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Monday, 20 April 2015

Wild - wilful and uncontrollable or miraculous and fecund?

I am reading Robert MacFarlane "The Wild Places".  It's a lovely book about a series of journeys that MacFarlane makes into the wilderness of the British isles.  Last summer I was reading Richard Mabey's book "Weeds" (which incidentally I have lost and had to buy again, so if any of you have it, it has my notes in it and I want it back!).  I was also drawing the wildflowers that I had met during last spring and summer.  I wrote that I liked the wildness rather than the tidy gardens of surburbia. This book had a great section on the etymology of the word "wild".  I will just quote from the book, because it illustrates where my thoughts are going so well.

"Ideas, like waves, have fetches. They arrive with us having travelled vast distances, and their pasts are often invisible, or barely imaginable. 'Wildness' is such an idea: it has moved immensely through time. And in that time, two great and conflicting stories have been told about it. According to the first of these, wildness is a quality to be vanquished; according to the second, it is a quality to be cherished." Robert MacFarlane "The Wild Places" (Granta).

The etymology is interesting, coming from German, Norse and pre-teutonic to mean "wilful or uncontrollable"

I googled it and there are many synonyms - barbarian, desolate, feral, ferocious, fierce, free, native, natural, neglected, savage, the list goes on.  Antonyms speak of Tories to me! civilised, controlled, delicate, gentle, manageable, tame.

Interestingly, wild in the 13th century meant "sexually dissolute and loose"!

In the US in 1955 the word was slang for "exciting or excellent".

Where I face my own demons: 

Going back to plants: I was in my garden looking at the Alkanet that springs up at the time of the year, absolutely all over.  Every year I fight with this plant and try to eradicate it from my garden by digging it up by the root.  I decided to listen to my own counsel and welcome this wildflower into my garden.  It has to be said the little cobalt blue flowers are very pretty and the bees apparently, love it.  Who was I to try and get the better of it?  And quite frankly I wasn't! I have left it for the bees and the hoverflies and the many other things that are attracted to it.   So I have been drawing Alkanet and finding out interesting things about it, which I will share later.  It's a bit hairy. Apparently the flowers look lovely in a salad.

 

Working on some sketches at the moment.


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