Monday, June 5, 2017

Particles of deep topography - 20

History distortion

Text: Lying About Hitler (Richard Evans)
Text: Meaning in Absurdity: What bizarre phenomena can tell us about the nature of reality (Bernard Kastrup)
Illustrations: Exhibits in the Rotterdam natural history museum

Psychogeographic writings that focus on the oppressor <> oppressed axis can sound like revisionist historiography. This might be explained by the provenance of the genre from (leftist) situationist origins, the inevitability of mentioning (the evil) "empire" in British (psychogeographic) contexts and the paranoia caused by the ever present threat from property speculators:
All of this work tried to present its arguments as the outcome of serious historical scholarship, resting on a combination of detailed documentary research and careful scholarly reasoning. Often it was extremely ingenious and required a considerable effort to unpick and to refute. Its authors, however fantastic the theories they were putting forward, in most cases really seemed to believe what they were saying. I had reviewed a few of these books over the years and often wondered why their authors had written them. They did not seem to have any particular political axe to grind. What they were offering was more a perverse kind of entertainment to the reader. They belonged to a paranoid style of historical writing: nothing was quite what it seemed, and terrible secrets had been suppressed by mainstream historical scholarship for decades or even centuries. Unlike genuine historians, however, these writers were never willing to accept criticism, and stuck to their theses, however convincing the documentary evidence that was thrown at them. For the most part, engaging with work such as this seemed pointless. It might be irritating, but on the whole it seemed fairly harmless.
Another explanation for the weirdness of landscape writing is its provenance from the trash heap of history and the skip:
Note: The phrase "deep topography" has been coined by Nick Papadimitriou, one of my favorite authors in this genre. I try not to abuse it.
Some supporters of Kindle [e-books] are arrogant about the idea that people have a lifetime of emotions and sensations related to paper, related to the book as something that, if you wanted to, you could pick out of the trash and read.
Do you know how many books I have found for sale on the street that then became the core of my research interests because they were lovable and they were mine and they entered into my life in a specific and powerful and aleatory way? That's how memory works, and it is the irrational aspect that is impossible to argue for, but it is what makes us creative.
But how could landscape writing be realistic, when external reality is inaccessible?
Still, scientists themselves accept that all we can ever experience as human beings is bundles of sense data in our minds, never the external reality where that sense data supposedly originates from. We have no direct access to a supposedly external world and no way to prove its existence, for we are forever locked in the subjective space of our consciousness. Therefore, an external reality remains an assumption, tempting as it may be.

About this series Over the years I've collected many place descriptions. It's a waste to keep them on my harddisk. So I'll publish them from time to time. I will add some pictures when suitable.
Enhanced and amplified topographies can be found in a broad range of literature. The best ones link to metaphysics or mysticism and (pre-) load the landscape with unexpected layers, sheets, slabs and strata of meaning. We can appropriate all this work to enrich our everyday surroundings.

Previous posts are 1:The paranoid method, 2:Rooftops and sacrifices, 3:Oil and electricity,  4:Sewing machines, 5:Rooftops and apparitions, 6:Woods, 7:Mushrooms, 8:Formlessness (2d), 9:Formlessness (3d), 10:Autumn, 11:Monsters and mad scientists, 12:Empty spaces, 13:Stars and planets, 14:Addiction against emptiness, 15:Suggestive vagueness,  16: Ominous places and books, 17: Military technology, 18: Ominous telephones, 19: Observation.

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