6th April 2017
I walked from The Firs to The Rodd with a new companion called Instagram.
“Be open to the generative forces of Nature, Sergeant Howie,” said Christopher Lee to Edward Woodward in the Wicker Man; and I tried to be open to the ‘generative forces’ of social media, but for me, trying to record a walk with Instagram was, I imagine, like Brian Cox trying to write a Ladybird book on particle physics.
The series of images and videos I shared without thought or reflection; rather than generating the essence of the walk, reduced it to the point of, well, missing the point. Werner Herzog stated, “Facts do not convey truth.” I realise now that I have enjoyed the blur between fact and fiction in previous written accounts of my walks. I relish that the balance of imagination and experience in my walks is incalculable and perhaps even irrelevant. The ‘truth’ of a walk is not to be found in an evidence based record but in a leap between experience, imagination and reflection.
As I walked, I became increasingly resentful of today’s obsession (and my obligation to be part of it) with proving a ‘happening’ through digital recording and sharing. I have written before that I feel pivotal moments occur when the camera is switched off. I would go further and say that we shy away from recording pivotal moments because they are too uncomfortable and it is too painful to be reminded of them; the material is too raw to be faced without reflection.
There is a point on the walk when I turned the camera on myself and recorded a low-budget found-footage horror film sequence as I hide in the woods after skirting around a remote farm. I awoke last night embarrassed by my foolery but, on reflection, that action probably came closest to capturing the essence of the walk. The pressure of having to show and tell the walk in ‘real time’ had caused me to crack; to revert to that interesting place where reality and fantasy collide.
I think I will leave Instagram by the wayside next time I walk.