Places are people too?

Sally Odgers sodgers at
Thu Nov 18 19:04:12 EST 2004

I did a sentient (and murderous) house once! It has its reasons.... for the
curious, the book was called "Night Must Always Come". Then there's Anne
McCaffrey's sentient planet Petaybee. So, DWJ's cities are Not a Problem.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Charles Butler" <hannibal at>
To: <dwj at>
Sent: Friday, November 19, 2004 10:55 AM
Subject: Places are people too?

> I don't find the idea of sentient landscapes, hills, etc half as odd as I
> probably ought to. Nor am I at all sure where metaphor stops and reality
> begins in such matters. Certainly people *feel* about places with all the
> passion (love, hate, or whatever) that they use for people: are they being
> irrational?
> It's too late at night to think about all this properly. Instead, I'd like
> to quote this couple of paras from the article by Jeremy Harte for which I
> gave the URL a couple of months back:
> "The controversy between those who accept that the supernatural has
> and those who focus exclusively on the human, came to a head not long ago
> the Hebrides. The backbone of the island of South Harris is West Stocklett
> Hill, the Hag Mountain, in the form of a giant woman reclining in sleep or
> death. The Hag has a guardian in the geomantic researcher Jill Smith -
> me, the mountain is one of the ancient Dreamtime ancestors, the
> who rose from the magma at Creation' (Smith, Billingsley and Dilworth
> In 1995 the work of Creation was revised; a hole was carved at the
> of the Grandmother's navel by the artist Steve Dilworth, in order to set
> a sculpture of his own. Not many people saw it in situ, but the
> was afterwards shown in a Stornoway art gallery. Smith doubled up in pain
> the violation of the mountain. Dilworth was puzzled to encounter a
> response - 'I see it as a way of acknowledging our connection with the
> we stand on'. For Smith, the mountain is a person, and has rights. For
> Dilworth, the mountain is a canvas.
> "Hardly surprising, then, that the controversy should have flared up over
> female figure. There was a time when a woman, like a cat or a stone
> had no legal personality. A man might violate her without committing an
> offence, unless he infringed the rights that some other man held in her.
> difference between women and mountains is simply that the former have won
> the right to speak for themselves, while the latter are dependant on
> trustees or guardians - in this case Jill Smith, who is currently
> to prevent Redlands Aggregates from further mutilation of the holy hill."
> My own experience suggests that there may be some other significant
> differences between women and mountains (the Paps of Anu notwithstanding),
> but you know what he means.
> Charlie
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