Monday, January 7, 2008

'psychogeography socks'

Various synchronicity roads are leading me towards the work of Iain Sinclair. Yesterday, fancying finding out a bit more about comics writer Alan Moore's magickal practices, I found this

"I tell you what man, one the greatest, most mentally enriching, physically debilitating experiences of my life was going on a walk with Iain Sinclair, when he was doing this art exhibition at a gallery on Shoreditch High Street. He was going [sic] together four male artists and four female artists. And the idea was he was picking sites from his AA road atlas of London, and he got them all to pick a site, and he would either meet them there, or he would do a walk there. One of them was Michael Moorcock, who had come up from California. I was the only one who was actually doing the walk with Iain, the site I had chosen was Moorgate Churchyard, John Dee's place. I went to Iain's place at half eight in the morning and we walked the twenty miles through London, up the river to Moorgate. He had his special psychogeography socks, he was skipping. I was crawling along, sobbing. It was incredible. It's not just the walk - it was doing the walk with Iain....He would say "oh see that grating over there, that's the grating that TS Eliot used to peer up women's skirts from under." "Oh this is where they used to push Ezra Pound along the pavement while he was cursing about the Jews." You suddenly get this sort of...everything becomes light. New age woolly-hat Glastonbury mystics weary me, sometimes, but they talk about energy, the energy of a place, of a person. We all know what they mean, but at the same time it has to be said that this is not energy that is going to show up on an autometer. We're not talking about energy in the conventional sense that physics talks about energy. To me, energy is information - I think you can make that bold a statement. The only lines of energy that link up disparate sites in London are lines of information, that have been drawn by an informed mind. The energy that we put forth is information we have taken in. We will see a work of art and it will give us inspiration, it will give us energy. It's given us information that we can turn to our own use and put out as something else. That's the kind of energy that we - and psychogeography - are talking about. So Iain Sinclair's London is a much richer, more extraordinary place than almost anyone else's" here.

And today my Google Reader (or the daemon within it) served up this from quote from Sinclair in John Davies blog:

"Walking is the best way to explore and exploit the city; the changes, shifts, breaks in the cloud helmet, movement of light on water. Drifting purposefully is the recommended mode, tramping asphalted earth in alert reverie, allowing the fiction of an underlying pattern to reveal itself. To the no-bullshit materialist this sounds suspiciously like fin-de-siecle decadence, a poetic of entropy - but the born-again flaneur is a stubborn creature, less interested in texture and fabric, eavesdropping on philosophical conversation pieces, than in noticing everything. Allignments of telephone kiosks, maps made from moss on the slopes of Victorian sepulchres, collections of prostitutes' cards, torn and defaced, promotional bills for cancelled events at York Hall, visits to the homes of dead writers, bronze casts on war memorials, plaster dogs, beer mats, concentrations of used condoms, the crystalline patterns of glass shards surrounding an imploded BMW quarter-light window, meditations on the relationship between the brain damage suffered by the super-middleweight boxer Gerald McClellan (lights out in the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel) and the simultaneous collapse of Barings, bankers to the Queen. Walking, moving across a retreating townscape, stitches it all together: the illicit cocktail of bodily exhaustion and a raging carbon monoxide high."

- which has some resonance with how I intend to approach my journey. Psychogeography has been my practice for decades, albeit not under that banner - the videos and performances I made about Portslade; slideshows of found items on the East/West Sussex border; personal mythologies like the padlock that holds the world together.

So - Iain Sinclair - recommended by magicians and vicars! I can't resist finding out more. I've avoided his work for ages for the perverse reason that it looks too much like the kind of thing I might like - but now I've relented and put in some library requests.

1 comment:

John Davies said...

I've heard (possibly incorrectly) that Sinclair offers a free pair of psychogeography socks to each new reader, if that's a further incentive...