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The Voyage of Donald Crowhurst

This is one of the central myths of

mythogeography. Crowhurst left Teignmouth
in Devon, UK, in 1968 on a double journey.
One, from a to a, a round-the-world yacht
race, The Sunday Times Golden Globe Race;
the other, triggered by his failure to leave the
Atlantic and the necessary deceptions that
kept him in a race he had to win, led him first
into moral, and then in his own mind into
physical, relativity. He began to embody
Einstein’s Special Theory. He became a living

Crowhurst’s story is one of few modern tragic

individuals; for his predicament is partly one
of his own making; there is hubris, but there
is also heroism. And he is an example to
mythogeographers, not in some sick, ironical
way, but as someone who, when he lied, was
released to genuinely live an impossible
physics. Faced with victory, he (probably)
picked up his boat’s chronometer and
stepped into the ocean. His sacrifice allows
us to experiment without self-destruction. He
took the chance; today, thanks to him, we
don’t have to.


“I put on shows for policemen. Always the

same routine… They were like sheep. They
always fell for it. I got myself picked up by
one of them. To pay for my English. I know
how you’re going to feel about this… But I
did it for the English language, OK! When
we were doing it I thought about the
others. Everyone thinks of someone else
when they come. Because coming isn’t in
time. That’s why coming in the movies is
samey. Coming isn’t part of history.
Coming happens in a different time zone.
Hong Kong ain’t six hours ahead of
London. Munich ain’t one hour behind
Paris. Anyway, it’s only cheating if you
think of one bloke. It’s OK if it’s millions.
That’s obviously not possible. All those
made up stories in the newspapers. When
they say so and so and so and so really did
it in that scene, that’s just to sell the
movie. All this phantom loving is going on.
I feel like I shagged a whole city!! I feel
really tired.”

“Confessions of a Perfume Paratrooper”

from Slippery Suitcases


The Spectacle is not a ‘curtain of illusion’

draped across reality, hiding the ‘real evils’
of capitalism.
In Howard Brenton’s play ‘Magnificence’
one of the characters
tells a story about a
drunk throwing a
bottle through a
cinema screen, as a
metaphor for piercing
the Spectacle (the
hole remains as the
action moves on).
However, such
piercing has been a
devotional tactic since
the pyramids: an
“obelisk” (or more correctly a “tekhen”,
from the ancient Egyptian verb “to pierce”)
punctures the sky, the home of the gods.

The Spectacle – despite the name – does

not describe the distraction of people from
the ‘truth’ of their circumstances through
the deployment of Hollywood. Rather, it is
a critique of the relations between people
driven by the production and exchange of
images, accelerated by a culture of
visuality in which the image has replaced
the commodity as the main object of
desire. Simple, really, and yet it is ‘odd’
how many clever people get it wrong.
Makes you wonder about their motives…
(anyone can win an argument if they can
define their opponent’s terms for them).
There is nothing ethereal or mystical about
the operations of the Spectacle. They are
the same relations of consumption as
those of spectral finance capital with its
addictive relationship to de-centred
banking, out-sourcing and the general
hollowing out of every available institution
and organisation.

Walking out on the Spectacle has nothing

(yet) to do with hope. It is about being
paranoid and ready. Learning to be
cockroaches. Learning to create theatre in
cracks in the pavement, parliaments in
back rooms. Acting the post-holocaust

We need to learn an ethics of the stranger.
How to receive a stranger, but also how to
be and present ourselves as a stranger.

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