Manchester as a mythical city; reflections in art and locative media

 

From 

Imaging the City (Book)

Art, Creative Practices and Media Speculations

 

Edited by Steve Hawley, Edward Clift and Kevin O'Brien Series edited by Graham Cairns

GBP 32.00 | 296 pages | May 1, 2016

Introduction; city and myth

 

A question: why is there a statue of Carl Gustav Jung, in Matthew Street in Liverpool, given that the eminent Swiss analytical psychologist never ever visited the city? 

 

Matthew Street was historically the centre of Liverpool’s fruit and vegetable market, but it achieved iconic fame as the home of the Cavern, the club where the Beatles played numerous times in the early 60s, drawing a line between the two halves of the twentieth century. At the same time as those early performances in 1962, Jung wrote in his memoir Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Jung, 2005) of a dream he had had of Liverpool many years before. He saw ‘greyish-yellow raincoats, glistening with the wetness of the rain’, but had also a vision of unearthly beauty, as he equated the city in his dream as ‘the pool of life’- Liver-Pool. Jung’s Liverpool was both a real city, but also a powerful marker in his unconscious, stretching between two contrasting poles of grey bleakness and life enhancing energy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cities exist in reality and in the imagination, and sometimes there is a gulf between the two singularities. In his dream Jung was walking through Liverpool on a dark night, obscured by rain, fog and smoke, when he saw what his companions could not, a magnolia tree on an island radiant with reddish blossoms in a shaft of light. The dream had a powerful internal meaning for him at that time in his life, existing apart from the city he had never seen, but making sense of his world.

 

Some cities seem to have the power of myth, of inhabiting the unconscious, whereas others do not, and this is not always the product of a city’s size. Of course London, New York, Berlin, inhabit an inner space and have a numinous presence through their appearance through history or film, or literature or music. A city is always more than its buildings and streets, it is also its stories, its energies, its ideas. But some smaller cities also inhabit the space of myth.

 

Just what creates the myth of the city is shifting and intangible; often it is through its narrative, the interlocking stories either fictional or real that fasten together to make a picture of place. Some cities have this power and some do not. Why is Manchester mythical but Birmingham not? Detroit is but Cleveland not?  This may be subjective to an extent, but often there is a remarkable consensus on the imaginary city.

 

Wayfaring the dystopian city

 

Over the last few years the author has made a number of works that use artists’ video or new media to look at the city in the collective unconscious. In 2009, Not To Scale was filmed in model towns around Britain to uncover a sinister aspect to nostalgia. Stranger Than Known (2015 with Tony Steyger) looked at Southampton, a city without identity, known more for the people who sailed from it in the Mayflower or the Titanic than those left behind. And in the iPhone app Manchester Time Machine (Manchester Metropolitan University and North West Film Archive, 2012), created with archive film from the North West Film Archive, technology and locative narrative are used to examine history and identity in Britain’s second city.

 

This chapter Iooks at how the city is represented and shaped by technology, and how the myth of Manchester as a dystopia has arisen, reflected in both the iPhone app but also in two novels and a feature film. All involve navigation of the city’s streets and landmarks by the viewer, or by the protagonists of the fictional representations.

 

The atmosphere of the city suburbs, as represented in the Babbacombe model town in Torquay, is both benign and slightly sinister. As Sam Jacob says, ‘Model villages are not just models of real places, though they are obsessively concerned with looking like a scaled-down reality. They are also models of ideas, shrunk to fit comprehension,’ (Jacob, 2006). There are no miniature Polish immigrants here (or immigrants of any kind), just Gulliver-like visitors in search of a lost England, a minutopia. This vision of the suburban as Uncanny, especially when filmed in Not to Scale with no full-scale people in the frame, but real trees in the background, hints of Jacob’s interpretation of Ruskin, that ‘dissatisfaction is the natural condition of modern man in the modern cityscape, and that the picturesque fills a vacuum we feel is forming within us as our morality shrinks:  the picturesque is about loss,’ (Jacob, 2012). There is a disjunction between the overt and slightly twee perfect place that never was, and the identity of a place that as you turn a corner has hints of menace–the Village of the Damned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

Figure 2. Not to Scale 2009 still

 

Southampton on the other hand on Britain’s south coast, is a city struggling to find an identity. Southampton became a city 50 years ago on 7 February 1964, when it received a letter from the Home Office advising that her Majesty the Queen had been graciously pleased to raise the town to the ‘title and dignity of a city.’ The letter then asked for a cheque for £72 13s. 6d and warned that this would not confer the title of Lord Mayor ‘in view of misunderstandings which have arisen in the past,’.

