As part of a series of events in relation to the World Congress of Perambulatory Sutures, two very special events took place – the Class Wargames collective hosted a participatory performance of Debord’s Game of War at the University of Huddersfield on the 13th May and the first of several book launch events for an edited collection of psychogeographical essays in Richardson’s forthcoming book Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography took place at the University of Leeds on the 14th May.
At the first event, the Huddersfield Psychogeographical Network gave a warm welcome to Class Wargames comrades Richard Barbrook and Fabian Tompsett who then introduced the proceedings which was then followed by a short film about Debord’s Game of War and then by a participatory performance of the game. The Huddersfied Psychogeographical Network were very keen to invite the Class Wargames collective up to to Huddersfield in order to learn how to play the game and also to gleam new tactics to enable revolutionary social change! We also wanted to meet Richard and Fabian having read many of their excellent articles and books over the years via the London Psychogeographical Association and other texts such as Class Wargames:Ludic Subversion Against Spectacular Capitalism, Imaginary Futures and various other publications by Unpopular Books. The Huddersfield Psychogeographical Network were also interested to learn more about some of the core ideas of the Class Wargames collective including: exploring gaming as a metaphor for exploring social relations under neoliberalism; creating spaces for people to meet and enage in ludic activity and also to reenact proletarian struggles in ludic ways. Many people interested in the work of the situationists usually focus on their phase of activity where they conducted and wrote about psychogeography and urban drifting. However, the later phase of Debord’s work actually takes quite a different ‘turn’ and he positions himself as a strategist rather than as a philosopher and decides to design a political board game. Debord indicates that:
‘I have studied the logic of war. Moreover, I succeeded, a long time ago, in presenting the basics of its movements as a board game: the forces in contention and the contradictory necessities imposed on the operations of each of the two parties. I have played the Game of War, and, in the often difficult conduct of my life, I have utilised lessons from it – I have also set myself the rules of the game for this life, and I have followed them. On the question of whether I have made good use of such lessons, I will leave to others to decide’ (Debord – Panegyric).
The Class Wargames collective indicated at the event in Huddersfield that this wasn’t just a game but that it was actually a guide to how people should live their lives with contemporary society. So ‘by playing this Clausewitz simulator, revolutionary activists could learn how to fight and win against the oppressors of spectacular society’. The Huddersfield Psychogeographical Network agree wholeheartedly with the Class Wargames collective and with Debord’s arguments here! So on that note we did as Debord did and drank wine, discussed political strategy and considered new tactics for revolutuonary social change vis a vis the Battle of Marengo scenario as played out on the board.
Lest we forget to mention, there was a special guest appearance by David Bollinger, Director of the West Yorkshire Association for Psychogeography at the Class Wargames event at the University of Huddersfield. His contribution was vital to enabling the Austrians to win the battle of Marengo, thus turning history ‘on its head’ and preventing the French from winning!
The second event was organised by Tina Richardson, Executive and Chief of the Leeds Psychogeographical Group in order to launch the book publication of an edited collection of essays by psychogeographers in the United Kingdom. The book is due to be released in July 2015 and is titled Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography. Many psychogeographers from across the globe attended the launch, including Fabian Tompsett from the London Psychogeographical Association, several members of the Huddersfield Psychogeographical Network such as Alex Bridger, Leeds Psychogeographers including Tim Waters and Tina Richardson and also Parisian psychogeographers that had flown over from France to attend! This indeed was a grand World Congress of epic proportions! Tina Richardson started the proceeedings by giving an overview of what the book was all about and by reading selected extracts from the book chapters. Then Alex Bridger presented a selected reading from his chapter on anti-psychology, psychogeography and social change. Then followed some questions, a brief campus drift and an excursion into the University bar!
The Huddersfield Psychogeographical Network concur with Richardson’s account of the World Congress proceedings that the ‘geographical concentration of these two events this week’ has ‘probably shifted psychogeographical ley lines across the UK’. Though if the lines have shifted then where is psychogeography now and what does it look like? More writings to follow on this question – watch this blog!
If you are interested in reading more about this World Congress, then please check out Comrade Richardson’s account at the following website: http://particulations.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/the-world-congress-of-perambulatory.html