Monday 13 March 2023


Recently, I met someone I haven’t seen for years who told me how, after he retired, he’d embarked on a land restoration project in Norfolk. It was in an overgrown area of a few square miles, with ditches which tended to flood. 

Is a stream meandering through fields.. - himanshi school


Studious research and painstaking excavation revealed a completely different, hidden terrain with signs of what had once been a meandering stream. He restored this, linked it to a natural spring and shortly afterwards the meandering stream was restored, always with water in it but, even after intense rainfall, no more floods. Dormant seeds from perhaps previous centuries, germinated, transforming the site to a place of beauty as well as functional effectiveness. 

I reflected on the concept of meandering. It has little place in today’s world. We are just focused on productivity and filling every moment. Meanders are quintessentially boring, lazy things that do water transportation inefficiently aren’t they? No. Meanders are brilliant because they do exactly what’s needed but in a gentle motion.

A countercultural history of walking

If we spent time meandering and strolling rather than thinking about travelling faster, we’d develop the art of curiosity and feed that curiosity at the right speed and to the appropriate level. 

Life today isn’t so much busy as frantic. Many people don’t read because it takes too long. Here was the market opportunity for Blinkist. It’s a book-summarizing subscription service. Sounds great. Saves time and effort. Impresses people about how well-read you are. 

Introducing The 5 AM Miracle Shortcast on Blinkist [#470b]

I read a Blinkist book-summary of one of my own books. I didn’t recognise it, agree with it or even understand it. I like meandering through a book not leaping into a brief waterfall of clinical abbreviation. Brutal summary when it’s designed to do something useful … like make you laugh … is fine. The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s compressing Shakespeare’s plays into a couple of hours is hilarious but less to do with Shakespeare than creating side-splitting farce.

Chat GPT: how communication will change - Brochesia

Chat GPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot, discussed by so many, is an anti-meandering tool. Apparently, it can write an essay, poem, or blog in any style on any subject in seconds. It sounds like Smash was to the humble potato. Clever but not alchemy. I haven’t played with it myself because first it wouldn’t let me in but when it did it, asked me for money.

I can copy a literary style. I know people who can paint skilfully enough to persuade a layman that theirs was a Veronese sketch or someone musical enough to compose a short piece resembling Mozart or Leonard Cohen. Mediocre imitations though not all bad but underpinned by a sense of playful guilt like a performer mimicking someone on a chat show.

I reject the bland assumption that you can get from A to B at speed without missing out on something precious. Nick Cave songwriter and leader of The Black Seeds said this:

Your imagination… is mostly an accidental dance between collected memory and influence… a construction that awaits spiritual ignition.

Graphical user interface, website

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And that is something Chat GPT will never encompass. Nor will it ever meander.

I want to meander around Venice – no map, just using my sense of smell and in this city of churches, faith. I’ll pass a signpost showing, pointing in two opposite directions, “to the Rialto.” Venice is created around a meander because that’s precisely what the Grand Canal is. Meandering allows one to wander through this city absorbing its story of glory.

Ultimately meandering is that accidental dance which leads to creative thought just waiting to ignite. It’s an art not a technological construct.

And I love doing it.

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