Wednesday, 12 May 2004

On the road | (Iain Sinclair)

"You can't understand Thatcher," says Sinclair, "except in terms of bad magic. This wicked witch who focuses all the ill will in society. I can't understand her except as demonically possessed by the evil forces of world politics. Everything else follows from that: oil revenues blown in dubious arms deals, all real values trashed. She becomes a godhead to those who want to destroy the city's power. But the godhead is created for a system which destroys her, as always happens. Now she's been banished to a kingdom of whisky and mockery. But the fact remains that she introduced occultism into British politics and that the role of the writer was to counter that political culture."

"...There's this frightening sense that I must have some weird brand image as the London psychogeographer."

Psychogeography is a talismanic term that Sinclair understands to have been cannibalised from French situationism. "For me, it's a way of psychoanalysing the psychosis of the place in which I happen to live. I'm just exploiting it because I think it's a canny way to write about London. Now it's become the name of a column by Will Self, in which he seems to walk the South Downs with a pipe, which has got absolutely nothing to do with psychogeography. There's this awful sense that you've created a monster."
As he walked, Sinclair found his literary allies inscribing "editorials of madness" on the walls. He wrote: "As newspapers have atrophied into the playthings of grotesque megalomaniacs, uselessly shrill exercises in mind-control, so disenfranchised authors have been forced to adapt the walls to playful collages of argument and invective." He transcribed these collages into the book and found they had mythical resonances, "thus proving that graffiti has a half-life far in excess of the buildings on which they have been painted. Broken sentences and forgotten names wink like fossils among the ruins."

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