Hipgnosis

This place is a collection of thoughts happily stuck at the intersection of cultural theory and human geography.

Hip is a slang for fashionably current, and in the know. To be hip is to have “an attitude, a stance” in opposition to the “unfree world”, or to what is square, or prude. Being hip is also about being informed about the latest ideas, styles, and developments. + Gnosis is a feminine Greek noun which means “knowledge”. It is often used for personal knowledge compared with intellectual knowledge.

So I work in the world of cultural theory, and to say I am a Marxist geographer should be decoded as an Althusserian Trotskyist geographer.

In detail, it means that Marxism is held as a method to achieve a better future, and not the singular, inevitable path after Capitalism falters and implodes.

It is a scientific tool; nothing less, nothing more.

It is one way of maximising potential gains and manifesting particular and articulated values, none the least which are inclusivity in civic participation and wealth distribution.

The landscape, social and spatial, need a Marx. They sigh with the weight of decades of manufactured post-revolutionary banality and crack in places once thought bolstered by neoliberal speculation.

There is no bulwark in the modern age, even in the Althusserian Trotsykist in myself, and this is why I work in the world of theory. Because to have standardised answers is to forget asking the questions at all, and to forget the future entirely.

In normal life we are often like fish in that we don’t talk about our geographical context. Geographers however are weird fish. We seek to sensitise our self to the ‘water’. Geographers swim in and investigate context. — J. Anderson, Understanding Cultural Geography

“The golden age of cultural theory is long past. The pioneering works of Jacques Lacan, Claude Levi-Strauss, Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault are several decades behind us.

So are the path-breaking early writings of Raymond Williams, Luce Irigaray, Pierre Bourdieu, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida, HCline Cixous, Jurgen Habermas, Fredric Jameson and Edward Said.

Not much that has been written since has matched the ambitiousness and originality of these founding mothers and fathers. Some of them have since been struck down. Fate pushed Roland Barthes under a Parisian laundry van, and afflicted Michel Foucault with AIDS.

It dispatched Lacan, Williams and Bourdieu, and banished Louis Althusser to a psychiatric hospital for the murder of his wife. It seemed that God was not a structuralist.” —Eagleton, Politics of Amnesia

A web gem (for geographers of most stripes)

Spatial Manifesto

Psychogeography is important to consider. Geographical knowledge outside of linear Cartesian limitations must be pushed as a benefit to public health.

Neoliberalism forms out of the oppressed worker, an entrepreneur of himself. Everyone is a self-exploited worker of his own enterprise. Everyone is master and servant in one person. The class struggle is also changed into an inner struggle with oneself. Whoever falls today accuses himself and is ashamed. One problematicizes oneself instead of society. — Byung Chul-Han, Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power

Plekhanov wrote that ‘In order to understand the way in which art reflects life one must understand the mechanism of life’. But our self styled ‘left front’ has no such understanding of the mechanism of life... which is why voices of protest are so often raised against their work among Communists who are literate in Marxism. — Neil Leach, Architecture and Revolution

Situationists would use their experience of language as a way of revolutionising our consciousness of the city. “Poetry”, the Lettrist International announced, “is in the form of cities”. — Simon Sadler, The Situationist City

Empathy linked the body to space through psychic indirection. In fact, by the early twentieth century, the desire to merge the human body with the object had begun to reveal a desire to not be overwhelmed by space [..] Thus, for Rigel, Worringer, Camillo Sitte, and others, space was a porous receptacle for psychic reception in which feelings were not properly contained but from which anxieties escaped. — Sylvia Lavin, Form Follows Libido

Requiring neither extended analysis nor rational justification, sense of place rests its case on the unexamined premise that being from somewhere is always preferable to being from nowhere. All of us, it asserts, are generally better off with a place to call our own. — Keith Basso, Wisdom Sits In Places