- Written by Peter Burnett Peter Burnett
First let's be clear that you are unlikely to locate an answer to that question on this site.
Psychogeography as a word may be nonsense, and psychogeography as it is found today may also be a nonsense. Yes and nonsense breaks rules not by forgetting them, but by following them to the letter. If a definition of psychogeography is to be found it is within the practice of those who call themselves psychogeographers. Hence not on this website, and not today.
FACTS: In 1955, Guy Debord defined Psychogeography as "the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.”
This definition has stuck, and despite refinements by Michel de Certeau and other individuals, it is all there has ever been. An aspect of play has persisted within psychogeography, and if this trend were to conclude, then the burden of the work already captured under the name of psychogeography could be put to good use developing freer cities. This is the second generation of psychogeography.
Cities have ever been impossible to describe. The mental weight and the density of design imposed by cities has defied the interest of artists, who since time have described nature, and found this simple, easy, poetic and pleasing. Nature has been a kind subject, but cities have been more of a tangle, an impossible constraint on their powers of observation, description and recall.
A field mouse and a river! A mountain! Fair subject matter. An apartment block, an impossibility.
It takes courage to go to sea in a sieve. The city will never achieve the perfection of nature. In nature horizons are wide and clear. However in a city the combination of people, history, architecture, technology, planning, vehicles and commerce set an immediate standard of perfectly proper strangeness . . . .
. . . . which psychogeography acknowledges and explores.
Few mortals realise how many advantages follow from being free from scruples and ready to venture anything.
In this wise psychogeography sees the unseen, empowers the fluke, and transcends scientific explanation.