense of identity and belonging. A commondenominator in this is human attachment to landscape and how we find identity inlandscape and place. Landscape therefore is not simply what we see, but a way of seeing: we see it with our eye but interpret it with our mind and ascribe values tolandscape for intangible – spiritual – reasons. Landscape can therefore be seen as acultural construct in which our sense of place and memories inhere. Critical to this has been the increasing attention given to the study of cultural landscapes, even to theextent of recognition in 1992 of World Heritage Categories of outstanding culturallandscapes. The paper explores some of the associated ideas of landscape and memoryand how landscape permeates much of our thinking of who we are with some focus onAsia as the cultural landscape idea gains ground in this region of the world. ‘Any landscape is a condition of the spirit’ Henri Frédéric Amiel 1Landscape is … Landscape is a ubiquitous word in English and other European languages withsrcins in Anglo-German language dating back to c.500AD in Europe. Thewords – landskipe or landscaef  – and the notions implied were taken to Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers (Jackson 1984). The meaning was a clearing in theforest with animals, huts, fields, fences. It was essentially a peasant landscapecarved out of the srcinal forest or weald  , i.e. out of the wilderness withinterconnections to patterns of occupation and associated customs and ways of doing things. Landscape from its beginnings therefore has meant a man-madeartefact with associated cultural process values. Here is an holistic view of landscape as a way of seeing – its morphology resulting from the interplay between cultural values, customs and land-use practices – recently criticallyexplored by Wylie (2007); it is what Olwig (2007) calls ‘an active scene of  practice.’It also has, as Jackson (1984 op cit  ) indicates, the equivalent meaning inLatin based languages – with antecedents like Germanic and other languagesharking back to the Indo-European idiom – derived from the Latin  pagus ,meaning a defined rural district. He notes that this gives the French words  pays  2and  paysage , but that there are other French words for landscape including campagne  deriving from champagne  meaning a countryside of fields; theEnglish equivalent once being ‘champion’.But what is ‘landscape’?, and what are its connections with humanmemory? On the first question I want to quote from two of the mid-twentieth pioneering teachers of landscape study, J B Jackson and W G Hoskins. Jackson(1984, op cit  p.8) in his reflections on what landscape is quotes what he calls‘the old fashioned but surprisingly persistent definition of landscape : “A portion of the earth’s surface that can be comprehended at a glance.” ’ He sawlandscape as ‘A rich and beautiful book [that] is always open before us. Wehave but to learn to read it.’(Jackson 1951). Hoskins (1955, p.14) asserted thesignificance of landscape in The Making of the English Landscape  with proposal that ‘The ... landscape itself, to those who know how to read it aright isthe richest historical record we possess.’What Hoskins and Jackson were contending was the modern foundationfor landscape study. This is where landscape is not looked on as simply a pretty picture or as a static text: rather it is the expression of landscape as cultural process (Robertson & Richards 2003). This is the essence of what Mitchell(1994, p,1)) sees as part of a ‘process by which … identities are formed’. Theconnections, therefore, between landscape and identity and hence memory,thought, and comprehension are fundamental to understanding of landscape andhuman sense of place. In this vein of seeing and comprehending is Milton’scomment on a piece of landscape in 1632: Streit mine eye hath caught new pleasuresWhilst the Lantskip round it measures .But memory of landscape is not always associated with pleasure. It can be associated sometimes with loss, with pain, with social fracture and sense of  belonging gone, although the memory remains, albeit poignantly. MargaretDrabble (1979, p.270) in  A Writer’s Britain: Landscape in Literature  referringto Virginia Woolf’s sense of loss of a loved place vividly expresses thisemotional sense of landscape lost: The past lives on in art and memory, but it is not static: it shifts and changes as the present throws its shadow backwards. The landscapealso changes ,but far more slowly; it is a living link between what wewere and what we have become. This is one of the reasons why we feel  such a profound and apparently disproportionate anguish when a loved landscape is altered out of recognition; we lose not only a place, but ourselves, a continuity between the shifting phases of our life. 2Attractive, important, and ambiguous term Thirty years ago Donald Meinig (1979, p.1) proposed that ‘Landscape is anattractive, important, and ambiguous term  [that] encompasses an ensemble of ordinary features which constitute an extraordinarily rich exhibit of the courseand character of any society’ and that ‘Landscape is defined by our vision andinterpreted by our minds.’