The following 'explanation' I wrote for the London Psychogeophysics summit in August 2010. I am a great fan of Martin Howse and Jonathan's Kemp, the organisers, but for some reason, probably sleep deprivation, this is mostly taking the piss. But in a deep and fascinating way that will revolutionize us all. Thank you. It is slightly rewritten. My own contribution to the festival was a .walk in brainfuck.
A plate of spaghetti has many beginnings and many ends, but these 'functions' are trivial, easily reversed effects of direction not products of divine teleological purpose. You can eat the plate from the outside in or from the top down, the result, when the cook is not a hack, should be the same. Cause-and-effect and psychogeography are the substance and sauce of the world.
Question: you enter a room, what happens to you?
Question: what is happening to you from outside the room?
Just as the entire weight of the earth conspires to pull down suspended objects (gravity; weak but keystone) the human condition is being shaped by the entire earth: psychogeophysics (duh) is plate tectonics of the mind (yes, go kill yourself).
Psychogeographers have deluded themselves in their petty INMB (In My Back Yard) regionalism and general lack of ambition to look beyond the city and beyond the contemporary. Cities come and go, neighbourhoods go from bust to boom in cyclical fashion. The psychogeophysical angle, which is has everything going for it, is already deluded by procedural navel gazing (the big fat belly of the google-jugend) and an irrational belief in the supreme objectivity of measurement and raw data. Leave the 'spectral ecologies' to the teletubbies; at least they come with a native antenna. Do not quote some boring ass with cheap glasses just because s/he knows how to calibrate a seismic sensor. Death to the White Coats!
Quote Vladimir Nabokov: “I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip. And the highest enjoyment of timelessness – in a landscape selected at random – is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants. This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love. A sense of oneness with sun and stone. A thrill of gratitude to whom it may concern – to the contrapuntal genius of human fate or to tender ghosts humoring a lucky mortal.”
Time does not exist: our lives are too short to 'measure' it, time has astronomical minutes and geological seconds. Time is non-human. What we experience as time is background noise 300 decimals behind the comma. Our time is part of the margin of error, a fluctuation too small to spawn butterfly effects even in geological time. The study of Deep Topology (a tail between the hind legs approach to the depths of the soul here under investigation) gets it get in so far as it rightfully takes aim at the ‘psychogeographical sneer’, the Oh-Look-At-Those-Stupid-Fucks superiority that is the birthright of those art fashionistas who for a time claimed the practice for themselves. But the Iain Sinclair’s and the
’s of this word have moved elsewhere, in pursuit of newer fashions in predictable proper disciplines (literature and porn respectively, both equally detestable). Now we are left to ourselves, in the shadow of obscurity, unobstructed by careerists we can get back to the real work. Stewart Home
The conventional hierarchies of urban space (the non-urban has tended to be a dead zone to be regarded with savage contempt ever since Debord and his wife-beating minions polluted the waters of psychogeography) from rooms, to houses, to streets, to neighbourhoods and upwards; the rifts and sensation experienced through drifting along the rigged, non-seamless man-made portmanteau environments are understood by psychogeographers as critical situations to diagnose the human condition. Can't they see that this is rubbish? Or rather, can't they see that this marginalizes the human artifact (the realm of input) to the point of wafer-thin, almost invisible, absurdity? Is a flaneur defined by the street and shops s/he wanders and explores? Is a magnetotactic bacteria navigating up and down the magnetic field through crystalline magnetosomatic pathfinding-techniques defined by the compass? Ley lines draw connections between unwobbling pivots of earthen magic and this reveals their status as pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo; complexity is my jinxed sextant and I have burned my collection of London Psychogeographic Association newsletters. A weak and dirty yellow flame, smelly.
Cosmonauts returning to earth after years in space (the Russian approach) will want to take a deep breath of real unprocessed fresh earth air: what stands out is not freshness but stench. The earth stinks. It smells of pond scum and volcano snot. Earth's background olfactory may have al sorts of effects, may be chemically programming us, may be manipulated to make us do or not do certain things, nobody has researched it. Psychogeophysics takes on board the entire immaterial world of rock and stone (the salt[s] of the earth) and translates them into one big global transmutational conspiracy of selfless mind control. Hurray!
Emotions are strange things: real and unreal simultaneously, like a dream or a Chinese poem in modernist 'translation'. Reread the Crystalpunk Manifesto.
Psychogeographers are laughed at in the same streets they adore. A mountain is more important than Paris, a volcano is more important than Cairo, an earthquake is more important than Dubai, the geomagnetic north is more important than all cities in the Americas together. A billion+ years of void,
sinks into the ocean (cataclysm), a billion+ years of void. A billion+ years of void, a garden fence falls to the ground (cataclysm), a billion+ years of void. Geophysics not geography defines us. Lat/Lon systematics can not contain earth masses on the move. Los Angeles Mount Fuji does not need Google.earth.
Quote Dogen (1200-1253):“All mountains ride on clouds and walk in the sky. Above all waters are all mountains. Walking beyond and walking within are both done on water. All mountains walk with their toes on all waters and splash there”.
The landmasses move, seas wander, 'continental drift' does not need punning by a contemporary Walter Benjamin. The Holocene is ending, the anthropocene, in which an ever expanding human realm acts as a “new telluric force which in power and universality may be compared to the greater forces of earth” is the great accelerating compliment our presence is bestowing on the planet. But (‘Art’ always takes you back to yourself), but… behind these impersonal forces might hide another intrusive force, life itself,
Quote William Balee: “The atmosphere is partly an artifact of the unfolding of life. In this context, one may consent to the view that Earth and its Latin equivalent, Terra, are misnomers; our planet should have been called Vita - for it is life itself, rather than any single life form or species (even the human one), that distinguishes it from the other planetary bodies of our solar system, at present. Life as a total phenomenon may even have affected plate-tectonics and other supposedly organic processes…”
All these thing do not need measuring they need awe: horror and terror in stroboscopic alternation. Psychogeophyiscs revolves around the open secret of human frailty, the dark heart of finality.
Quote Joseph Conrad: ”There were moments when one's past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare to yourself; but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream, remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world of plants, and water, and silence. And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention.”