Psychogeography is the blend of psychology and geography which allows for the histories and experiences of urban places to be brought to light. Walking through areas without a clear purpose provides time and space for the walker to understand that area’s landscapes and geography and allows them to then to preserve its history. Psychogeographers encourage for the “drift”, divide from everyday unconsciousness, to exist in order to truly infuse ourselves with the literal ground that we walk on.
This article reminded me of the Greenwood and East End cemeteries. Often times, very few notice the negligence that this ground has suffered, never mind the history that dwells beneath it. Grounds like cemeteries, especially cemeteries of those that have been systematically forgotten, tend to be places where psychogeography does not exist. The System doesn’t necessarily want to remember it. Though people may not find themselves aimlessly walking through a cemetery, these grounds are avoided with a purpose. Siobhan Lyons talks about a moment described by David Brown when he was walking through an area in Sydney which was greatly affected by homophobic attacks and violence and he states, “The everyday acts of walking and talking while passing through a ‘landscape’ serve to constitute a criminology of everyday life, illustrating the way in which a consciousness of crime, crime sites, analyses and theories permeates the ways a ‘tourist trail’ might be experienced and seen, myths made and histories forged” (Lyons). A criminology exists because of the purposeful negligence and unconsciousness that our busy, routine lives allow for us to have and what The System wants us to remain as. Tourists are seldom presented with the brutal truth that exists within the walls or grounds of many great sights. They are given the over glorified version of a place in order to attract more people, for them to take a photo, or buy memorabilia. This even happens in on our own University of Richmond tours. The tour guides give statistics of everything in order to hide the truths under incomprehensible numbers. And our unfavorable stats such as sexual assault rates or racial diversity are presented, if necessary, under the guise that we are moving forward and improving. That is all to say that in order for a consumer to be interested one must present a desirable product whether that speaks to the truth or not.
Psychogeography doesn’t benefit The System as it illuminates the many hard truths that exist and forces The System to own up to the responsibilities that need to be taken. I wonder how much change could happen if this concept was used in tours and greater media. Would areas simply lose attraction and consumer value if they knew the truth of a place? If we became more aware of the grounds we walk on and their histories would we be more likely to respect that history and attempt to preserve it, i.e the cemeteries?