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robertogreco : nonplaces   5

In Praise of Walks and Wilderness | Alpine Modern Editorial
"More full of wonder than your deepest dreams, indeed. I kept looking over to my friend, continually proclaiming: “I can’t believe how happy I am here.” I understood Abbey’s fierce ecological devotion to the place. Preservation begins with appreciation; it begins with experiential love. “Earn your turns,” a friend always calls out, strapping his skins to his skis and hoisting his body up the incline. Another pal takes off to the mountains when big life decisions loom in front of him: “It’s the only place quiet and still enough to think.” One hikes fourteeners to prove to himself that his body is capable of more than he believes and that what others say about him is not the whole story. One of my best friends may have hated the peak I dragged her up during our climb, but afterward she turned to me and sighed, “I’ve never felt more alive or more in love with my body.” Once, on a backpacking trip with high school senior girls, one turned excitedly to me and said, “I haven’t thought badly about my body this whole trip!” I think of my skis hanging over the ledge of Blue Sky Basin, my toes hurting like hell, my legs are tingling and frozen, and my flight-or-fight mode tells me that the drop in isn’t worth the potential outcome of pain. But when I look up at the snow-crested ridges against the deepest blue backdrop I’ve ever seen, I push on and fire up my legs, reminding myself that this view is worth the discomfort it takes to reach it."



"Ecologists speak now of a need for “deep ecology,” not just an understanding of ecological issues and piecemeal scientific responses, but an overhaul of our philosophical understanding of nature. Instead of viewing mankind as the overlord of nature, it’s about revisiting the idea that a give-and-take relationship exists between the human and the nonhuman, a relationship that thrives on mutual respect and appreciation. To develop this sort of appreciation for nature and the nonhuman, it matters that we actually experience it. For many ecological thinkers, walking among mountains can be the first step in healing a false split between body and mind. The grief at the destruction of a beautiful building, the ecstatic joy of a sunrise in the mountains—these moments stem from this unification of the two.

Fragile moments of being that exist in nature

It’s a question of place versus nonplace. In The Conscience of the Eye: The Design and Social Life of Cities, Richard Sennett points to the peculiarity of the American sense of place: “that you are nowhere when you are alone with yourself.” Sennett speaks of cities as nonplaces, in which the person among the crowd slips into oblivion, only existing inside him- or herself. Other nonplaces look like the drudgery of terminals or waiting lines or places where all eyes are glued to phones. The buildings are uniform, and the faces blur together to create a boring conglomerate of civilization. If to be alone in a city is to be nowhere, the antithesis must be that to be alone in nature is to be everywhere. Nature is a place characterized by its “thisness,” as Gerard Manley Hopkins describes it—a place to enter into that is palpable with its own essence and feeling.

But as we lose our connection to place, as virtual reality turns here into nowhere, we lose our ability to narrate our experiences of nature. Recently, nature writer Robert Macfarlane pointed out that in the Oxford Junior Dictionary, the virtual and indoor are replacing the outdoor and natural, making them blasé. When we lose the language to describe our connection to landscape and place, we lose the actual connection to these things and the value decreases, separating us from the natural. According to Macfarlane, we have always been “name-callers, christeners,” always seeking language that registers the dramas of landscape, and the environmental movement must begin with a reawakening of natural wonder–inspired language.

Perhaps the point of all of this is to work to develop more refined attention, an ability to seek out and perceive fragile moments of being that exist in nature. We must pay attention to our breath and our bodies. Wendell Berry, a prophet of the natural, writes that to pay attention is to “stretch toward” a subject in aspiration, to come into its presence. To pay attention to mountains, we must come beneath them and reach out toward them.

To walk is to perceive

How do we begin? By wandering within the wilderness. Rebecca Solnit’s book on walking comes to mind: “Walking is one way of maintaining a bulwark against this erosion of the mind, the body, the landscape, and the city, and every walker is a guard on patrol to protect the ineffable.” While people today live in disconnected interiors, on foot in wilderness the whole world is connected to the individual. This form of investing in a place gives back; memories become seeded into places, giving them meaning and associations both in the body and the mind. Walking may take much longer, but this slowing down opens one up to new details, new possibilities.

