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London UndergroundA Cultural Geography$
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David Ashford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781846318597

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846318597.001.0000

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 29 May 2020

The Ghost in the Machine

The Ghost in the Machine

Psychogeography in the London Underground

Chapter:
(p.167) 7 The Ghost in the Machine
Source:
London Underground
Author(s):

David Ashford

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781846318597.003.0008

Chapter Seven surveys the curious spate of millennial fiction set on the London Underground. It is suggested that these recent works express a new interest in recovering the material history of place that is a marked feature of psychogeography. Privileging urban sites that are not reducible to economics, this material represents a last-ditch attempt to resist the program of urban renewal initiated in the Thatcher Era. The ghost-stations hidden in the network and the homeless people who sleep in such spaces are recurring tropes in this fiction, and are part of a resurgence of interest in the power of the Unheimlich that reflects similar preoccupations in contemporary philosophy. Nicholas Royle and Conrad Williams are shown to engage with Jacques Derrida's work on the revenant, while Geoff Ryman and Christopher Ross explore the category of the viral in work by Jean Baudrillard. These novels speak to our sense that we haunt rather than inhabit the spaces of the modern metropolis, and insist that there is promise in our status as spectres. This millennial fiction in the London Underground presents a stark vision of a society threatened on one hand by the sterility of a mechanical functionalism and on the other by the catastrophe that the elimination of the human must eventually bring about.

Keywords:   PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY, MILLENNIAL FICTION, THE CATASTROPHE, UNCANNY, REVENANT, VIRAL, NEIL GAIMAN, NICHOLAS ROYLE, CONRAD WILLIAMS, GEOFF RYMAN

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