P is for Personification

| February 4, 2014

While reading the third chapter of Tim Ingold’s Lines: A Brief History, I immediately noticed that the author is giving human qualities and characteristics to the line, which in itself is an obviously non-human entity. The author describes one type of line as “free”, which is a description we typically give only living things as they are the ones who can choose and decide their actions. Having the quality of being autonomous is not necessarily the first way I would choose to describe a line; however, I do see how the description fits. Ingold likens this type of line to the wayfarer. “Like the line that goes out for a walk, the path of the wayfarer wends hither and thither, and may even pause here and there before moving on.” While reading this section of Ingold’s third chapter, I stopped and took out a sheet of paper and pencil to draw free lines, not connected to anything else with each line simply existing for itself. After I had drawn a dozen or so lines of this sort, I examined my creation and marveled at how what I had drawn had so closely matched Ingold’s conception of a free line. In contrast to the wayfarer, Ingold personifies lines that connect and attach to each other as travelers, which I also believe is a fitting description. Travelers do not have the freedom that wayfarers do; they are scheduled to go from place to place. These lines and these people have their journey predetermined, with their beings bounded to another’s existence.