The Mythogeography Of Things To Be

Phil Smith
We come to a T junction. Never go back. And the two other options are roughly similar. Each one appetising, neither eccentrically so. We’re on a group “drift” – Taxi To Westwood and Featureless. Setting of at 4am in a taxi, blindfolded, Walkmans on, we’ve asked to be driven to somewhere without signs of where we might be (our version of a situationist ‘catapult’). The driver named it “featureless”. On my own, at such junctions, I usually take a step in one direction, and jump back, worried at missing things in the other. I take a step along the other route and, once more, recoil. Making a Burdidan’s ass of myself. The anxiety is an economic one, a fear of loss. On Taxi To Westwood and Featureless we threw a stick in the air and followed the sharpened end. Coming to the junction afunctionally, already following irrational ambience we felt little need to weigh the possibilities. I’ve been participating in and initiating such “drifts” for almost 10 years now. For me, they emerged from the sitespecific theatre and performances of the Exeter, UK-based group Wrights & Sites. Dissatisfied by some of the impositions of theatre on the sites it was supposed to be specific to, Wrights & Sites began to explore other performative options: informed by the psychogeography of the situationists (at first negatively, defining ourselves in opposition to them), by English neo-romantics like Arthur Machen, by the meshing with the ‘everyday’ of Fluxus, and

by more recent explorers of the urban like Anna Best and the Stalker group of Rome, we began to take ‘drifts’ with no ‘where’ to get to, without fear of what we might be missing elsewhere. We were arriving at junctions afunctionally. I want to explore this ‘break’ in walking as something more than a simple opposing of function, but as something more like a delayed moment just before a synthesising of patterns in the physical sciences, something more than a disruption in leisure studies. Before the situationists popularised and theorised this break (following, knowingly, in the footsteps of Dadaist antiguided walks and Surrealist jaunts), it had been prefigured in walking of which the situationists were not aware: occasional experiments within the more extreme ranges of recreational walking and tramping, like Stephen Graham’s zig zag walk (in The Gentle Art of Tramping), and among an esoteric few who saw walking as an irrational journey, like the Prague writers whose street wanderings became labyrinthine fictions: Gustav Meyrink, Paul Leppin, Alfred Kubin, or, in London, Arthur Machen. But these were still bound in the polar oppositions of function and pleasure, a sort of ambulatory ‘art for art’s sake’. Now a break from this binary opposition has been made increasingly possible by long rhythms of

critical-theoretical change, by recent crests in neuroscience, by the popularisation of non-classical physics and a resurgent interest in neo-Platonism, morphology and mathematical biology. Where reviews of walking were once referenced mostly to literature (and this still continues, influentially, in Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust and Merlin Coverley’s very recent ‘Psychogeography’), then visual arts, architecture and politics (Guy Debord being the obvious example, and Francesco Careri’s ‘Walkscapes’), and more recently geography, archaeology and anthropology (see Mike Pearson and Michael Shanks’s ‘Theatre/Archaeology’), I am proposing here a pedestrian pseudo-science of limited motion, crucially ‘simple’ in the sense of using a small number of invariants by which to navigate ideological flows. A ‘science’ that slides through its influences, taking gratefully from them, but abandoning that repetition of origins that sets up colony within all disruptions; for want of a better term: mythogeography. Mythogeography is active on the border between the respectable and the nonrespectable. Like “researchers” in conspiracy, it mimics the nomenclature of science without the obligation to always maintain its disciplines, (and without funding or laboratories it is, by necessity, a borrowed and borrowing practice, it is not original). Given its few resources it must deploy its findings in a strategic game of peaceful conspiring, hopefully placing itself within the liquid cloisters of a self-organising enthusiasm for selforganisation and within the ambiguities

