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Psychogeography

3.38  ·  Rating Details  ·  233 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Psychogeography. Increasingly this term is used to illustrate a bewildering array of ideas from key lines and the occult, to urban walking and political radicalism. But where does it come from and what exactly does it mean? This book examines the origins of psychogeography in the Situationist Movement of the 1950s, exploring the theoretical background and its political app ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Oldcastle Books (first published May 4th 2006)
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MJ Nicholls
Oct 27, 2014 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it
A perfect primer for the misunderstood and muddled intellectual (and physical) practice of psychogeography, Coverley’s short book explores its origins in English lit (Defoe and De Quincy), into the Parisian flâneur, Debord and his Situationists, and the sometimes quite drear and humourless up-to-date folks like Iain Sinclair. The present PG phenomenon is somewhat London-centred, and a fresh swoosh is needed in the practice by other writers from different cities (no Scottish PG to my knowledge, n ...more
Tosh
Jun 30, 2008 Tosh rated it really liked it
This little book by Merlin Coverley is a decent introduction to the subject of 'Psychogeography.' What is that exactly? Well, it's what I do on a regular basis, and now I know there is a name for it.

In theory, one can take a map of your town, place a cup or glass on it. Trace the bottom of the glass so that there is a circle - and then walk aimlessly in that circle. That's one technique. It sort of started with Baudelaire, re-discovered by the Surrealists, and then became serious with the Situa
...more
Andrea
Quick read, good introduction, quite ridiculously repetitive at times to the extent of reusing whole sentences -- I agree with all that's been said. Not many remarked on quite how white and male and privileged it was also, there's so much I love about the approach and all of the authors in here but damn, are they white, male and privileged. I think Rebecca Solnit is the only woman to grace these pages, apart from the prostitutes and the beautiful women the surrealists stalked through the city... ...more
Tilly
Feb 13, 2015 Tilly rated it liked it
Coverley's book provides a good introduction to the history of psychogeography, spanning major movements like that of the flâneur and the Situationists and taking the reader back further, showing how the roots of the discipline were seeded by Daniel Defoe and William Blake. It's good at what it does - heck, it's excellent. If you know nothing about psychogeography, this is a far better place to start than with the columns of Will Self, and it'll put you on to figures like Walter Benjamin and de ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
A good introduction to the territory (hah!) but Coverley is something of an unreliable narrator. He dismisses the situationists for increasingly getting bogged down in Marxist rhetoric, shows that their attempt to make psychogeography part of a revolutionary project went nowhere, yet dismisses Ackroyd and the modern psychogeography movement for its lack of radicalism, which apparently Stewart Home and co fortunately possess although their activities are ultimately as lacking in practical import ...more
Deborah Mantle
May 29, 2012 Deborah Mantle rated it it was ok
I’d come across the term ‘psychogeography’ and, being interested generally in how we perceive and interact with our physical surroundings (if we notice them at all), wanted to find out more about it.

Coverley’s book aims to be an introduction to the discipline of psychogeography, to provide definitions of key words and expressions and explain its origins and outline the main figures in its development, particularly within a literary tradition.

Being the ‘point at which psychology and geography col
...more
Jeremy Wineberg
Dec 31, 2008 Jeremy Wineberg rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, art, culture
I think this would read better as a series of introduction essays to a reader, rather than a stand alone book. While the analysis can often be concise, in many places Coverly merely skims over the surface. While I like the author's broad treatment of psychogeography, bringing in earlier folks like Blake, Defoe and Poe in an attempt to lay out the roots of the practice, it also cries out for more meat on such intriging bones. It is as if he were taking this approach because of the concept's insta ...more
Abailart
Mar 20, 2011 Abailart rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture
More of a long essay, quite useful but repetitive (I mean the author seems quite happy to lift whole phrases from earlier parts of his work, though I suppose this is useful for skimmers). Useful chunks of quotes, a finger pointing rather than the moon itself, although, of course there is no moon where psychogeography is concerned. One person's slant on what may refresh the mesh beneath the fashionable, worn-out and deeply conservative commodification of a dead concept packaged for magpie minds. ...more
Ian Burrell
Dec 14, 2014 Ian Burrell rated it it was amazing
I was killing time, wandering aimlessly about the bookshelves in Foyles when this book caught my eye.

30 odd years ago I read for a degree in geography, and whilst I rarely consciously think about geography these days, the title caught my eye, no least because of the surprising combination of words.

Merlin Coverley provides a brief overview of the concept of psychogeography, from the writing of William Blake, Thomas de Quincy, and Daniel Defoe through the rise of the Flaneur in Paris, the Situatio
...more
Dead John Williams
May 31, 2015 Dead John Williams rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favs, reviewed
Psychogeography by Merlin Coverley I really looked forward to reading this book as I had come across references to the concept of psychogeography in books by other authors, most noticeably in London - The Biography by Peter Ackroyd.

It could be defined like this: The effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.

Basically the idea is that certain geographical areas attract certain kinds of human behaviour. Interesting st
...more
Tony
Apr 19, 2015 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
I remember, back in the day, looking out the window of a train coming into Birmingham New Street. It passed through a tunnel of rusting factories, where you could glimpse the blue glow of welders at work and watch as redundant cars were pulverised by huge machines. In all honesty, I have to say I found this scene of desolation fascinating, much more so than Birmingham city centre. Not sure if you can be a psychogeographer from a train carriage, but anyway I digress.

