31: Hypersigils

Psychogeography has probably become a literary form because written accounts are the simplest way of recording a walk; there were other options such as maps or art, with several examples of the latter provided by the work of Richard Long. This has led to the development of psychogeography as a literature rather than following other routes.

Another path that could have been taken is occultism. There is a thread taking in Arthur Machen; Alan Moore’s work on ceremonial magic and place, such as in From Hell; Alfred Watkins theory of ley lines; and the work of the London Psychogeographical Association which inspired Grant Morrison.

Grant Morrison’s book the Invisibles was written as a spell, a way of changing the world, what Morrison referred to as a hypersigil. In magic, a sigil is a symbol that represents the aims of a magician and is used to power and focus their intention. A hypersigil is a work of art that is designed to work as a sigil, drawing on the audience too. “The Invisibles was a six-year long sigil in the form of an occult adventure story which consumed and recreated my life during the period of its composition and execution”

Morrison identified himself with one of the book’s characters. During an interrogation sequence that spanned multiple issues, as this character was tortured, Morrison himself became dangerously ill, almost dying from MRSA-related septicaemia. These experiences were then themselves worked into the storyline; after recovering Morrison resolved to give the character an easier time from then on.

Psychogeography is a confusion of mingling disciplines, but some of the more interesting promises seem to have been neglected. What would it be like if psychogeography followed its occult influences and attempted to follow the line of magic. What if, rather than trying to craft art, psychogeography attempted to craft hypersigils, to produce changes rather than traces?

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