Saturday, 25 October 2014

Porthleven II

Further facts about my Porthleven responses

1) According to local resident Vic Strike, there have been multiple Jack Williams's who've lived in Porthleven - at one time there were so many that to identify which Jack Williams you were referring to, you'd identify them by which side of the river they came from. The Jack Williamses from Breageside were nicknamed Jack Bill, and the Jack Williamses from Sithneyside were named Jack Bruno.
This is why the leading lady in Home is called Jack (Jackie Williams being her full name).

Porthleven is divided into two parishes either side of the river that feeds into the harbour: Breage and Sithney. Breage is the side of the harbour with the Ship Inn, and Sithney is the side with the clock tower.

2) The main character of Home is called George. One of the many reasons I used this name is: When I was a toddler I insisted that my name was George; I wouldn't answer to Jenny/ Jennifer or anything other than George. My mother became so irritated that she proclaimed that "this here plate of biscuits is Jenny's. Only Jenny may eat any of the biscuits on this plate." I quickly accepted that my name was actually Jenny and have never insisted on being called George since. I still feel a great affinity with the name, and several Georges appear in my stories.

3) In Change the main character finds a Lego pirate cutlass, circa 1997. 4.8 million pieces ofLego were lost to a storm off Land's End in1997. Many of them nautically themed.  Pieces are still being washed up on Cornish beaches today.

Lego cutlass

4) One of my original ideas for the residency was to write a message in a bottle and send it out to sea. This idea came from reading Jean Sprackland's book Strands, a key text for my MA Writer and Place module last year. Place is hard to think about in purely local terms because everywhere is interconnected. This is especially apparent by the sea, where items from across the world wash up on the strandline everyday.  Sprackland suggests 'Is there a sense in which every message in a bottle, however apparently light-hearted or banal is, "an SOS to the world."'

Local distinctiveness can be lost under the vastness of globalisation. I'm interested in messages in bottles because it is the one media in which on finding it, you cannot help but be excited. Your curiosity is piqued. Even if the message originates very locally the finding of a message in a bottle is exciting - it has been suspended in the liminal zone, out there in the vast unknowable and has come back again, "a message from the other side".

This idea was adapted, we transcribed a story told to us by Vic Strike (old Porthleven boy) and wrote it onto the side of a buoy that Emily made, then we threw it overboard whilst on The Starfish, and later pulled it back in. (Long Peter).

5) One of my in-progress novels is set in Dark Age Britain, and in my research I learnt about the ancient British practice of throwing your treasures into water to appease the gods. I've often felt strong urges to throw things into the sea or rivers. These things fed into Change. The other thing I have often felt compelled to throw into water is myself. This comes through in a few of the stories, particularly Leap into the Sea. This piece came out of a character-exercise I was doing while undertaking the five day Porthleven residency in February. I was writing from the point of view of a character in my MA novel, Mark. Mark once felt this compulsion so strongly that he did leap into the sea. This is described in the story Memory/ Dream (an extract from the first draft of my MA novel).

For a long time I've been obsessed with Saut dans le vide (Leap into the Void) by Yves Klein; my blogs are named after this work. One of my favourite songs of the moment is Nara by Δ (Alt-J), which references this work  "Saut dans le vide, my lover. In my youth the greatest tide washed up my prize. You." I won't go into what all this means to me, but here you get the tip of the iceberg.

6) The word "legend" has many meanings. A story, a history, an account.  A roll, list, record. Written character, writing. The written explanatory matter accompanying an illustration, map, etc. (OED)  

7) At the end of Legend there is a quote from Rene Daumal's Mount Analogue. I am totally obsessed by this book, and have been ever since I went to an art exhibition titled MT. ANΔLOGUE - the degree show of the BA (Hons) AUCB Photography students, 2012. Read the essay about the show here. Everything about Daumal's book fascinates me: it is a journey to the self, but Daumal died before the characters reached the summit
I could go on and on about this book and what it means to me. Essentially what I think is important about art and literature is to explore it, take what you will from it, and then use what you have learnt to inform your next adventure. This way we can bring a whole tapestry of ideas with us to every book we read and every piece of art we see. Everything becomes richer because we are richer.
This is the last point on the Legend, I chose to include it for many reasons. The most obvious of which is that the last thing I photographed was of a hillock in the shape of a mountain. And also because I felt it gave the Legend a similar sense of being taken half way along a journey and left there, looking up at the summit but not actually scaling it. To scale it, you must go there yourself. So go! Go to Porthleven. I can recommend some very lovely accommodation!

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