There is a vogue nowadays on T
...more
Gravity
Dec 17, 2009 Gravity rated it liked it
Shelves: psychogeography
Half-way through, I think the book is a bore. Best thing yet, it redirected me to something already on my shelf "The Writer of Modern Life" by Walter Benjamin.
Anna
This is a basic primer/introduction to the concept of psychogeography, at least as seen by the author. The original definition/coining of the phrase is as follows (emphasis added):

[Psychogeography] does not contradict the materialist perspective of the conditioning of life and thought by objective nature. Geography, for example, deals with the determinant action of general natural forces, such as soil composition or climatic conditions, on the economic structures of a society, and thus on the co
...more
Nathan
May 07, 2013 Nathan rated it it was ok
Personally I found this book repetitive, too academically written, not covering a wide enough area of examples, and with very little depth. Following the rule of 'Tell them what you're going to tell them; Tell them; Tell them what you told them", this book struggled to get past the first step; I constantly felt that Coverley was explaining what he was about to explore, then repeat his introduction again and again throughout the book, never going into much detail.

Consequently, after 140 pages, I
...more
Greta
I was looking for a book about psychogeography which is less historical and more sort of inspirational. Something with more detail about the wanderings, the findings, the musings one experiences when one wanders the streets of a city. Instead I got a lot of terms for the people who wander, names of the famous wanderers, and a bit about the main cities for wandering which apparently are London and Paris. I think the concept itself can extend further afield, to smaller, remoter places with streets ...more
Quentin
Nov 18, 2015 Quentin rated it liked it
A good introduction to Psychogeography as a scholarly field and approach. The author links modern psychogeographers (Ian Sinclair, etc...) to the Situationists of mid 20th century France (Debord), and further back, the the literary traditions of 19th century England, particularly writers of Gothic fiction (Stevenson, Machen, etc...).

It's a good book, but I think the field is too idiosyncratic--its individual practitioners aren't really classifiable together, or are too divergent to be classifie
...more
Maria Longley
Apr 04, 2013 Maria Longley rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, ma, 2013
This is a good intro to psychogeography and some of the key movements and people involved in shaping it and who have influenced some of the current revival it seems to be going through. It loses some depth to the bredth of ideas and people covered and I would've liked some more analysis in some areas. But I guess that's also the point of an introduction, I now have a better idea of what I'd like to look more into. (It also makes me want to pick up Rebecca Solnit's Wanderlust again... at least fo ...more
Evie
Mar 05, 2013 Evie rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, urbanism
A rather good book to read if you are interested in learning more about psychogeography. It basically provides summaries to everything that's been said on the subject so far. Very useful if you want to find out which of the different points of view agrees with you more and which points you'd like to research further. I was rather disappointed when I realised the lack of practical application for the theories cited. On the upside, the book has a rich bibliography which is worth investigating and ...more
Jack Bates
Dec 13, 2015 Jack Bates rated it really liked it
Good introduction to the subject.
Craig Mcdowell
Reads distressingly like an A-Level essay. Ok as primers go, I suppose, but manages to render an interesting subject fairly dull.
Artur
Jan 02, 2016 Artur marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
The subject of psychogeography fascinates me, but the overiew presented here is very shallow. I will probably finish it eventually, but for now I’m moving it to my did-not-finish shelf.
Steve Dewey
A clear introduction that explained the antecedents and the current state (well, at least in 2006) of psychogeography. Written in a flowing and not overly academic style (although there are endnotes, and a biblography!), it is an easy read, leavened by the author's own obvious doubts as to the utility of psychogeography except, perhaps, as a ludic device for generating creativity.
J K
Oct 04, 2014 J K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting insights, may take another read to fully understand it and, despite taking forever to finish it, it was quite short and serves as a jumping off point for deeper reading. Fascinating subject, really, however seriously you take it.

Or just read Alan Moore's 'From Hell' for inspiration on this subject. Hawksmoor. Very creepy.
Julie Bozza
Mar 02, 2012 Julie Bozza rated it liked it
An interesting introduction to a phenomenon that I still feel (alas!) I fail to grasp. But then, maybe that is the point. Perhaps there are as many psychogeographies as there are psychogeographers...

This book certainly doesn't dissuade me from further investigation.
Andrew
Apr 09, 2012 Andrew rated it liked it
a good straight-forward overview of the subject. for better or worse, it avoids all of the shenanigans characteristic of psychgeography and its practitioners, leaving it a little bland, but worth the quick read.
Gregory
Aug 01, 2012 Gregory rated it liked it
Interesting study of Psychogeography in Literature. This book opens to a wide avenue and plenty of side-streets to explore afterwards.
Denis
Dec 20, 2013 Denis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Next time you go out for a stroll, be assured that you're not wasting your time, you are studying psychogeography.
David
Jan 09, 2013 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
Nice quick clean little intro. I'm intrigued by the idea of PsychG, but this might be enough of I for me for now.
Kate
Nov 29, 2010 Kate rated it really liked it
good overview of origins of psychogeography and Debordian philosophy, index and bibliography
Mugren Ohaly
Dec 08, 2013 Mugren Ohaly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
The book is repetitive. I recommend skipping parts 1 and 2 (page 31 to page 79).
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