|By considering a selection of the material published in the Summer 2002 issue of Reconstruction, the themed issue on space and identity, walking-artist Phil Smith distills an argument about what contemporary critical theory of self and place leaves out. Through a consideration of these Reconstruction pieces -- from Munt, Jaireth, Heddon, and Wolf-Meyer & Heckman -- and his own journey through space and identity, Smith argues for a theoretical means to extend the Reconstruction literature to include "everything else" -- life as it is lived rather than the ideal life of critical theory.|
Dread, Route and Time: An Autobiographical Walking of Everything Else [printable version]
<1> This response to Reconstruction's Summer 2002 edition, Volume 2, Number 3, "autobiogeography: considering space and identity," particularly to the papers of Matthew Wolf-Meyer and Davin Heckman, Subhash Jaireth, Deirdre Heddon and Sally Munt, is an attempt to establish provisionally whether a discourse that sets critical theory, autobiographical practice and a "poetics" of space in performative motion orbiting each other can add anything to the critical discussion of "autobiogeography." Part of my motivation is an antipathy toward criticism that can be applied to everything but itself. Given that hybridity will be an important part of a critical discourse about space and self, which I want to develop and encourage here, arguing its case will, in itself, necessarily involve some hybridisation. I hope then that the converging deployments here of reminiscence, of a range of references that spans the Daleks, seaside promenade and the entanglement of quantum particles -- engaging my own variegated history of theorising in and out of the academy, of "creative" artifice in structuring and writing and of a more familiar academic style will be taken in the spirit that they are offered; in the service of a theorising that is in motion about its transient subject matters: self and site.
<2> This is also, in part, an attempt to theorise my own long ago Pan-ic; that confrontation with everything (else) which the English neo-romantic writer Arthur Machen personified in the The Great God Pan (1894) -- an incarnation of his Kierkegaardian dread at the landscape around Caerleon in Wales. By citing my own Pan-ic, and its own uncanny site, I will attempt to position it also in theory. Of course, the continuity between a childhood experience and my recent work as theorist and practitioner of sited autobiography is a constructed one, and I am suspicious of identity rooted in origins. Nevertheless that childhood Pan-ic and subsequent re-rememberings are more than a membership fee. They are part of the reflected and refracted material conditions of my return to autobiography and its hybrid forms, and, more importantly here, of my own theorising of it -- particularly a tendency towards a dialectics of both/and. Such a dialectic helps resist an ascetic cultural criticism that goes beyond rigour and into identity, deploying too much either/or in defining and fixing ideas so sharply that elegantly chiselled arguments leave essential variegation on the floor, edited out. As with Michelangelo’s slave, the sculpted should riff with the rough; the anterior of freedom (agency) is "preconscious" in the unworked and the wasted alike.
<3> Also to shirk theory's juiciest temptation: the summarising and repeatable idea. Those ideas which halt the theorist, like a "successful" comedian condemned to repeat, and hear repeated, her/his catchphrase; professional survival many times multiplied, leaving its subject unable to accumulate qualitatively -- an act of textual illusionism, an idea hovering without visible means of support, magically resisting closure, while by its very resistance to the "ground" of its antithesis it achieves a closure "from" while maintaining the act of its own "openness" in suspension. This is the problem with much of the theorising of space, experience and everyday life initiated by Henri Lefevbre who, in his anxiety to maintain the openness of his processes, is resistant to their expression in site. What he begins by articulating as an opposition to the authoritarianism of the ordered spatiality of previous utopianisms -- while from their failed histories evoking dissident processes playfully reordering social relations -- he will not relent to any spacializing. David Harvey notes in exasperation:
The effect, unfortunately, is to leave the actual spaces of any alternative frustratingly undefined...He refuses to confront the underlying problem: that to materialize space is to engage with closure...If, therefore, alternatives are to be realized, the problem of closure (and the authority it presupposes) cannot endlessly be evaded. To do so is to embrace an agonistic romanticism of perpetually unfulfilled longing and desire. (Harvey 183)
It's not that I am proposing a new general theory -- and certainly not a description of closure and authority -- but rather suggesting that the tentative theorising of an emergent strategy of sited agency of change with the fragmentary specifics of actual failures could be an effective local dialectic, the terms of which will be different in the next locality -- not because of the efficacy of "local," but because of the necessary mutability of "theory."
<4> Henri Lefebvre refused space to either fulfill or overcome his process. Others have followed the more dominant preference of postmodernism: subduing process in the interests of space. But it is not in a return to a "fundamentalist" synthesis of those praxes favouring either space or process that I see a useful praxis coming into being, but rather in the floating free and dialoguing together of the "failures" (practical and theoretical) of these separate strains. In this respect I will attempt to position myself "within" (rather than "against" or "supporting") the arguments of the Reconstruction's earlier essayists. Beginning with Wolf-Meyer and Heckman's citing of Paul Virilio's "third interval" to add to time (process) and space: "an absolute standard for immediate action, for instantaneous teleaction...limit-speed...a new standard by which change is recognized" (Wolf-Meyer & Heckman <5>). Munt quotes Foucault: "We are in the age of simultaneity" (Munt <8>). "Simultaneity," and "instantaneous teleaction" imply some multi-site, a space of agency in which various sites are in some way co-present. This space of agency stands in contrast, but not in opposition, to the uncanny, often bleak, sites of possibility (pre-agency) in which everything (else) appears to the subject as a dauntingly singular power (reports of any kind of corporeal manifestation are few, but what is common is an experience of an afigurative presence). Any synthesis of time and space owes something to Albert Einstein, but in the case of a "third interval" it is more to one of the findings of a science that he disavowed and with which his ideas have yet to be reconciled -- the "entanglement" of pairs of quantum particles, each one of the pair responding absolutely simultaneously to a force exerted on only one of them even when they are separated by considerable distances. If the "third interval" is a kind of entanglement of distant cultural sites then there is further complication to the neat linearity I have been making between sites of pre-agency and sites of agency and that is that the distinction constructed between "space as place" and "space as void" dissolves, making the local uncanny, the homely un-homely, the city wilderness -- the Pan-icked (but at least sublimely so) initiate is suddenly confronted with new frictionless, flattened fields to traverse, allowing unlimited acceleration and deceleration. Such a pre-eminently postmodernist theorising in predominantly spatial terms suggests immanent qualities. I would like to propose, in response, that by performing (rather than performing in) these spaces (that is specifically those spaces particularly susceptible to simultaneity) autobiographical acts can dialogue space and process in an emergent form, making possible (by atemporality, "nothing" and a neo-Symbolist floating-free of associations) a walking/re-politicising of space at least comparable with the aims, though not organisation, of the situationists.
