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Forest Rubbings with Wind, Charcoal Trees After a Forest Fire, Torres del Paine, Chile 

“All language proceeds as a system of navigation. Named things are fixed points aligned or compared, which allow the speaker to plot the next move” (Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia)

Patagonia finds its place within endings and beginnings, it encompasses borders and edges of land that draw lines not only on maps, but within the imagination. A place where travelling to an end point evokes a new sense of beginning. In his classic book In Patagonia, Bruce Chatwin pioneered digression within travel writing, as a way to entangle fact, fiction and biography. Chatwin’s travelogue meanders through different time frames, acts of conversation, and journeys through Patagonia’s geographies. Chatwin succeeded in immersing his own psychology within travelled landscapes. A kind of psychogeography where significance is gained through unknowingness, happenstance and surprise. Patagonia is both distinct and vague, ‘a theatre for restlessness’, a landscape where people are not neutral, where bleakness seizes the imagination with a “nothingness that forces the mind in on itself” (Nicholas Shakespeare, An Introduction to In Patagonia).

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Forest Rubbings with Wind, Charcoal Trees After a Forest Fire, Torres del Paine, Chile

Whereas the term psychogeography originated as an urban construction (or situation), Chatwin implements the discursive meaning of the term within his travels to remoteness. Patagonia was a journey into Chatwin’s own form of fiction, an exile into lost identity and undetermined meaning. Chatwin’s journals document spontaneous encounters with displacement, the language of changing scenery and perspectives about oneself. His book is mostly about ‘interiors that are elsewheres’ a symbolic voyage where language becomes a means of navigation (Nicholas Shakespeare, An Introduction to In Patagonia).

Travel journals are useful resources for art therapy, recording the circumstances of being in between known locations. These suspended times away from fixed references are impromptu negotiations with unfamiliarity. They are spontaneous chartings of endings and beginnings found within travelled landscapes. Travel diaries record passages, situations and chance encounters. Written on the move they draw on the geography of change as a psychological stimulus. The travelling journeys of restlessness, the elsewheres that beckon and manifest as marks on a page, become navigational routes between borders of experience.

References

Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia

Nicholas Shakespeare, An Introduction to In Patagonia

Merlin Coverly, Psychogeography

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