Two Reads on Psychogeography

This essay, Senses of Place and Urban Studies (via Abe), is dense and covers a lot of ground regarding theories of the cities and place. Very interesting.

Ultimately Sinclair distinguishes himself and his perambulations from those of the flaneur. While the latter strolls aimlessly about the city, idle and undecided, he claims to walk with obsessive, mad purpose. He fashions himself as a ‘stalker’, as someone who walks with a thesis, however crazed, and not the dawdling, browsing manner of the strolling fl?neur (1997: 75). In this he once more references the example of Debord, whose Situationist platform includes the concept of ‘drift’: a calculated movement across the city determined by an absence of proper criteria (Sadler 1998: 81). Hence his exercise with the inscribed letter V or his insistence that the annotations of a map belonging to a vanished man might somehow reveal an occult pattern. The point is to locate fictional alignments: between City churches, telephone boxes, war memorials etc., to find energy lines or paths to be walked, and thus open what he calls ‘a secret history of London’ (1997). By these stalking manoeuvres, Sinclair believes himself capable of taking possession of the city. His walks are intended to unravel a one-dimensional plan.
[…]
So, Basso states that among the Apache wisdom is seen as the outcome of deep reflection upon landscape (76). By observing different places, listening to stories about them and thinking of the ancestors who gave those stories voice, they gain knowledge about how to behave in the world (80). Indeed, the Apache landscape is viewed as a resource through which subjects can modify themselves or alter their thinking (85). In this way, Basso and other anthropologists (cf. Feld 1996, Munn 1973) look to provide ‘ethnography of lived topographies’ (58).

Here’s an Alan Moore interview about Voices of Fire (via Jason):

And it was also born of the conviction that, yes, Northampton is the center of the cosmos. I truly believe that. I also believe that Northampton is nowhere special. I believe that anybody living anywhere upon the face of the globe, if they were to simply take the time and do the research, would find an incredible nest of wonders buried right where they were standing, right in their own backyard. I think that all too often, in the 21st Century, and throughout the 20th Century, we tend to spend our everyday existence walking along streets or driving along streets that we have no real understanding of, even if we see them everyday, and they just become fairly meaningless and bleak blocks of concrete, whereas, if you happen to know that such-and-such a poet was incarcerated inside an asylum upon this street or that such-and-such a murder happened here or that such-and-such a fabulous, legendary queen is buried in this vicinity: all of these little stories, it makes the places that we live much richer if we have a knowledge of these things. All of a sudden, you’re not walking down mundane, dull, everyday streets anymore, you’re walking down fabulous avenues full of wonderful ideas and incredible stories. It just makes living a much richer experience if we can fully appreciate the part of the world that we are living in, and I suppose that is a very long winded answer to why I wrote Voice Of The Fire.

This is what interests me about psychogeography: connecting historic dots. Creating new meaning (or discovering old meaning).
I’m reminded of a story about Kurt Cobain. At Burning Man last year I camped with an Olympia-based musician who knew Cobain before Nirvana. He said he and Cobain used to lie on their stomachs on skateboards and roll down State Ave. starting at Ralph’s Thriftway and going down to around where the AM-PM used to be. You probably won’t find that story in an Olympia tour-guide.
Geo-tagging could be a great aid to this, especially if there are a variety of ways to filter and search the information left in places. First kisses. First cigarettes. Sites of police brutality.
Introduction to Psychogeography
The Headmap Manifesto

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