The enchantment of the mind with archetypal landscape..is a phenomenon as old as myth and persistent as dream... We seem to have an insatiable thirst for places that don't exist. - The Solace of Fierce Landscapes
There's a reason I use the metaphor of a place to describe the blogosphere and its myriad of global bazaars, souks, and marketplaces lightly separated by geography (link, link, link is the new location, location, location) and communities.
A sense of place evokes symbols, images, myth, feelings that flow into our mind. The essence of brands, yes.
But much more primal too.
Words are the way we complicate the simple. The deepest aspects of life are about wordlessness – something you can’t articulate. - Pico Iyer
I overheard Robert Scoble last week explain, "Blogs are aggregators for passions." Envision that.
That's why blogs are like places for me. Places for people. What is the place like? What types of people would hang out there? (Nope, not demographics, perhaps ethnographics work here.) For instance, I picture this blog as a salon, or an artist's colony (and I define art broadly). And many tech blogs evoke a sense of BarCamp or FooCamp all year long.
I'm rising to Andrew of Changing Way's challenge. He points to a Business Week story titled, "The Myth of Authenticity" where they ask: What do brands like Häagen Dazs, Baileys Original Irish Cream, Bombay Sapphire and Kerrygold all have in common?
If in the name of "authenticity" we remove the soul, spirit, symbol, myth, personality from a company, I'm not sure we'd like the lifeless husk that's left. Yes, it's possible to eat, breathe, ooze Ireland and not have been born there. I know I felt I'd returned home when I felt the wind rustle the heather in the stark Burren and tasted the sea salt at the headlands of Dingle.
Right now, I'm picturing a cafe where the waft of curry luxuriates in the air, there are crates of tea from China bearing the Port of Oakland stamp tucked in the corner, rumpled world maps hang in the sage-green walls, music alternates between a small band in Zimbambwe to Tibetan folk music. Visitors slink into the couches to sip tea and languish. S-l-o-w-l-y. No one is in a rush. Pilgrims arrive from Spain, India, or from the wanderings of their own private odysseys. A few folks are writing poems and reciting them aloud. The clocks show the time in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Formosa (Taiwan), Johannesburg, Calcutta. Throughout the world, tea is a symbol infused with meaning.
Yeah, that gives you a hint of the new blog I'm launching. And it's not about tea. And it is. And it's not a single author blog either, it's a community blog. (Email if you're intrigued.)
Amazingly, or perhaps not so amazingly (like filings to magnets, like magnets to iron filings, I'm being pulled) this Monday I read how tea fits into milling about in global marketplaces and the sense of place:
In China, offering tea is considered a truly hospitable gesture, and excellent for health...In contrast to the West, where tea is marked by its aristocratic associations, in the East tea is a dietary staple for one and all, and a sign of hospitality even in the humblest of surroundings. Chinese tea houses, India's roadside tea stalls, Afghan chaikhanas, and the little cafes of Turkey and Egypt are democratic and lively - the opposite of tea rooms in Europe.
Tea is served in half of the world's households, in the workplace, in trains, in nomad camps, and the most remote corners of the globe. Whether the simple green or semi-fermented tea of China, the powerful Assam of northern India, the sweetened Ceylon Dust drunk in Egypt, teas of the East are a source of a thousand and one customs forged by tradition. From the Mediterranean to the Pacific, teas are as varied as the people they unite. - Sangmanee, Kitti Cha et al, The Little Book of Tea
Bonus: When I went to the Mabel Dodge Luhan home in Taos, there was a palpable energy warmly swirling there. I intended a quick visit, but was enthralled to a leisurely pace. I poured some complimentary tea and picked up a powdered cookie and sat down in the patio. I opened my journal and began writing as I was now rooted to the spot, anyway.
While I don't think of myself as Mabel, my point is that H-O-M-E, that hacienda drew an avant-garde and intellectual mix of people where she entertained and hosted emerging and known innovators and creators from artist Georgia O’Keeffe, writer D.H. Lawrence, photographer Ansel Adams, psychologist Carl Jung and actress Greta Garbo.
p.s. Two posts today because I'm offline tomorrow; honoring my new Weekly Circle.