<5> During "Re:Bus" (2001), a recent "drift" or "dérive" -- an exploratory, predominantly urban walking inspired by techniques first deployed by the situationists -- of the English city of Exeter by the site-specific performance company Wrights & Sites of which I am a core member, participants "at a distance" across Britain and in Canada and New Zealand could follow our movements across the city on a gridded map -- flattening the arrowhead of time in snatched telephone reports from bars or public phones (and email booths) along the way. For some these were flattened into a sequence of recorded ansaphone messages picked up at the end of the day or emails picked up on waking, their responses then fed, circulated and recycled with other photos, text, narratives and detritus from the day:
Got it -- thanks so much. Only read bits of the booklet, but it's such a great idea, just as an object. Makes me want to organize a dérive of Vancouver, and this is a compliment, I think, in the sense that a motive of art can be to inspire other forms of art/inquiry. (Lovejoy, B. personal correspondence, 2.4.02)
This "entanglement" is the beginning of a utopian process of emergence based on the principle of "tensegrity" -- connectionist, spring-like systems -- "every virtual point in space...related to every other point...describ(ing) relationships between points in space rather than the points themselves"  -- a way of making "ambient hubs" (to give a situationist gloss to the site of simultaneity) increasingly accessible. A way of engaging subversively with "the spectacle" as deep social relations, not as some demonised patina of media to be "pierced," of dialoguing with "simple" memes before they become, in their own emergence, bewildering in complexity. The exceptional "hub" -- its situationist definition as a concentration of differences being the spatial equivalent of Virilio's "interval" and Foucault's "simultaneity" -- is where we can discover the common, the local where we can effect "action at a distance," put our gravitational pull on the springs connected to elsewhere. This feels like I am beginning to map a theoretical space of connections that is quite at odds with predominant postmodern fracture and fragment, but for the time being I would like to suspend thesis/antithesis to see what theoretical positioning rather than replacement/co-option might present itself.
<6> Even so, just for the space to speculate, it will be necessary to contest. Dystopias quoted by Wolf-Meyer and Heckman, like Gibson's Neuromancer (1984), write telepresence as a negative -- "as if the democratic ability to be everywhere present, to be anywhere present, must lead to inhumanity" (Wolf-Meyer & Heckman <9>); like those 1950s body snatcher movies where the recently hybridised offer the remaining uninvaded humans a life without pain, without unhappiness -- and the humans turn them down. An alternative model is Olaf Stapledon's Last And First Men (1930): a hybridisation of Martian collectivity and human ambiguity evolves into transparent-skinned, supersensitive, giant telepresences. This, in tainted, populist narrative, is not so far from the spatial utopianism of Homi Bhabha's "third space," quoted by Sally Munt in her paper: a "being in the beyond" -- an uncanny space on the "hither side" of the future, "an in-between space that foregrounds hybridity, disarticulating the consensus on signification and meaning predicated on the sovereign notion of self/other." This new "entanglement," Bhabha writes, is not about being "able to trace the two original moments from which the third emerges, rather hybridity to me is the 'third space' that enable other positions to emerge" (Munt <3>). My autotopographical (to borrow, uncomfortably, from Deidre Heddon) move to enter my own texts -- after twenty years working as a text-maker for other people in "radical" community theatres and "alternative" small scale music and physical theatres -- was, if shamefacedly, made on the assumption that I was leaving utopianism, implicit and explicit in content-radical community performance, at least temporarily, behind. In practice, the constructing of an autobiography in walking and site-specific performing has led me to grapple simultaneously with the problems and virtues of nostalgia -- a utopianizing of the past -- and with the problems and virtues of site: not only the idealism of "the site in itself" and all the other ideological encrusting and circulation about any site, but also the policing of sites and the politicisation of form -- as the boundary between myself as performer/performed and "audience" has progressively broken down and, in the words of my colleague in Wrights & Sites, Simon Persighetti: "the actor becomes a signpost."
<7> My complacent assumption -- that I was entering upon a more enclosed, private, psychological and formalistic period of work -- has been dashed. My personal "turn to autobiography" quickly "turned on" me, confronting me with a dialectics of space and process that have virtually enforced my engagement with theoretical "grounds" close to those where Munt, Heddon, Jaireth and Wolf-Meyer and Heckman have situated themselves. In this unexpected narrativity I have, like Munt and Wolf-Meyer and Heckman in their reprieve of narrative time, found simultaneity situated locally, rather than as a "depthless present," thus making those spaces conducive to telepresence the very grounds of conflict -- as with Richard Serra's "Tilted Arc," the disruption of space turns out to be the disruption of a disruption (there is no dystopian or utopian inevitability), a contesting of a contested space in which Munt significantly attempts to revive autobiographical "agency," if in a discrete, linear manner (though she suddenly and romantically displaces this). Heddon appealingly de-centres this agency in describing the ambiguous and resistant making of a "self-made" self and, in a practical demonstration, détourns small public spaces, while Subhash Jaireth changes the scale, making a synthesis of "maps" and "tours" for a re-walking of Delhi and himself. It is, however, on the "ground" of scale that I have doubts: for when Wolf-Meyer and Heckman begin their paper with a contextualisation not in a general theorising of space but, hearteningly, in speculative cosmology, they write, lightly, of "infinity" -- indeed Munt repeats the idea in her paper -- "astronomers argue that the universe is infinite and endless." Do they? Some do -- but the two main topological models of the universe, the "flat" Euclidean and the saddle-like hyperbolic, are just as viable as edgeless, finite universes as infinite ones. The Omega=1 prediction of Inflationary Big Bang Theory for an infinite universe relies on the presence of vast quantities of Dark Matter which at present elude detection. Astronomical data from the gathering of cosmic microwave background (COBE, 1991 and Boomerang, 2000) suggest a cosmologically "flat" universe as open to a finite interpretation as an infinite one.
<8> Just as part of recent critical theory has revived the surfaces, marks, organs and limits of the human body as "the measure of all things," contemporary astrophysics is giving "all things" their measure in the universe's feasibly corporeal limits -- its internal continuity almost organic: the tiny variations in matter shortly after the Big Bang (measurable in tiny variations in temperature in cosmic microwave background) are identical to the patterns of galaxies in the universe now. The so-called mutability of scale. So is knowledge now to be in-corp-orated -- embodied? At different scales, human and "celestial," is "body" now the "measure of all things"? Only hydrogen, of the elements that make up our bodies, was not created within a star. Might we end up interiorising the universe as well as ourselves? At first this might seem a hugely powerful and evocative discourse -- only reinforced by astrophysics -- but Wolf-Meyer and Heckman, just in beginning by contextualising autobiography in cosmology, suggest a counter force. And when they quickly move on to more local contexts, rather than leaping to critical theory or psychoanalysis, they instead describe an exteriorisation of "identity" that has "become a political concern," no longer the business only of writers and psychoanalysts. Well, following Wolf-Meyer and Heckman, it has become a cosmological and geographical concern also: for, while corporeality may find a text of authorisation in the "limitedness" of a universe with an enfolded "skin" (if no testable exterior), there is no longer an authoritative "place" for consciousness, no longer a site for self that can be taken for granted. And this problem resists a comfortable corporealization of self and space -- undermining that part of Munt's widely-spread argument that rests on the "need to look at 'all social relations in terms of bodies, energies, movements, inscriptions,' as relations conditioned by spatial forms" (Munt <6>).
