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

    Monday, January 15, 2007
    The methods beneath Sinclair's surface madness
    Robert Bond's book on Iain Sinclair (in the Salt Studies in Contemporary Literature & Culture series) turned out to be a densely academic tome which I (being dense in another sense) struggled with a bit. But also got a lot out of. After all its subject is a writer whose whole project involves the weaving of signs, references, stones, symbols and forgotten tales together into a very dense and complex web of pulsing new meanings. That's why I like him. And that's why Bond's book - the first full-length study of Sinclair's work - leaves me keen to search for more riches through the references provided in its lengthy bibliography.

    Disappointment - that the later books get less treatment (because I've come to Sinclair later). But I'm sure Bond's work will embrace those as time goes on. Pleasure - to find someone able to explain, to great depth, the methods beneath Sinclair's surface madness.

    'To match one's own marginal and excessive consciousness to the irrational social landscape, could be to rationally construct an urban cognitive totality', is the way Bond describes Sinclair's approach to redescribing urban experience on foot and through an intensity of creative connections. Sinclair elaborates (from London Orbital):

    I started to embark on monumental walks; do it that way, I thought, work the gap between personal psychosis and psychosis of the city: the crisis of consciousness lives in faulty synchronization. Sometimes the city was crazier, sometimes my fugues leapt ahead: fire visions, sunsets over King's Cross gas holders. We are part of the madness. Monitor everything: weeds, green paint on a wooden fence in Maryon Park, swans hooked by Kosovans on the River Lea, the way an Irish barman in Kentish Town stubs out his Sweet Afton and scratches a cut that never heals on his right wrist.