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L'écriture de la ville (1)

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Antoine Hatzenberger

Inscrit le: 18 Mai 2006
Messages: 6

MessagePosté le: Lundi 21 Août 2006, 17:21    Sujet du message: L'écriture de la ville (1) Répondre en citant

L’écriture de la ville (1)

« The city writes its own script » (Iain Sinclair)

S’il est assez difficile de ranger le travail de Iain Sinclair dans une et une seule des rubriques de ce forum – si clairement balisé par Elie During et Laurent Jeanpierre –, c’est qu’il se situe au point de rencontre de plusieurs perspectives sur la ville.

Ce travail d’écriture amène en effet à une réflexion qui pourrait porter tout à la fois sur les formes et les cartographies (il traite des mythes, des symboles et des monuments oubliés de Londres, dont il fouille les archives les plus enfouies) ; sur les usages et les expérimentations de la ville (ce travail est une circulation) ; et sur les échappées périurbaines (il explore les interstices et les zones transitionnelles).

Iain Sinclair décrit la ville, écrit la ville, réécrit la ville. « I wrote the same book […] over and over again », admet-il, au début de son périple circulaire le long du périphérique londonien, son Grand Tour de la route M25 (London Orbital, 2002), « trying to find some way to unravel the syntax of London ».

Mais, en dépit des difficultés de classement dues à la multiplicité de ses approches et de toute façon inhérentes à son objet, c’est sans doute sous la rubrique des « Géographies subjectives » qu’on pourrait le mieux situer la contribution majeure de Iain Sinclair à la tradition de la littérature urbaine.

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Jill Fenton

Inscrit le: 18 Mai 2006
Messages: 11

MessagePosté le: Samedi 09 Décembre 2006, 11:15    Sujet du message: Responding to Antoine Hatzenberger’s écriture de la ville(1) Répondre en citant

Responding to Antoine Hatzenberger’s écriture de la ville (1)

‘virtual overwhelms actual’

I have been thinking about your impression of Iain Sinclair’s engagement with the city and I agree with you that he describes the city, writes the city, rewrites the city. However, I am not sure that his approaches are entirely subjective. Lately I have felt he has a tendency to objectivity when writing about London; he appears to be a spokesman for all of us concerned about grand architectural projects that increasingly gentrify urban space and that inevitably displace or affect indigenous communities.

In fact, Sinclair’s writing about the city is both subjective and objective. In a recent edition of Time Out London, these dual positions are disclosed as, subjectively, he draws the reader into the day in a life of a discarded object:

Somebody has ripped the top from a pool table and laid it, an emerald doormat, across the irregular flags of the fake-York pavement. Check it for yourself: by the Regent’s Canal, going west through Hackney, as you approach the humpbacked Queensbridge Road bridge. On dull pewter mornings, leprechaun baize shines as brightly as those meadows of algae that choke the lower Lea at Old ford Lock: a suffocating blanket of ill-married chemicals, river scum, dead fish and half-treated human waste. The table-top has sat on that path for more than a month now, without narrative, denied a back story. On good days, it finds itself stacked against the fence of the playground reservation. Then it is slung onto the cobbles. Before it returns, yet again, to its original position: a mat on which to scrape off dogshit.

Sinclair continues to unravel his intimate relation with Hackney – floral tributes attached to a bollard to which are affixed tartan ribbons and ‘Justice for Harry’ stickers and, behind the bollard, bullet holes in the wall, and symbolism that makes sense of the floral tributes to Harry Stanley who was gunned down on 22 September 1999. Sinclair has the same rubber neck curiosity of any pedestrian although I think he is more honest, he owns up to his curiosity. Other subjective observations are unfolded – Russians, Poles, Brazilians, Somalians ‘smoking and talking in their ethnic huddles. Waiting for the gaffer, the white van driver, the Irishman. The pick-and-shovel boys of a previous generation are now the employers, plant-owners, enablers.’ Sinclair is writing the thoughts of the passer-by, pedestrian and driver standing in a traffic queue. His voice is representative subjective.

But his mood alters and, objectively he speaks against the redevelopment of the wastelands and wetlands of the Thames Gateway, this area that will be ravaged to accommodate the 2012 Olympic event:

These are neighbourhood incidentals, minor entries in the ledger of disappearance: as right across the landscape, virtual overwhelms actual. We are experiencing the most extreme urban makeover since the brutal first chapter of the railway age (eviction, demolition, rehousing under the arches). Grand projects threaten us from all sides. Out to the east, where a new city the size of Leeds will rise from the edge-lands of the lower Lea Valley, banishment is most keenly felt. ‘Fish Island’ will soon be nothing more than a meaningless label on the front of a bus. As ‘Hackney Wick,’ so memorably, became all that was left, a crumpled destination sign, of the Number 30, blown up on July 7 2005.’

Subjectively and objectively, Sinclair’s mission is to rant about disappearance and London’s ‘unwritten spaces’:

The building site which was once a Cold Store, and which will very soon be open for business as Adelaide Wharf, exists in the same corner of London as the ignored pool table that looks at it, at the tall red cranes. The site between Queensbridge Road and Whiston Road (with its closed and shuttered swimming pool), is protected by a security fence, decorated with high-definition images of what the complete project will look like. The future invades and overwhelms the present. The canal has been cleaned up, the pavement swept of its rubbish. No dog hair, no pool table. No sloganising graffiti. Small units start at £300,000. The views from the hyper-real (non-existent) apartments …. […] The humanness that has been taken away, all those lives and awkward narratives is our City of Disappearances.’

Jill Fenton
30 November 2006
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