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I found out recently that Ray Milland, the Hollywood actor, for three years attended the same primary school as my youngest daughter. He is best known for Dial M for Murder, The Lost Weekend and The Premature Burial. And this. … Continue reading
You dreamed of this island and I wanted to buy you the book Remember? You said it was too much. The river sweeps past Hilbre’s rocks carrying the silt of Berwyn Hills out into the Celtic sea. … Continue reading
Dewdrop had called it a circumnavigation, but the reverence with which he handles the map this morning as he shows me our route suggests it’s something more akin to a pilgrimage for him. When he rang me last week he … Continue reading
For me, the most fascinating thing about the film Cléo From 5 to 7 is Cléo’s journey through Paris. She travels on foot, by bus and in a car, her physical journey seeming to mirror her inner odyssey. Paris, as … Continue reading
I discovered the idea of windscreen cinema on a drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas last summer. I sat in the front passenger seat all the way and became fascinated by how the landscape moved and changed before me, framed by the shape of the windscreen.
What was real and what was not real as we travelled in our air-conditioned can? We sat, gazing at the desert road stretching out before us, to the horizon and beyond… Were we just voyeurs, or did we have a part to play in the story of this landscape?
Windscreen ↔ Cinema Screen
Looking back now, months later, at the pictures that I took on that journey I’ve come to the conclusion that the following are the similarities shared by viewing a windscreen and a cinema screen:
- The pictures move
- The shot is framed
- The soundtrack is ambient and occurs in real time
- But a further layer of sound can be added
- You can bring along snacks and drinks
- And also your loved ones
- These people you see on screen are just acting
- What you see is emotionally involving
- But it is not real
- The image you see stretches away into infinity
- Something mysterious exists beyond the frame of the shot
- But it is not real
- The narrative continues even after you’ve finished watching
- The journey is sometimes interesting and at other times tedious
- You can feel as if the whole thing is getting nowhere
- But eventually you arrive somewhere
- You can talk about what you’ve seen when it is over
Liz Lefroy is a poet. She writes about family, faith and loss. She writes to celebrate the sheer joy of words. Her first collection of poems is called Pretending the Weather and the two poems that follow are from that collection.
I your mother have a new map for the world. See how
wild it is! The plains I wandered nomad creak now under
the bear’s paw suffocate my journeying with thick stems
behind which lurk pounce and barbed fright. There are
edges now juts and rims overhangs precipices which
persuade your young skin the soft skin of your brow
knees hands to the small rocks the tiny stones which
imagine themselves embedded fastened into you. In the
distance the crag-peaks heave themselves up until there is
no horizon but the diminishing blue and the menace of
enfolding. And there are the hordes the multitudes which
swarm heedless of the loveliness the locus of you that is
all everything abundant everything.
To buy a copy of Pretending the Weather, please contact Liz by email: email@example.com
Pretending the Weather
On the second mild day in March,
We get out our cobwebbed chairs,
Discuss gas and charcoal.
It’s good for the garden,
We say, when the cold returns,
And resume the wearing of vests.
We spend the first warm day in May
Bedding in tender plants
And drink tea in a patch of sun.
At night, fearful of late frost,
We tuck up the flowers
In yards of white fleece.
In August we talk of heat,
Of how even France can be like this,
Of getting further south,
At the beach, the children insist on burial,
Play out their skinny toughness
In castles, shells and grainy hair.
Our harvest is green and small:
Tomatoes, beans, bitter grapes.
We pickle the little sun into jars.
When the winter has settled us,
We breathe in vinegar and cardamom,
And consider the value of rain.
Liz Lefroy’s second collection of poems, The Gathering, is due to be published in May. The poems have been set to music and will be premiered at the St Chad’s Music Festival, Shrewsbury on 5th May 2012.
A picture taken in Kirkcudbright. It had been raining most of the day, but stopped just before I spotted this at the end of a little alleyway we had wandered along.
So what if the Hokey Cokey really is what it’s all about? The thought has haunted me ever since. Should I find it reassuring or threatening? In my experience, the Hokey Cokey always ends in complete mayhem. So maybe that’s what the artist is saying…
If anyone knows anything more, please feel free to comment.
Deva Victrix: outpost of the Roman Empire, bulwark against the raiding Brigantes and garrison home of the Legio XX Valeria Victrix. Nowadays known as Chester.
A day out in Chester offers the opportunity to explore the city: to walk its psychogeographical contours. I take the view that deliberately wandering in a state of disorientation can actually enhance one’s understanding of an urban landscape; that it can often provoke strange and unexpected insights at a subjective level. So, what better way to explore the Roman city of Chester than with a map of Rome.