 

The great port was now a city. It had a university, a large population, a long history of embarkation, and now a Royal Charter. But where did that leave the Southampton of the imagination? The beautiful mediaeval city had been largely erased by the terrible bombings of World War II; the romance and drama of the flying boats of Imperial Airways, not to mention the Mayflower and Titanic, were about transit, about departures and fugue, the flight from the familiar, and not the city’s people who were left behind. If the city is not just a collection of buildings and streets and people but also a myth, then what is Southampton’s myth?

 

This was the starting point for Stranger Than Known (with Tony Steyger, 2015), which tries to uncover the real and imagined places and stories existing through change and erasure, as buildings are torn down or blown up, leaving visual and historical traces in the urban fabric or in the memory.  Sometimes it is possible to use technology to see the city anew, as the makers of the ‘city symphonies’ did in the twenties, to visualise the familiar stones and water and people in order to piece together its romance again, re-examining the familiar to render it strange and potent. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3. South Home Town 2015 still

 

High-definition cameras, ultra-slow motion video, and camera drones aspire to offer a vision, the myth of a city that is seen in everyday experience. There have been no psychoanalyst’s dreams of Southampton, no literary references (Jane Austen stayed there but she described it only once in her stories, and then as stinking of fish (Austen, 1790)). And no films apart from Carry on Cruising (Thomas, 1962) and the newsreels of ocean liners departing to and arriving from the most mythologised city on earth, New York.

 

The question arises as to how the wanderer of the city can express its uniqueness and spirit through the lens of a camera. In the 1920s with the rush of energy after the First World War that gave rise to modernism, the city-film or ‘city symphony’ was the response of filmmakers to headlong changes in architecture and identity in the contemporary metropolis. In films made between 1921 and 1929 such as Sheeler and Strand’s Manhatta (1921), Ruttman’s Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt/Berlin-Symphony of a Great City (1927), Vertov’s Chelovek s kinoapparatom/Man with a Movie Camera (1929) and Joris Ivens’ Regen/Rain (1929), the camera takes on the the role of a flaneur, and acts as a mechanical eye. Images of people, vehicles, streets and industry were captured in fragments, producing a collage of impressions which looked at the city from faraway and from very close-up.

 

Sometimes the people and streets were filmed from a moving car, or a tram, invoking the speed of the modern. Often emergent filmic technologies were also use such as time-lapse, and double exposures, as in Man with a Movie Camera, which gave a picture of Odessa in the modern technological world. Depicting urban space in this new world needed new techniques and genres, hovering often between voyeuristic documentary and fiction. However the city film is still being made in different guises up to the present, as in Peter Greenaway’s 1969 Intervals shot in Venice, Bruce Baillie’s Castro Street (1966), John Smith’s The Girl Chewing Gum (1976) and Patrick Keeler’s masterly London (1994).

 

The eye of the flaneur is still at the forefront, but new technologies have given rise to new ways of examining the urban experience. They allow glimpses of buildings and people as if the wanderer could slow time itself, or fly to impossible places, to look backwards in time and notice with a start, the forgotten, the unremarked. Slow motion reveals the unknown surface, as the camera movement in a painterly arc shows both the banal and strange at the same time. The drone in its impossible view for the first time reveals images as in the dream of flight, landscapes so close and so far away, the smallest detail and the vast panorama. Spectacle.

 

But filming the city in its present, or the emphasis of the city symphonies on modernism, do not uncover the layers of history that peel away to reveal the buildings, and the people who created its past. That was the starting point for Manchester Time Machine (2012) an iPhone app created in collaboration with Marion Hewitt, the director of the North West Film Archive, and app developer Darren Dancey, which explores the narrative of Manchester over the last 100 years. This is the first app to combine archive film with GPS to enable the negotiation of historical Manchester, overlaying the present with a century of filmed history, from the Whit walks of 1911 to a student demonstration in 1971.

