Mervyn Coverley’s classic primer Psychogeography, published in 2006, is the essential guide to the history of psychogeography from its precursors in the 19th century via the Lettrists and the Situationist International to currents of drift in the 1990s (Stewart Home, the London Psychogeographical Association) and the literary meanderings of Papadimitriou, Ackroyd, Sinclair and Self. It’s a book you need to read if you want to get an understanding of how psychogeography got to where it was, generally standing about and not doing very much on some lost conceptual street corner, at the time of its publication. But what has been happening in the subsequent near-decade? Evidently it was time for a new overview of where psychogeography is going now and in the future; where Coverley’s book left off, a new and equally essential account of today’s psychogeographical doers and thinkers would have to take up the story.
Dr. Tina Richardson, a leading practitioner and promulgator of psychogeography and the progenitor of her own Deleuze-and-Guattari-inspired theory Schizocartography, has stepped with her fashionably shod feet into this historical gap and brought to light the various paths being trod by today’s psychogeographers. Hence Walking Inside and Out, a volume of essays exploring theory and praxis, interrogating psychogeography’s history and methodologies from perspectives hitherto not understood or given voice in the field. This is a collection of writings that span a range from the light-hearted and ironic to the politically engaged, taking in aesthetics, tourism, feminism, disability politics, therapy (psychogeography as a tool for treating Alzheimer’s patients), the urban, suburban and rural. The contributions are from prominent psychogeographers working in academia and nowhere near it, presenting a complicated picture of psychogeography as a thing of shifting paradigms and new social potentials.
So being a psychogeographer (if you so choose to call yourself while you drift through the urban extended phenotype) is being a pavement Pope of Discord or a street-corner preacher in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, an ambulatory ludibrium, a conceptual art joke, a psychoactive trip down Memory Lane via Letsby Avenue, a twerk beneath the cold glare of the CCTV’s lens, looning about in the city’s open spaces, an art praxis mashing up dancing and strolling, vogueing and rambling, joie de vivre in stout walking-boots. It is sole music.
Or it’s a politically fuelled act as serious as having fun is serious (see the above paragraph), as fun as seriousness should be, a redrawing of your psychic maps as you walk with conscious purpose but undirected desire and the intention to unearth mystery hiding inside the machinery. You can be a revolutionary of the numinous and noetic, a visionary poet-wanderer, a songline walker, a dawn treader, a twilight loper, a leyline botherer, a hard-headed anticapitalist theory-monger or the girl dancing through the Twining’s Tea advert. All these wonders and more will be revealed if you read Walking Inside and Out with the right kind of eyes.
Walking Inside and Out takes you by the hand and leads you through the streets of late capitalism, gently wandering with the reader around inside the multicoloured and many-faceted mindscape of contemporary psychogeography. The spirit of this collection of essays reflects Richardson’s vision for the new psychogeography: open, forward-looking, refusing dogmas and simplistic categorisations. This book gathers together so many different ways of doing psychogeography, so many possibilities for being a psychogeographer, giving them all their due and celebrating the complex, joyous and challenging nature of the discipline. This book will surely become a classic of psychogeographical literature, a must-read for everyone who would stride confidently and subversively into tomorrow.
Walking Inside and Out is published by Rowman & Littlefield International http://www.rowmaninternational.com/books/walking-inside-out
Tina Richardson blogs at Particulations http://particulations.blogspot.co.uk and