Going to Croatan: A Line Disappearing Into Imagined Sand

This post draws a line in imaginary sand, which will obey the nature of real sand by disappearing very quickly.

Croatan is one of Hakim Bey’s historical templates for the Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ): an energised fillip in spacetime which succeeds in escaping, for / by means of a spell, the controlling strictures of mainstream western civilization. Kids in the USA learn in elementary school that the European colonists of Roanoke disappeared, leaving behind them a mysterious message: ‘Gone to Croatan’. The official version is that they were massacred by local Native Americans. The other truth is that they went native: moved inland, rejected the impending horrors of the imperialist social contract, and became absorbed into the Croatan tribe.

To all outward intents and purposes, I haven’t gone anywhere, nor do I expect to for the immediate future. But, as I’ve been trying to explain in the last couple of posts to myself and anyone reading, since being at the Dark Mountain festival weekend before last, my inner landscape, and my physical / spiritual being, have unexpectedly shifted in a way that currently feels decisive. Like (to borrow another fine metaphor), I was in the realm of reason, walking over rotten boards, and suddenly broke through to somewhere wilder, pleasingly tangled, smelling of old growth forests and honest soil. Somewhere where, even since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be.

Markers put down to indicate ‘progress’ are deceptive, of course. The more you get into the fine grain details of where and why to draw lines in sand, the more your grounds for division evaporate, like in Zeno’s paradoxes. What about the myriad other changes that lead me to and away from this point? How certain is it that I will follow the twisty path into what this shift seems to demand of me? At any moment, it could be otherwise.

What I did decide was at least to begin the golden notebook: which in practice means to stop compartmentalising. My idea for yet another blog is temporarily shelved: anything I’ve a mind to blog about gets shared here. So this space gets more kaleidoscopic: more views from the Dark Mountain; more travels in words and photos through the layers of Berlin, or wherever I happen to find myself; more asides from elsewhere entirely. Assume that it’s all connected; that by committing to doing it this way I ask myself to connect.

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3 thoughts on “Going to Croatan: A Line Disappearing Into Imagined Sand

  1. Your "Golden Notebook" hits a chord with me as I find myself re-posting across three blogs/web sites. I like the way you've done it. There's power in non-compartmentalization and added interest provided by the collision of varied "attacks?"Great Post!

  2. Focusing on your aside about procedure, re: my last comment, I almost missed the quiet power of the main point of your post! "Going Croatan,"that image, in all its uncertainty and impossibly tangled ambiguity is a wonderful image of a tentative possibility for us today. I like the blend of poetic imagery with thoughtful elucidation in your essays. The actual photographic images and the "visitations," somewhere between travel and meditation, they illustrate is another dimension raising these posts to a wonderful level of evocative thought-provoking power.

  3. I stumbled upon this blog post accidentally while looking up the book Gone to Croatan. Then I had a quick flip through some of the posts and in that little space of time I saw mention of at least a half dozen of my research sources. (I’m a second year master’s student in a critical studies/art research program. My work touches on storytelling, escape culture and degrowth.) So here’s my comment, and now you have my email if you’re interested in swapping books suggestions, ideas, etc. It’d have to be penpal style because I don’t have a blog at the moment. Grusse from Switzerland 🙂

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