Wall of voodoo

At the moment I am in Adana, Turkey’s fourth biggest city or, as a friend describes it, Turkey’s biggest village. Now that we have decided to leave Turkey, Adana has decided to polish up its act and has some decent places to go. One of which is as near as Adana is ever going to get to a decent pub.

And on the walls of the gents are these gems.

Come, stravage with me.


blake stravage.jpeg


‘’What was the word I used this morning?’’ ‘’You used a lot of words this morning. It was like a fucking Will Self lecture.’’

The Thick of It, BBC 2.

I am new to life here in PsyGestan, the land of psychogeography. Like any immigrant to a new country one of the first things you need to do is learn the lingo. And something you notice early on is that there are a lot of words for walking. Psychogeography turns one of those awful pieces of management speak on its head and, instead of encouraging you to ’Walk the Talk’, demands that you ‘Talk the Walk’. Here in Psygestan there are as many words for walk as the Eskimo allegedly has for snow and the Manchunian actually has for rain.

But, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, psychocartographers, mythogeographers, and schizocartographers, I want to champion an underused one. Stravage. As used by Arthur Machen back in the 1890s.

‘’The fact was that one grey Sunday afternoon in the March of that year, I went for a long walk with a friend. I was living in Gray’s Inn in those days, and we stravaged up Gray’s Inn Road on one of those queer, unscientific explorations of the odd corners of London in which I have always delighted.’’

Machen, Arthur. A Fragment of Life.

Stravage, verb (used without object). Scot., Irish, and North England. To wander aimlessly.

I think that’s a great word. A cross between stroll and ravage, it contains elements of both strange and vague.  They say it is probably a shortening of the word ‘extravagate’, which means stray or roam but can also mean “to go beyond proper limits”.

So my definition of stravage is: To roam without limits, aimlessly.

Once I found the word in Machen I went looking for where else it was used, and found it used by T.E. Lawrence…

‘’…if you still stravage the roads of England in a great car.’’

(That is exactly what you should be doing to the roads of England, isn’t it?  Stravaging them in a great car.)

…and in this, from Judge Ferdinand Francis Fernandez of California…

“Moreover, the statute speaks with enough clarity to permit (nay require) one to stop with its own words, rather than undertaking to stravage in a wilderness of possible legislative purposes.”

…but that was pretty much it, as far as Google was concerned.

Well it’s just not good enough. Stravage is a word that demands to be used more.

Not just going forward. Oh, no. In the great tradition of psychogeography, it needs to be retrospectively inserted into appropriate works. Edward Hyde should be seen stravaging the streets of Soho at night, Quasimodo should dream of being free to stravage around Notre Dame, and John Cooper Clarke should write of a stravage down Beasley Street. A film of Travis Bickle’s stravages through New York must be made. A bi-monthly magazine called Stravage, written in French, must be unearthed from the nineteen-fifties. A Blake engraving of an angel stravaging with a lamb in Westminister should be discovered, Thomas de Quincey’s article on drug-fuelled stravages on Oxford Street has to be re-published, and Defoe’s tale of a down-and-out pickpocket stravaging the streets of a plague filled London must be re-printed. A Baudelaire poem about a Parisian prostitute he met on a drunken stravage should be rediscovered.

The word, the idea, the very theory of the Stravage must be inserted where ever possible into the past in order to ensure it has a future.

This post was published a guest blog on the Particulations site, thanks to the generosity of Dr Tina Richardson. (http://particulations.blogspot.com.tr).

Smudging the nudge units.

”…the Spectacle wants our subjectivity, badly. Be wary of your life online. It’s not so much the information it is gathering on you – as the information it is learning how to implant in you. If you don’t know what a government ‘nudge unit’ is, then find out – because if governments have them, you can be certain big corporations, organised crime, charities and public bureaucracies do. If you are fully engaged with life online, you might be surprised by how much online is not just fully engaged with, but, how fully it IS you. For once, modesty, hiddenness and anonymity are radical positions.”

Psychogeography Now, A Talk for Edge Hill University by Phil Smith (2016)

This is part of a presentation I downloaded a month or so ago that managed to implant itself in my mind. Was I being nudged? Ohh, lets not go down that road. Let’s take Mr Smith (Mr Smith!?) as being one of the good guys, which he seems to be from the little I’ve seen of his, erm, on-line presence.

What can I do about this? How can I throw my 1/4 AF spanner (it’s a small spanner, trust me, I used to be an engineer) in the works without wrecking the works altogether. After all, I quite like my on-line life.

Mis-information. That’s what I came up with. Feed the machine mis-information and hope the old adage garbage-in-garbage-out still holds.

