Wednesday, 22 July 2009

walking in budapest

t's mum was up visiting this week and, among many other things, we got involved in a long exegesis concerning out wanderings in budapest. in the end we were no further forward and our recollection of budapest remained frustratingly disparate, un-unified, at least until i read the following in iain sinclair's travelogue with bells on lights out for the territory -

Walking is the best way to explore and exploit the city; the changes, shifts, breaks in the cloud helmet, movement of light on water. Drifting purposefully is the recommended mode, tramping asphalted earth in alert reverie, allowing the fiction of an underlying pattern to reveal itself. To the no-bullshit materialist this sounds suspiciously like fin-de-siecle decadence - a poetic of entropy - but the born again flaneur is a stubborn creature, less interested in texture and fabric, eavesdropping on philosophical conversation pieces, than in noticing everything. Alignments of telephone kiosks, maps made from moss on the slopes of Victorian sepulchres, collections of prostitutes' cards, torn and defaced promotional bills for cancelled events at York Hall, visits to the homes of dead writers, plaster dogs, beer mats. concentrations of used condoms, the crystalline patterns of glass shards surrounding an imploded BMW quarter-light window, meditations on the brain damage suffered by the super-middleweight boxer Gerard McLellan (lights out in the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel) and the simultaneous collapse of Barings, bankers to the Queen. walking, moving across a retreating townscape, stitches it altogether: the illicit cocktail of bodily exhaustion and a raging carbon monoxide high.

and that seems to just about capture it. i'm willing to accept that there's a hearty dose of bullshit attached to psychogeography and its many manifestations and the above book is no exception but i still find at its kernel something both attractive and endearing, much as i do with its countryside equivalent, kenneth white's geopoetics, even if both very much appear to be boys clubs (or maybe female psychogeographers - rebecca solnit maybe - are just quieter)

whatever, it's all about the walking!

1 comment:

Niamh B said...

He does capture alot there alright, and it makes for enjoyable and thought provoking reading... There is a lot of bull to most (maybe all?) kinds of art, but we do need to keep noticing and discovering new things, be alert, otherwise we learn nothing. That's the traveller's worth as well, seeing a place with a totally fresh pair of eyes.