|The Art of Walking thru Geographic Space
> Von Bark
Part One: PsychoGeographies...
The experimental project known as homo sapiens was originally devised by a cruel Darwinian god as a bipedal system, effected by the means of dual semiflexible armatures called 'legs', by which the system traverses the rocky paths of nature on towards inevitable death.
Two and a half millennia ago the Hellenic heavy-thinker and classifier of things Aristotle, while walking, stumbled upon a modest but intriguing paradox, a slight wrinkle in the mind-body split: the mind, facilitator of thought, the spurious emanations of the brain, was presumed to function at increased efficiency in immobile contemplation, when undistracted by physical movements such as fighting or fucking; yet, there appeared a delicate balance when the body was engaged in low-stress diversion such as 'strollin' or 'moseyin' where the mind seemed sensitive to the interplay of mental artifacts... T'was the genesis of the concept of Peripatetics, the Art of Walking, an uncommon phenomenon of the mind and body in some sort of balance.
Doctor Aristotle usually confined his ramblin' to a limited path looping the courtyard of his school, and his use of Peripatetics was limited to the self-contained purpose of lecture and debate. It was only much later that writers began to semi-formally adapt the art of walking toward external inquiries and explorations instead of inward self-reflection. The pioneers of walking observation were the Romantic figures Charles Baudelaire and Thomas DeQuincy, who spent various days and nights randomly exploring on foot the streets of the cities they lived in, and then went on to record their impressions and personal comments about what they had observed and experienced.
The word 'Psycho-Geography' was coined in the mid-Twentieth century by the radical French cultural theorist Guy-Ernest Debord, the mastermind behind the intellectual anarchist doctrine of Situationalism, best known for his involvement in the student uprisings of May 1968 and his trenchant critique of the dehumanising aspects of Capitalism in the essay 'The Society of the Spectacle'.
Debord devised formal PsychoGeography in his practice of 'Derive' (drift), a systematic game of organized expeditions on foot across downtown Paris based upon semi-randomly assigned coordinates marked on a city map. His aim was to explore obscure alleys and neighbourhoods which would not otherwise be encountered in regular daily affairs. His intentions implied a political approach to urban systems, a careful street-level observation of the effects of architecture and urban planning on human experience.
The shadow of Debord still colours contemporary PG practice, but the rigid autocratic grip with which he dominated these concepts has relaxed somewhat since his death. Current PG has evolved into a series of somewhat more resilient personalized approaches, reflecting the wider cultural interpretations of the individuals involved. For example, one Dutch PG group reminds us to freely drink alcohol on urban excursions, if so inclined: "The hallucinations of alcohol provides us with an opportunity to study crowds as they appear in mind of individuals".
In the same manner which hippies described the rules of Baseball as: "a sophisticated version of keep-away", participatory PG could be described as: "a post-modern version of Orienteering".
Orienteering is an organized competitive field sport based on cross-country running, but utilizing detailed maps and directional compass; heats of runners stumble through forests following paths which they have hastily triangulated based upon sets of terse geometric instructions.
Obviously, PG is not a competitive sport, but it does share with Orienteering a fascination with maps and directional coordinates. The common metaphor is the idea of the map as representation of space, and the holder of the map as an individual who engages in mental shifts from levels of abstract theory to street-level reality. Some contemporary PGers endeavour to tease our presumptions about the construct of the reality we engage by utilizing maps which have been intentionally deformed and distorted, presumably to make possible the virtual redesign of new cities which exist in our mental space, and provide the avenue by which to view our old streets under new light.
A distinctive feature of recent PG is the adaptation of the style of computer programming codes in creating the randomized walking instructions used. As might be guessed, it has been declared quite plainly that this trope represents the liberating aspect of open-source software, engaged in the eternal metaphoric conflict with the dark forces of closed-source software.
I regret that due to my reclusive and hibernetic nature, I have not participated in the recent PG activities conducted in my nieghbourhood, so my comments are mere second-hand interpretations of details available at ....
>>Onward to Part Two