donderdag 27 januari 2011

Iain Sinclair says "Psychogeography is not that interesting anymore"

The writer sitting in the back, shady and iguana like, mentally preparing for his lecture.   

Iain Sinclair was giving a lecture in The Hague the other day.

I AM a complete coward and I would never have the temerity to walk up to Iain Sinclair, the don of wiseguy psychogeography, and embarrass myself by boring him with my presence and rambling madman conversation. 

Afterwards I was waiting for Petr Kazil in the hallway, when it took longer than expected for him to show up I returned to the lecture hall to see what was delaying him. There I found him at the pedestal waiting for a chance to thank Sinclair for his books and so I half-heartedly joined him and, when the three of us walked to the hallway, I managed to present myself as the true socially uncomfortable halfwit that I am and asked him if he was following current work in psychogeography to which he responded that 'psychogeography was not that interesting any more' it is not an exact quote but what a complete tosser! So of course I could not resist the chance to reveal myself as the crazy self-obsessed freak in the room by showing him the error of his ways, telling him of the psychogeophyics summit in his own Hackney last summer (he did hear of it but was abroad) and (shudder) my own MK_Weeds festival to which he replied with an anecdote of walking with Richard Mabey and being told about grasses as food.

So Petr and I chatted a bit with him, exchanging book titles (I recommended John McPhee, especially 'Basin and Range' because it was similar in intent, oh shame, to his own books) but Sinclair was gracefully indulgent, talking back and telling us that his next book dealt with the US. He is a smart dresser and does not have a cute English accent. Petr recorded his lecture and Sinclair (can I call you Iain now?) said he did't mind if it was published online. (link to be inserted). 

In his books Sinclair presents himself as a kind of all seeing and all knowing genius loci, a presence larger than space and I was interested to see how he would be in his own human form. His talk was a pleasant intersection of thought and places, stories and walks. He was more outspokenly political than in his books, in clear terms condemning gentrification and the architectural legacy engineering behind, for instance, the London Olympics.     

3 opmerkingen:

  1. I saw an interview with him several years ago in Fortean Times where expressed a wish that psychogeography would just go away for 20 years - presumably, as a field goes fallow, it would come back re-energized. Maybe he's just a curmudgeon.

  2. He's an excellent writer, but I've often had the impression that I wouldn't actually want to go on a walk with him. Interesting that you say he was more outspoken politically than in his books too, because I've found that it is the political angle he spins (by spinning I also mean that he comes back to the same subjects again and again) that puts me off his work a little.

  3. In an interview with Ballardian a few years ago, there was this exchange:

    Ballardian: Psychogeography is quite a buzzword now; Will Self’s got his column in the Independent

    Iain Sinclair: Which to me has absolutely no connection whatsoever to whatever psychogeography was originally, or in its second incarnation. It was something very specific in Paris in the 50s and 60s — the Lettrists and Situationists had this politicised conceptual movement called Psychogeography. Then it was reinvented into London with people like Stewart Home and the London Psychogeographical Association, who mixed those ideas with ideas of ley lines and Earth mysteries and cobbled it together as a provocation, and I took it on from that point. Now it’s just become this brand name for more or less anything that’s vaguely to do with walking or vaguely to do with the city. It’s a new form of tourism.