Psychogeography: The Landscapes of Memory
Posted by Canto Rodado on April 12, 2012
Act as though, for instance, you were a traveler sitting next to the window of a railway carriage and describing to someone outside the carriage the changing views which you see outside.
-Freud describing free association, SE 12, p.135
Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” Elizabeth Bishop’s “Brazil,” Beethoven’s “Pastorale,” and Berlioz’s “Night on Bald Mountain”—landscape and the sense of place are instrumental in both aesthetic and imaginative experience, and to every person’s sense of self. This discussion will explore some of the ways that human memory and meaning are influenced by the features of the world that surround us, and how they offer the imagination streams of metaphor as well as sources of awe and inspiration, a mirror for the strangeness of existence, and a measure of the scales of being, both infinite (the grandeur of mountains) and infinitesimal (the ecosystem of an anthill). Psychogeography—the impact of landscape on the senses and on memory—will be considered from literary, child developmental, and neurological perspectives. The discussion will make specific reference to the changes of scene brought on by immigration and urbanization, in addition to addressing nostalgia for simpler modes of existence.