of dynamic forms for which (both for forms and ambiguities) David Wade has borrowed the Chinese term “li” - because “it falls between our notions of pattern and principle” (Wade, 2003, p.1) Mythogeography is a playful geography of traversable space that has arisen from site-specific performance making, a practice often contesting the meaning of its sites with their owners and users. But it has arisen also in contesting this use of sites – one which, rooted originally in large scale US Land Art, often seemed to be one of appropriation, and which has provoked a reaction, exemplified here by Miwon Kwon: “our understanding of site has shifted from a fixed, physical location to somewhere or something constituted through social, economic, cultural and political processes.” (Kwon, 2002, p.10) Mythogeography would like to have this both ways, to maintain the ‘thingness’ of its sites, while setting itself in motion, proposing itself as a mobile, ambulatory discipline, adopting the fictional precedent of Greek ‘pedestration’, aware of this adoption as the adopting of a simulacrum, a romantic invention to justify serious walking. Mythogeography can continue to contest the landmarks, the symbols, the boundaries of material sites, as well as the processes that run through them, exploiting this friction and gathering its contradictions: rumours, mistakes, elaborations and inventions, détourned tourism disinformation, crimes, personal associations, hidden histories and hauntings that hang about specific places, valued these equally with the slogans and detritus of official histories and tourist geographies. The opportunity is here to theorise a critical space somewhere in between the on-going revival of early situationist-like walkings and the parallel emergence of walking practise that might, this time, reach beyond the cul-

de-sacs (there often are alleyways inaccessible to the car driver) of imploding and cultic organisation that condenses capitalist competition within itself and the market strictures of art, but deferring any synthesis of these two practices. The discipline of this geography is its placing in gaps, an attempt to accumulate ideas before they hybridise, setting them loose again in their pre-hybrid forms, a gamble with the risks of condensing, in the hope of circulation and orbit. The term “mythogeography” emerged, probably by mistake, in my own description of the performance Page Boy in the former Maritime Museum in Exeter, (October 2000): “at the entrance to a site forbidden during The Quay Thing. Body and books as doors to alien territories. Performed on an adulterated map of our previous work. Exmouth merging into Narnia. Tracing new plots onto the mytho-geography, like Bron Fane's UFO 517 narrative, a 60s trash novel that rewrites the Exe Estuary myth of The Devil's Footsteps…” (http://www.mis-guide.com/ws/archive/phil.html) and was developed by continuing misuse. It has (re-)presented itself as an opportunity to test, theoretically, ideas and practises it has come to name, and to provide a theoretical back(drop) for others to leapfrog over. Mythogeography’s account of walking begins its break from those tensions within the earlier narratives of Stephen Graham, Geoffrey Murray or Morris Marples’s Shank’s Pony: A Study Of Walking that partly defer to literature and ‘landscape’ art, but cannot quite resist the attractions of a practice that resists reification, that has no need to dematerialise its art object (having

none), that has retained something of its pre-romantic combination of amoral natural mutability, uselessness and low necessity. This turns art history on its head – now the dissolution of site does not follow the appropriations of the ‘pioneering’ and pseudo-colonialist Land Artists. In mythogeographical art history, the Spiral Jetty and the Lightning Field float among the trajectory-practices of trampers, the titles of whose books, while contaminated by the values of a class system, imply an art of a peculiarly ephemeral kind: Murray’s The Gentle Art of Walking, Graham’s The Gentle Art of Tramping. The “thingness” of Land Art can be enjoyed by floating rather than dematerialisation. So, rather than the processes of art, mythogeographical walking is more about a meshing of geographical trajectories, and their ghostly bathing in cultural motion pictures, and with a geometrical connectivity of a ‘self’, the integrity of which is constantly being modulated by new neurological research, fragmentation in the face of critical theory, and the speculations (for that is what they mostly are) of consciousness studies (from Roger Penrose’s ‘quantum consciousness’ to memetics). This geographical ‘softness’ comparable to the ‘soft places’ in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics, or Jonathan Raban’s ‘soft city’ – welcomes the academically unrespectable, while refusing to collapse itself (despite, personally speaking, certain blandishments offered) into any single branch of small-business esoterica, it challenges the integrity of the walker in themselves and the landscape in itself, walking topographies (in both senses, of ‘surface features’ and their ‘charting’, simultaneously and discretely) in which self is geographical and landscape is surprisingly autobiographical - a geographical game of Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon - challenging political, cultural and

psychological identities. In the mobile mythogeography of the ‘drift’, setting identity at risk is an essential ‘catapult’. The working ‘mytho-scientific’ method is a floating of repeatable experiments with charlatan fictions and hopeful speculation, conducted according to the evolutionary psycho-architectural explanation of the ‘creative explosion’ of 30,000 to 50,00 years ago, succinctly articulated in Steven Mithen’s The Prehistory of The Mind. Mythogeography, with the benefit of hindsight, uncovers the archaeological record of Mithen-ology in its own cultural landscape. No surprises there, then.

