Psychogeography at Greenbelt

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Listen to this – I’m somewhere that I shouldn’t be….

Listen!

Daniel Defoe, author of “Robinson Crusoe” also wrote a book called “Journal of the Plague Year” It’s a book about the experience of navigating your way through London at the time of plague.

In principle this sounds a very simple task, but in the days before the A-Z, and before streets had names, one would navigate one’s way via the known sights and landmarks of the area. When the plague struck, however, various streets and buildings would be quarantined and closed, making the usual paths un-navigable, and forcing oneself into unknown territories, rendering the capital city un-recognisable. And of course, just as quickly as new routes sprang up, they would be quarantined again, forcing yet more new passageways to open up.

The book documents these journeys, as well as the experiences and impact on the person as the city develops. Along with William Blake, these two seminal authors are now thought to be the earliest forms of what has now come to be known as psychogeography, a term coined and and formalised by Guy Debord and the Situationist movement.

I think it’s important both as a spiritual and emotional experience and a politically transgressive tool, as a means of resistance and re-gaining control of one’s environment, and becomes more vital as space is increasingly privatised and gentrified in contemporary society.

For years, psychogeography languished in obscurity, but more recently it has been revived as by many psychogeographical societies (google them, and you’ll find a whole host of organisations) and the authors Will Self, and Iain Sinclair, who is speaking at Greenbelt this year.

I was very pleased to find that Iain Sinclair is at Greenbelt this year, and hope to catch his talk.

If you miss it, you should be able to get the talk from the Greenbelt shop. Should be a good ‘un.

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