Category Archives: Noreen Masud

A feeling for flatness

I realised that people really, really hate flat landscapes. Or they pretend they hate them. Flat landscapes scare people, or bore them. They feel they have to apologise for them: tourist boards praise the Cambridge fens and the Norfolk broads by saying things like: you may think this landscape is flat, but really there’s lots to see! Fair enough. But what if we accepted the fact that a space might be primarily flat? How do we look at it, and appreciate it, and enjoy it, without trying to deny its flatness?

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There are so many beautiful flat spaces in Britain, and in the world. They demand a special way of looking: a way, I realise, that might not necessarily come instinctively. Flat spaces need a gaze which is patient and steady and open, not enforcing expectations about what counts as ‘interesting’ or ‘important’. It’s that special way of looking that interests me. I think it might help us understand other things or people which seem inscrutable or blank or reserved. Above all that’s what I’d like listeners to ask themselves after my broadcasts: how do I use my attention? What do I give it to and why and how?

Noreen Masud