donderdag 3 november 2011

In the UK 'psychogeography' is a fancy word for 'nostalgia'


Bloggers in Aberdeen & Leeds point to a paper by Aleister Bonnett (editor of Transgressions magazine, see earlier) titled 'The Dilemmas of Radical Nostalgia in British Psychogeography' (2009, pdf). Having read it a few times I am at a loss what to make of it: it is such a high-tower writing-desk approach that to me it completely overshoots it's aim: Bonnett is someone who spends all his money on an elaborate birdcage but forgets to feed the birds. After the death of ideology psychogeographers in the UK (from the LPA to Sinclair) lost their interest in drawing up blueprints of future cities and replaced forward looking utopianism with an apparent retreat in lyrical but inane nostalgia that is not really inane but .... but what?? complicated! its is complicated!! sigh.
In what I have called „revolutionary psychogeography‟ we also find the simultaneous evocation and refusal of modernity. However, in this tradition this tension is organized around themes of communism, occultism and preservationism. The development of „magico-Marxism‟ encapsulates the novelty, but also the folk-radical inclinations, of the most startling (and selfconsciously baffling) aspects of this work. Magico-Marxism glories in its own scurrilous obscurity. Its principal thesis – that class power relies on and can be disrupted through occultism and ritualism – is offered as a kind of creative game of disorientation. Yet the end result mocks and ironizes proletarian identity as much as it mocks and ironizes ruling-class power. Magico-Marxism pursues and explores the most outrageous reaches of radical nostalgia. Yet it also has a rather desperate quality: it wants to be communist but it no longer believes; it wants to articulate the sense of loss that sustains it, but it does not know how. However, we can also identify a preservationist tendency within revolutionary psychogeography capable of offering a confident articulation of the politics of loss. This tendency will appear to many as more culturally conservative, more attuned to the concerns of the old than the iconoclastic energies of the young, and more querulous about the point and possibility of industrial civilization. These concerns are all well founded. Yet they also reflect a political paradigm that, although dominant, no longer inspires the automatic loyalty of creative radicals. With the collapse of communism and the widespread questioning of the sustainability of industrial modernity, the radical imagination has been profoundly challenged. Old assumptions and prejudices can be overturned. And not the least of these concern the role of past in the politics of the present.

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