 

Manchester is Britain’s second city after London, and the world’s first industrial city. From the late eighteenth century it was known as Cottonpolis, as its fortunes were inextricably linked with the calico industry and the cotton plantations of the southern states of America. In the 1990s the industry had gone, and the city centre was in seemingly terminal decline, saddled with a threadbare 1960s shopping centre amid the handsome cotton warehouses of the nineteenth century. But in 1996 the IRA exploded a huge bomb in the city centre, which whilst causing no fatalities, destroyed much of the post-war concrete architecture and kickstarted the city’s revival.

 

The centre of Manchester today, post the IRA bomb and subsequent reconstruction, is a regeneration success story. The textile warehouses of Princess Street, built to resemble Florentine palazzos, burnish red on a summer’s evening, as the crowds stream between the lights of Chinatown and the night-time culture of Canal Street and the Gay Village. But the Manchester of the imagination as represented in literature and film, is a profoundly different place, a city of’ ’ruins, dust, deserted streets, blocked canals’ (Wolff, 2012), and of rain and decay. A post-industrial Hades.

 

This Manchester of the unconscious, is understood in reality and in its cultural depictions through traversing its streets and bus routes, through ‘wayfaring’ (in Tim Ingold’s formulation, 2011), the lymph systems that connect the parts of the city together. And both real and imagined places exist through change and erasure, as buildings are torn down or blown up, leaving visual and historical traces in photographs, or film, or in the memory- the palimpsest of layers of meaning that subtly interact to create a textured picture of the whole.

 

As de Certeau notes, the city can be accessed in two ways: from outside through the map or from within as a pedestrian (de Certeau, 2002). But the city can also be accessed through its myth, its resonance in the imagination, and the depiction of Manchester through Time Machine, whilst appealing to a nostalgic rewriting of the urban landscape, has echoes in three other works that have depicted the city as a blackened and faintly evil dystopia. I will examine these four linked media representations from the 1950s to the present, including the iPhone app, but also two novels, and a feature film. All involve navigation of the city’s streets and landmarks by the viewer, or by the protagonists of the fictional representations. Far from showing a real picture of Britain’s second city. These literary and filmic versions of Manchester show it to be a dark place of the imagination, and that this mythical Manchester still persists in the unconscious as a grey and depressed zone.

 

In Michel Butors’ 1956 novel L’ Emploi du Temps (translated as Passing Time), W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants(1992) and the British film noir Hell is a City (Guest, 1960), Manchester appears in turn as a malevolent entity, a place of terminal decline, and a metaphorical Purgatory. Even in the 1950s, this was not a recognisably accurate depiction of the city: instead it relates to a view of Manchester which goes back to the mid-nineteenth century, when Engels wrote about the condition of the working class.

 

Friedrich Engels had been sent to Manchester in December 1842 by his father, to work for the family firm of cotton merchant Ermen & Engels, and to rid him of his radical views. If that was the aim then it did not succeed. He met Karl Marx several times in Chetham’s Library, where the table by the window around which they sat and discussed socialism still exists. He wrote in his seminal text, The Condition of the Working Class about the squalid conditions endured by the inhabitants of Little Ireland, just south of where Oxford Road station stands today, before the slums were swept away following redevelopment – ‘The atmosphere is polluted by the stench and is darkened by the thick smoke of a dozen factory chimneys’ (Engels 1845: 73). 

 

Manchester has a place in the collective unconscious which starts with Engels  and combines the real and imagined buildings, the weather, the character of the people, its post-industrial landscape, and its history, but this is also perhaps redeemed by music in the 1980s, and its sudden transformation through what became briefly the most famous club in the world, the Haçienda. The Manchester of myth as represented in fiction is a dark place, but in order to fully experience that place, even in its darkness it must be traversed.

 

Thus all the works I cite here involve the negotiation of the city, walking its streets, or traversing it via its bus routes. They reflect Deleuze’s concept of the rhizomatic narrative, when narrative connections proceed not via a linear chain of events, like a single root, but more like a tuber root system, a net where any point can be connected to any other point (Murray 1997: 132). Whilst Deleuze may have meant this as a model for the conductivity of ideas, it also functions as a powerful metaphor for systems of non-linear narrative, the strategies of hypertext which computer systems eventually made possible.

