Man sitting on rock

Psychogeography (Pocket Essentials) by Merlin Coverly

While psychogeography cannot be described as a ‘science’, this relatively new field of literary exploration does involve considerable study of the human psyche as it relates to physical surroundings and the different environments that exist in different places.   It’s about as far as you can get from an ‘exact science’ and that makes it even more interesting for most people.

Merlin Coverly’s book has been described by several reviewers as a very good, short introduction to the subject of psychogeography for those who are unfamiliar with the whole notion.  He explains in clear and entertaining terms the origination of the term, though some critics have accused him of being overly partial to Paris and London as the ‘roots’ of p-g.

Most sources agree that the idea, if not the word, is as old as humanity.  Humans have always been aware on some level of the impact their specific surroundings, landscape, climate etc. have on their emotions and lifestyles.  However, the concept more or less coalesced in the 1950’s in France, with visionaries out to “re-imagine” the urban environment.  Coverly describes the evolution of psychogeography in a coherent and readable volume, well researched and perfect for beginners.   He follows the psychogeographical trail from its origins up to and beyond the London Psychogeographical Association.

Coverly takes the reader through the ‘processes’ involved in this approach to changing our perspective on the world around us.  For example, the act of walking through a well-known city instead of taking a taxi, seeing the same buildings, streets and inhabitants from a more personal angle, can make us see everything in a different light, and that is sort of what psychogeography is all about.