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THE LIFE OF LINES by Tim Ingold

  • Written by  Jules Stewart
  • Published in Books
THE LIFE OF LINES by Tim Ingold
01 Jul
2015
We humans are adrift, needing to cling to things throughout our lives to counteract currents that would otherwise sweep us to oblivion. This is understood instinctively at a very early age, as babies cling to their parents

But adults also cling to things that offer life and stability. These relationships, Tim Ingold tells us in his brief, entertaining treatise on the subject, are bound together by lines, which are themselves bound together, so that the harder you try to tear them apart, the tighter they cling. Every line is in reality a bundle and our lives ares woven from these knots.

Knots appear to us as twisted bundles, yet they are composed of simple lines bound tightly together, and this principle is key to understanding the concept of how lines run through our lives.

Granted, neither the book – or that explanation – is an easy read, but the author’s thesis becomes more accessible once the concept of lines is grasped. If one accepts the argument that the principle of knotting underwrites the way things join with one another and the composition of the ground, this principle becomes transferable to what might seem disparate and even far-fetched phenomena: the weather, religion, silkworms, etc.

Ingold the anthropologist acknowledges that he has become a student of lines, or linealogist, as he christens his field of specialisation. He is convinced of a deep affiliation between lines and the weather, and in the intriguing second part of the book, he develops a meteorology that seeks a common denominator, which is the atmosphere, of breath, time, mood, sound, memory, colour and the sky.

THE LIFE OF LINES by Tim Ingold, Routledge, £24.99 (paperback)

This book review was published in the July 2015 edition of Geographical Magazine 

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