 

It is in the cultural realm of psychogeography that walking and otherwise traversing the city becomes a kind of narrative.  It is ‘a whole boxful of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities… just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolt them into a new awareness of the urban landscape,’ (Hart, 2004). To see and feel again in the streets is the aim, through the ‘derive’, movement without goal except to look anew and experience as if for the first time. Guy Debord  in the “Theory of the Derive” 1958 said  the subject should ‘drop their usual motives for movement in action… and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there,’ (Debord, 1958).

 

Manchester Time Machine allows the user of the GPS and compass-enabled app to negotiate the streets and see Manchester in the past, the choice of 100 films picturing the city’s history from multiple viewpoints. The films chosen tell a story, not a linear chronicle of the city, but instead a patchwork GPS narrative of place, that can be followed by the user on foot.

 

The opening of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894 had triggered a boom in building cotton warehouses and civic buildings, and early filmmakers captured a place and an atmosphere of spirit and pride. The brash optimism of the Edwardian era is represented through filmed scenes of bombastic police marches, the crisp white dresses of young girls parading on Whit walks down Market Street, and the seemingly chaotic mix of transport technologies in the streets, as horse-drawn cabs jostle with steam lorries, electric trams and the early examples of the soon to dominate motor car, which narrowly avoid crowds of scurrying pedestrians. There are hints at how emerging technologies fostered that optimism. A float passes the Town Hall in 1920 advertising the Midland Cinema, and ‘films where you can see yourself on the screen.’ But the ebullient self-image of Manchester turns darker with the Second War and the destruction of the Christmas blitz of 1940, reducing much of Corporation Street and Piccadilly to rubble.

 

The narrative arc of Manchester, which seemed to have clawed its way out of the slums of the world’s first industrial city, turns darker as that industry is left behind. A ghostly illuminated tram passing by the Town Hall on VE day in 1945, and the destruction by fire of Paulden’s department store in 1957, seem like symbols of the city’s decline, and by the twentieth century the persistent image is of rain, smog, and inner decay. Partly this was true of most British industrial cities of the time, but whereas London was driving forwards through youth, music, fashion, and creativity to the iconic era of the swinging 60s, visitors to Manchester saw only a bleak absence of life. The most recent film clip shows a student demonstration on Oxford Road in 1971, close to where Engels had described the appalling living conditions of 130 years previously. The clashes between police and demonstrators seem to show chaos, a city out of control.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

              

Figure 4. Manchester Time Machine still (images North West Film Archive)

 

Just twenty years previously, the French teacher and later novelist Michel Butor (he became linked with the nouveau roman group, which included Alain Robbe-Grillet),

travelled from France to Manchester to work as a language assistant at the University, a few hundred yards farther down the Oxford Road.  Although written thirty years before hypertext, Butor’s L’Emploi du Tempsprefigures the form in a fascinating way, and although set in the fictional northern British town of Bleston, is plainly based on Manchester.

 

The protagonist, Jacques Revel, comes to work at the Bleston company Matthews and Sons, and seems to get trapped in the city, which reflects the grey post-war grimness of Britain as a whole, and the North in particular. His journeys criss-crossing the city by bus are represented in inordinate detail, and the web of bus routes that lie upon the city become a net which renders him unable to escape. His treasured possession is the bus map, purchased by him from the woman he would come to love, Ann Bailey (Butor 1956: 38), and the routes become a figurative rhizome which is reflected in the episodic structure of the novel.

 

It is ostensibly a diary of the year he spends in Bleston/Manchester, written retrospectively, but whilst there is increasing complexity, there is very little narrative resolution, and the novel does not so much end, as stop dead. Jacques hates Bleston, hates the soot-blackened buildings, the insipid food, the cold reserve of the people, but more than that he comes to feel that the city has ensnared him, and as mysterious fires erupt across Bleston, that it is somehow decaying from within. 

