…An Essay in Wandering, by Arthur Machen
The cover of this book is soiled and showing its age; and its dust jacket has long since turned to dust. So I include the title page, should anyone wish to find their own copy of a book long out of print.
Machen (pen name of Arthur Llewellyn Jones) was a Welsh mystic known for his supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction. For our purposes, he was also an early proponent of what has come to be called psychogeography. The London Adventure of 1924 is often mentioned by current psycholgeographers such as Iain Sinclair as influential on their own writing. Just half way through the book, I’ve already found support for some of the stuff done intuitively here in Agincourt.
There is one among many particularly potent passages about “London incognita“, where Machen questions our ability really know the city. “[H]ow many people know their Camden Town in any thorough and intelligent manner? They may know the main artery of it by which the omnibuses go up to Hampstead; but not the byeways, not the curious passages of Camden Town into Holloway.” He then discusses an out-of-the-way borderland community “between two quarters”, “unpretending” yet comprising a “whole chapter in social history”. For four and one-half pages, he then describes the daily lives of its denizens in detail worthy of Dickens, but intuited from what his senses reveal. How could I not see the people of Mesopotamia in a similar light? There is more than a chapter to be derived from just this one of Agincourt’s humbler neighborhoods. So I suppose I must derive it.