Brian Teare is one of my favorite modern poets because his poetry is centered upon Charles Olson’s projective verse and on walking. All his works contain physical coordinates, anchoring each work of art to the place that inspired it. The land becomes the location, subject, and meaning to the thoughts and feelings that Teare wants to convey. As we enter into a field or crest the ridge of a mountain, we perceive the sight of the landscape and experience our bodies within it. We feel the wind and touch the dirt; we see the edges and diversity of the landscape. Perhaps we have hiked a far distance to reach this place and feel the journey within the body. Teare says in one of my favorite poems, “Atlas Peak”:

we have to hold it instead

in our heads & hands

which would seem impossible

except for how we remember

the trail in our feet, calves,

& thighs, our lungs’ thrust

upward; our eyes, which scan

trailside bracken for flowers;

& our minds, which recall

their names as best they can

Sitting on the side of Mount Massive, on the verge of tears, I felt utterly defeated. Our group took the shorter route, which had resulted in thousands of feet of incline in just a few miles, and my lungs, riddled with occasional asthma, were rejecting the task before them. It felt as if all the rocks in the boulder field had been placed upon my chest. My mind went to the thought of wilderness: Was it freedom or a curse? What would happen to me if something went wrong up here? Risk and freedom hold hands with each other in the mountains. After a long break, a few puffs of albuterol, water, and grit, I pulled myself up the final ascent and false summits along the ridge. I have been most thankful for my body when I have realized how beautifully fragile and simultaneously capable it is. On the summit, as we watched thin wispy waves of clouds weave into each other and rise around us, the mountain gently reminded me that I am not in control. I am not all-powerful, and nature’s lesson to me that morning was to respect its wildness.

As in all things, essentialism should be avoided. We live in a world that tends toward black-and-white perspectives, and when one praises the wilderness, those remarks can devolve into Luddite sentiments that are antipeople, antitechnological, and antihistorical. This solves nothing. Advancements in civilization are welcome and beautiful; technology has connected us in unprecedented ways. But as with anything, balance is key. We need the possibility of escape from civilization, even if we never indulge it. We need it to exist as an antithesis to the stresses of modern society. We need wilderness to serve as a place to realize that we exist in a tenuous balance with the world around us. All the political and societal struggles matter little if we have no environment to live in. In a world of utilitarian decision-making, a walk in the woods may be considered frivolous and useless, but it is necessary. The choice to preserve or to dominate is ours. But before deciding, perhaps one should first wander among the mountains."
nature  walking  wilderness  body  fragility  power  control  memory  luddism  decisionmaking  risk  freedom  technology  attention  brianteare  thinking  2016  hiking  robertmacfarlane  essence  feeling  feelings  vulnerability  gerardmanleyhopkins  nonplaces  urban  urbanism  escape  richardsennett  mind  spirit  life  living  mindbodyspirit  haleylittleton  andygoldsworthy  place  rebeccasolnit  wendellberry  walterbenjamin  outdoors  edwardabbey  ecology  environment  bodies 
june 2016 by robertogreco
pensamientos genericos - 10th Year Anniversary
"Tijuana’s Haunt
Rene Peralta

In Tijuana everybody seems to be a poet or a painter.
Anthem magazine (2004)1

Artistic practice in the border region has tended to be multidisciplinary in nature. The
mechanisms and infrastructures that support cultural production elsewhere are limited
or absent here, so this multidisciplinary model has been developed as a survival
mechanism, countering the lack of economic stability as well as academic and institutional
support. Economic and sociopolitical dynamics have encouraged the creation
of countless “alternative” praxes in the city of Tijuana, as artists have addressed contemporary
issues pertaining to the volatile life of the U.S.-Mexico border. The most
considerable experimentation has taken place in the realms of literature and visual art.
A search for an understanding of border identity has produced conceptual reflections
on the city from writers and academics alike, ranging from counterculture narratives to
works of postmodern theory.