 

The description of the novel’s English translation, Passing Time, on the back of the original John Calder edition gives a jauntily upbeat view of the story –‘the atmosphere of a British industrial town is perfectly captured, and this French view of England will delight British readers.’ But most readers must have been appalled by Jacques’ frozen welcome, and state of helpless entrapment in a place he had come to see as a labyrinth, with no way out. One of those readers was the acclaimed German author W.G. Sebald, who also came to Manchester to work at the University, but in the late 1960s, and whose view of the city was if anything even more damning than Butor’s. His Manchester is stagnant and on the brink of ruin, a vision of unremitting gloom, without light or hope.

 

Sebald, who had seemed until his untimely death in 2001 to be a possible winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, made his name with a series of novels which mix fiction and essay with what seems like documentary autobiography. He said of his works ‘the big events are true while the detail is invented to give the effect of the real’ (Jaggi, 2001). In his 1993 Novel The Emigrants, Manchester features in one of the four stories about Jewish emigrants from Nazi Germany. The unnamed yet Sebald-like narrator befriends Max Ferber, a painter (based on Frank Auerbach) who works on his paint-encrusted canvases in the decaying Salford Docks, a mocking nod to the optimism of the Ship Canal opening 60 years before. Max, like Jacques Revel, is trapped in Manchester/Bleston and, but this time for ever; ‘Manchester has taken possession of me for good. I cannot leave, I do not want to leave. I must not’ (Sebald 1993: 169).

 

Sebald read Butor’s novel during his two stays in the city in 1966–8 and 1969–70, and wrote a long poem Bleston: a Mancunian cantical (Wolff 2012: 3) while he worked there. Obviously influenced by Butor, it prefigures The Emigrants in its bleak views of ‘”Soot covered trees”, starlings “huddled together on the sills of Lewis’s big warehouse”, and ships offshore “waiting in the fog”’ (Wolff 2012: 4). Sebald’s view is so unremittingly gloomy that his experience of Manchester (like Butor’s , from the point of view of a European immigrant) must have been blended with the inner melancholy which permeates all of his novels. Or as has been suggested (Wolff 2012: 4), his picture is a projection of post-war German guilt, felt by the survivors (Sebald was a Bavarian catholic) and exemplified through his Jewish refugee characters. When Max arrives into Ringway airport and takes a night-time taxi ride into the centre of Manchester he comments ‘One might have supposed that the city had long been deserted and was left now as a necropolis or mausoleum,’ (Sebald 1996: 151). This is not the squalor noted by Engels, but a city on the point of corruption and death.

 

But Sebald’s view is loosely corroborated by the 1960 Val Guest film, Hell Is A City, a late British Hammer film noir, filmed on location in and around Manchester. Here the city is seen as a changing but decrepit landscape, still scarred from the war, where what threatens to erupt is not a mysterious conflagration but simmering female sexual tension. A killer is on the loose, and the opening night-time travelling shots from a police car, over a brassy jazz score, make Piccadilly seem like the centre of Chicago or New York. But overlaying this is a working-class northern landscape of billiard halls, bookies, and illegal pitch and toss games on bleak hills surrounded by factory chimneys.

 

Most of the action takes place in the city centre, and as with the novels, there is a strong sense of traversing the streets and rooftops, literally in the spectacular denouement. The protagonist Inspector Martineau clambers at roof level rather improbably from Castlefield to the eaves of the Refuge Assurance building on Oxford Road (now the Palace Hotel), to overpower the armed villain Don Starling. As they grapple high above the streets, in the background Oxford Road station is clearly being rebuilt, a telling example of erasure and renewal of the city’s fabric.

 

Don Starling’s getaway car is American, but far from a glamorous symbol of 1950s excess, this one is a seedy pre-war Buick, fitting in well with the overall rundown atmosphere of the film. And when he drives outside Manchester to dispose of the body, the countryside is not as in most films of the era, a place of health and escape. More the windswept moors are cold and forbidding, an eerie prefiguring of the chilling events of the Moors murders which would occur within a couple of years of the film’s release, and which also contribute to the dystopian myth of Manchester.

