Psycho Too by Will Self

To follow up and expand on his previous Psychogeology, Will Self teamed up with illustrator Ralph Steadman again, and together they have produced another winner with Psycho Too.  The theme of walking as a means of connecting, focusing and integrating with different people, places and things is the source of the book’s introductory essay, a new one called ‘Journey Through Britain’.  This time instead of ‘walking’ from central London to central Manhattan, Self and Steadman took a rather metaphorical but also literal walk from the home of the late J.G. Ballard to ‘The World’.

‘The World’ is a series of manufactured floating islands off the coast of Dubai, shaped to resemble the continents and islands of the world, and intended as personal homes for the very wealthy.  Unfortunately the project has ground to a halt, so to speak, due to financial troubles and sinking islands.  ‘The World’ was a source of some severe commentary and not a few metaphors in Self’s travel journal.  The man who bought Britain, for instance, is currently serving seven years in a Dubai jail for bouncing cheques.

After that powerful introduction, the rest of Psycho Too is mostly drawn from the best of his essays written over the past decade or so.  Self and Steadman have travelled to and walked through the streets of Los Angeles and the awesome heads of Easter Island, and from what used to be called the Third World to ‘The World’ at the opposite extreme.  The vision they share with the reader is often disturbing and sometimes frightening, but always well worth a careful look.