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Exploring the Space Between Words and Meaning: Understanding the Relational Sensibility of Surf Spaces

Dr Jon Anderson, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Cardiff School of Planning and Geography
Tuesday 9th October 2012 - 4:00pm
Council Chamber, Glamorgan Building

Talk and movie presentation: Dr Jon Anderson will present the film he made for the 'Affective Landscapes' conference earlier in 2012.

Public Seminar series hosted by the Environment Research Group

This paper explores the potential of the written word to evoke emotional engagement with place. Through focusing on the relational sensibilities created through human engagement with the act of surfing, the paper seeks to explore how these emotions are articulated by surfers in order to share their feelings with others.

In doing so it draws attention to the 'intersubjective space' (after Thrift, 1996) between writer and reader and its potential to overcome the paradox of representation. In this space the written word has the potential to combine with readers' own experiences, however indirect or tangential they may be, to create a currency of communicated lived experience. In this space, knowledge of surfing is co-created by reader and writer (or by surfer and non-surfer) and becomes freighted with empathic resonance. In order to explore whether the potential of this space can be realised, the paper presents examples of surf writing which seek to communicate the relational sensibility of surfing, and asks the reader: can 'only a surfer know the feeling'?