 

 

Figure 6. Hell is a City still

 

Some of the locations for Hell Is A City have been swept away, but there are muffled traces which show through faintly, despite the rubbing out of the buildings. The robbery of a bookmaker’s van takes place in a fictional Higgitt’s passage, off Corporation Street in the city centre, which was in reality a narrow alley called Cromford Court. The whole area was redeveloped shortly after the film was made, to become the vast Arndale shopping centre, and then again in the 1990s after the devastation of the IRA bomb, but the name Cromford Court still survives as one of the ‘streets’ in the Arndale, a muted footprint of a lost history. And at least one Manchester landmark appears in nearly all of these cultural texts, and is unchanged to the present day: Strangeways prison, the symbol of the corruption of Manchester/Bleston, with its characteristic hexagonal shape. Butor refers to Bleston’s ‘safeguard, a six pointed star with the penitentiary in its centre, the image of which had appeared to me like a black crystal… A negative of the gleaming mark imprinted on Cain’s forehead’ (Butor 1956: 254).

 

Sebald’s narrator goes to the one-time Jewish quarter around the ‘star-shaped complex of Strangeways prison,’ (Sebald 1996: 157) on his increasingly long walks on Sundays, overcome by ‘aimlessness and futility’ (Sebald 1996: 156). He roams the city and is always amazed how anthracite-coloured Manchester ‘displayed the clearly chronic process of its impoverishment and degradation to anyone who cared to see’ (Sebald 1996: 156). And at the end of Hell Is A City, we see the forbidding exterior of the prison, as a knot of bystanders stands outside, and a Manchester Guardian placard proclaims ‘Starling To Hang’.

 

There are numerous echoes in these sources of the internalised image of Manchester. In The Emigrants, Max Ferber lodges at 104 Palatine Road, the same house that the austere and often tortured philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein stayed in when he came to study aeronautics at the University in 1908 (Sebald 1996: 166). The fires that consume Bleston from within are paralleled by the 1957 destruction of Paulden’s department store off the Oxford Road by fire, which is one of the film scenes in Manchester Time Machine.

 

Always the overwhelming connotation of the city’s traverse is less the freedom of discovery of the ‘derive’, or the pleasure of navigation of the story, but rather the pacing of the floor of the trapped prisoner, in a condemned cell, unable or unwilling to escape. Jacques Revel feels he cannot break free of Bleston, and refers to the parallel of Theseus in the Minotaur’s Labyrinth (Butor 1956: 299). Sebald’s narrator returns from visiting Max Ferber in hospital, walking through the Hulme estates regenerated in the Seventies, but already decayed again (Sebald 1996: 231) past derelict warehouses to the Midland hotel, which the owners would be surprised to know was ‘on the brink of ruin’ (Sebald 1996: 233). And yet there are premonitions of the new myth of Manchester that would arise in the 1980s.

 

Don Starling is cornered by Inspector Martineau in a two-storey Castlefield building, just around the corner from the fictional Hotel also where Sebald’s narrator comes to lodge, eight years later. In the background through the railway bridge, can be glimpsed the yacht-building showroom that would become what Newsweek called in the 1990s the most famous club in the world. The Hacienda was born from the profits of the Manchester band New Order, who in their earlier incarnation as Joy Division, prior to the suicide of their singer Ian Curtis, had brought gloom and grey raincoats to the exuberance of punk. The ecstasy fuelled reincarnation of both the music and the spirit of the city in the yacht showroom was the start of the re-mythologising of Manchester.

 

Manchester today has largely assimilated its Victorian past; the world’s first industrial city has co-opted its cotton warehouses into attractive apartment blocks, or restaurants and bars. Lewis’s department store, where Inspector Martineau meets a streetwalker at the end of Hell is a City, is now a branch of Primark. Where Sebald’s Max Ferber found Manchester deserted, this would be unrecognisable to the tens of thousands of revellers who swell the night-time economy and the pubs and cafes every weekend (many of them students living in the city centre, some in converted Victorian mills).

 

Conclusion: the frozen image

 

Manchester Time Machine, like the other texts quoted here, maps the city through its past, but also points to another, internalised Manchester. There is a direct path that leads from Engels and the misery of Little Ireland, through the despair of Butor and Sebald, to the pessimism of Joy Division and Morrissey. The famous Anton Corbijn photograph of Joy Division in the Hulme estates (the same ones that Sebald’s narrator trudges through) freezes an image, a myth of Manchester that paradoxically resonates as truthful, even as it is at odds with the bright lights and swarming crowds of the literal city.