<9> At a recent symposium at the Tate Britain Gallery in London on the work of the walking artist Hamish Fulton, Doreen Massey, Professor of Geography, Social Sciences at the Open University, described the Skiddaw peak in the Northwest of England as a "transient mountain...just passing through... moving at the speed our fingernails grow." Similarly the self is also in transit. The meeting of self with place is now that of two unsited, gridded transients "just passing through" each other. But their relationship is not an equal one. The self is doubly un-placed. Its traditional seat, just behind the eyes -- indeed its very independent placing -- is upset by recent cultural theory. Re-imagined as a construct, a staging, disintegrated and made transitional, the self has lost integrity, "character" and place. It is to the (already) failed science but suggestive theory of memetics no more than the ultimate memetic success: a convincing of the mind of a selfhood and placed-ness in the head, while in fact it is no more than a successful meme-complex, a set of ideas "just passing through." In the words of the popularizer of memetics, Susan Blackmore,
Among all these memeplexes is an especially potent one based around the idea of an inner self...'I' am the product of all the memes that have successfully got themselves inside this selfplex. Each illusory self is a construct of the memetic world in which it successfully competes. Each selfplex gives rise to ordinary human consciousness based on the false idea that there is someone inside who is in charge. (Blackmore 236)
No wonder the idea (the "long poem," in the words of de Certeau) of walking has become so attractive: at last an image of a moving subject, a motion rather than a psychological interiority, a transience that offers at worst the illusion of an exteriority unshackled to identity. A succession of presents. A presence on the move, an event -- the attractive appearance of "the movement of one present to another" as Wolf-Meyer and Heckman put it (<2>). And the walker has both agency and the facility to keep moving, to avoid being fixed. A narrator. Speeding with a purpose. Walking's very everydayness seems to increase the chances of survival. Of evading peril. Anonymous. Underestimated. Eccentric, even, in some cities.
<10> But the relationship between the transients -- self and place -- is an unequal one. The narrativity of walking might be partly "characterized by the movement of one present to another," but it is disrupted -- at least for most adults in relatively, if unequally prosperous economies, by that utopianism of the past: nostalgia. The walker is in defiance of the petroleum imperative. The refusal to drive or be driven is a willful, arrogant, romantic, backward-glancing nod to the past. This is a troubling part of its attraction, but maybe can -- like nostalgia itself -- be turned, détourned even, to the walker's advantage. For, where the politics of exteriority have corporealized identity and shifted the debate about the self onto surfaces, the interrogations of an active, engaged geography -- Massey's observation of Skiddaw is, tellingly, an autobiographical citing -- have dissolved the integrity of those surfaces. Maps are made everywhere porous, more and more like grids. Everything just passing through everything else, though unevenly.
<11> One measure of the mutability of such "maps" of our sitedness is the aerial photograph -- "whose car is that in our drive, darling?" Flatness becomes abruptly narrational -- but more often not. A recently published aerial "photomap" of Exeter is selling quickly in the local, multinational-owned, bookstore. But I cannot find on it the deer I saw last month just seven or eight minutes walk from the High Street. The map is not eccentric enough -- in the sense of it not "standing out" like a pop-up. There is a need for tearing. After all, flatness has been conceptually curved for a long time -- ever since Einstein we could not "Xerox...the maps of antiquity" (Wolf-Meyer & Heckman <1>) comfortably. Invisible dips and bumps that once jammed the Gestetner still push up the lid of the photocopier. To make matter(s) "worse" the edges of maps in many cosmological models have conceptually disappeared. For if we could travel far enough and long enough in our universe we would end up back in the same place (later). There is no "exterior" to "end" or "edge" that we can do more than invent. No need to "burn" these maps; they have melted like Dali watches, drooped over various branches of cosmological theory. But it is not enough -- for this essay, anyway -- to enjoy this tradition of the mutability of space and the playful extrapolation of difference and disruption. I would like to answer Harvey's (and my own) frustration. And that can only begin with the reintroduction of the failures of time/process -- painfully aware as I am that the techniques of dérive and détournement used in so much of my walking and performing are taken from a tradition of failure.
<12> At a theoretical level the problems of time and process are synthesised in Wolf-Meyer and Heckman's paper when inevitability and agency appear provocatively together in a conception of walking the city as forgetting, an active editing. On holiday in Hungary this summer (2002) we climb the venerable, shaky structure of the Vardomb Viewing Platform at Balatonboglár for a gaze across Lake Balaton. "Edit, 2000," reads one graffito, which I briefly, but pleasurably misunderstand as cultural-critical rather than self-expressive. I could not help editing together my gaze across Lake Balaton with various images of James Stewart and Kim Novak -- vertigo is not a fear of heights, but the rising desire to plunge down them: both a wasting of and an access to the sublime. More eccentrically, the expanse of mountains on the opposite Northern shore, spattered all week with storms while we sunned ourselves, are, in their grey stillness and ashy corporeality, the background for the shot, abruptly edited into my holiday, of the alien spacecraft -- to all appearances a flying Pirex cooking utensil -- as it first looms above a trashed and wasted London in Daleks: Invasion of Earth 2150 AD. It is in the wastes. The gaps left by radical editing: either by human agency or natural selection. There is some crucial encounter to be had -- both uncanny and sublime -- that frees the mind to move different spaces into the same time, to edit backwards and forwards...not only forgetting to remember, but "editing up" what hasn't happened yet. As if by reversing a narrative's "life-sized map of itself," like that of Lawrence Sterne's Tristram Shandy it were possible to make a great gridded narrative that comes rushing to meet us from the future, increasing in scale as it approaches in its frustration at the impossibility of fitting everything in before it collides with the present.
One night not long after my twenty-ninth birthday, I woke up with a feeling of absolute dread. I had woken up with such a feeling many times before, but this time it was more intense that it had ever been. The silence of the night, the vague outlines of the furniture in the dark room, the distant noise of a passing train -- everything felt so alien...I could feel that a deep longing for annihilation, for non-existence, was now becoming stronger than the instinctive desire to continue to live.
