Geography Seminar Series 2017-2018 Talk #1

November 02, 2017

Talk #1 : The figural spaces of crop circle research

Crop circles are one of the most beautiful, mysterious, and controversial landscape phenomena in England and many other places in the world. Reflecting on my participation in the 2017 Summer Lectures Crop Circle Conference in Devizes, Wiltshire, UK and drawing on Jean-François Lyotard’s work Discourse, Figure (1971), I argue that crop circles – however one understands them – gather together ordinary and extraordinary experiences because they bring to the fore disturbances between signification and the visible. My talk illustrates how such disturbances, which Lyotard aligns with “figural space,” took place inside and outside the conference as follows: first, as a result of the opacity of crop circle landscapes wherein enthusiasts struggled to navigate toward, inside, and away from crop circles; second, through the slowness demanded by drawing lines with compasses and protractors in a sacred geometry workshop; and third, in the interactions of group consciousness workshops that warped the contours of participants’ dreams and political attitudes towards the sacred.