“RUPERT: …(I)nsofar as we see angels… perhaps we can see them as associated with angel fields. Angels themselves could be thought of as a particular manifestation of the activity of these fields, just as photons are a particulate way of thinking about the activity… in electromagnetic fields.” (Fox & Sheldrake,1996, p.41) In June 2003 I journeyed with my then neighbour, the mathematician Matthew Watkins (author of Useful Mathematical and Physical Formulae, Wooden Books, Wales, 2000) on an Angel Dérive through the city of Exeter, navigating by signs of angels. As a default trajectory we would visit the four churches dedicated to St Michael and All Angels. We reached only three – significantly, if you regard three-plus-one as of significance. At first we could hardly walk at all for the intensity of detail. Yet, despite the

granularity, as long as “when to end” was not an issue, I always retained a sense of operating within a ‘field’ of pseudo-geometrical spacetime, almost tangible, a ticking away of things being. We skirt around St Michael and All Angels on Mount Dinham the place is such an obvious vantage point - like the sites of Danes Castle, Rougement and the Law Courts, yet no one seems to know much about the site - called ‘California’ at one time, used for drying cloth on racks. Field. Purchased by John Dinham to prevent a fun fair and prostitution. A contested field. Commandeered by one who understood the curving pull of ideological and sensual space. Not a Puritan, a patron of an alternative, fearful sensuality. The church was built as an “idealistic propaganda tool” for a sensual Tractarianism and Anglo-Catholicism, for visuality against text. On our way we’d dodged the traffic to climb onto the base of the Clock Tower and there was a tiny white angel - a brilliant white, delicate, cross-shaped, miniature moth. Notes: “electricity and god are indistinguishable” - this seems to be a quote from someone - it sounds unintentionally Futurist… “water wings” – found on a discarded shopping list Outside the church we encounter a tenant from Dinham’s ‘Free Cottages’. “Free? Not at those rents!” She tells us that she had been entertaining friends from America at the Royal Clarence Hotel, in search of their roots, and there they were, sat, unknowingly, just a few yards from the monument to an ancestor of theirs. “They were called ‘Bastard’ or something like that…” “‘Hooker’?” “Yes, that’s it!”

I attend a talk in St Michael and All Angels, Mount Dinham. ‘God On The Brain’ by the Reverend Anthony Freeman, dismissed from his parish for his part in the humanist Sea of Faith ‘heresy’, co-editor of the Journal of Consciousness Studies, carefully laying down a materialist science for visions and prophetic voices, explaining how two ‘everyday’ neural functions, when unexpectedly co-activated can produce exceptional experiences, combining a sense of reality with extreme emotion. Not that there is any exceptional “thing”, but rather there is creativity – the unexpected co-operating of simple “things”. Throughout, Reverend Freeman sat facing the West Door, its doom wall a screen of angels, and a singularly human devil. “The doors are double, and above them, in a circular medallion, is a carving of the seven archangels. In the front are St Gabriel with lily, St. Michael with his sword and scales and St Raphael with the staff and scrip.” (Anonymous, undated) Uriel is missing. Or present, but anonymous. Does mythogeography/mytho-geography have a hyphen? It should be spelt inconsistently. Between smooth, gridded space, where things happen - in every small town you expect that monster with tentacles that squeezes up through the macadam, or the big bass spider - and those winged phantoms with psychology is fecund ground for exploring. Walking along an empty country road with Vicky and Matthew I

suddenly ‘saw’ a huge computer-animated monster stepping out into the road - that’s where, maybe, one can explore the maps that are slowly emerging from walking: the territories of intuition (popping up like the “eccentrics” of paper architecture), textbook diagrams of Grotowski’s para-theatrical evolution from Rich and Total Theatres to a biological singularity running in tiny loops of time beyond the hybrid into instinct and temporary blackout. And in the cockpit of some enormous craft, constantly steering and resteering itself, resisting the dialectic of Little and Large, of the elite minority that is always becoming “everything”, in the ship with no Zion, with no originary, but rather “focus(ing) on those moments or processes that are produced in the articulation of cultural differences. The ‘in-between’ spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood - singular or communal - that initiate new signs of identity and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself….” (Bhabha, 1994, p.1-2). This particular good ship Osiris - with its pilot Thoth (St Michael holding the scales) recording the measurements of a heart weighed against a feather, while peregrine falcons on the spire of the church of St Michael (Mercury, Hermes, Thoth) pick a pigeon to pieces, its bloodied feathers shwoeing down among the children playing in my daughter’s school playground. (“RUPERT: In the Christian tradition the principal symbol of the holy spirit - that which inspired prophesy, shamanic-type gifts of healing, all the gifts of the spirit, including… intuitions of various kinds - is the pigeon… assimilating to the state of the pigeon, is the basis of the gift of knowledge, prophesy and spiritual power…” (Abraham et al, 1998, p.76) “Look, daddy, snow!! Red snow!!”- this Osiris vessel resists a banal hybridity, resists the ‘progressive’ slap that gets the blood moving in the murderer’s brain. It must sail among the sharp reefs of archaic and modern, ‘original’ and copy - each delayed synthesis threatening to bite the hull and fill the ship with itself/themselves. Bhabha quotes Marshall Sahlins on ‘difference’