"I cannot live with myself any longer"...suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. "Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me... Maybe...only one of them is real." I was so stunned by this strange realisation that my mind stopped...I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy...I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body began to shake...I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It felt as if the void was inside myself rather than outside. Suddenly, there was no fear, and I let myself fall into that void. I have no recollection of what happened after that.
I was awakened by the chirping of a bird outside the window. I had never heard such a sound before. (Tolle 1-2)
<13> Thus "spiritual teacher" Eckhart Tolle describes his formative experience in The Power Of Now -- winner, indeed, of the Kindred Spirit Spirituality Book of the Year for 2001. I am a little embarrassed about using the Tolle quote -- though there is something to be said for the effects of bringing into critical reading unrespectable material: for me a sensitisation of low-level paranoid tendencies, a reminder of the roots of my own intellectual history in teenage religious faith and ufological, conspiratorial, anomalous entertainment, a wander in a warehouse memory of badgood movies, reanimating the desire to keep a watchful eye on the organised irrational and meeting a need to triangulate my changing "beliefs" in relation to both the academic/peer-reviewed and the charms of the charlatan/dissident.
<14> Tolle's book is mostly warmed-over and repetitive Gnosticism. He has some surprising things to say about the partiality of selves, an internalised parasitical body, an unusually unencumbered concept of presence and an evangelical zeal for a flattened, depthless, pastless present -- but then he goes and spoils it all by resurrecting "the real Self" (and the Apocalypse). Significantly, the passage above, appearing on pages 1 and 2 of The Power Of Now, is the one and only autobiographical reference in the book. His choice to tell this particular tale, and the details chosen, edited, the things excluded, are "telling." There is no cause, little history in it; in fact if there is causality it is mostly about site: the furniture, the distant train. And that distance is there for a purpose -- Tolle is drawing a map and making the scale big. So when he comes to describe the void opening up inside himself, then it is correspondingly large; deep like the stairways, wide like the halls that plunge through Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves.
<15> Tolle's experience and his telling of it are far from unique (I chose his simply because it is the most recent I've read). It is extreme and its scale is crucial to the construction of the few genuine insights of this self-help guru, packaged up with books on "success in business and sport." What Tolle has described is his encounter with everything (else), an intense, but relatively common initiatory Pan-ic -- an experience of causeless, but sited dread (those sites usually sharing certain sublime or uncanny qualities) that has been repeatedly cited over recent years in the letters pages of the Fortean Times, a British-based publication of anomalous phenomena, and from which many of its "experiencers" have turned and ran. I have cited this phenomenon because it is part of the theorising I am making, but also because it is part of my autobiography. There is a tendency to mistake its uncanny energy for ominous aggression, to fear it; the writer Arthur Machen encountered its scale in a Welsh valley in his youth, but could only, and, he admitted, unsatisfactorily (if famously) transform and betray it into horror in his much anthologised The Great God Pan. For this is about a cool spatiality, not about melodrama. The connections are shared intensity and unfamiliarity. Not staging alone, but also grid.
<16> Part of the questionable theory of memetics is an ally here. By defining the "natural selection" of ideas and images not through their direct competition, but through the "attractiveness" (or otherwise) of their human (or otherwise) vehicles, when combined with its critique of a final and fundamental, seated, "real Self," this idea frees the mind from the past. The complexes of memes that make up each self are in the same motion of attraction as all the others. The self -- without denial of past agency -- is not itself any more defined by what has made it up in the past as what it can be made by in the future. This is a linear axis along which we may recover agency and reclaim narrativity, following Munt, but in this definition that very agency can move in both directions, backwards and forwards along the narrative. Memetics thus reinvents "self" as the evolving (futured) agent of preference for moving vehicles (drama) of ideas and images (grids).
<17> I found my own grid in the puppetry of the Andersons' "Fireball XL5," cross-hatching shallow representations of the sublime bleakness of a mainly empty outer space with the anti-psychology of the moony faces of their puppets; depthless parodies of human surfaces. They now seem to me to be an infantile part of the "English" neo-romantic tradition of Arthur Machen, painter Paul Nash, film-maker Michael Powell and, more recently, psychogeographic novelist and essayist Iain Sinclair, among others. The inarticulacy of the models, puppet faces like landscapes, like architecture, its mutant English version of futuristic America. The displaced body fear; as a piece of alien wood threatens the arboreal veins of Steve Zodiac with a syringe full of monochrome chlorophyll. The astronomical eroticism: "I want to be a fireball, a fireball, every time I stare into your starry eyes." The damp echoless sound of a deserted space station: staged technology. The idea of emptiness and the grating sonority of it. Bleak planets. Against that grid of immature intensity I learned to hate the middle-brow, the soap opera emotions and their obliteration of the sublime and intellectual. "Fireball XL5" was my Flatland, the bleakness of its surfaces being its own invitation to desire depth -- not in the form of an interiorised psychology, but, like Edwin A Abbott's hero A. Square's mysterious, partially visible visitor from Spaceland, as shape. Part of this autobiography I am walking is a tracing of the austere lines of the nostalgic grids that formed me (the gridded parts). I want to propose an autobiographical cartography of everything (else), a provocative encounter with the process of "distillation" (Wolf-Meyer & Heckman <3>). A challenge to the art of walking artists like Hamish Fulton and Richard Long who have suggested that their essential art is their walking -- while their art works are secondary "distillations." This is also to ask Wolf-Meyer and Heckman: what if the "forsaking of the forest for the tree" were not "necessarily so"?
<18> When I was eight or nine years old I had my time of Pan-ic. I remember a wall -- I'm leaning against or standing by it -- it's the wall of my primary school. I don't feel it. I don't feel anything corporeally. But I FEEL everything else. An aesthetic experience. I am holding a large blue plastic toy model of Sir Donald Campbell's world land speed record-breaking car Bluebird. But there is no colour in the memory. And no sound. And no "one" else. Instead there is an overwhelming feeling of everything and myself in awed relation to it all: vividly bleak, silent, overwhelmingly present -- right there, right then. In a sense it's hardly an autobiographical moment. I don't relate the "feeling" of it to me. Apart from the sense of the importance of the site, and my continuing re-memory of it, there's not much detail, no build up or history to it, no narrative. Instead there is scale, space and a kind of re-programming -- not of emotions but of a relation with everything (else).