Life can never be too disorientating.
We begin our dérive at the Villa Borghese, near the Spanish Steps. It’s hard to bring an interpretive reading of the cityscape into focus with so many accumulated layers from nearly two thousand years of human activity in this place, one heaped upon the other. But the Roman city begins to articulate itself once we reach the city wall; a medieval top layer perched on the Roman bones beneath.
We follow the Servian Wall to the Capitoline Hill and the Palazzo Venezia, notorious as the one time residence of Il Duce.
Mussolini era monumentalism perched on top of ancient Roman ruins
To the west of the city the Tiber acts as both a defensive line and a commercial artery.
View from Isola Tiberina
We walk through Chester, using a map of Rome as our guide, deliberately trying to subvert our experience of the city; and in doing so attempting to provoke an unconscious détournment in how we see the landscape about us.
A temple dedicated to Diana
We end our walk at the Colosseum, scene of gladiatorial combat. Chester’s amphitheatre these days borders a vast shopping precinct, another expression of the commodification of human desires.
Welcome to Psychogeographic Review
A website that explores the art of psychogeography. Each month we will publish a psychogeograpy-inspired Editorial, Book of the Month, Film of the Month and Website of the Month.
For March we bring you:
- Walter Benjamin and The Arcades Project
- Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage
- Chris Petit’s Radio On
- Urban Adventure in Rotterdam
Follow the category tabs at the top of the page or on the right-hand column to find whichever item you are looking for. Or just scroll down on the home page.
In coming months we will feature Shelagh Delaney’s Salford, a river journey by Bobby Seal in poetry and photographs, books by Iain Sinclair and George Gissing, Agnès Varda’s Cléo from 5 to 7 and reviews of the best in psychogeographic websites from around the world.
We’d also like to start including music reviews, so any suggestions from our ‘followers’ about artists, composers, bands or albums are welcome.
But Psychogeographic Review is not just about producing content. We want to hear from you. Your comments, criticisms, ideas and suggestions can be submitted at the end of each post or on the Contacts page.
If you wish, we can also put you on our email newsletter list for free additional content related to the articles on the site. We guarantee you will not receive any spam or advertising, nor will we pass your details to anyone else!
In many ways The Arcades Project is Benjamin’s lament for the passing of the flâneur. For Benjamin, the flâneur’s disappearance functions as a symbol for the ravages of capitalism upon metropolitan life. The changing urban environment was no longer conducive to the slow, ruminative wanderings of the flâneur:
A man who goes for a walk ought not to have to concern himself with any hazards he may run into, or with the regulations of a city. … But he cannot do this today without taking a hundred precautions, without asking the advice of the police department, without mixing with a dazed and breathless herd, for whom the way is marked out in advance by bits of shining metal. If he tries to collect the whimsical thoughts that may have come to mind, very possibly occasioned by sights on the street, he is deafened by car horns, [and] stupefied by loud talkers.
(Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (Cambridge, Mass and London, Belknap Harvard, 1999) p. 435)
Pictures from a visit to The Arcades, Leeds, England
Thus Benjamin writes of the flâneur as an endangered species; he is marginalised by the social and technological conditions of modernity: the growth of motorised transport; the monopolising of urban public space by consumer culture; the ubiquity of red tape and the standardisation of the nine-to-five day. The Arcades Project is a collection of texts which mirrors the method of the flâneur and his gathering together of the city’s discarded fragments to try to assemble a comprehensible whole. The Arcades Project’s structure invites the reader to wander through its chaotic structure in the way one might explore the streets of a city. To read Benjamin’s key work is in itself analogous to the practice of flânerie.
That the arcades of Paris were long past their heyday was of no concern to Benjamin; in fact it was a key aspect of his world view that all manifestations of successive civilisations were transitory phenomena. As a consequence of this view, Benjamin saw modernity as transient too.
Benjamin suggests, in The Arcades Project, that we can only pore over modernity’s remnants, its ruins, as opposed to being able to study it as something more permanent. Such explorations through the remnants of an already lost modernity, Benjamin argues, have an almost dreamlike quality. Benjamin refers to a concept of remembrance that he calls eingedenken, which provokes inevitable echoes of Proust’s ‘in search of lost time’. For Benjamin, the environment of the city, in particular the arcades of Paris, prompts a recollection of lost memories of times past.
Benjamin rejects the linear path of continuing progress in history, but instead refers to sudden shocks or flashes that capture ‘the time of the now’ or Jetztzeit. These phenomena are at their clearest, argues Benjamin, when they are in decline. Hence his interest in the Parisian arcades at a time when they were at the end of their heyday.