in Western bourgeois culture: “…between an open expanding code, responsive by continuous permutation to events it has itself staged, and an apparently static one that seems to know not events…” (Sahlins, 1976, p112) and against it he proposes “The intervention of the Third Space of enunciation, which makes the structure of meaning and reference an ambivalent process, destroys the mirror of representation in which cultural knowledge is customarily revealed as an integrated, open expanding code.” (Bhabha, 1994, p.37) The contest between tourism and drift. In the latter’s resistance to totalisation, it deploys the trash and ceremonial of its enemies: “…that Third Space, … unrepresentable in itself, … constitutes the discursive conditions of enunciation that ensure that the meaning and symbols of culture have no primordial unity or fixity; that even the same signs can be, ‘that element in a translation that does not lend itself to transition’…” (Bhabha, 1994, p.224) It is the piece of grit that sees, not the eye it irritates, its is the granularity of trash, gossip, mistakes, sci fi-sudden freezings of time, monsters, poor theatre, marginalized theology and film, rather than their critique in studies of popular culture, it is return to the untranslatable ‘thingness’. “Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to KFC because the hybrid, wingless, featherless things they used in the food were no longer officially chickens” - not true, but an imaginary animal flies; it remains for mythogeographers to create a habitat for it in Third Space.

Despite an antipathy to the anti-sitedness of theatre (exemplified by Peter Brook’s concept of “the empty space”), it’s hard not to acknowledge the halflife of theatrical presence on the ‘drift’, so openly marginal and manifestly diminishing, its very willingness to publicly decay theatrically grants itself a diffusive quality, in “direct, physical, celebrative interaction with spectators, acting out her/his (its) own performative functions with them through the text, as well as behind it and beside it” (Soule,L. 2000, p.6) - when the text is place. What Lesley Wade Soule perceives here, in the anti-mimetic actor, or rather in the actor who plays on the border between mimesis and its dispersal, is what - when the spectator is abolished and made an actor in the art of walking - we can be: “celebrative, inviting (and inciting) … to playful response and/or carnival participation, and… liminal/liminoid, namely, free from sociocultural associations (often including gender), as well as from fixity of mimetic character. As an intense and liberated celebrant, the actor is… demonic, that is, perceived to possess potentially dangerous charisma… in collusion… with oppositions between reality and fiction, identity and disguise, ignorance and knowledge.” (Soule, L., 2000, p.8) Soule characterised this “actor” as “rebellious but unrevolutionary” (Soule, L., 2000, p.11). When the walkers on the performative drift are “actors” this formula breaks

down into the probability of an emergent fracture in ‘consensus reality’: not a simple disruption of ideology, nor the emergence of an alternative tortality, but a probabilistic disruption of the striating operation of its phantomic reproductive system. This is starkly delineated in those odd moments when drifters meet ‘ramblers’, in the uncertainty of what each other is, the fishing for anything to say to each other. In appearance the two sets of walkers may be similar, but there is only a genealogical connection between the ramblers and their dériviste anti-particles: “they were of the species Bacchae… they were no longer textual (ie., conveying or possessing meaning), but purely performative (ie., having indefinable significance and the power of perpetual becoming).” (Soule, L., 2000, p.31) Always becoming, never, unlike the rambler, arriving. Destinations on drifts, if ever reached, have significance only as catapults to other places. Mythogeography is a nomadic art. Starting from the site-specific theatre of Wrights & Sites this might seem like the return of a repressed theatre, finally raising itself, with the help of Land Art, from beneath the censures of Fried and Greenberg, to the locus of art. An spiration that that Buci-Glucksmann, in the context of painting, calls “the height of modernity… the great angelic utopia of the baroque, which consisted in making something visible, in being a pure apparition that ma(kes) appearance appear, from a position just on its edges… the theatre of a painted visible where the eye would be at once in the wings

