I am interested in the phenomenon of ‘seeing’ because it
encapsulates the mystery of meaning. The moment of recognition
happens as if by magic; and yet, when we reflect on it, we see- its
very name tells us this-that it is impossible without prior
experience. What becomes puzzling then is the phenomenon
of insight, the creation (apparently) of new meaning. Here, we
forget that to recognize can mean to re-think, as in think through
differently. It need not always signify mere repetition of a former
cognition. We say in such cases not only that we recognize x (as Y),
but that we realize x is Y.
In fact, we almost never use the word ‘recognize’ -even in the
most straightforward cases of identification or recall – unless there
is some problem: we don’t see her face clearly, or she has changed,
or we met only briefly years ago. That is, ‘recognition’, even in
apparently straightforward cases, involves re-organization of
experience- an act of contextualization, a sensing of connexions
between aspects of immediate experience and other experiences.
Thus, the experiences of seeing how an assemblage of parts must
go together, recognizing an old friend in an unfamiliar setting, and
understanding a metaphor are species of the same phenomenon.
They all involve insight, understood as re-cognition; a gestalt shift.
And this is the original of meaning.
— Jan Zwicky, Wisdom & Metaphor
This dirty little bugger has a story. Remind you tell me sometime.
strip the flesh to the soul and kill the strange words
they have mingled in discord because they bring fine knowledge
creeping upon lips ravished with pleasure.
Handmaiden of thy void, feast of the blood!
Avenge the leprous godthing and burnth the corrupted day,
bring destruction upon the heart and eat the years.
Be glad the flock will not slumber – I ground them for the wind.
Not much in the way of punctuation up in here but regardless enjoy this essay by William S. Burroughs. It originally appeared in Telos magazine in the 70s and can be found as an appendix in most copies of ‘the ticket that exploded’ – my copy of which is somewhere in Cardiff.
what we see is determined to a large extent by what we hear
you can verify this proposition by a simple experiment – turn off the sound track of your television set and substitute an arbitrary sound track prerecorded on your tape recorder street sounds music conversation recordings of other television programs
you will find that the arbitrary sound track seems to be appropriate and is in fact determining your interpretation of the film track on screen
people running for a bus in piccadilly with a sound track of machine-gun fire looks like 1917 petrograde
you can extend the experiment by using recorded material more or less appropriate to the film track
for example take a political speech on television shut off sound track and substitute another speech you have prerecorded
hardly tell the difference isn’t much record sound track of one danger man from uncle spy program run it in place of another and see if your friends can’t tell the difference
it’s all done with tape recorders
consider this machine and what it can do it can record and play back activating a past time set by precise association
a recording can be played back any number of times
you can study and analyze every pause and inflection of a recorded conversation why did so and so say just that or this just here
play back so and so’s recordings and you will find out what cues so and so in you can edit a recorded conversation retaining material which is incisive witty and pertinent
you can edit a recorded conversation retaining remarks which are boring flat and silly
a tape recorder can play back fast slow or backwards you can learn to do these things record a sentence and speed it up now try imitating your accelerated voice play a sentence backwards and learn to unsay what you just said . . . such exercises bring you a liberation from old association locks
Click to continue reading The Invisible Generation
Psychogeography acknowledges the relationships between people and spaces. How does a particular area or environment come to have meaning? What effect do places have on those who move through them? Upscale neighborhoods give us different feelings from ghettos, all the more so if we happen to live in one or the other. Bustling urban areas affect our energy in entirely other ways from peaceful, rural gardens.
We are all unconsciously psychogeographers. We seed the places we move through with meaning, overlaying our surroundings with associations, perceptions, and reactions. I giggle every time I pass the Millberry Building on the UCSF medical campus near our apartment, where my spouse and I once drunkenly had sex outside, barely concealed by a pillar. The rows of Victorian houses in my neighborhood seem stately and elegant. They remind me to hold myself erect and poised. I go out of my way to avoid the McDonald’s when I walk down to Haight Street.
Practicing psychogeography is about becoming conscious of how your environment affects your emotions, your energy, your behavior. Mindfulness matters in psychogeograpical pursuits. We walk through the city immersed in interior monologues, I need to buy some tomatoes, did I remember to turn the heater off?, I wonder what he meant when he said that. Undertaking a psychogeographical practice entails becoming aware instead of the city around you, and its effects on you. Practicing psychogeography is also about performing actions that change your relationship to your surroundings, to your urban space. Public art, localized political action, spontaneous interaction with the environment: these things can all change how we move in the spaces around us.
