Alan Moore interviews are always worth reading. Here he discusses psychogeography as it applies to various of his works.
What exactly, in your not unlimited understanding, is Psychogeography?
In its simplest form I understand psychogeography to be a straightforward acknowledgement that we, as human beings, embed aspects of our psyche…memories, associations, myth and folklore…in the landscape that surrounds us. On a deeper level, given that we do not have direct awareness of an objective reality but, rather, only have awareness of our own perceptions, it would seem to me that psychogeography is possibly the only kind of geography that we can actually inhabit.
What books and writers ignited your interest in psychogeography?
The author that first introduced me to the subject was the person I regard as being its contemporary master, namely Iain Sinclair, with his early work Lud Heat. Obviously, since then my appreciation of the field has broadened to include a wider range of writers. Some of these, like Arthur Machen, would appear to have been consciously applying something very much like Iain Sinclair’s conception of psychogeography as ‘walking with an agenda’, while others such as H.P. Lovecraft sought only to draw poetic inspiration from specific landscapes and their atmospheres, apparently without a conscious understanding of the way in which these fictions could be said to have emerged from the geography in question. Nor did Lovecraft seem aware that his imaginings, superimposed upon the actual territories of New England, were inevitably to become part of the way those territories were perceived and thus part of the place itself. I think that what I’m saying here is that once introduced to the idea of psychogeography, one tends to realise that it is almost everywhere and that a given author’s own awareness of its processes within their writing is to some extent irrelevant. From one perspective, after all, it might be said that in such writings place itself is the true author.
Early psychogeography is quite different to modern psychogeography in theory. Which form do you see yourself writing? Are the two relatable?
My approach, in keeping with Theophile Gautier’s elegant definition of Decadent literature as being capable of plundering from the most ancient past or the most recent ‘technical vocabularies’ (which is also a good working definition of postmodernism), would be to see the current model of psychogeography as evolving from and thus essentially containing earlier versions of the practice, making these original techniques available to modern artists as important tools within their repertoire. For example, one need not subscribe to any nebulous New Age conceptions with regard to ‘ley lines’ to appreciate that Brecon visionary Alfred Watkins’s idea of linking geographic points into a web of sightlines could have modern application if regarded as a linkage of ideas, as in both Iain Sinclair’s work and in my own From Hell. By linking memory and history to landscape, psychogeography tends to suggest time as a solid object, which to some degree renders the linear progression of the subject’s literary tropes and fashions meaningless. If time is considered as a landscape then one is obviously free to wander anywhere within that terrain, into the recalled, recorded past or even the projected future, armed with the sophisticated sensibilities of the present as a means of interpreting and utilising what we find there.
Read more at Reasons I Do Not Dance.