After reading Sherif El-Azma’s “The Psychogeography of Loose Associations”1, I find that I am not alone in this inexplicable and sometimes phantom obsession with cities. What is this curiosity? Is it the joy of confusion that comes with being around a thousand faces and none of them family? Is it the wonder of being lost in the legend of buildings, inhaling soundscapes and breathing in cultures? What is this thing with cities?
The question continues to burn within me, every time I wake up on a bed in a new city. I find that my senses are heightened. I notice the dialects. The mannerisms. The fetishes. The transport media. I am curious as to what angles birds fly. I want to take photos of everything. I enter everywhere—Markets. Streams. Within me are mental notes of the graphology of the city. The squints on the faces when it is night. The beauty of the women. The allure of strange food. Again, I remember Sherif El-Azma say:
“Psychogeography is a practice that rediscovers the physical city through the moods and atmospheres that act upon the individual.”
In traversing cities, I want to submit that History and Art must hold central positions for anyone truly interested in Psychogeography. How else can one fully understand the reasons behind the shifts in rhythms of a place? The history of a city shapens its art. The art of a city becomes its history. This is the thing the student of cities must understand.
When I get to a new city, I become a hummingbird, sucking nectar from experiences littered about in the ridges of the landscape.