Psychogeography is defined by Guy Debord, founding member of Situationist International, as the study of the specific effects of geography on the emotions and behavior of individuals. Formal groups like the London Psychogeographical Association and our own BART Psychogeographical Association may consciously apply the discipline but, in practice, psychogeography includes just about anything that wrenches pedestrians out of their routines in order to heighten awareness of the urban landscape. An urban adventurer who goes on a "dice walk" or participates in a scavenger hunt is, in essence, practicing psychogeography, as is a tourist who signs up for a walking tour. The key is traveling by foot and paying attention.
For years, acclaimed British satirist, onetime junkie, and dedicated long-distance walker Will Self has explored the intimate relationship between psyche and place for his The Independent weekly column PsychoGeography. In his latest book, a collection of nonfiction by the same name, Self hurls himself headlong into all sorts of precarious situations, from the streets of São Paolo to a shopping mall in Iowa, mapping the modern mind along the way. Fans of his more fantastic, facetious fiction Great Apes, in which a parallel Earth is ruled by chimpanzees, or The Book of Dave, in which a flood leads to religious fervor based on taxi routes will not be disappointed. The 50 short pieces, illustrated by longtime Hunter S. Thompson collaborator Ralph Steadman, are delivered with signature cynicism, humor, and uncompromising insight.
Mon., Oct. 29, 7 p.m., 2007