Contemporary Psychogeographies

Later this month I’m scheduled to head over to Sackville to join Shauna McCabe’s Architectures for Creativity — a “protracted symposium” at Mount Allison University — to talk about “Plazes and contemporary psychogeographies.”

I suppose it would behoove me to learn what “contemporary psychogeographies” actually means before I go…

Coming from the day-to-day world I come from, where we regularly lapse into buzzword-laced talk of XML-RPC and AJAX and “scrum forums” and “optimized user experiences,” it’s dangerous for me to point an accusing finger at the lingual arcana of other disciplines. But I do note, for the record, that I find Shauna’s world particularly laced with its own vocabulary (when’s the last time you had a casual conversation about “modernity and monumentality”).

That all said, as I scratch below this confusing surface I find intriguing overlap between the technical curiosities that underlie my interest in location and presence and what appears to be a different expression of the same curiosities from the academic side of the fence. If my “presence stream” is your “contemporary psychogeography,” then perhaps we have something to discuss?

Stay tuned for reports from the field; before you know it I’ll be blogging about “formal and more ephemeral architectures” here.


Johnny's picture
Johnny on February 1, 2008 - 16:29 Permalink

I sometimes wonder if the enormous pressure to publish in the world of academia leads folks to make up new words/phrases/concepts simply so they have something to write about for their next journal article.

I was frequently lost in space in my English lit classes in University because I never took a literary theory course. I am similarly lost in space if I try to go lunch with you and the silverorange boys… the techno-jargon flying around that table makes “Contemporary Psychogeographies” seem relatively simple by comparison.

oliver's picture
oliver on February 1, 2008 - 19:17 Permalink

I think it’s a cultural thing that somehow becomes a recipe for sounding competent—perhaps after somebody smart and charismatic pulls it off as a bluff to obscure their ignorance or a mistake about something and scare off a challenge that sounded serious because it was. “Obscurantism,” “Pentagonese” and “obfuscation” are big words that come to mind. There was practically a nuclear war over this in academia after what people call the “Sokal Affair”—in which physicist Alan Sokal under a pseudonym submitted and had published in a supposedly refereed and premier journal of cultural-studies and/or critical-theory a some deviously crafted mumbojumbo in the form of an essay and argument for a social theory. I think for scientists it was a revenge-of-the-nerds fantasy come true, having felt that profs in the humanities and social sciences treated and thought of them like jocks—academic stars for nothing to do with what really ought to count for education and intelligence. On the other side, I think people saw it as a big guy kicking a little guy while he was down, since science brings in tons of money and gets new buildings and departments, while other very traditional and/or “culturally relevant” degrees and departments are withering away.

Ann's picture
Ann on February 3, 2008 - 21:18 Permalink

By far and away the killer feature of this combination, however, is the ability to