and on stage.” (Buci-Glucksmann, C., 1994, p.61.) Mythogeographical anti-mimesis retains this binocularity of vision through space and not art, through the exploration of the wings as parts of the machine for theatrical product, ie: appearance, through exploration of ‘the stage’ as a road on which is next it is never possible to take more than one step. Theatre has sought to revivify itself in the specificities of site. Performance the same in the specificities of body. ‘Drifting’ pitches itself between the two revivals, resisting a synthesis with either - placing itself in the wings, angelic and architectural, both feathery motion and edgeland, an ironical process/landscape not unlike that of Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid’s Most Wanted paintings, ideologically overloaded, multiple and bleak, unhomely, both stalled and transcendent, culture as natural history; unrefined and multiple atomistic desires keeping the picture from coalescing within its frame, it will not sit still: not quite sublime, not quite laughable. It is from this particular flavour of iconoclasm - not the destruction of images, but rather the delaying of their synthesis - that mythogeography can form its political interventions: democratic, participatory, resistant to completion, in the temporal and cultural mishmash where symbols can clump about, free of their usual moderation and mediation, similar to the play of accidentally collaged images in museums so beloved of Robert Smithson: “… a fantastic plan to blow up the Statue of Liberty. Some bones from Hannibal’s elephants are neatly displayed, and so is Nero’s “fiddle”.” (Smithson, R., 1996, p.98-99). These images are not so much floated free, as stalled; their memetic complexifying, their ideological integration, pre-empted. These are playgrounds, the queasy foundations of change. Margaret Boden, deploying the metaphor of “conceptual space” with a geometrical bias - “What was wrong with

Cézanne’s advice to a fellow-artist to ‘deal with nature by means of the cylinder, the sphere and the cone’?” (Boden, M., 1990, p. 249) has questioned assumptions about ‘genius’, ‘inspiration’ and the experiencing of rich structures “all at once”, perhaps not difficult targets, and in their place suggests that while “(T)he more richly structured (and well sign-posted) the (conceptual) spaces, the more possibility of storing items in a discriminating fashion, and of recognizing their particularities in the first place… Mere systematicity… is not enough… creativity requires that systematic rulebreaking or rule-bending be done in domain-relevant ways. Consistently H(historically)-creative people have a better sense of domain-relevance… Their mental structures are presumably more wide-ranging, more many-levelled and more richly detailed.” (Boden M., 1990, p.252-3) So, rather than an elusive ‘genius’ or mystical openness to synchronic experience, Boden is suggesting that the creative mind is one that can be developed by the storing and arranging of lowlevel patterns of thought (these are ‘early’ thoughts, hence the importance of a nostalgia (and hence the angels) that can re-make the past as a utopia, of an iconoclasm that can rescue simple, changeable, memes, before they become complex) which can then be embroidered and reassembled, changing the dimensions of conceptual spaces, refining them complexly, but made up of simple patterns.

Mythogeography can have both. Indeed, in the cathedral structure of Mithen-ology there is no contradiction between Boden’s cyber-creativity and Freeman’s accidental mysticism. They are both a drama of chapels of informationstorage, both describe the architecture of ‘information retrieval’. If conceptual space-changing is a ‘destination’ that is always on the move, then it is a suitably iconoclastic device, for a transcendence that ignores the anthropomorphic idol in favour of the abstraction of forces and geometry, of nature-in-general; a phantom draughtboard tongue placed gently in a generalised cheek. This places mythogeography towards the sublime end of an iconoclastic continuum which is at its most unforgiving in the smashing of images, moves through decorative art and ends at an aspiration to re-present the unrepresentable (the angelic baroque - the aniconic sublime). Here the human subject is de-centred. The role of art is historical fodder for détournement: the means to a rejection of a future for art, a rejection of the pseudoiconoclasm of modernism and its clearing away of the remnants of religious representation to make art (and the artist) its own idol. Representation, frame as border, art/non-art – at last, can we have these back as everyday “things”? The situationists’ rejection of art - without abandoning either practice or, even, ‘creativity’ (in the programmatic and materialist sense that Margaret Boden uses the word) - is a

