Tuesday, March 27, 2001

"Vocabulary has a central role here, because it is what weaves the tissue of habits, educates the gaze, informs the landscape."(1995:108)

I have finished with Mark Augé (1995): non-places, and I sit here with an odd sensation of almost grasping something. Augé writes of how we create spaces which are not made into places by their lives and their history, but by language. An example he uses is the airport, and the airplane passing through the airspace of other countries. The airport is constructed into a space by signs, it's not a place where recognition comes to you from physical memory. In your home town, you know the way around, through a chain of connections which include your personal experiences and your network to those around you. There is a link to history and culture: "The social space bristles with monuments - imposing stone buildings, discreet mud shrines - which may not be directly functional but give every individual the justified feeling that, for the most part, they pre-existed him and will survive him. Strangely, it's a set of breaks and discontinuities in space that expresses continuity in time."(1995:60)

Airports, highways, malls, they are all places defined by directions, signs and regulations, not by "monuments" creating a sensation of connectedness. When on the airport, what you experience is a dis-connectedness. The people working there have no other life in your perception, the way they would if you saw them in the family-run restaurant in a small town, the exits change from visit to visit, you cannot follow the memory of you body when you make the twists and turns which will lead you to your destination.

"He was enjoying the feeling of freedom imparted by having got rid of his luggage and at the same time, more intimately, by the certainty that, now that he was sorted out, his identity registered, his boarding pass in his pocket, he had nothing to do but wait for the sequence of events."(1995:2)

No comments: