This isn’t to point out the inaccuracies in your piece on the Washington Psychogeography Association (“The Drifters,” 7/24) (the truth will doubtlessly impose itself in due course) so much as to indicate a few instances where the author of the otherwise evocative article, Patrick Tracey, pulled our punches:
1) We didn’t go looking for Dante; rather, we found him in a park we frequent and stumbled on lines that resonate with the way “we move along, slowly, listening to the words of the sick who have no strength to raise their bodies up.” Yes, he spurs my imagination, but I part company with Dante at the door to “eternal pain.” As a hedonist (more in line with Aristippus, who found pleasure in movement, than with Epicurus and his contemplative pleasures), I’ve always recognized pain as one of the great categories of existence, and I might even go so far as to call WDC a city of pain in which pleasure builds its precarious abodes where it can. But the notion of eternity leaves me cold, as do the concepts of hell and sin and the rest of Dante’s rhetorical tortures. There may be a mountain of cadavers at the city morgue, but the autopsy reports will never be “backed up from here to, presumably, eternity” as Christopher Hitchens puts in his Vanity Fair essay on the city. Eternity fell into an endless abyss long ago and was swallowed whole by it. We pile Dante’s corpse onto the other skeletons from the past and stand on them to piss on churches within range.
2) Tracey was unable, for whatever reason, to retrace our coverage of the dollarization of consciousness in this dollarocracy of ours, and he failed to appreciate the way drifting encourages us to register the appalling degree to which the world is put together with commodities (and their spectacles, i.e., the inseparable commodity-spectacle). One doesn’t have to be a Christian Doppler or invent a new cartographic genre, say, commodity-pollution mapping, to express how extensive and intensive these hazards are at this moment in history. Our alterations are more than a mere exercise in interactive mapping; they’re an assault on the commodity-spectacle in a vast, ongoing psychological war. The gift of wine was once brought to Tracey in a garden, when, in the course of a drift, these points came up in discussion. But the importance of the gift (indeed, all of our alterations are essentially donations to a struggle much greater than ourselves) was ignored by the author except insofar as displaying his gift of gab.
3) In all likelihood I’m even more dissolute and romantic than in Tracey’s humorous portrayal. Drifting is an advance in the progress of hedonism, and in other cities it always involves a hint of romance: “Not so much Psyche wandering the world in search of Eros,” I confessed to your author, “but the other way around.” Hedonists like me make it our business to follow our desires right off the psycho intensity scale and then snatch appetizing pleasures from the hands of the otherwise all-too-common fate of desire dying on the vine. These are the poetic moments of life, powerful moments that Tracey hints at with the brief appearance of my eleventh finger (actually coming after Bat Woman made a revealing disclosure). I prefer not to take you further down Crime Street, for all its delightful scents and tastes and emancipatory sensations, than we’ve already drifted in the article. Just remember that in many other ways, I can be every bit as provocative as the romantic intentions of my hard dick.
In a canoe without a captain under Key Bridge…