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Integral Drifting: A Manifesto

MANIFESTO FOR AN INTEGRAL DRIFTER

This blog is based on research and practice around the themes of:

DÉRIVE (DRIFT)

INTEGRAL THEORY

DEEP TOPOGRAPHY

PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY

MYTHOGEOGRAPHY

URBAN NARRATIVES

CITY LAND-ART

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Research:

I intend to explore the idea that Psychogeography has a two-fold nature – one linking to the Romantic literary tradition (Blake, Defoe, DeQuincy, Baulelaire, Rimbaud, Alfred Watkins etc); the other linking to the Political/philosophical interventionist remit (Debord, Raoul Vaneigem and Situationist International). But I particularly want to read some of the more contemporary writers on the subject: Ian Sinclair, Merlin Coverley etc. Also I intend to study Patrick Keiller’s ‘Robinson’ films and the works of Chris Petit.

It strikes me that the split in approach is interesting and raises good questions. What is the purpose of psychogeography? To stimulate a subjective poetic re-visioning of the city, to transform individual perceptions of the urban landscape? Or to transform society through radical intervention and disruption of habitual oppressive patterns? Is the derive a game of fantasy or an act of realism?

There is a lot of writing and blogging around this area. I will try to survey the ground as much as I can.

I am introducing the dimension of Integral Theory to Psychogeography out of a personal interest in both areas and to see if the Integral approach benefits or adds to the understanding of the psychogeographic trajectory.

Practice

The practice based aspect will be in the actual establishment of a personal derive practice. This will include:

a) Defining the ground. Choosing geographical boundaries. Possibly using Manchester Postal codes as a parameter. But at least considering methods of approaching the geographical field early on in the project. Initial map research.

b) Walking the ground.

c) Recording the field using camera, drawing, video, audio, writing.

d) Collecting from the field – found objects and items

e) Use of found objects, writings, and images as documentation and as material for further modification, display, installation.

f) Proposed outcomes to include this Blog record, exhibitions of research and made objects, printed book using online publishing, a talk/presentation of findings, an organised derive for others.

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Theory

My methodological approach includes:

1) Reading broadly around the theme.

2) Watching films and seeing exhibitions relating to the theme.

3) Performing random practical experiments (open to the surprising, synchronous, and serendipitous)

4) Performing more structured pre-considered experiments

5) Applying the principles of Integral Theory (specifically the 4 Quadrant Model proposed by American philosopher Ken Wilber)

 

Drift rather than dérive

Dérive is the French word often translated as ‘drift’. The original french does have resonances specific to the Situationists and as such is a good word. However I don’t intend to limit myself to the interpretation of psychogeography proposed by the Situationists. I want to keep open to new and recent interpretations. Also, the Integral philosophical approach is by nature a theoretical structure which allows for contradictory positions. My assumption is to find both benefits and limitations in polarised positions. This, for me as and eclectic being, maintains a dialectic and indeed a possibility of dialogue which I hope will bear interesting fruit.

‘Drift’ has poetic and manifold connotations: driftwood, ‘get my drift’, high plains drifter, snow drift, drifting off course. I like the light touch it has and the ever-present danger of drifting off topic.

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The Integral Model

‘Integral’ basically implies an attention to the idea that in any given moment at any given place there are always 4 dimensions of perception or ontological reality:

1) Inner singular (subjective / me)

2) Inner plural / collective (inter-subjective / we)

3) Outer singular (objective / it)

4) Outer plural / collective (inter-objective / its)

 

4 Quadrants

So the ‘Integral Drifter’ carries this model as a way of maintaing an awareness that we tend to habitually perceive the world with biases in one or more of these quadrants. And yet the theory states that we can’t really be separate from any of these dimensions. Even when we are on our own we are subject to and conditioned by cultural background and shared values (intersubjective), and we are always part of some sort of social or environmental system (interobjective).

So this model can provide a methodological map for psychogeographic practice. At any given moment, in any given place there is the potential to become aware of

1) The psychogeographic subjective (my mood, emotional state, inner alertness, cognitive sharpness etc).

2) The psychogeographic intersubjective (an awareness of the way locations have shared cultural meanings, place is not separate from language, place forms and is formed by relationships)

3) The psychogeographic objective (observations of things, buildings, objects, people etc)

4) The psychogeographic interobjective (observations of how a given place is formed by, and forms institutional structure; is part of corporate, social, or governmental planning and economic forces; how a place is always part of an environmental network).

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