I had been living in New York quite a bit, and spending a lot of time with New Yorkers, and wherever I was I was hearing the same – the New York – answers to every question, and I realised that both the questions and answers that I was hearing were New York-based. And I realised that neither the questions nor the answers were the ones I was asking myself but I was surrounded by this language that had the questions and the answers knitted into it. And the only way out was to leave the city.That is the poet Robert Lax explaining why he moved to the Greek island of Patmos in 1961. One of the reasons for my unfashionable dislike of social media in particular and contemporary media in general is that it speaks in a language that has the questions and answers knitted into it – a language geared to generating the approval of ‘followers’ and ‘friends’. It is very rarely that I agree with TV celebrities, but I can only echo Michael Palin’s recent plea that schools should place a renewed focus on traditional geography field trips to stop pupils being trapped behind classroom computer screens. Just as my first musical revelation came at an early age during a concert performance of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, so my first cultural revelations came in 1960s school trips to Europe, and continue today in similar journeys.
Paths converge in my header photo which was taken recently at the monastery of Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux near Avignon. My love affair with the Midi started with a 1965 school trip to Avignon and Perpignan, and Robert Lax was a close friend of the Trappist monk and author Thomas Merton who was born near Perpignan. I have my back to the camera and facing it is composer Jeff Harrington, whose committed advocacy of new media is a refreshing counterbalance to my scepticism. With his artist wife Elsie Russell, Jeff decided that the only way was to leave the city of New York, first for Sanibel Island in Florida, and then Avignon. To the right is Father Edmond of the Benedictine community at Le Barroux. I have crossed swords with Father Edmond here before, but my frequent encounters with him are invaluable reminders that there is more to knowledge than a Wikipedia search. Which is why I found myself on the road last year with a Sufi saint.
Also on Facebook and Twitter. Header quote is from Peter France's highly recommended Hermits. Photo taken by my wife is (c) On An Overgrown Path 2012. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk