“Psychogeography does not have to be complicated. Anyone can do it. You do not need a map, Gore-Tex, or a companion. All you need is a curious nature and a comfortable pair of shoes. There are no rules to doing psychogeography – this is its beauty. However, it is this that makes it hard to pin down in any formalised way. It is also this ‘unruly’ character (disruptive, unsystematic, random) that makes for much discussion about its meaning and purpose.” pg. 1 Tina Richardson on pg. 1 of the introduction to Walking Inside Out
Walking Inside Out attempts to nail the psychogeographic jelly to the wall.
A collection of essays edited by Tina Richardson, seeks to articulate the seemingly ever more open-ended practice(s) of contemporary psychogeography. Each essay is an exercise in democratic inclusiveness with literary and artistic practitioners rubbing shoulders with academia and fellow travellers from medical and psychological backgrounds. Listen to the Babel of voices and approaches without prejudice and what’s revealed is intriguing. In the introduction and concluding notes Richardson goes some way towards identifying common ground and drawing together a commonwealth of experiences that move her towards a series of contemporary definitions for the already much-defined term psychogeography. These have previously included:
“The study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.” Guy Debord 1955
or a less politically explicit definition provided by Joseph Hart 2004:
“a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring [cities]… just about anything that takes[ pedestrians] ‘walkers’ off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the [urban] landscape.” ([—] = my deletions and ‘….’ = my insertions)
whilst Situationist Ivan Chtcheglov declared:
“It must be sought in the magical locales of fairy tales and surrealist writings: castles, endless walls, little forgotten bars, mammoth caverns, casino mirrors.”
Psychogeography is slippery. Creative. Exploratory. Political. Undefinable. Walking Inside Out testifies to the richness and profusion of contemporary British psychogeography. The essays by a diverse and companionable collection of artists, writers, academics, explorers and agitators are by turns academic, serious, intensely focused, irreverent, moving, inquisitive, complex and at times comically light-hearted. They ramble freely across an eclectic terrain of the possible.
A bumper compendium, bubbling with insights and oddments, and a multiplicity of perspectives, Walking Inside Out accentuates the vibrancy of British psychogeography, its varied theories, walking styles, pathways, motivations. It will inspire you to stride out, to wallow in this weird Island, looking askance at its incongruities, vestiges, banalities, security apparatus, rural idylls, shabby seafronts, and the less trodden ways.
Tim Edensor, Cultural Geographer, Manchester Metropolitan University
Walking Inside Out is more than a history of British psychogeography: it is a compelling drift through the conceptual space of the discipline as practised in the contemporary cultural and social situation. It points to psychogeography’s possible futures in all their theoretical complexity, playful subversiveness, political and therapeutical potential. An essential addition to the growing corpus of psychogeographical literature.
James Lawrence, Writer, poet and translator
The spirit of the essays reflects Richardson’s vision for the new psychogeography: open, forward-looking, refusing dogmas, finite definitions and simplistic categorisations. The book celebrates the complex, joyous and challenging nature of the discipline. In fact, diversity is the book’s greatest strengths. One would expect that a book about modern psychogeography would contain personal accounts of walkers critically interacting with the landscape. Yet, it has much more than that. There are chapters that meditate on the influence of memory and time, as well as those that examine notions of power, place, and the dominant narrative in the landscapes we traverse. There are also chapters from contributors who, though not typically affiliated with the practices of the arts-based humanities, use psychogeography within their own fields in creative ways, exploring the intersections of psychogeography with the law, with dementia and with town planning.
This book is full of unanticipated gems. There are a few overcomplicated blind alleys but overall it’s an enlightened celebration of the breadth of the contemporary psychogeographical practice.
“We can trust nothing and so have to trust ‘everything’ and ‘anywhere’, plunging ourselves both pleasurably and fearfully into the ‘and and and’ of multiple narratives and trajectories, stitching together new subjectivities and traditions in ruins in a reparative and depressive interweaving.”
Eve Sedgewick, pg. 123-51 in Touching, Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity 2003
A little more on the subject here: