Psychogeography by Will Self

The full title of this book is Psychogeography:  Disentangling the Modern Conundrum of Psyche and Place, which should give you a clue as to content, but if this is your first encounter with the concept, perhaps a bit of explanation is in order.  Psychogeography can be loosely described as the study of how geography, or a particular place on Earth, affects the behaviour and emotional climate of the humans who live there.

The author, Will Self, is known, amongst other things, for his ‘psychogeography’ column in the Independent newspaper, and the book is partially a collection of some of those essays, but it is a great deal more than that.  As an example, Will writes about his effort to integrate his two geographical psyches, one in South London, his ‘home base’, and the other in his mother’s home town of New York City.  By walking from his home to Heathrow Airport, flying to JFK, and walking from there to the middle of Manhattan, he aimed to create a seamless transition that somehow manages to ignore the miles of ocean in between.  It’s an interesting perspective, to say the least.

Will Self has a way of seeing people, places and things in a different context, and he enables his readers to see them differently too.  He absorbs the landscape, architecture and ‘atmosphere’ of any spot he visits, from Ohio to Morocco to Ireland or wherever his plans or his curiosity lead him.  Psychogeography is not only entertaining; it may very well change the way you see your environment, and even the ways you are affected by what you see and experience.  Illustrations by Ralph Steadman are a perfect added bonus.