Nightmare on sea: a strange, once-forgotten history of the Kent coast is a cult favourite

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David Seabrook’s All the Devils are Here was first published in 2002 to relative indifference – but is beloved by a select few.

By Ben Myers // New Statesman

 

Has a theoretical practice been more watered down and lazily deferred to in recent years than psychogeography? The merest whiff of the word summons images of the lone meaning-seeker sallying forth with Kendal mint cake and PhD in pocket to divine the spirits.

Though tagged as psychogeography, David Seabrook’s strange and hypnotic study of the declining Kentish coastal districts of Medway and Thanet is more akin to its theoretical step-sibling of hauntology, the term spawned by Jacques Derrida to refer to a temporal disjunction in time and place, where a ghost can be perceived as “that which is neither present, nor absent, neither dead nor alive”. Neither word features in All the Devils Are Here, but plenty of ghosts do. First published in 2002, the book’s rediscovery will hopefully install it as an urtext for the hordes of drifters following in its slipstream. Seabrook did not get hung up on analysis. While there are shadows of WG Sebald and Iain Sinclair here – the latter called Seabrook “the dole-queue De Quincey” and helped him find a publisher – this is less an enlightened perambulation than a fevered nightmare.

 

Read the full piece here.

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