(p.2). In other words, to understand ourselves we  3need to look searchingly at our landscapes for they are a clue to culture (Lewis1979), and our ordinary everyday landscapes at that, not just the national icons.Images of landscape are evident in a remarkable range of our creations:literature, poetry, paintings, ceramics, tapestries and weaving, myths, gardens,cultural activities, films, television documentaries, travel material, maps,advertising . We laud our virtues and achievements through iconic landscapeimagery, often forgetting that equally the ordinary everyday landscape reflectsdeeply who we are and is a storehouse of private and collective memories. Inthis vein Jane Austen (1816), in the novel  Emma , has her see a ‘sweet view,sweet to the eye and the mind. English verdure, English culture, Englishcomfort, seen under a bright sun, without being oppressive.’In the seventeenth century in Europe, particularly England, the idea of landscape was supplemented and enriched when it became associated withlandscape paintings, including the Dutch realistic landscap ( lantskip in English)school and the imaginary Italianate School history paintings of artists such asClaude Lorrain with figures set in idealised pastoral scenes. Particularly throughthe latter genre landscape and scenery as an idealised representation of nature became fused. Here, as John Dixon Hunt (1992) suggests, was landscaperendered ‘fit for human consumption.’ Landscape as idea and entity was thusreinforced, importantly, in the western mind as the meeting point of culture andnature. A meeting point that had existed in the eastern mind in a tradition going back a thousand years as can be seen in Chinese landscape paintings.Western landscape art since the Renaissance has focussed substantiallyon portraying landscape reality even when the landscape portrayed is symbolicas in the Italianate School genre. In contrast, eastern landscape art has oftenfocussed more on imaginary landscapes as in Chinese landscape art (andliterature) where, over one thousand years ago at the end of the Tang Dynasty(618-907 CE), a deconstruction of material nature was taking place. This wasaccompanied by a representation of nature which ‘began to express its morespiritual side. Appearances became less important and spiritual reality emergedas the main focus … paintings became more and more abstract andsymbolic.’(Feng Han 2006; Gong 2001)). In this way, Chinese depictions of nature – cultivated landscapes – were expressions of the mind and heart of theindividual artist rather than of the real world, reflections of human beliefs andemotions (Metropolitan Museum of Art 200). Even so, the often seeminglyfantastic renditions in these landscapes do reflect the hauntingly beautifulshapes seen in Chinese landscapes. Nevertheless both forms, eastern andwestern, represent subjective notions of an ideal, perhaps illusive, nature.We see and make landscapes as a result of our shared system of beliefsand ideologies. In this way landscape is a cultural construct, a mirror of our memories and myths encoded with meanings which can be read and interpreted.Simon Schama (1995, pp.6/7) in  Landscape and Memory contends that:   Before it can ever be the repose for the senses, landscape is the work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as fromlayers of rock.  4In contrast in the nineteenth century the concept of landscape becameimbued with nationalistically religious and then scientific associations inEurope and the USA. In the latter it was particularly linked to the construct of wilderness or wild nature as Roderick Nash (1967) explores in Wilderness and the American Mind.  The ultimate wilderness experience was one of solitude: people and their trappings spoiled landscape in this image. We saw the zenith of this ideology in the 1980s and 1990s where nature and culture were regarded bysome natural heritage lobbyists in the western tradition as antithetical. At theextreme, people were not part of nature and landscape was not seen as a culturalconstruct. It acquired objective scientific meaning. It was part of the movementwhere conservation causes, such as wilderness, [are] symbolic of hopes for newhuman-environment relationships predicated on revaluing nature (Russell1993). Yet in this proposition, wilderness like all ideas of landscape, is acultural construct, a product of the mind framed by ideologies and experience.‘Landscape is memory, there is no unmediated perception of nature.’ (Ignatieff 1995). Even in so-called wilderness areas such as Yosemite or examples inAustralia there is ample evidence of human occupation and manipulation of thelandscape particularly by fire. In this sense, then, I contend that all landscape iscultural landscape. 3Intangible values and landscape A common theme underpinning the concept of the ideology of landscape itself as the setting for everything we do is that of the landscape as the repository of intangible values and human meanings that nurture our very existence. This iswhy landscape and memory are inseparable because landscape is the nervecentre of our personal and collective memories. Notably in this regard are thewords of Bambang Bintoro Soedjito (1999), then Deputy Chair for Infrastructure with the Indonesian National Development Planning Agency,who suggested in 1999 that:  For us, the most important expressions of culture at this time are not themonuments, relics and art from the past, nor the more refined expressions of cultural activity that have become popularised beyond  Indonesia’s borders in recent years, but the grassroots and very locally specific village based culture that is at the heart of the sense of community. And that sense of community, perhaps more that of theindividual has been a strong shaping and supportive influence in timesof trouble, through turbulence and now in strengthening a confident  sense of identity as we combine heritage with a society opened to theopportunities of the world  .Soedjito’s sentiment on expressions of everyday heritage linkscomfortably with current international notions of the significance of culturallandscapes and ideas of the ordinarily sacred. Pivotal to this is the realisationthat it is the places, traditions, and activities of ordinary people that create a richcultural tapestry of life, particularly through our recognition of the values people attach to their everyday places and concomitant sense of place andidentity. Identity is critical to a sense of place –  genus loci  – for people. Relph
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