I'm having a much better day now. In fact, I now this think this morning's events were hilarious. Roll with the punches, you know...
When I was in grad school, I had to spend an entire semester studying the "field" of psychohistory for a course in historiography. I was supposed to find how the two disciplines (psychology and history) merged to form a coherent field of study and, more specifically, how psychologists use the historical method in their research and vice versa with historians. I had to read a lot of Freud and Erik Erikson. It was the longest semester of my life.
When I presented my findings, they were as such: Psychohistory is not a field of study, it is in fact a waste of time. It answers no questions. It offers no solutions. It makes no sense. It takes two legitimate fields of study and combines them into a barely coherent mishmash that no human being should ever have to experience. It is pure mental masturbation. Finally, it is the most bland and dull academic pursuit I have personally ever had to endure (and I even studied a little soil science for another degree).
Ever since then, I physically cringe when I see something defined as "______history." I get ill. I want to go back to grad school just so I can drop out all over again. So, imagine my disgust when I find an article describing "psychogeography." The thought of my true academic love (my undergrad degrees are in geography and history) being tainted for me in such a way as history had been actually made me angry. But I read the article anyway.
I'm glad I did. Psychogeography
is actually quite fascinating. Rather than asking questions that are impossible to answer (and, if one could, why?) simply to have something to do, psychogeographers are active
. Instead of being absolutely mind-numbing, it seems invigorating.
"Psychogeography includes just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape.
A duo of artists from Copenhagen led participants on a tour of the city -- using a map of Copenhagen instead of New York. D. Jean Hester from Los Angeles hung posters and magic markers in public places soliciting answers to questions like "What smell reminds you of home?" and "Where were you the last time you cried?" Another conferee asked his fellows to perform "reverse shoplifting" by placing subtly redesigned products on the shelves of area grocery stores.
Still others practiced "generative psychogeography," or algorithmic walking, pioneered (as far as I can tell) by a Dutch artists' collective called social fiction. Participants walk an algorithm or fixed pattern, such as "first right, second left, first left, repeat." In other words, you head in any direction, take the first right, then go two blocks to the second left, then at one block take a left, and then repeat the pattern as often as you wish. The result is a remarkable style of travel -- neither goal-oriented nor random, structured but always surprising...
Most of us, [Ray] explains, just follow a small set of preprogrammed instructions as we wander through the city: office, day care, grocery store, home. And she's right. If you track your own path through a typical day, you'll soon discover that your journey is habitual, that you're slowly wearing a canyon through the same streets, the same sidewalks, day after day.
Psychogeography encourages us to buck the rut, to follow some new logic that lets us experience our landscape anew, that forces us to truly see what we'd otherwise ignore. 'Chance and randomness,' says Ray, 'are what's exciting.'"
Now that's what I'm all about.