Thursday, July 26, 2012

Beyond The Wychelm, Beyond The Veil

I am fascinated--and I mean deeply fascinated--by the darker aspects of Britain's ancient past and how it saturates the landscape and bleeds into the present.  How it hints at the sinister and unsettling things that may be lurking just beyond the veil of what we call reality.  This fascination has been with me since childhood.  But I am American, of Eastern European descent.  So I can't help it--I feel like an imposter sometimes.  It's not my own personal "heritage."  And yet I feel deeply connected to it somehow.

As a little girl in the 70s, I was, in many ways, your garden-variety Anglophile, feeling as if I'd been born a decade or two too late.  I was obsessed with post-Rubber Soul Beatles' records, the colorful fashions of 60s swinging London, cute boys with English accents, bright red telephone boxes, etc.  But something happened when I saw a picture of Stonehenge, probably in one of the musty old issues of National Geographic magazine that my father kept piled up in the basement.  I didn't know what a frisson was back then, but I certainly experienced one.  I felt an intense need to go there--to Stonehenge, to Great Britain--as soon as humanly possible, but I wasn't sure why.  It was uncanny.  I was really starting to get that nagging feeling that I was growing up on the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Fast forward to the late 1980s, when I encountered John Michell's "The New View Over Atlantis."  Glastonbury, stone circles, ley lines and British folklore became my new passions.  I was already a devoted fan of supernatural fiction, having started with the mainstream American authors as a teen, eventually moving on to Lovecraft and, finally, the British masters of the genre.  This dovetailed with my other major interests--music and film--where I was always seeking out the underground and the strange.

I fostered these interests for years and years, and eventually started my near-annual pilgrimages to Britain, but everything really started to gel five or six years ago when I discovered the Ghost Box label and the hauntology "scene" (for lack of a better term).  The music, the aesthetic, the influences were so aligned with my own predilections, it startled me.  I already loved Broadcast and Boards of Canada (and even had a couple of records by Mount Vernon Arts Lab), but hadn't really thought too much about their influences and inspiration.  Now it all made sense.

I've always expressed my musical taste and interests through my decades-long work as a freeform-format, non-commercial radio DJ, but Flickr, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. have, of late, provided a means to share my more visual preoccupations.  I've had a catch-all blogspot blog for years, but I haven't yet figured out what I want that to be.  So I've specifically started Beyond The Wychelm to explore my pursuit of all things haunty, particularly those of the British variety, from an American perspective.

I continue to visit the U.K. frequently, and, if you'll pardon the cliche, it always feels like coming home.  It certainly feels more like home than my actual home, which is Texas (where I wasn't born but have resided since 1996).

Maybe I was a Brit in a past life (or alternate universe)?  A girl can dream, right?

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