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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, October 07, 2006
    Dériving pleasure

    "Much of what is now called psychogeography is resonant and marginal local history" - an unattributed quote in a newsletter from the Desborough Hundred Psychogeographical Society which Cathy Rogers sent me with the Remapping High Wycombe DVD.

    "Much of what is now called psychogeography is resonant and marginal local history" - you can see that, as the first short film features an interview with two elderly, thus deeply knowledgeable, residents, framed next to archive film of the past Wycombe they were describing. You can hear that, in the reminiscences of Neil 'Kiwi' Slang, champion of Wycombe reggae, and in the polite anger of Jeff, 28 years the proprietor of Scorpion Records, a legendary store doomed by 'regeneration' to be replaced by rows of cheap Thai chicken ready meal outlets.

    Psychogeography as evocative, borderline local history. Yeah, why not. But it is other stuff too. For Alan Petherbridge it is something interesting to do in your lunch hour (Alan the first person to take up the invitation of the Desborough Hundred Psychogeographical Society to embark on a lunchtime dérive. He got so carried away with it he exceeded his intended half-hour by another half-hour).

    And for Mark, Daniel and Bex, all first year Arts and Media students from Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College psychogeography is a fascinating encounter with all sorts of questions, about what happens to people when they surrender themselves to the spirit of drift, about which Left is 1st Left when the choice is by no means obvious, about becoming prepared to trespass in the pursuit of the algorithm as bland suburban streets become part of an epic quest and the route carries them through CCTV-guarded industrial gates.

    You sense it reading the book, but you can actually see it on the DVD which Cathy will send you if you ask: psychogeography is all the above, and more. But above all, it is a lot of fun.