<19> I am a tourist in that memory. It is an itinerary of "sights" (sites). Like the Vertigo and Daleks scenes: edited, crammed with special effects, absolutely sited -- as the trashed London of 1950s and '60s British sci fi is in the experience of the Blitz, as Vertigo is a siting that is both necrotopographic and also like the marginalia of a local history guide, borrowing and riffing on San Francisco's localness, raising its dead:
the book shop in Vertigo is run by Pop Leibel, to which Midge takes Scottie...as an authority on, in her words, the 'gay old Bohemian days,' Pop will know the real history of the place, such as 'who shot who on the Embarcadero in August 1879.' No one would have known such things better than (Ambrose) Bierce, who was at that very date the editor of a San Francisco paper, the Argonaut (Leibel's bookshop is the Argosy), and who was secretary of the Bohemian Club. (Barr 33)
It is in this dynamic between a displaced localness and the desire for nowhere that the film generates its dread-ful quality. So, even the site of this re-recited re-siting of my senses of scale and space was never itself innocent. In this sense "autobiography is... geography," but neither that of the "forest of marked trees, placed in atemporal proximity to make sense, to create a narrative" (Wolf-Meyer & Heckman <4>) nor of the park where "we mark the one tree...with our initials and those of a loved one" (Wolf-Meyer & Heckman <3>) -- the marking by another that makes the "I" through the "you" (in Munt's citing of Cavarero) -- no, this is my Vertigo redwood forest; oppressively, spatially temporalised in the rings of the dead stump, its trees unmarked and quite capable of swallowing up a Kim Novak, let alone a "me" -- the kind of gridded, porous, layered, local/nowhere-site of a narrative of possibility excited and in dread at itself. My redwood forest: that wall and that moment; quite temporal and immaterial enough to swallow my childish, innocent sense of a discrete local. I will never "belong" anywhere as I had belonged before that.
<20> I am describing the experience not as a private "deep interiority," but rather as one of site, a geographical phenomenon which -- in a reversing of the idea of an extended organism -- triggers the possibility of freedom. This psychological exteriority is explicit in Søren Kierkegaard's articulation of "dread" or "anxiety," a reaction to a "something that is nothing," a wasted materiality, not to a material threat or a specific choice, but to nothing:
there is peace and repose; but at the same time something different, which is not dissension or strife, for there is nothing to strive with. What is it then? Nothing. But what effect does nothing produce? It begets dread...innocence, that at the same time is dread...When awake the difference between myself and my other is posited, sleeping, it is suspended...dread is the reality of freedom as possibility anterior to possibility.
the alarming possibility of being able...What it is he is able to do, of that he has no conception...There is only the possibility of being able, as a heightened expression of dread, (because)...he loves it and flees from it.
the dread felt by innocence, which is the reflex of freedom within itself at the thought of its possibility.
the infinite possibility, which does not tempt like a definite choice, but alarms (aengster) and fascinates with sweet anxiety (beaengstelse). (Kierkegaard 37-8, 40, 50, 55)
I cite Kierkegaard not as an authority, but as a familiar place I've ended up at.
<21> It is possible to be nostalgic for dread. I remember my adolescent "dérives," "drifting" on bikes between the council estates and big houses of suburban Coventry, switching gnomes from garden to garden in the snow, breaking into large, closed ornamental gardens, garages and garden sheds, gathering around a candle in coal bunkers for mutual corporeal exploration, like a sexual seminar in intense exegesis of spilled texts, erotic phrases edited from books like Mary McCarthy's The Group, studied in the cold and flickering light, hiding in ditches as torch beams played above our heads, treating the night time suburbs as our own movie set. My more extreme friends conducted their own tours of burglary and sexual experiment in strangers' homes until their arrest. These are the adolescent wanderings of pre-adults whose homes (and bodies) are not (even less) their "say." Which is why a dériviste geography should also map the private, as concerned with the shells of Bacherlard as with the empty spaces of de Chirico.
<22> With the drift/dérive, into which road my performing of autobiography has turned, I want to develop projects and games that disrupt the "spectacle" of consumption and production -- "a society in which the disappearance of subjects is everywhere compensated for and camouflaged by the multiplication of... tasks"  -- without contempt for its citizens, that restore a subject and subjectivity undefined by the illusion of business, stress and purchase, un-deluded by false claims for effectiveness. Disruptive cartography and mis-guided walks, research and engagement with the existing aesthetics of site (maps, routes, postcards, etc.). To give back the "drift" to adults, the framework of pseudo-mapping and mis-guidance prizing them, temporarily or otherwise, from their responsibilities and security. By deploying empiricism while avoiding "the traditional English assumption that reality itself exhorts from us a moral attitude" , it will perhaps be possible to lift situationist techniques, while avoiding their elitism and millenarianism. Instead, to make wanderings resistant to the timetables of production and consumption, to seek out forgotten and ruined places, to enjoy the X-ray of recent yet-to-be-heritage ruins (as a youth I loved to watch the passage of ruined trackside land on the train's approach to London, explore the unfilled bomb craters in 1960s Coventry and now the antiseptic ambience of the blitzed and reassembled chapel in Exeter Cathedral, for 15 years I looked at the repaired shape in the plaster where a firebomb had come through the ceiling above the bed in my Bristol council house), to restore a critical awareness/wariness to the making of concretely and deliberately constructed "situations," to seek out secret, un-policed places and milieus for the purposes of experiments in behaviour, including the deployment of previously existing and ironically degraded art; games for participation in the html of ideology -- comparable, perhaps, to J. D. Dewsbury's "grid(s) of interpretation under/over/within motion"  -- and détournement: the re-routing of conventional journeys, "spontaneous turns of direction in disregard of the useful connections that ordinarily govern this conduct" .
<23> The techniques of the situationists were, at least theoretically, the means to an end; that being a "symbolic urbanism" articulated in Ivan Chtcheglov/Gilles Ivain's 1953 essay "Formulary For A New Urbanism," the making of a city determined by the subjective visions of its inhabitants, structured into a series of contrasting locales: Happy, Bizarre, Sinister, etc., thereby offering different ludic possibilities. My elision here of "visions" and "structure" is one made by the situationists themselves. Despite their anti-Stalinism they failed to articulate a strategy for the democratic realisation of their visions. In their own organisation they reproduced the worst sectarianism and bureaucratic inflexibility of small leftist groups. Such is the aridity of this failure to come up with an alternative to elitist planning and authoritarian leadership, opening the way for someone like Greil Marcus to reject all their practice other than its theorisation . My own "inclination" -- the tilted plane in which I'm moving now -- is to seek out and map those fragments of possible, ludic areas that already exist -- this is Reverse Archaeology, a future rushing to meet us, in "ruins." Mis-guides, textual or personal, could then take people to see the fragments, to point out their edges, encourage visitors to explore, expand and further materialise these sites' possibilities, through the visitors' own unpredictable associations, in "situations"; moments of experimental living. The two operational temporalities in this playing with site -- nostalgic and utopian -- are not in the relation of a dead past to a free future, but are both operating on a plane that cuts at an angle through temporality. Dewsbury describes "razor tears," planes of incision peeling open, slicing through and presenting to us what is "almost not there": virtual particles of association that are then only sustained if they can borrow energy from a spectator -- they are dependent on the agency of actor/spectator, on their engagement in a process of emergent détourning activism . Gridding in space, agency in time.
