“It is possible, just dimly possible, that the real pattern and scheme of life is not in the least apparent on the outward surface of things, which is the world of common sense and rationalism, and reasoned deductions; but rather lurks, half hidden, only apparent in certain rare lights, and then only to the prepared eye; a secret pattern, an ornament which seems to have but little relation or none at all to the obvious scheme of the universe”. — Arthur Machen, from The London Adventure or the Art of Wandering (1924)
A recent entry here concerns a book, a gift from a student on the last day of class in architectural history. The content of the last two lectures seemed to resonate with this favored book and he wished to share those feelings, for which I am grateful. Now two-thirds complete with the read, I can see what it was that spurred the gift and will 1) take its content to heart, and 2) pass the book along again in due course to another unofficial member of the Wander Society. As is the case more often than not, the Smith book reminded me of one I’d read several years ago and now need to read again: The London Adventure or the Art of Wandering (1924).
Aging hip joints and sciatica that comes and goes at its pleasure have told me I shan’t be wandering very much in these latter days. But both Smith and Machen leave open a useful alternative: to wander in place. Indeed, I’m wandering right now in the 4th floor computer lab, with little wear and tear on the hip and the luxury of engaging in a good ramble when and to wherever I see fit. Today’s adventure is taking me briefly to Agincourt and a consideration of yet another untapped and under-explored aspect of community history: mental health. I’ve alluded to it now and then — Walden Retreat, for example, the private mental clinic on East Thoreau Avenue along the banks of Crispin Creek or the puppet shows held on Saturday afternoons in The Commons by some of Dr Kölb’s “guests” — but the time comes now for a more comprehensive treatment of the general topic of mental health, what community standards have been hereabouts, and how they’ve changed through one hundred and fifty years.
My own mental health is always in question. It took a sudden turn this week which I hope the content of this entry or its sequels will serve to improve.