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"All cities are geological; you cannot take three steps without
encountering ghosts bearing all the prestige of their legends...
we propose to invent new, changeable decors..."

-- Ivan Ctcheglov, Paris, 1953

THERE ARE SO MANY ASPECTS to the geosift, and geosift is so closely related to other aspects of life, that a number of approaches can be used to study a particular geosift tradition. The intrinsic philosophical impacts of geosift theory can be approached separately, for example. Or, the relation of geosift theory to social conditions and psychological states can be taken as a special arena of investigation. But these specialized approaches are by their very nature limited; they tend to focus on just one aspect of the geosift or on the relationships of geosift theory to other areas of life rather than the nature of the geosift as a distinct tradition.

IF WE SET ASIDE THESE SPECIALIZED approaches and look at the nature of a geosift heritage, there are basically two possible perspectives: studying geosift from the viewpoint of its historical development, and studying it as a unified world view.

"We might be justified in thinking that a future urbanism will also apply
itself to no less utilitarian projects that will give the greatest consideration
to psychogeographical possibilities."

-- Guy Debord, Paris, 1955

THE HISTORICAL PERPSECTIVE--which analyzes the drift begun decades ago by the surrealist/lettrist/situationionist avante-gardes--has been so discredited by the infrastructures of today's American cities that it needs little explanation here. The historical approach of geosift--psychogeography's contemporary successor--traces the effects of the geo-urban environment upon the individual from its earliest psychogeographic beginnings through its various modulations to its present form: geosift, the siftology of perception.

Studying the geosift as a world view is not so widely understood and thus requires some explanantion.

"Geology is pure testament of the unavoidable approach of
both the abyss and the beautiful, of the chaotics and the perfectly
ordered. . . First thing we must recall when visualizing in terms of
geophysics is that geological paradigm shifts generally occur
very slowly or else quite rapidly."

-- Gabriel Thy, Washington D.C., 1998

IN CONTRAST TO THE HISTORICAL perspective that studies geosift as it occurs or develops through time, approaching geosift as a world view means to study it as a unified system apart from its development through time. In other words, historical studies of the geosift analyze how it continues and changes through chronos, whereas the focus on world view examines the the nature of a person(s), urban environment, geological layout, and socio-historical texture at any given moment. From this perspective, geosift is studied not in terms of a chronological development out of psychogeography but as a whole concept, as an interrelated system of distinctive beliefs and practices. The world view approach then, like the historical perspective, can be used to study the effects of every city and geological structure upon the geosifter.

"The research that we are thus led to undertake on the arrangement
of the elements of the urban setting, in close relation with the sensations
they provoke, entails bold hypotheses that must constantly be corrected in
the light of experience, by critique and self-critique."

-- Guy Debord, Paris, 1955

IT HAS BECOME OBVIOUS that some equilibrium between the historical and world view perspectives is necessary so as to avoid the psychological pretensions of Debord's psychogeography. One cannot trace historical progression through time unless one has some notion of the totality of the system to be traced.

NOR CAN ONE ANALYZE the unity of a system without some idea of how that unity took shape. The balance between these two approaches becomes apparent from the geologist's studying of lignitic coal.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF a "historical" study of a lignitic coal deposit follows the nascence of carbonificated fragments of vegetation into peat, oxidation of the peat by anaerobic bacteria and fungi, the charcoal reification of the lignitic matter, and incorporation of charcoal residues into the coal bed in the form of fusain, known to *miners* (subterranean geosifters) as mineral charcoal, mother-of-coal, or mothercoal.

A LIGNITIC COAL DEPOSIT can also be studied as a unified form constituting a world in its own. This kind of study results in examination of such features as carbonification, classification, mineral matter composition, microscopy, and petrology and petrography. This helps determine the nature of a coal deposit, as distinguished from tracing its development. Thus there are two different ways of looking at coal, and both are needed for a more complete understanding of it. The same kind of balance is necessary for the successful study of geosift, in which the siftology of perception must be approached from a multi-dimensional perspective.

This is the new pataphysics.
Jarry's Ubu married to geology.
Our cities can be mined and defined,
much like the substrata of the earth.
Sifting through the fallowed voices of our cities,
perceiving the core truths that are the foundations
and disregarding the detrital perceptions
that persistently seek to decieve us.

--Michael Benton, Bowling Green, 1998

AS THE MILLENIUM REACHES its final days, we at the SWORG are presented with a thoroughly new type of city that has formed in the American cityscapes and elsewhere: ultra-modern, hyperreal, endless suburban sprawl, streets spectacularized with computerized machinery that bear little trace of their tellurian origins, urban designs that entirely reject the Old World notions of pedestrian and commercial zones, cities of concrete, glass and steel that leave the pedestrian at the margins of an infinite nowhere. These galaxies of interstates, super-highways, strip malls, housing projects, office parks, and colossal skyscrapers do not beckon to the psychogeographer and are built expressedly for the navigator of a machine.

THEREFORE, AS PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY failed to instruct us in the specific interrelationships between the navigator and the fearsome urbanity of our new cities, and the geological processes below and within them, we have from necessity created a new art of perception, based on scientific procedures that allow us to measure our lives and personae with enviable precision, while giving us hope that the spectacle of urban alienation may yet be transcended and we again become a community in the cities we inhabit.

TODAY IS PROCLAIMED a new era of pathfinding, an age of geo-urbanity, in which all cities are returned to the earth and quantified as extensions of the tectonic plates and seismological processes below them. The era of post-unitary urbanism anticipated by Debord has arrived and the abject ruins of his psychogeography bear testament to a new belief that where art proffers good ideas, science provides even better realities.

IN THE WAKE OF THE NEW TECHNOLOGIZED cities before us then, we at the SWORG have designated a scientific method of urban unification that looks to the future of our cities, to the architectures of the new millenium, to the geological frontiers of tomorrow.

ANNOUNCING THE GEOSIFT and its myriad dimensions...

Matthew Manus
SWORG/Austin Division - 1999

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