Urban Dreamscape: SF is a conscious psychogeographical practice. When I weave my dreams into my environment, I add layers of memory and experience into the city. A stroll to the store brings me back through the narratives of my sleeping psyche, to the deepest parts of my unconscious. The traces I leave on these places in the form of the representations of the dreams done by various artists also affect my relationship to the place, and perhaps also changes how those places affect anyone who sees this site (such as you).
The Situationists—a post-surrealist movement of artist anarchists who helped foment the 1968 uprising in France—engaged in a conscious psychogeographical practice they called the Dérive (French for drift). This constituted a meandering ramble through the city, the “technique of locomotion without a goal.” The walker moves without motivation or destination; she drifts. Whatever the terrain offers determines the experience; attraction or repulsion to features or architecture show the drifter his path or provoke emotions, reactions, and thoughts. Often undertaken by small clusters of people drifting together, the Dérive generated group awareness of urban spaces. Myriad ways that the city influences its citizens were thus made visible. The Dérive reveals the psychic map of an area. Or else it creates that map. Meaning itself is a human construct. It exists because we create it.
We are practicing psychogeography together right now. Because you’ve read this text and perhaps looked at some of my dreams, your view of the city may change. If you’re in San Francisco, and you walk through the Upper Haight, Cole Valley, parts of Golden Gate Park, or the Inner Sunset, you’ll pass through my dreams, layered over top of the architecture. Maybe you’ll notice them. Maybe you’ll add your own layers on top of them, or else seed something else in your neighborhood. The feedback loop between you and your environment creates meaning.
<< Urban Dreamscape SF >>
I would like, while chastely composing my eclogues, to lie close to
the sky, like an astrologer; hearing solemn hymns, as in a dream,
carried by the wind from neighboring bells. Chin on my hands,
from my high garret I will behold the workshop of singsong and
chitchat; chimney pots, bell towers, the city’s masts; broad skies
that set eternity to dreaming.Sweet as it is to see, through the fog, a star born from the blue, the
lamp in a window, rivers of smoke rising into the firmament and
the moon pouring down its pale enchantment. I will see springs,
summers, autumns; and when winter arrives with its monotonous
snow I will close every curtain, every shutter, to construct in the
night my fantastic alaces. Then I will dream of blue-tinged ho-
rizons, gardens, alabaster fountains that weep, kisses, birds sing-
ing evening and morning, and whatever most childish item my
Idyll will absorb. Riot, vainly raging at my window, will not raise
my forehead from my desk-for I will be voluptuously immersed
in evoking by will the Spring, drawing a sun from my heart, and
forging from my burning thought an atmosphere of warmth.
– Keith Waldrop translation
Nature is a temple whose columns are alive and sometimes issue
disjointed messages. We thread our way through a forest of symbols
that peer out. as if recognising us.Like long echoes from far away, merging into a deep dark unity,
vast as night, vast as the light, smells and colours and sounds con-
cur.There are perfumes cool as children’s flesh, sweet as oboes,
green like the prairie. And others corrupt, rich, overbearing.with the expansiveness of infinite things – like ambergris,
musk, spikenard, frankincense, singing ecstasy to the mind and
to the senses.
– Keith Waldrop translation
Ah, the Ministry of Defence. The fact that the yr acronym spells mod… It just sounds cute. Like you’re part of some long dead subculture whose only purpose these days is to be vapidly repurposed by modern day hipsters. Anyway, thanks to the ingunuity of some british aircraft engineers with a twisted sense of humour… Well:
The army’s southern command, four police forces, bomb disposal units, RAF helicopters and the MoD’s intelligence branch were all mobilised in the early hours of Monday 4 September 1967 to meet the threat.
They went into action after the police and RAF were flooded with calls from the public reporting the discovery of six small “flying saucers” in locations in a perfect line across southern England from Sheppey to the Bristol Channel.
It was not until a Scotland Yard bomb disposal squad with orders to check one of the objects with portable X-ray equipment arrived at Bromley police station, south London, that the hoax was uncovered – the Ever Ready batteries were a bit of a giveaway.
Alien invasion hoax fooled MoD, archive papers reveal