rejection of modernism’s self-appointed privileges and dispensations, its defensive ‘difficulty’, its appropriation of the right to interpret itself. In their place the situationists assert the ‘simple’, nostalgic, anachronistic act of walking, the streaming dérive, at the first praxis of their project. It became suspended theoretically in mid air. But the actionidea remains to be used. The project of mythogeography shamelessly purloins it for the development of exchanges of the most provisional of ‘mappings’: from ‘pure’ uncatapulted, disorientated, urban exploring in search of ambience, to structured drifts with catalytic themes, even an ‘iconoclastic’ use of a ‘drifting consciousness’ while performing functional journeys - to work, to shops, to multiplex. All these are accessible at a ‘simple’ level, explainable in a sentence. Once engaged and in motion, by learning an increasing vocabulary of ‘simple’ patterns, the walker refines their ‘creativity’ by re-assembling the orbits of memetic units that an aesthetic of delayed synthesis keeps stalled but in permanent fall - like international spacesstations. This version/inversion of the ‘dérive’ is described in process by Lawrence Brady when he comments on his and Carl Lavery’s wandering in Norwich in 2005, and Lavery’s use of the city as ‘an art of memory’, a series of storage spaces for ideas: “The empty street behind the car-valeting service was a paragraph from Marc Augé on non-spaces; the riverbank at Fuller’s Hole was Gaston Bachelard’s poetics of space; the concourse of the library was Bergson’s ‘la duréé’. The Situationists wanted to use ‘lived experience as the true map of the city’ but your peripatetic discussion was the mirror image, using the city as the true map for ideas.” (Bradby & Lavery, 2007, p.47)

Single sentence-based mini-drifts or wanders through a series of theories-places, the pattern is a common, dynamic one. “…performance alone is not enough - the walker must walk the element of resistance in the process of transformation appropriated, translated, rehistoricised and read anew.” (Bhabha, H., 1994, p.37.)

“(God said:) “I, who am at home in all the ends of the world, revealed my work in the East, the South and the West. But the fourth quarter in the North I left empty; neither sun nor moon shines there. For this reason in this place, away from all worldly structures, is hell, which has neither a roof above nor a floor below.” (Hildegard of Bingen, 1844-91, 197, 812B)

The parentheses around “God said” are mythogeographical goalposts. Moveable. The anomaly that is always in the way of theology, disrupting the binary. The three plus one. Hell is a particular place. Evil is no angel, but a kind of landscape gardening. Hildegard describes the darkness of the North as the contrast that reveals the light from other points. Sheldrake makes this into a wave function. But hell is too ‘placed’ for all this; too grittily, granular-historically, awfully there: “The landscape repeats itself… borne round and round in never-ending circles of the same rooms, fields, offices… toward an overwhelming disaster… The

universe has performed itself into exhaustion… ” (Oppenheimer, P., 1996, p.7) Yet Gilles Ivain’s Dark Quarter, in his Formulary For A New Urbanism (1953), and Bess Lovejoy’s goth “antibrightness”, pitching black against the “wide-scale denial of the darker aspects of life within Western industrial culture”(the e-peak, issue 4, vol 100, 28.9.98 at <http://www.peak.sfu.ca/the-peak/983/issue4/brightness.html>), are alive with resistances. Even in Hildegard’s “hell” the roofless and floorless emptiness is that which has granted the Planet Earth its complexity of existence - the unequal distribution of the universe’s one atom per cubic metre. On this the walker ‘surfs’: the virtual vacuum from which virtual particles burst on borrowed energy before paying it back and disappearing. The mythogeographical map of Exeter must include hell, virtual particles, a ludicrously specific paradise, Kirk Radio and anatomy: neither “the assimilationist’s dream, (n)or the racist’s nightmare, of a ‘full transmissal of subject matter’; (but)…an encounter with the ambivalent process of splitting and hybridity that marks the identification with culture’s difference… the irresolvable, borderline culture of hybridity that articulates its problems of identification and its diasporic aesthetic in an uncanny, disjunctive temporality that is, at once, the time of cultural displacement, and the space of the untranslateable’.” (Bhabha, H. 1994, p224-5) Yodeling cowgirl/performer Misha Myers told me that there is a real “Hell” in Exeter. Mount Dinham rises out of it. The old name for the dark quarter around the North (!) Gate, once guarded by a basilisk taken from the long-gone structure, ignored on a tall pole, and recently disappeared. Only three angels are mentioned by name in the Bible: Raphael, Gabriel and Michael. But four angels are linked to the four directions. In the People’s Park, Crediton, a sprayed tag on the dog shit receptacle looks very like “AZREAL”. There is a fourth,