<24> It is a synthesis
of this gridding and agency that Subhash Jaireth, drawing on de Certeau's work,
moves towards with his juxtaposition of the flatness of a map and the motion
of a tour, partners to the processes of nostalgia and utopia, with reciprocal
effects on all parts of this provisional synthesis. In two nineteenth century
maps of Delhi's Chandni Chowk (incidentally -- a banal and deeply compromised
wormhole this -- also being the name of an "exotic" shop in Exeter)
Jaireth discovers a cartographical perspective that elaborates the standard
bird's eye view:
The houses on the two sides of the street have been drawn not as seen from above
but from the front...Two viewpoints, two modes of seeing and showing have been
juxtaposed in these maps. It seems that the cartographer is not satisfied merely
to fly over the street but wants to get down and walk along the street. He is
scared to reduce these beautiful buildings to squares, rectangles and circles
are complementary companions to the Nazca Indians, who not only ritually walked
the synthesised lines of squares, rectangles, circles and animal shapes, but also
made them in a way only fully visible from an above to which they had no access.
In a binocular motion of seeing and walking, and in the holding together of a
"scared to" with a "not satisfied merely to," a Bhabhian third
space for process and association opens up. Unfortunately, having made this provisional
synthesis theoretically, Jaireth's description of his own walking in Delhi is
less an opening up than an interiorizing of the space: "Walking is one of
those spatial practices through which people transform places into spaces by making
them 'their own'...As you read and walk through my Delhi, you traverse the mindscape
of my memories." This resists the ideological site-in-itself, but, is at
odds with his synthesis of "map" and "tour" with narratives
"interven(ing) and punctur(ing) each other's presence" (Jaireth
<7>), collapsing his Delhi into himself. Jaireth tantalisingly leaves
hanging the possibility of space being "toured"; suggesting a mapping
in real time, the walk as a "life-size map of itself" -- an enacting
of space on its own stage -- in which relations might become explicit, its surfaces
made porous -- a third space opened up along the axes of atemporal grids; an emergent
process staged simultaneously along the axes' lengths.
<25> But where Jaireth is essentially a flâneur, the site of his contestation being his reverie of re-walking Delhi and re-reading its maps, Deidre Heddon makes her autotopography not interiorly, but in and against the site of her disbarment from the right to openly "be" and "become," and of the right to a space for her, "another," as such. The very bleakness of the uncared-for sites of graffiti, their scrambling with tags and scribbled equivalents of lashing out, their flatness, their formal inarticulacy, their implied threat and actual exclusion of anyone unfamiliar with their "writers," or their references, and the absence of "any agency" in the homophobic grammar, make the graffitied space an un-homely, uncanny one, a place of dread, a small, bleak, partially "third" space -- a site of possibility (pre-agency) in which the "everything (else)" of a homophobic ideological apparatus manifests itself to the "experiencer" as a dauntingly singular power. Heddon's response is brave and witty, simultaneously autobiographical and auto-generative. But there is a problem of process. Heddon describes the range of different graffiti practices, but in collapsing them all back on autobiography does she create a problem for herself? For they are ideological practices too -- not only in constructing individual "others" but in making a language for a degraded institution of "othering." Graffiti artist Nancy McDonald noted that her own practice, while non-legal, had the qualities of "a discipline, militaristic and masculine" . The a-public, almost private, nature of the process threatens to strand the final graffiti works of Heddon's "another"; their absent rendering perhaps making them readable in undesired ways, when edited into the "language" of their places of aggressive "othering." So "I was here, here was queer" could be read as "I was here -- I didn't like it -- it is [therefore] queer."
<26> The elegance of Heddon's de-centering of her response to the site -- mediating the statement of her presence and identity through the site -- is an effective model for détournement. It maintains agency, but decenters it, avoiding on the one hand the interiority of Jaireth's walking and, on the other Munt's collapsing onto a "you"-caller all the weight of a romantic, displaced self-making. It may be presumptuous to say so, but it is close to the making/re-making of both self and autobiography as site that I am seeking, a working of relations, which privileges neither sites nor selves, but rather seeks a siting for communication from within bleak space. Nevertheless, just as Heddon's "another" has détourned the othering of homophobic graffiti in bleak third space, has her adoption of its surreptitious, cryptic process made her products themselves mis/de-readable? In one respect -- a spatial one -- Heddon's "another" has reclaimed a ground, marked a space for herself on an inhospitable Devonian surface (and if her method were taken up by others a newly intimate, agented ground might "open" up). But is there a failure to engage with all the politics of process -- or perhaps is this the objective suppression of that possibility for that "another" who cannot afford to act openly -- that suggests that the hybridization of Devonian surfaces will involve a more public engagement with the symbiotic processes of vandalism and tourism than this cryptic model, for all its virtues, can wholly deliver? In this sense the concept of "autotopography" is problematic for it suggests the return of the engagement of space to a cryptic, private process, even though external, and a resort to the final arbitration of identity, even though one that is "becoming." In this example it does not engage with the ideological apparatus of graffiti, the particular process of ideological reproduction here, in the same, effective, seriously playful way it deals with its ideological, homophobic content.
Resorting To Holiday
<27> Like Deidre Heddon, the English county of Devon is also my adopted home, but I first got to know it some forty years ago as the site of "extra" holidays -- a place to which I was occasionally taken by my maternal grandparents during school term, out of season, for a few days at a time, almost always at a guesthouse in Paignton, on the South Devon Coast. Here, at Romford Lodge, the owners -- Jeff and Joy -- had become friends of our family, generating a strange hybrid of familiarity and authority in the breakfast room. Heddon writes to counter the idea that "the autobiographical act is a result of...deep interiority" (Heddon <2>). My autobiography is written in my re-remembering the structures, re-walking the grids of Paignton: my pre-breakfast newspaper walks with my "Pop" (always the same route) along the promenade and the glancing and respectful encounters there -- as if everything and everyone were connected to him, to us, and us to them. If I traveled with him on a business trip we would set off at 7 or 8 AM and by 9 we would have stopped at the backdoor of some pub where my Pop would sip an illegal beer with the landlord, me with a bottle of lemonade. It was like it was possible to know everyone, if not personally, at least by a collective understanding of the rituals, manners, shared history (the war/bombing) and respectable transgressions. I assumed everybody in the world, including me, was "respectable," skilled, upwardly mobile, working class (although I wouldn't have understood much of that description then). And ideas were just things everyone shared -- I never heard anyone in our family raise their voice to discuss an idea.
