Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Glastonbury Psychogeography

My first public event of 2016 is a presentation entitled

 The Psychogeography of the Wirral Park Roundabout.

It takes place in Glastonbury on Wednesday February 3rd at
 the Red Brick Building, Morland Enterprise Park, Morland Road, Glastonbury, BA6 9FT.

Entry is £5.00 with doors opening at 7:00 for a 7:30 start.

I will feature material that has been percolating in my head for decades.

John Cowper Powys meets JG Ballard. Psychogeography is a literary mythopoetic mode of understanding the effects of environment on human consciousness. Powys portrayed a conflict between two different levels of Glastonbury, the realm of the Grail and the domain of worldly concerns, business and industry, in his great novel Glastonbury Romance. This tension is played out in modern times with extraordinary intensity in one of the most powerful and generally unacknowledged zones in Glastonbury, the area centred on the Wirral Park (B&Q) Roundabout and its megalithic standing stone. 

Wearyall Hill and Beckery are the gestation points of the modern Glastonbury mythology, being the sites of the Joseph of Arimathea story and Blue Glass Bowl event respectively. John of Glastonbury also links the two places with a nebulous story of a convent of nuns on the hill and the strange journey of Arthur to a Grail chapel at Beckery where he received a crystal cross from the Virgin Mary. This brought the motif of the Chapel Perilous to a locale which in modern times became the location of a veritable wasteland of industrial decay.

View of mythic Glastonbury from decapitated Holy Thorn.

View from behind Holy Thorn to Glastonbury non-places (B&Q, Tescos etc).

JG Ballard expressed alienated post-modern sensibilities whereby the road and the car carry isolated people from one indistinct all-but-identical place to another and strange extremes of events and behaviour result. The Wirral Park Roundabout has a multitude of modern non-places clustering around it: two chain hotels, a supermarket, fast-food outlets, a petrol station, garden centre, and so on. An A Road takes innumerable people past it every day. 

Glastonbury non-places.

It is as if a strange membrane exists between mythic Glastonbury and the relentless spread of non-places that attempt to impinge upon it. In this unique area, conflagration and death have  resulted. I will discuss the outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease, the McDonalds arson, the Holy Thorn decapitation and much else.  

Maybe I might see some of you there. It is possible that a short book might manifest from the material one day ---