secret, monkey: “feel no evil” - its hands cupped over its genitals. Three plus one. Devil – monkey – basilisk - angel - human. Shape-shifting old texts. Dragons in the Aromatherapy window on the Exe Bridges. Guinness: angel/harp hybrid. Thru’ Swan Yard into Cowick Street. We enter a shop full of angels - “Angel of the Month: £7.95”. The proprietor explains that she is “responding to demand”. For reasons I can no longer remember I have written in my notebook: “Batman, Thumberlina, Jeepers Creepers… “Marconi, My father” … Pan/Angel (Franklyn House) angel on one shoulder & devil on the other. Wu-Tang World Wide on a jacket. Notice: “Fun Dog Show. Class no 16. The bitch the judge would most like to take home.” We are in a motorway underpass. Just had a conversation with an old farmworker. Understood maybe one word in twenty. Class, relation to production, time. On the concrete are great jeepers creepers winged Wu Tang Clan beasts. Some ‘wings of God’ - /|\ on old GPO concrete stumps. Even out here, on the very edges of the city, the trail of wings continues… We come across a mosaic tribute to a homing pigeon, Mary of Exeter, she was decorated with the Dickin medal, the animal bravery award, “Wounded In Action”. Matthew mentions Rupert Sheldake’s book The Physics of Angels but I end up reading stuff of his on pigeons in The Evolutionary Mind; failure to account for pigeon-homing, his “fantasy” that pigeons “consult a very detailed three-dimensional map of the entire planet”. Something “maybe us” do too. The more we walked and talked and looked the more we were drawing out a new web of associations, with the translucent quality of an insect wing: how can such things be distributed, dispersed? How can they communicated in a state of constantly being ripped

up and rearranged, but without completely disappearing, how can they be accumulative and instantly consumable? Is there emergent form that is both map and consciousness? What? Is this what the Atmospheric Maps are one version of, among many more – routed in the failed history of Brunel’s Atmospheric Railway, mapped by disparate walkers on four separate ‘drifts’ around the route of the line, guided by ambience? The maps are free, but difficult to follow, encouraging their users to ignore them and find their own way, distributed through libraries, shops, by hand, from walker to walker (a mobile machinoeki)? And the Wrights & Sites’ ‘mis-guides’ to Exeter and to Everywhere? And Will Morris’s psychogeographic poems of the Exmouth coastline? Will there come a point of critical mass when these fragments can liquefact, become a process, rather than an art, become a mythogeography of “things” in motion?

At St Michael & All Angels, Alphington, a baby Herring Gull wanders about the graves, its parent swooping. I duck. Matthew wanders confidently between the curves. We are shocked by the violence of Alphington’s statue of St Michael and the Devil. We walked to St Michael & All Angels, Heavitree, but lost track of angels. The granularity of the walk from Mount Dinham had undergone a liquefaction at Alphington: “… when the earth shook, these wet sandy soils turned to a slurry that flowed like treacle. This property of granular substance naturally enough known as liquefaction… manifestation(s) of the fact that a granular substance is a peculiar state of matter: composed of solid grains, yet able to show liquid-like behaviour… a convenient model system for studying complex phenomena as diverse as the fluctuations of stock markets and the formation of

large-scale structure in the Universe.” (Ball, P., 1999, pp.199200) Had the swooping Herring Gull shaken me? Or the statue of the angel killing the dragon/demon/itself/its/elf above the porch? And this sinking feeling on entering a kind of pre-edgelands between suburban housing and industrial estate after the ripe baroque of the city? The route was grey and yellowed, smoothed, creamed, water concreted in but not over, bright sunlight ironing out things, pulling towards the River Exe down a hemmed tributary, Alph, to the fluids of the hospital, the capillary actions of the gorsedd Yew at Heavitree. I had shivered at the granularity of feathers, my eye on swooping wings and stone angel - wormholes to beaches and sand dunes. The long curve of sunburnt grass, sliding beside ‘longeurs’ of unpolished smoothness, the industrial estate’s barely differentiated “units”. Walking frictionless by unwanted, disowned, estranged water. A shedding of belonging. Losing one’s grip. From the picaresque entertainments of the first part of our drift, it is only now - in retrospect - that I begin to enjoy the seasickness of the second part. To walk is to enter an occult mechanism for the raising of patterns. To be socialised, mythogeography will require an ‘art of memory’. “Did I send you a Peripatetic Randomiser?” (personal email, Jim Colquhoun, 10.1.04) Something cheap enough to buy multiple copies of, add to and leave for others to pick up and add to… “…please feel free to leave the book on a bus when you next come to

London…” (personal letter from Anna Best, author of Occasional Sights).