So, from tomorrow onwards I intend to do at least one random act on-line that has nothing to do with who I am everyday. I have no idea how to judge if I succeed in confusing anybody (apart from myself) but I am thinking of it as a virtual derive, where I go in directions I would never normally go.

I’ll call it snudging.


Nota bene

I’ve had to leave Psygestan and go back to the real world for a week or two, for work, but I have managed to do a few bits and pieces here, of which more anon.

However, I want to share a thing that struck me recently, but to do so I need to let you know how the thing got close enough to strike.

I like notebooks. I have loads. More than I could ever hope to fill, even if I spent all day writing down every thought that crawled across my mind.

The other relevant point is I used to watch Mythbusters whenever I saw it was on tele, and it is still one of the programs I’ll look for on t’internet when I am stuck and bored. If you aren’t familiar with the show it doesn’t matter, the reason I mention it is because one of the presenters, Adam Savage, was found of saying “Remember kids, the only difference between Science and screwing around is writing it down.”

That’s when it struck me. The only difference between Psychogeography and going for a walk is writing it down.

I now have a reason to own more notebooks than I have thoughts to fill them.

Adam Savage, writing it down


 Dr Richardson is one of the first people I (virtual-world) met when I moved here to Psygestan and her site, email newsletter, and magazine STEPZ, have all helped me to  start finding my way around.

Schizocartography is a term developed by Dr Tina Richardson, and more details can be found at her website at http://www.schizocartography.org. Having read her page I offer up my thoughts below.

Schizophrenia Clinic

Cartography is map making. Schizo comes from a Greek word meaning ‘split’, but here it’s being used to mean many voices, different views. So schizocartography means map making from a different viewpoint, with many inputs.

Different from what, then?

Well, maps these days all look the same. Ohh, they do! They do a job. They get you from A to Z. And they all do it the same way, because it’s easier for everybody that way. Everybody understands the A-to-Z without thinking about what they are looking at. But…

There are other ways of making maps. The way maps look today is a result of years of people choosing to make them look that way. And the reason they look that way is because they get you from home to work to shops and back again. Sleep to work to spend. When you go from A to Z you don’t need to worry about B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X, or Y.

Schizocartography offers you more than A-to-Z, it offers you B-through-Y as well. It tells you about the area, not the route. It tells you where you can go, not where you should go.

It does this by listening to the people who live in, and use, the spaces in B-through-Y. By putting what they know about the area on the map you get a map that informs you instead of instructing you.

It’s not that kind of operation.

Bernard: Let’s review how you got on with this one day trial period thing. You sold a lot of books. You got on well with all the customers. I have to fire you.

Manny: But I got on well with all the customers, I sold a lot of books!

Bernard: It’s not that kind of operation.


Bernard and Manny

Image nicked from Plastik Addiction, http://19cam85.tumblr.com/Bio

So. Nearly a month here in Psychogeography land. (Psygestan? PGville?) Time for a review.
I’ve read a lot of books. Is seven a lot? It’s two a week, so I’d say it was. They were:
Psychogeography, Merlin Coverley.
Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe.
Wanderlust, Rebecca Solnit.
Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, William Blake.
Off The Map, Alastair Bonnett.
The Atrocity Exhibition, JG Ballard.
The House of Souls, Arthur Machen.

I have gone on two derives, and written them up.

I have created an on-line presence with a facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/scriber.punk), a tumblr account (http://scriberpunk.tumblr.com) and a blog (err, here).

I have made contacts. I have thirteen friends on facebook. I have even emailed one of them away from facebook in a real communication. (Hello Joey.)

I have made playful, almost arty reviews of some of the books I read (SmartArt flows for Coverley, an imaginary interview of Moll Flanders, a captioned photo for Ballard, and a sarcastic map for Bonnett). I have written my derives up in a scientific report style, because that was fun too.

I have started two photo projects. Time travel archeology (inspired by Phil Smith’s mythogeography) and ‘Art’ in public places, both of which are being posted on facebook, but I may expand my empire of dirt and create an Pinterest account for them.

OK. I’d say that equates to having found somewhere to live, had a look around, met a few people, and started to look for work.

It’s a definite start.



Promenading in Mersin. Derive 002.

WP_20160315_12_45_10_Pro.jpgMy second derive took place along the promenade in Mersin, the local ‘big town’.

The report is attached. The main finding was that it is best to derive alone. My wife came with me on this one and while it made the day really nice it didn’t help the psychogeography any.

What was noted was that Mersin is, for Turkey, an outward looking city, with prominent links to other countries and cultures.

Also there was a feeling that the city respected and feared the sea. The promenade could be seen as a DMZ, a de-militarized zone, that buffers the city streets from the Mediterranean.

