Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.
Showing posts with label Iain Sinclair. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iain Sinclair. Show all posts

Monday, November 13, 2017

THE FUGUE IS IN THE HEART



Iain Sinclair, talking at a dinner given by The Idler magazine in November:

It’s about wandering. It’s not a kind of idle wandering; I gave up on the term flâneur a while back. I went for fugan instead, like the mad walkers of the 19th century who took off on enormous journeys across France. There was a plumber from Bordeaux who walked out the door one day and finished up in Moscow. Then some dreadful writers took up with it and within a few months, the middle classes were all on the road pretending to be fugues. I feel a bit like that now with this whole walking fetish. Now everywhere you go, you find people doing strange conceptual walks, taking photographs of road signs and trying to get arrested in the car park of IKEA.”

Ouch.


Incidentally, careful readers have questioned that usage of "fugan" and "fugues" - I kind of questioned it too, and looked up "fugan" on the interwebs and completely failed to find it, or indeed any word to describe someone in a fugue state, and I certainly couldn't find "fugues" as a plural for people experiencing fugue states.  Fugees, perhaps?  That surely isn't where the band got the name, which is supposedly from refugees, but maybe that's not so very wide of the mark.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

THE CANAL AND THE CARNAL

The issue before last of the London Review of Books contained a piece by Iain Sinclair, titled “The Last London.”


Iain isn’t happy about the current state of London, which comes as no great surprise: is anybody?  However, even walking alongs the canals of East London can be a source of distress.  He writes,  
        “Between Victoria Park, the first of the parks opened for the people, and Broadway Market, worlds collide. Two young mothers were texting and being yapped at by older kids, while the youngest child circled on her scooter. There’s a gentle slope down to the canal and the scooter picked up momentum, until the child disappeared over the edge, between two narrowboats, straight into the water. Fortunately, a morning cyclist was stepping ashore. He grabbed the child by the hair. All was well. A little further down the canal, where the path goes under a railway bridge, the mad pumping rush of the peloton swooped through – and a guy on one of those very thin-wheeled bikes was nudged into the soup. Right under, gasping and choking, still in the saddle. I helped to pull him out.”


This did sound a bit action-packed for a Sinclair drift, but I didn’t hold Sinclair personally responsible.   However, at least one reader sort of did.  A letter duly appeared in the subsequent issue of the LRB, from Giacinto Palmieri, London E2, who writes:
“Like Iain Sinclair, I too walk on the canal path between Victoria Park and Broadway Market, but in many years of doing so I’ve never seen anybody fall into the canal. Sinclair, on the other hand, reports witnessing two such episodes, apparently within a short interval of time. Correlation doesn’t entail causation, but I can’t help asking whether these incidents might be correlated with the presence of a psychogeographer wandering dreamily in search of evocative connections in the middle of the path.”
Psychogeography, it's always trouble.


      It’s hard to think of canals and east London without also thinking about Lee Rourke’s novel The Canal.  Walking seems to be start of all the troubles in that book. 
I simply awoke one morning and decided, rather than walk to work as normal I’d walk to the canal instead.”
The hero sees and experiences all sorts or horrible things canalside, although admittedly the worst of them happen when he stops walking and sits on a bench where he’s menaced by The Pack Crew, a very bad lot.  They throw somebody’s motor scooter into the water, assault his girlfriend, and also try to kill swans with a bow and arrow.  Yep, canals can be mythical places.



Here in Los Angeles I’m not sure we even have "real" canals.  They exist in Venice, but Venice isn’t really Los Angeles, and the canals aren't really canals.  Here’s something – definitely not a canal, could be an aqueduct, could be a concrete creek – in Culver City, which I thought was worth a picture:


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

THE IRON CUD AND THE SOUR STOOL



 Sometimes a man sits at stool in his house in Hollywood, and reaches out for a book, more or less at random, which he hopes will deliver some walking inspiration.  And so I reached out and picked up my copy of Iain Sinclair’s Lud Heat and Suicide Bridge (To be honest I’m not absolutely sure where one ends and the other begins) and opened it, more or less at random.


My eyes fell immediately on this paragraph:

“One of my proposed companions for the night walk did not escape the word of the pyramid either; was opened to receive the appropriate message.  He got a varicose vein on the male member.”

Leon Kossof
Hard to beat a passage like that.  I closed the book and finished my paperwork.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

WALKING GINGERLY



I’ve been reading an advance copy of Iain Sinclair’s London Overground, an account of a one-day, fourteen hour walk around what’s now widely referred to as the Ginger Like – a circular (or at least more or less joined up) rail network around the middle distance suburbs of Greater  London, places like Rotherhithe, Peckham Rye, West Brompton; all places I’ve been to, but seldom more than once.


Sinclair walks with the engagingly eccentric film maker Andrew Kötting– a man who sounds more fun to read about (or write about) than actually to walking with, but a great character to have in your book.  They enter a “fancy junk shop” in Lavender Hill where Kötting describes Sinclair for the benefit of the shop owner:
“This man’s sources are innumerable.  His erudition is profound.  And truth to tell, a mite tedious.”
Of course it’s Sinclair reporting these words and possibly putting them in Kötting’s mouth; pretty funny either way.


Kötting buys a copy of Bruce Chatwin’s What Am I Doing Here?.  (Sinclair puts in a question mark, the book itself doesn't). Sinclair flips through and finds the quotation “Man’s real home is not a house, but the Road and how life itself is a journey to be walked on foot.” Sinclair says, “I thought the capitalization or ‘Road’ was a little pretentious.”


I’d say my objection was to “life itself is a journey.”   I’d have thought Bruce could have done better than that.
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