Wednesday, 20 February 2019

This Wall Near My House

I have been trying to get friends interested in this wall near my house, which has a lot of historical graffiti on it.

Absolutely no-one is interested in my wall.








23 comments:

  1. Why are all the pictures in black and white?

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    1. I hoped that that, and a change in contrast, would highlight the carvings.

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    1. See my reply to K below. There's graffiti older than America and it's just *there*

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    2. Yes, England is incredibly old by New World standards. I loved my time in your country for that reason among so many others.

      But what draws you there?

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    3. Hold on, its late and I'm tired. I'll have to think about it tomorrow and get back to you.

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    4. I think its the sheer mundanity of it being there and the fact that stuff thats really really old is just mixed in with much more modern stuff, with the only thing separating them being the space on the wall.

      I know people talk about the UK being 'old', but really, most of the history stuff is bagged and tagged, ritualised behind velvet ropes, with visitors centres and its rare to find anything of significance without a blue plaque or something else there being a little sign on what it is and how to deal with it.

      So history in the UK rarely feels like history, or like actual lived life from long ago, its more like a kind of para-performance this country puts on that never feels quite real.

      This place doesn't have any plaque, or sign of any kind, its not ritualised. It feels ridiculously 'normal', there are a bunch of cafes about 100 yards away annd a library.

      I suppose the intensity of the otherness of the age of the signs hit me more because it was integrated directly into my mundane sensed reality.

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    5. That is interesting. It's curious, the feeling of history as a performative display is a very real, and pervasive one. I think that is why so often people feel it's boring. It's only when you stop thinking of it in snippets or big events that it feels real at all.

      When I was young, it was the little moments of human action that most made me really perceive the past as a real, if alien and distant, place. Things like graffiti, or clothing, or little household items. Seeing a love note, or a place where a statue was rubbed until it eroded. Little things that felt like they were done by someone I could meet and talk to, someone who hadn't been mythologized. I live in Canada, so I don't have access to a lot of truly old spaces, though the internet gives me windows to places I would otherwise never see.

      But, and this may sound strange, I get the same feeling from very old trees. These huge sentinels that have been sitting and bearing silent witness as generations of my community have grown around them. Every once in a while I am caught, mystified by the fact that this bloody big tree was just there, hanging out, for the past hundred or so years. People formed connections to it, people looked at it, painted it, maybe cared for it, and sat beneath it. And now they're all dead, and it's still here, this bit of history just hanging out while we pass it by.

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  3. Are some of those three centuries old or am I seeing it wrong?

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    1. No you are reading it right, it's graffiti older than America just hanging out on the back of some church. A few feet away is some from the 1970s, with nothing to distinguish between them except the dates.

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    2. It is as if time visits occasionally and leaves palmprints (or, in this case, sigils)

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  4. This clockwork precision of historical inarticulacy proves that priests were better at this.

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  5. I think its quite interesting, myself. But then I used to be a big fan of history and seeing old things. I liked being able to see (sometimes even hold, or at least look at really closely) things that have a wonderful sense of history about them.

    It has incidentally given me a couple of ideas already for props for a couple of game ideas. Thanks for posting this.

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    1. Every so often a museum will have a sample of Moon rock or a meteorite; something otherworldly. It's awe-inspiring to touch that thing and soak in the... not quite history, but the longevity? of it.

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  6. I think I could relate to any of the people who left these more than I could to Usama Ibn-Munqidh, more because they’re the sort of people to leave graffiti than temporal/geographic/cultural proximity. See also: the relative relatability of those people whose graffiti survived them in Pompeii.

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  7. Your friends are wrong. That's interesting.


    You gonna add your own?

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  8. I assume you've already added your own, right? I mean it almost seems like you have to contribute to it. As for older than America... yes of course that's true, although near where I live there are glyphs that are at least 3,000 years old, and perhaps much older than that.

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  9. Patrick, if I remember right you're on the Wirral? If so, the Birkenhead History Society may have someone who knows more about this or may be interested. I'll drop a link to this to my father-in-law (who's involved in the group) and see what he says.

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  10. England being casually ancient, again. That's fascinating, especially to someone who never sees construction older than ~150 years.

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  11. Where are the descendants of the antiquaries we read about in M.R. James's stories when you need 'em? I like that Dom might be able to get this Birkenhead History Society involved. If they don't jump in, it would be nice to have some undergrad art, art history, or history students from some college nearby at least do a systematic photographing of everything and publish something in academic journals mentioning it. Would the local newspaper, starved for content, want to print your short call for help documenting this graffiti?

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  12. As someone who has some archaeological training and experience I can tell you: Set a goal for research and then do it. Thing about local history is: Therer is a near infinite amount of it and only so much people will ever consume. In my area of Hamburg, there are some displays with about two square meters worth of historical information on old buildings and how people lived in the area during the industrialization.

    You could make yourself the goal to fully document the wall and every inscription. That would probably be enough work for a doctorate thesis.
    You could try to find the most interesting ones and condense findings into a display lika a good local historian. Passers by might even read it.
    You could convince your local authorities to put up a plaque and be done with it.

    Histories of locations are a rabbit hole. And they are infinitely deep.

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  13. Anyway keep us posted! (Because your wall is interesting).

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