<28> Sitting in Café Nosztalgia, Balatonboglár, eating light, sweet Stefánia torta, sheltering from the one storm that hit the south side of the lake this summer, I had time to think about what was so displaced and familiar about the resort -- used almost entirely by Hungarians and Germans, predominantly working class. I had begun to recognize the rituals and structures of early 1960s Paignton as I sat within the panoptic fan of cafés around the small square -- the polite negotiations of space and volume, the repeated use of the same areas by the same people giving all their actions a consequence to be answered for in future visits (even if the place is also a huge ashtray). Throughout a whole weekend of a brewery workers' beach soccer tournament, and despite the ready availability of Borsodi at every ice cream kiosk, outside the soccer mini-stadia I had not heard a single voice raised above the conversational. On the day of the annual cross-lake swim the regular throb and rumble of rotor blades as rescue and police helicopters paraded and gave rides was disconcertingly comforting -- it was Dunlop works sports day, Coventry 1963 or 1964. This was the security of the fathers in charge, the company paternalistic and protective, confidently displaying its machines. Holiday space; a utopian ordering. There are other readings: That torta -- its high, labor-intensive, "home-made" quality -- gendered like "hospitality" -- made by women, allowed limited areas of expression, defending and refining those areas sometimes to intensity: huge meals fiercely pressed. In our holiday home, the closing of the shutters before lighting the Sabbath candles.
<29> Returning to Devon, to make a home here, 30 or so years after those short holiday visits ended, I found myself displaced from the seafronts of Paignton and its neighbouring resorts. They had become rundown and dirty, even threatening -- like a tatty urban centre anywhere in Britain, with the same weekend leisure-violence, reproducing, ironically, the accelerating flatness and non-distinctness of each successive tourist trade puff quoted by Heddon. These had been mutable non-places where Great Western Railway workers could famously pretend to be clerks for a week -- now I found them explicitly marked and territorialized in a non-deferential, democratic empiricism frozen in the present. The order and structure of small rituals (as gendered and classed as Stefánia torta), the pleasantries of tiny beachside newsagents, the idiosyncratic retail stalls and sheds and the faded-genteel teashops had mostly been replaced, infantilised even, by the repetitive shopfronts of national chains, by a tabloid brutalism, by more ruthless "amusement arcades" of slot machines -- for the blatant redistribution of wealth in the wrong direction -- explicit temples to false consciousness, by the effects of a Thatcherite "utopianism of process" (Harvey 2000, 173) in which "market forces" delivered a spiral of low earners chasing low price food and drink and the scramble to provide them at decreasing levels of quality. The old cinemas and theatres mostly gone. Chalked outside a seaside shop, the brutalism comes to the fore: "We treat flys [sic] worse than we do criminals -- fly swats 2 for 75p."
<30> Nostalgia hankers after ordered space and harmony. It loathes the detritus of its own social reproduction. Its conservatism is not a simple one: because it utopianizes the past it is thus in conflict with it, it is not a simple looking back, it is an aggressive editing at odds with its own material. The nostalgic process becomes, if pushed hard enough, detached from the space. Nostalgia can float free, a potential third space. But nostalgia, radical or reactionary, is not a "natural" force. The hyper-modernism of retro fashions following so precipitately on their originals allows no space for nostalgia, just as its depthless present can neither articulate nor hear a different future. In searching for my lost holiday spaces, I have been driven from familiarity to explore concentrations of difference rather than nostalgic harmony, places from which I was previously excluded. As a child I never stepped inside the "posh" Redcliffe Hotel in Paignton, despite its location directly across the road from Romford Lodge. Yet, I have always continued to recall it with fascination -- in a distorted, reddened re-remembering. I had no memory to associate with it -- not even its correct appearance -- only its exceptional and resonant ambience. Returning to it now I have begun to read it/write it autobiographically, to understand why I did not forget it, the Redcliffe Hotel -- an architectural amalgam of various religious and secular Indian buildings, designed by and built for the colonial architect Colonel Robert Smith, to whose architectural ideas the hotel's pamphlet attributes the "survival" of "the historic Mughal monuments of Delhi, such as the Qutb Minar, Jami Musjib and the Red Fort." The Hotel was built with "Mecca Prayer Steps," minarets and Indian signs and shields on its original tower. It is a wormhole to an India I have never visited, but an India that was written lightly and obscurely over my childhood -- an India of worked brass ornaments, carved tables and lamps and, most significantly to me, a small wall carving of various gods hung on the wall of our little hall, brought back by my paternal grandfather, a regimental sergeant-major in the ranks of imperialism. If I even looked like I was leaving any food at the side of my plate I would be promptly informed of how grateful the "starving people of India" would be to have it. We sneered at pre-cooked Vesta Curry when it first appeared, because we ate "proper" curry prepared with Venkat Curry Powder. Ganesh, elephant-headed, was the most important of the gods to me. A hybrid alternative to man-centred Christianity. A nod to say that somewhere someone took the hybrid monsters of the late night Friday movies as seriously as I did. A model for the lobster/uncles of my neo-Symbolist autobiographical theatre pieces: "The Lollipop Guaranteed For A Thousand Licks" (1998) and "Forest Vague Panic" (2001).
<31> My next autobiographical act is to prepare for the walking of that South Devon holiday coast. To provoke "third intervals" in the telepresence of those non-places that have formed me historically and imaginatively, to explore for "third space" in the places that were once kept from me, in the absences that remain of remembered sites and through wormholes to entangled, former "others," to resist and détourn the spatial conservatism of both my nostalgia and utopianism. This will be a delicate agency. I plan to be researching, walking and performing along the coast with an Indian born dancer/performer and a British born Indian storyteller, with the intention of setting our associations with these sites in orbits about each other. Munt's model of an autobiographical act "entirely dependant upon the...narration of the other, the person she calls 'you'" (Munt <12>) is an attractive option and yet its placing in the paper -- a sudden "twist in the tale" -- disturbs me. It is an abrupt displacing of agency, after her opening "lean toward a concept of the self, which, although still somewhat dependent on spatial metaphor, can include a stronger emphasis on temporality, narrative, and on agency" (Munt <1>). I do find plenty to empathise with in this leap of evolution, but the "plenty" is, conversely, the problem. As with the paper itself, Munt seems to be attempting to cover all the bases. The result is that nothing moves. The argument for a return to agency cites so many theoretical authorities and processes that the concept is figuratively brought to its knees by their weight. She quotes Doreen Massey's concept of "power geometry," but rather than developing "the instability of spaces, which are imbued with partiality" she ends up with a binary, territorial description of space "always contingent on the space next to it" (Munt <2>). The radicalism of an "I" entirely "you"'d into being topples what had been an allusive and developing argument of changing relations into the resurrection of another final authority -- the "I" replaced by the "you." The King is dead...
