The epoch of simultaneity

The great obsession of the nineteenth century was, as we know, history: with its themes of development and of suspension, of crisis, and cycle, themes of the ever-accumulating past, with its preponderance of dead men … the present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space. We are in the epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed. We are at a moment, I believe, when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein.

Michel Foucault, 1986

Cortés finds Tenochtitlán on the map

Conceiving of space as in the voyages of discovery, as something to be crossed and maybe conquered, has particular ramifications. Implicitly, it equates space with the land and sea, with the earth which stretches out around us. It makes space seem like a surface; continuous and given. It differentiates: Hernán, active, a maker of history, journeys across this surface and finds Techtitlán upon it. (…) So easily this way of imagining space can lead us to conveive of other places, peoples, cultures simply as phenomena ‘on’ this surface. It is not an innocent manoeuvre, for by this means they are deprived of histories. Immobilized, they await Cortés’ (…) arrival.  They lie there, on space, in place, without their own trajectories.

Doreen Massey, for space

Mexico, Regia et Celebris Hispaniae Novae Civitas … [on sheet with] Cusco, Regni Peru in Novo Orbe Caput – Braun & Hogenberg, 1582.

Berlin and the sea

I love this passage from Yi-Fu Tuans Space and Place. The Perspective of Experience:

“What is space? Let an episode in the life of the theologian Paul Tillich focus the question so that it bears on the meaning of space in experience. Tillich was born and brought up in a small town in eastern Germany before the turn of the century. The town was medieval in character. Surrounded by a wall and administered from a medieval town hall, it gave the impression of a small, protected, and self-contained world. To an imaginative child it felt narrow and restrictive. Every year, however young Tillich was able to escape with his family to the Baltic Sea. The flight to the limitless horizon and unrestricted space of the seashore was a great event. Much later Tillich chose a place on the Atlantic Ocean for his days of retirement, a decision that undoubtedly owed much to those early experiences. As a boy Tillich was also able to escape from the narrowness of small-town life by making trips to Berlin. Visits to the big city curiously reminded him of the sea. Berlin, too, gave Tillich a feeling of openness, infinity, unrestricted space. Experiences of this kind make us ponder anew the meaning of a word like “space” or “spaciousness” that we think we know well.”