Instructions for Use
Be a traveller and not a tourist.
Free thoughts on the concept of road, to listen to the landscapes, inside and outside of us.
before being an object, It is a concept: it is the place to go, the path par excellence (> Travelling into a landscape: dis-orienting yourself to wander in our places), the link between here and elsewhere, the space of infinite possibilities, of wandering and erring.
To define a road, or to follow it, one needs orientation and cardinal points which, according to the Germanic myth of creation, were guarded by four dwarfs: Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri.
The North (Norðri) and the point of origin
From the world of wandering and nomadism, where, rather than roads and streets, there are paths, comes the Menhir, the first “object located”1 in the space, a solid symbol representing “the first human action to modify the landscape”2 and which probably had a function “of territorial orientation that could be easily understood by those who knew its language: a sort of guide carved in the landscape leading the travellers to their destination, taking them from one signal to another along the intercontinental route”.3
The Menhirs transform the path into a track, giving shape to the road and the route.
In this sense they are the ancestors of the Greek and Roman Hermae: statuettes, simulacra of Hermes/Mercury, placed along streets, crossroads, property boundaries and in front of doors as protection.
The road, the quadrivium, is in fact dangerous: a divinity is needed to protect the walking wayfarer and traveller, because it is the reign of the different, or perhaps infinite, possibilities for the future. There “Oedipus had stumbled upon his incestuous destiny”.4
Imagining that Orticolario is in the centre of a compass, head North to meet artisans, nurserymen and designers along the way.
The South (Suðri) and the loss of the self
The road is symbolically and concretely connected to the journey.
Following the road, having a beaten path is reassuring, it is the journey in safety par excellence. And what happens when you lose your way? Nobody would recommend it now, but surprisingly it is actually the very meaning of the journey: wandering and erring.
“At the base of the journey there is often a desire for an existential change. Travelling is atonement for a guilt, initiation, cultural enhancement, experience: “The Indo-European root of the word ‘experience’ is PER, interpreted as ‘try’, ‘test’, ‘risk’, connotations prevailing in the word ‘danger’. The oldest proof connotations of PER appear in the Latin terms for experience: experior, experimentum. This conception of experience as a trial, as a passage through a form of action measuring the true dimensions and nature of the person or object that undertakes it, also describes the most ancient conception of the effects of travelling on the traveller (…). The deeply rooted idea that travel is an experience, that tests and improves the traveller’s character, is clear in the German adjective bewandert, which today means ‘sagacious’, ‘expert’ or ‘versed’, but which originally ( …) simply qualified those who had ‘travelled a lot’ ”.5
So getting lost becomes synonymous with growth: in the fairy tale, getting lost in the forest is a literary topos that is essential in the change of the hero, because ‘growing up’ is understood as becoming aware of one’s ability to face dangers and difficulties alone, but also the chaos of a place without points of reference, to then, more than ever, found one’s own path, one’s own way in the world.
lost and then find yourself, leave your landscape and your places, choose your path.
Following the compass, now go South for new encounters.
The East (Austri) and the founding track
It is clear that in order to get lost you have to trace an area beyond which you can get lost. This gesture means drawing a limit, a border, what for the Romans is the foundation limen of their city.
The limen is the trace made on the ground by the founders of the city, the border. Inside there is the known, the house, the city, outside there is the unknown, the wild, the wandering and erring. It is the threshold, the limit, but also the road delimiting the borders.
So for the Romans the road is not the route: “The routes (viae) were the extra-urban roads that started from Rome, and the urban roads (strata), that is, made in layers, were those inside the built-up areas”.6
The route, where you can meet the unknown, the error, the bewilderment, has its starting point from its own border, and is different from the road that remains inside.
Founding “Is a gesture full of consequences. And also of dangers”7. At the risk of losing your bearings, look at the dawn sun to trace your limen.
On the Orticolario compass go east for new encounters.
The west (Vestri) and sleep
Our way of living in and with the landscape does not correspond to what our way of enjoying it actually is.
“The ‘landscape’ is not just that portion of nature that shows itself to our eyes. It is the invisible place where the external world and the psychic world meet and merge, inaugurating new boundaries. To see a landscape we must have already ‘dreamed’ of it. To touch it and be touched, Emily Dickinson taught us, a window is enough”.8
Our relationship with the landscape is formed by walking along it, mapping it and recognizing it, founding our own “home”, going out into the adventure or danger of the unknown, and then starting over, but even more deeply, and perhaps even earlier, through the inner landscapes in our dreams and in our mindscapes.
For this reason, when meeting new places, before enjoying or photographing them, we should allow them to take root in our dreams, to communicate with us as if their genius loci talked to us:
“It is a question here of the strangeness of a place. The strangeness promises apparitions, ambiguity, fear, confusion, danger. Thus the paramo, the expanse, halfway up the mountain, of bushes blown by the cold wind of the Andes, is for the Quechua Indians, of the Cayambe area in Ecuador, the place where it is easier to be victims of an espanto, a contagion of the places, a disease of the soul and of the body, a fear that sticks to you, a sadness, melancholy, a disease that must be treated with special practices by the local curanderos”.9
To return home as a slow thinker, that is as a traveller and not as a tourist. To transform an encountered geography into a real mindscape, made up of personal cardinal points, of symbolic winds and boundaries, of archetypal horizons.
Follow the compass heading West to return home with a wealth of landscapes, dreamed before or to be dreamed later.
“Mindscapes. Psiche nel paesaggio” (Psyche in the landscape) by Vittorio Lingiardi (Raffaello Cortina Editore, 2017);
“Walkscapes. Camminare come pratica estetica” (Walkscapes. Walking as an aesthetic practice) by Francesco Careri (Einaudi, 2006);
“Camminando a testa in giù: vagare, girovagare, divagare.Una metodologia di lettura dello spazio della strada” (Walking upside down: straying, wandering, rambling: a methodology for reading the space of the street) by Marianna Ascolese (Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II” – DiARC, Dipartimento di Architettura, 2017);
“Perdersi. L’uomo senza ambiente” (Getting lost. The man without an environment) by Franco La Cecla (Meltemi, 2020)
1 from “Walkscapes. Camminare come pratica estetica”, page 28
2 from “Walkscapes. Camminare come pratica estetica”, page 30
3 from “Walkscapes. Camminare come pratica estetica”, page 31
4 from “Walkscapes. Camminare come pratica estetica”, page 31
5 from “Walkscapes. Camminare come pratica estetica”, page 21
6 from “Camminando a testa in giù: vagare, girovagare, divagare. Una metodologia di lettura dello spazio della strada”, page 21
7 da “Perdersi. L’uomo senza ambiente”, page 28
8 da “Mindscapes. Psiche nel paesaggio”, page 225
9 da “Perdersi. L’uomo senza ambiente”, page 22