Saturday, 25 April 2009
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Extract from Iain Sinclair, Lights Out for the Territory:
Dates and times of assignations that will never be kept. Cruisers, sex vampires, occult geometers. You don’t have to walk, you can slipstream. One of the expeditions in Patrick Keiller’s film, London, took this route. Of course it did. Where else? The intention, to pay their respects to Edgar Allan Poe’s boarding school, to the doppelgänger William Wilson, had been aborted. No visible trace remains, nothing you can catch on film. (“Let me call myself, for the present, William Wilson… I feel the refreshing chilliness of its deeply-shadowed avenues, inhale the fragrance of its thousand shrubberies, and thrill anew with indefinable delight at the deep hollow note of the church-bell…”) Keiller’s character, Robinson, settled instead for traces of Daniel Defoe, dissenter, double agent, eyewitness to events that had passed him by. Stoke Newington: the extramural settlement of Crusoe exile; a village where failure could be enjoyed in the grand style.
The glass-fronted police station is designed, head on, to present the illusion of openness, access for all. There are huts and cabins tucked around the back to take care of the everyday stuff, armed juveniles, purse-snatchers. Cautions are administered as casually as enquiries about the weather. The building is no more than an advertisement for itself, the new look doing nothing to eradicate the evil reputation that has hung over the place for generations. The photographs of the old brick hulk that stood in for any hard information about the arrest of the Angry Brigade still infect the ground. Pedestrians cross the road, fearful of searching in vain for reflections in the darkened glass.