The missing archangel, California as a field- funfair or temple - the gaps, fictional pasts, ambiguities of statues and un-built plans of the city turned up by the mythogeographically sensitive walker. Setting the walker at odds with the local reproducers of ideology. The granularity of mythogeography – a multitude of suspended particles, behaving like a liquid; the dynamic of a deferred hybridity exposes the few banalities that pass for heritage here, meaningful detail is feared. Wrights & Sites are asked by the

local council to dress as pirates. Perhaps one day we will. Wormholes render “local” meaningless’. On that Angel Dérive the city felt like a sieve against my fingertip, like the grid of one of those three dimensional depictions of Einsteinian ‘gravity as space’, and then the smooth emptiness of the pre-edgelands; there is a mytho-geometrical map to be made of this city, any city - it would be politically

controversial, making meaning from curves that are there to control flow and texturalities that function as friction to delay customers only long enough to purchase, made comical by their place in a pattern of ignored details; former mass productions faded into hieroglyphics, past faiths and certainties in splinters. Punctuated by void places in which to play seriously. There will be closer and more distant observations to come – from the satellite of Doreen Massey suspended above the city, defining space as trajectory not boundary, and from those ideal walkers – two-way mirrors for the city, reflecting experience on one side and a map of ideas on the other, slid between the strata of the street, picking up its scratches and scores – these will slow the city, disrupt processes, move things again, begin the re-knitting of tissues: make strange and repair.

References
Abraham, R., McKenna, T., Sheldrake R., The Evolutionary Mind: Trialogues At The Edge Of The Unthinkable, (1998), Santa Cruz: Trialogue Press. Anonymous (undated) The Church of St Michael & All Angels, Exeter, A Short History and Guide. Ball, P., (1999), The Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation In Nature, Oxford: OUP. Bhabha, H., (1994), The Location of Culture, London: Routledge. Boden, M., (1990), The Creative Mind, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Bradby, L. & Lavery, C. Moving through place: itinerant performance and the search for a community of reverie, Research In Drama Education, Vol. 12, No. 1, February 2007, pp.41-54, Abingdon: Taylor & Francis. Buci-Glucksmann, C., trans. Patrick Camiller, (1994), Baroque Space, London: Sage Publications. Fox, M., & Sheldrake, R., (1996), The Physics of Angels, San Francisco: Harper Collins. Graham, S., (1929), The Gentle Art of Tramping, London: Ernest Benn. Hildegard of Bingen, (1884-91), Patrologia Latina, Paris: Migne. Julius, A., (2000), Idolizing Pictures: Idolatry, Iconoclasm and Jewish Art, London: Thames & Hudson. Kwon, M., (2002), One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity, Cambridge MA: MIT Press. Massey, D., (1993) Power-geometry and a progressive sense of place in Mapping The Futures ed. Bird, J., Curtis, B., Putnam, T., Robertson, G. & Tickner, L., London: Routledge. Mithen, S., (1996), The Prehistory Of Mind, London: Thames & Hudson. Oppenheimer, P., (1996), Evil and the Demonic, London: Duckworth. Rutherford, J., (ed) (1990), The Third Space, Interview With Homi Bhabha, in Identity; Community, Culture, Difference, London: Lawrence & Wishart. Sahlins, M., (1976), Culture and Practical Reason, Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Smithson, R., (1996) Establishment in Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, ed. Jack Flam, Berkeley: University of California Press. Soule, L., (2000), The Actor As Anti-Character: Dionysus, the Devil and the Boy Rosalind, Westport, USA: Greenwood Press. Wade, D., (2003), Li: Dynamic Form In Nature, Presteigne, Wales: Wooden Books. Wrights & Sites (2003), An Exeter Mis-Guide, Exeter: Wrights & Sites.

Phil Smith perform.smith@ukgateway.net

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