THE PSYCHOGEOGRAPHER’S DILEMMA

In the 1920s, Edward Bernays revolutionised public relations by teaching ad men to get ahead by appealing to the libidinal desires of the inherently-irrational masses.

In 2009 writer Iain Sinclair and film maker Chris Petit (“two people who have made journeys an essential part of their professions“) made their first forey into advertising, starring in a short film (infomercial? public service broadcast?) for Audi. What follows is some vague psychogeographic freestyling from Sinclair and mumbled affirmatives from Petit, soundtracked by a piano set to meaningful and some “urban” trip hop musak. Oh, and they seem to be on some sort of journey (of course!) between Crosby Sands, Merseyside and, er, a place known only as “oblique” and “peculiar”:

Once you get across there you’re into something different. You’re into something different instead of the thing he inhabits, which he keeps calling a darkness, as if there’s a darkness inside the human body. I don’t know what that darkness is, but it’s what he wants to get away from.

But what does this destination “Oblique” matter anyway? It’s the journey that counts. Indeed, despite this film’s obscure marketing message, Sinclair’s soulful metaphorisations of “journey” – the adman’s all-time favourite trope – are really battered home.

And it’s the car that facilitates this spiritual journey, much more conveniently than the crap cup of tea and ontological transformations offered by National Rail:

You go into this pod-like structure the car and everything switches down, especially when its as comfortable as this. You’re into a sort of meditative overdrive instantly.

Well, I’ve watched the film a couple of times and what I’m getting is this: Audi offers a swaddled safe haven from the contingencies of the psychogeographic landscape.

Now, what could have encouraged this most enthusiastic pedestrian to get behind the steering wheel? Is this some new dérive? A rather complicated political manoeuver intending to protest against the privileged Left’s demonisation of the car? Or, more likely, an instance of the oft-cited creative trade-off of cash v. art. At least in the film industry this kind of compromise generally results in “entertainments” (in some Graham Greene sense), not the reduction of your oeuvre into limp, baffling – and downright-contradictory – soundbites.

Weird.

EDITED TO ADD:
Being a ponderous bugger, I watched it again. I think I’d rather he shilled the car with a simple endorsement: “Hey, pedestrian! Psychoanalysing the psychosis of place is quicker with an Audi!”

Author: jenniferhodgson

Writer, editor, researcher

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