The First Adventure in Psychogeographical Mapping
In his essay, Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography, I came across this statement by Guy Debord: “the district between Place de la Contrescarpe and Rue de l’Arbelète conduces rather to atheism, to oblivion and to the disorientation of habitual reflexes.”
Thinking this would be an interesting starting point for my project, I drew a circle around the area of about 4 square blocks centered on Place Monge on my newly acquired Paris map. That evening I was to meet for the first time a Mme Hélène B., a contact of a friend in New York. I did not know the location of where she lived or worked, so I asked her to choose a meeting place somewhere between my studio and where she would be coming from. She chose a certain Café Panis, on the Quai de Montebello, which she said had a splendid view of Notre Dame. It was within easy walking distance for me, and the view was as she had described. During our conversation, Mme H.B. showed an interest in my research and I mentioned Debord’s comment to her. Her faced showed astonishment, and she exclaimed that the location was exactly where she lived.
The next day I sent her the quote and she wrote back to say that she wholeheartedly disagreed with Debord’s impression of her area, and wondered what he had based it on. “Is it because of the proximity of the rue Mouffetard food market, one of the oldest open air food markets in Paris, dedicated to earthly pleasures? At the same time, I live in rue xx, just opposite a religious congregation called "Sacred Spirit".... and I love the proximity of the church of St Medard, whose chime I hear every hour. Interesting....”
I began to feel that I was the cause of some sort of vibrational discord between Mme H.B. and M. Debord (though he has been deceased since 1994). The feeling became so intense that I began to develop an inherent dislike for Place Monge and its surroundings. I have abandoned my plan to travel there. I may never visit Place Monge.