<32> Nevertheless, as the grandson of an imperialist soldier, I do want to be narrated, to be the "you" of my co-performers/storytellers/walkers. But I also -- "both/and" -- want to create the hybridity of a "third space," and to seek the uncanny also, where spectators might feel their own "reflex of freedom within itself at the thought of its possibility" . A more hybrid-like model of site might contain temporal contingences such as wormholes and entanglement, and a more hybrid-like model of self might be less absolute in its integrity as either agent-self or as narrated "you." Munt does salute hybridity, and draws on the "third space" of Homi Bhabha, though she emphasises "the boundary" at the expense of its other qualities. Later she privileges integrity (Munt <5>), which seems at odds with this part of her argument -- at each stage Munt's essay seems to be at odds with itself, but not without reward when the contradictions can be set in motion about each other. Given the intensity and density of the memes that our walk is likely to put in orbit about itself, a "both/and" of hybridity that floats free a "third space," a utopian space in which, in Bhahba's words, "the importance...is not to trace two original moments...rather the 'third space' which enables other positions to emerge" (qtd. in Munt <3>) but also, transitionally, recognises the painful boundaries from which this hybridity comes -- might be the most fruitful. In the end, one suspects that "third space" is for Munt a means to one end: identity. For me, hybridity is bigger and older than that -- not a radical transgression of a natural order of things, but rather a particular and helpful expression of the historical ambiguities of the human mind; its discrete "chapels" of specialization (memory of animal behavior, of human sexual signals, etc.) collapsing somewhere between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago into one, according to archaeologist Steven Mithen, "cathedral" structure of mind (the spatiality of the reference is appropriate, if mediaeval.) with a new confusion/ability to make metaphor. Scale is important. When a crucial temporality may be moving at the rate of tens of thousands of years, its gearing to that of a human subject is a subtle one. Munt attempts to give agency and self-definition a temporality end up uni-directional and parallel with "acts of duration," "repetition" and "reiteration." Despite the breadth of her paper and her emphasis on marginality, she paradoxically and frustratingly proposes to achieve hybridized and de-centered ends by deploying means that are arrow-headed, identity-laden and less variegated than they need to be. For all the virtues of her argument, the elements of motion and entanglement are missing.
<33> Flicking through the channels of Hungarian TV at our holiday flat, on one they are re-running an early 1960s Hungarian show -- "Benson" -- the comic adventures of a purportedly British private detective. The show is, again purportedly, set in London. This means an establishing shot of Tower Bridge under the titles, and then a baffling shot of an English market town High Street, followed by a tracking shot along what is clearly supposed to be the frontage of a smart Oxford Street store but looks suspiciously like the pillared pavement along Kossuth Lajos Utca. The action that follows is sited in a peculiar "neither Budapest nor London" -- a hallucinatory space, in which mutations of history play -- a hybrid "third space" where an 'I' might agree to be narrated by a 'you' and change everything (else).
<34> As string theory must operate in 10 dimensions to make a mathematically coherent hypothesis for a 'fabric' of matter, so an active theorist, a writer in the largest sense, a 'walker' drifting in autobiographical praxis, must gear, must calibrate the objects/signs/beings/being s/he sees and simultaneously edits in motion about her/his space with the expanding, pulling and orbiting, galaxy of ideas about the uses, routes and inscriptions of 'space' without collapsing these motions into an interiorised self or gridlocking them. Hence this attempt to place myself along certain gridded and porous planes -- reminiscence, criticism, praxis -- in order to position myself within the theoretical and practical grounds being marked out by others, resisting (or at worst re-siting) as best I can the temptation to make theory "in one's own image." This all means, for this dériviste, a gearing, a calibrating of the spaces of ambience (hybridity) and dread, with the very different time spans of "drifting" and emergent urbanism, in and out of a third space/third interval synthesis (of agency, that is) with the orbiting theories of an ambiguous historical mind, a natural selection of ideas (with its motor of attraction to memetic "carriers" rather than to memes themselves) and a disruption of the opportunistic architecture of ideological apparatuses.
O, I do like to be
Beside the seaside...
To write "in summary" here means resisting any temptation to make an "overview" from an "above" (even if I could get up there) or to take "sides" among the four Reconstruction essays. In acting precisely opposite to "summarily", rather than dispensing with details retaining a sense of their motion about each other, a judgement can be made about the qualities of these four confrontations with the notion of autobiogeography. The geometry of this is crucial: even a continuum along which to place the essayists and (visibly or invisibly) myself would necessitate a halted line up. I suggest a fluid multi-dimensional map moving around in which I can read the roof and the front of things simultaneously, in which "Delhi," "Devon" and "you-maker" appear on the other side of a painful boundary that interrupts simple interiorization, on which one can write in a language of "place" that displaces self, while passive spectatorship of its sensual topology is interrupted by the politics of an explicit editing; the necessity of forgetting inscribed into the map itself. In this mapping Jaireth, by interiorising place, and Munt, by re-placing agency and identity on to an authoritative "other," are the most resistant to its fluidity. Heddon, for her displacement of self-making, and Wolf-Meyer and Heckman, for their reconstructing of agency on a "shifting foundation" of a "present [that] can only come into being through an eradication -- an editing -- of the past" (Wolf-Meyer & Heckman <2>) are the most amenable. But more significantly, elements from each of the essays welcome hybridisation with each other, making feasible "third" spaces enabling "other positions to emerge," spaces where others can propose their own autobiographical cartographies of everything (else).
 Brown, R. Biotica: Art, Emergence and Artificial Life. London: RCA CRD Research Publications, 2001. pp. 33 & 38 [^]
 de Certeau , M. The Practise of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California, 1984. pp. 190-91 [^]
 Easthorpe, A. Englishness and National Culture. London: Routledge, 1999. pg. 121 [^]
 Notes of J.D. Dewsbury's paper, "Performative Spacings: Diagramatic Tracings of Corporeality" given at Performance of Place Conference, Birmingham University, 2000. [^]
 Asgar Jorn, quoted in Kennedy, D. Cornell: A Circuition Around His Circumambulation. Sheffield: West House, 2001. pg. 11 [^]
 Cf. Banash, D. "Activist Desire, Cultural Criticism and the Situationist International." Reconstruction 2.1 (Winter 2002). [^]
 Notes of J.D. Dewsbury’s paper given at Performance of Place Conference, Birmingham University, 2000. [^]
 Nancy McDonald, Open University broadcast, BBC2, 6.30am, 14.8.02 [^]
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