The challenges that the region presents have led to an effort to reach a general or
open definition of “border” urban and social space. Néstor García Canclini became
an important influence in the rereading of social and urban space produced by an
incongruent urban visual system made up of constructions characterized by cultural
hybridity and their users. In his seminal text Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering
and Leaving Modernity, hybridity is presented as an important concept through which
we can understand the processes that create the social and spatial conditions of
the border city. Canclini explains three processes that define the hybrid condition:
the breakup and mixture of the symbolic collections that organize cultural systems, the
deterritorialization of symbolic process, and the expansion of impure genres. Processes
combining decollection and deterritorialization have changed the structure of and
relationships between image and context as well as the semantic and historical references
that tie them together. In the space of the contemporary city, the lack of urban
regulation and a hybrid architectural culture create a mismatch of styles, together with
the interaction of monuments and advertising, situating the visual order and memory
of the city in heteroclite networks. Lastly, Canclini explains tensions of deterritorialization
and reterritorialization: the loss of innate relationships among culture, geography,
and social territories and at the same time territorial relocations of new and old
symbolic productions.2

Tijuana then is an example of this great hybrid experiment wherein the notion of
authentic culture and identity is no longer credible.



What is fascinating is the determination of the population to appropriate
urbanism and model it through their own idiosyncrasies. If a certain hybridism
characterized the informal self-built shacks, these mono-logical constructions include
seriality, production-line planning, and nonplace iconography as part of their pedigree. Architects have had a passive role in the construction of the urban realm. Major
urban developments have been made through forceful intervention, foreign and
national, in the name of decodifying the Mexican border with a national modern style
or marking it as a place of architectural decontextualization, as in the case of the Agua
Caliente Casino, designed in a Moorish/mission revival style for the mob by a San
Diego teenage draftsman named Wayne McAllister in 1928.6 Since its conception, this
city that the border created has had episodes of urban consolidation as well as
instances of rampant and irregular development. Art practices have evolved very efficiently
within the codes and concepts that define the urban border. It seems that urban
spatial practices still need to mature into elaborate multifunctional networks that can
find resources and mechanisms for a sense of criticality and adaptation. It may be that
in Tijuana everybody is (only) a poet or a painter, at least for now."
tijuana  2004  reneperalta  2008  art  design  architecture  urban  urbanism  nonplaces  border  borders  mexico  sandiego  multidisciplinary  survival  hybridity  deterritorialization  decollection  reterritorialization  culture  geography  heribertoyépez  néstorgarcíacanclini  literature  marcosramirezerre  jaimeruizotis 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Non-places: introduction to an ... - Marc Augé - Google Books
"As an increasing proportion of our lives is spent in supermarkets, airports, hotels, on motor-ways, or in front of TV and computer screens, Auge investigates the profound alteration that has resulted from this invasion of non-places."
non-places  nonplaces  marcaugé  books  supermarkets  hotels  airports  toread  anthropology  motorways  tv  television  screens  ageofscreens  1995 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Vodafone | receiver » Simultaneous environments – social connection and new media - Kazys Varnelis
"The world of micro-publics can also threaten place as well. With access to more information than ever, we can find a community perfectly tailored to our political, social, and cultural interests. I confess that I am perfectly happy in my suburban town on the outskirts of the New York metropolitan region, where people like me live, seeking a very liberal suburban life. We all attend our July 4th parade but we give the most applause to the anti-Iraq-war marchers. Right-wingers are few and far between in these parts. There is a dark side to this. In The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of America is Tearing Us Apart, journalist Bill Bishop uncovered that Americans are increasingly sorting themselves into homogeneous communities. As people worldwide gravitate to the places where others most like themselves live, face-to-face debate and dissent evaporate."
kazysvarnelis  place  space  communities  architecture  technology  communication  history  change  nonplaces  telecocoon  copresence  connectedness  continuouspartialattention  privacy  internet  mobile  phones  sms  society 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Goodbye Supermodernism | varnelis.net
"new architecture for the 21st century will be less concerned with sensation & affect, less obsessed with either box and blob, and more concerned with new kind of place-making, enabling us to dwell more creatively in both “real” & network space"
architecture  theory  urban  supermodernism  postmodernism  place  design  nonplaces  mobile  phones  presence  ambientintimacy  communication  thirdplaces  wireless  wifi  web  online  internet  kazysvarnelis 
november 2007 by robertogreco

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