Sunday, 28 December 2014


The above image War Universe #1 was produced after reading Peter William Slater's excellent essay 'This is a War Universe': Mappa Bellum or Mapping the War Universe, which can be read at playgrounds in prison via this link. The image is a composite of an earlier drawing, Interior of Museum for Atrocity Exhibition, and a US battle map of Hue from the Vietnam/American War.

I've recently returned to Saigon, started a new (temporary) job and am living out of a suitcase so haven't had a great deal of free time to be as productive as I would like. Please accept this picture as my Yuletide gift to Psychocartography's followers.

Monday, 15 December 2014


“The important thing is to continue production, creation [thus] preventing stagnation. The most dangerous delusion of all being that this has to mean something…”

Whilst it is tempting say that I hate eating my own words, the truth is I’m so accustomed to it I find it almost palatable. Hindsight renders the outcome of the most minor of personal goals crushingly inevitable, to the extent that I have on occasion developed an irrational aversion to ever recording any kind of plan. It’s a sort of inverted magical thinking, whereby the magical act of spelling out a desire absolutely ensures that it will not happen. I doubt Noel Edmonds and I would get on very well, though that would likely be true even if our respective perceptions of causality were not diametrically opposed.

In my [pseudo-]academic work this attitude has helped me to embrace the philosophy of process over goal, though in truth the seeds of this shift were sown by my interest in psychogeography. The derive can occur on the page as well as the street, in a free-flowing concatenation of words or an apparently meaningless arrangement of pencil marks. It doesn’t have to mean anything, per se, though it does have to be done. And the ‘doing’ part presents a significant challenge.

At present I teach English as a foreign language to Vietnamese students in Huế. It is a challenging and rewarding occupation, but one that has gradually absorbed my time to the extent that I pretty much eat, sleep, plan lessons and teach. There are moments of respite, but these are characterised by a stupefied exhaustion, usually witnessing me staring blankly at a movie in the local coffee shop, or clumsily hitting balls around a wonky pool table with an equally wonky stick.

If all this sounds familiar, it may well be because I wrote about this back in October. Oh well. I’ve also written that repetition is a form of change, perhaps as an insurance measure (that being the case it would show some of that foresight I’ve previously described as uncharacteristic).

As of Friday further investigation into Huế’s “psychogeographic currents” will be postponed for a fortnight at least: I will be in Saigon, teaching at a new language school. This promises to be a rewarding period for the work alone, but also presents another chance to explore Vietnam’s largest city, as well as the chance to buy some quality English language literature.

Until then, I will tentatively present the ultimate goal of this literary and pedestrian (in every sense, perhaps) meandering as this: metamorphosis. Not a destination, but a state of being, something like that which Deleuze& Guattari describe in Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus:

“…a free man, irresponsible, solitary, and joyous, finally able to say and do something simple in his own name, without asking permission; a desire lacking nothing, a flux that overcomes barriers and codes, a name that no longer designates any ego whatever. He has simply ceased being afraid of becoming mad. He experiences and lives himself as the sublime sickness that will no longer affect him.”

But yeah, process not goal, unless the goal is the process...

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