 

Technology can mediate the city, both in its present in its past: the city symphonies and the inner world of the novelist are two facets of the construction of the city in the mind’s eye. It is interesting to note how the camera drone with its birds-eye view creates a new mediation of the urban experience, not from ground level via the negotiation and navigation of a warren of streets, but as a vast model of a city scene from an Alice in Wonderland like viewpoint. The camera drone gives us the impression that we are striding above a model town, a controllable and spectacular experience, just as the tilt/shift photograph can render real cities to look like models.

 

The four literary and filmic sources quoted all show that the frozen internalised image persists as a disconnect between the everyday Mancunian experience and the city’s place in the imagination, perhaps to a greater extent than in other cities. Jung could dream of Liverpool, and despite never being there his vision became form, permanently fixed in bronze on Matthew Street. The myth of Manchester mixes the real buildings of today with layers of real and imagined history, a film of soot from two centuries of industrial chimneys, that may have been removed in reality, but persists in the unconscious. 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Austen, Jane (1790) Love and Freindship (sic)  Letter the Fourth, http://www.mollands.net/etexts/loveandfreindship/laf4.html. Accessed 1st June 2015

 

Butor, Michel (1956) L’Emploi du Temps, Paris: Les Editions de Minuit – Translation by Jean StewartPassing Time, London: Jupiter 1965.

 

Debord, Guy (1958) “Theory of the Derive” in Internationale Situationniste #2, Paris, December 1958.

 

de Certeau, Michel (2002) The Practice of Everyday Life, Berkeley: University of California Press.

 

Engels, Friedrich (1845) The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844, Translated and edited by W. O. Henderson and W. H. Chaloner (Stanford University Press and Basil Blackwell, 1958).

 

Guest, Val (1960) Hell is a City, London: StudioCanal.

 

Hart, Joseph (2004) A New Way of Walking, Utne Reader.

 

Hawley, Steve (2009) Not to Scale, UK, digital video, 10 min. 

 

Hawley, Steve and Tony Steyger (2015) Stranger than Known, UK, digital video, 9 min.

 

Ingold, Tim (2011) Being Alive; Essays on Movement, Knowledge, and Description, New York: Routledge.

 

Ivens, Joris (1929) Regen/Rain.

 

Jacob, Sam (2006) “Legoland” in icon 035 (May 2006), http://www.iconeye.com/component/k2/item/2510-legoland-%7C-icon-035-%7C-may-2006?tmpl=component&print=1. Accessed 1st June 2015  

 

Jacob, Sam (YEAR) “Just What is it that makes Yesterday's Homes So Different, So Appealing?” in Loud Paper Vol 4 no 2, http://loudpapermag.com/articles/just-what-is-it-that-makes-yesterdays-homes-so-different-so-appealing. Accessed 1st May 2015

 

Jaggi, M. (2011), “Recovered memories”, The Guardian Profile, 22 September 2001.

 

Jung, Carl Gustav (2005) Memories, Dreams, Reflections, London: Fontana Press.

 

Manchester Metropolitan University and North West Film Archive (2012) Manchester Time Machine (Version 2) [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from http://itunes.apple.com

 

Murray, Janet H. (1997) Hamlet on the Holodeck, Cambridge Mass.: The MIT Press.

 

Ruttman, Walter (1927) Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt/Berlin-Symphony of a Great City, Fox Film. 

 

Sebald, W.G. (1996) The Emigrants, trans Michael Hulse, London: The Harvill Press.

 

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Wolff, Janet (2012) “Max Ferber and the Persistence of Pre-Memory in Mancunian Exile”, in Melilah, Supplement Memory, Traces and the Holocaust in the Writings of W.G. Sebald. (Guest editors: Jean-Marc Dreyfus and Janet Wolff) 1, http://www.manchesterjewishstudies.org/storage/melilah/2012/s2/6.pdf, Accessed 20 December 2013.

 

Vertov, Dziga (1929) Chelovek s kinoapparatom/Man with a Movie Camera, VUFKU.