This feeling of a DMZ zone was an acknowledgement of a strong military presence in the city. The singing Syrian beneath the jet fighter monument was a strong reminder of how close it is to a current war zone.

Report 002 Mersin Promenade


The Atrocity Exhibition.

The Atrocity Exhibition

I am aware that gobbledygook, psychobabble and pretentious crap are the technical languages of psychogeography.

I am also aware of Will Self has mounted a defence of ‘difficult’ writing here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17777556


If I am going to read a ‘difficult’ novel I have no problem with big words, complicated ideas, and convoluted plots but I need a point of contact somewhere, some interesting structure in the landscape to navigate by.

To be honest after three chapters of The Atrocity Exhibition I was bored, and there is no worse review.


Suit you, Sir

I have decided that when I do a derive I shall wear a suit. An old black suit. This is for a number of reasons, as numbered below:

1 In a town or city a suit is camouflage

2 You can get away with going into places wearing a suit that you may otherwise be kept out of.

3 I own a lot of old black suits

4 When I wear a suit I feel more purposeful, like I am working.

5 I want to be Philip Marlowe as played by Elliot Gould.

Elioy gould

In my Molly’s chamber

One of the earliest authors to have been retrospectively linked with Psychogeography is Daniel Defoe. I had read Robinson Crusoe (OK) and Journal of the Plague Year (interesting) so this time round I read Moll Flanders. And I really enjoyed it as a book.

So I dug up this transcript of an old radio interview with her. (No, of course she wasn’t interviewed by the radio. I made this up.)

Transcript of an interview with the retired Mrs Seagrave, who was once known as Moll Flanders.

Interviewer                        So, you were born and bred in London.

Mrs Seagrave                    As far as I know, dear, yes. I was given up for adoption, you see. I only know what I’ve been told. I was brought up in Colchester.

Interviewer                        You’re an Essex girl, then.

Mrs Seagrave                    (Laughs) Yes, that’s me alright!

Interviewer                        But you’ve lived in London all your life?

Mrs Seagrave                    A lot of it, yes. My first husband moved us here when we got married, back when I was still a teenager. We lived in Mile End, in a place his brother found us. But I moved around a lot after he died.

Interviewer                        Whereabouts?

Mrs Seagrave                    Oh, all over. Hammersmith, Rotherhithe, Southwark. The City even.

Interviewer                        Where was your favourite?

Mrs Seagrave                    Hammersmith was the nicest. I had some very handsome rooms there. And I was in the height of what I might call my prosperity then. A proper gentlewoman I was in Hammersmith, which is what I always aimed at being. But I probably know the City best. My spiritual home I guess you could call it. Know it like the back of my hand, or used to. It’s all changed now, of course. I can still map you some of the walks I used to take regular. Long Lane, into Charterhouse Yard, out into St. John’s Street, crossing Smithfield, down Chick Lane, into Field Lane, and onto Holborn Bridge. The crowds there used to be in Holborn! You could lose yourself so easily if you weren’t careful. Or if you wanted to! (Laughs).

Interviewer                       You’ve lived both north and south of the river, then. Do you have a preference?

Mrs Seagrave                    North, sweetheart. I mean Rotherhithe was OK, but the streets were so narrow and difficult. And as for Southwark! Well, when I lived there you used to see men in the most awful circumstances, who were below ruined, whose families were terrified of them and all of them lived off charity, yet they all managed to drown their sorrows every day. For me it was a wicked place!

Interviewer                       Where else have you lived?

Mrs Seagrave                    Ohh, up North, and in Bath, and I’ve had two spells in America. The first time because I married a Yank. Well, he was born in America but his family were English, unfortunately.

Interviewer                       Why unfortunately?

Mrs Seagrave                    There were complications, is all.

Interviewer                       And the second time?

Mrs Seagrave                    Well, see, I was born in Newgate, they tell me. And it’s when I ended up back in Newgate that I thought it time to get out of London for good. We were in America for a long time. I’d quite happily have stayed and retired there, but my husband, this last one, wanted to come back to London. Not that he’s from here. My Lancashire husband, I call him. Keeps him on his toes. Wonders if I have others in other places. Maybe I have, at that. (Laughs).

Interviewer                        So, you don’t like living in London?

Mrs Seagrave                    It’s such an extravagant place. You simply can not live here without a lot of money, unless you stay in and bury yourself in privacy, which isn’t me. And they value people so much by appearance here. It’s so easy to fall into bad company. Well it is when you’re young. Not that it’s much harder when you’re older (laughs). But its home, sweetheart, at the end of the day, isn’t it?