TABLE OF CONTENTS
Kip Redick, Feet Forbidden Here
This essay argues that in constraining travel to specific motorized vehicles, the Interstate Highway System’s transportation hegemony alienates humans from both mythic and existential dimensions of lived experience. By separating humans from encountering the environment through their indigenous connection to the earth, their feet, the highway system alienates them from what it means to dwell intersubjectively in a place. This alienation includes the loss of cultural memory rooted in place: the emptying of meaning that mythic symbolism and rituals create in habituating humans to dwelling in place. Freeway alienation severs human cooperation with the constituents of the environment that is necessary for creatively maintaining a healthy mutual habitat.
Cities of the past enjoyed rich soundscapes full of organic sounds. Such sounds can be hard to hear, even for those that are listening, in many of today’s cities and neighborhoods. Evaluating the sounds of life in urban neighborhoods can be one method of determining the health and vibrancy of an area. A silent neighborhood, one not devoid of sound or noise, but rather missing the sounds of human and animal life, can be detrimental to the community and its residents. This paper both investigates the history of and loss of the diverse urban soundscape and how it can be reclaimed in modern cities.
I examine the kindred phenomena of shadows and night in order to reveal their significance for better understanding our lifeworld and the elemental environment. I first describe how light is primary to ecological perception and how it conditions our conceptions of space, truth, and beauty. Light and darkness are involved in a dialectical relationship rather than conceived as polar opposites. Borne of the interplay of both realms, shadows have been disparaged historically and deserve to be reconsidered for their aesthetic appearance and their relevance to an ecology and anthropology of perception. Night, in turn, is often marked by a negative ontology that points toward the possibility of a kind of elemental a priori, but it is important to characterize darkness in terms of its subtle shades and filtering by way of the creative matrix of the human imagination. Seeing the night in novel and unexpected ways, especially via the insights and descriptions of phenomenologists, poets, and artists, enables us to grasp the depth and atmosphere of the surrounding world and to light up our geographical perspectives, our philosophical visions, and our environmental awareness.
A look into one artist’s philosophical perspective regarding the successes and challenges of creating public art installations. The essay explores the development of a series of large-scale temporary works through the artist’s intuitive, conceptual, and spiritual response to particular locations, which have ranged from Baltimore to New York to Seoul, Korea. The article comes to focus upon a particularly controversial installation constructed in Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, Maryland. It explores the relationship between plastic debris and driftwood collected from the faltering ecosystem of Chesapeake Bay beaches and what the public perceives as a natural environment of that park. The installation was created on top of the ruined foundation of an early twentieth-century hunting lodge located in a stand of old trees, which contained additional artifacts of the site’s original farm. The artist’s intent was to create an explicit walk-through environment with an implicit meaning in order to allow the public to contemplate and interpret the associations and meanings. What resulted was a well-publicized controversial split over spiritual questions, which exposed a divisive fault line between wealthy conservatives and the general public.
The intent of my article is to examine critically the peculiar “forbidden” significance entailed in places designated as the commons. The commons are those places within a particular environment or eco-system that serve as the essential life-giving resource for its members. Due to both changes in the earth’s climate and the over consumption of resources, the commons are in a state of desperate crisis throughout much of the world. A symptom of this crisis is the rising political and environmental violence specific to those places that harbor the commons. One strategy employed to address the political crisis is the privatization of these life-giving resources. The justification for privatization rests on providing the economic support necessary to secure and gain greater access to the commons. There has been as a result a growing effort from both a human right and environmental standpoint to articulate a global provision that would protect the commons from the industries of privatization and commodification. In this article, I bolster these efforts by specifying the manner by which the commons resist privatization. My focus is on the type of place, or rather, the type of forbidden place the commons are. The commons do not resist by forbidding use or occupation. Quite to the contrary, they resist by giving life, by welcoming all who may sustain themselves through them. Their place is a place for no one precisely because it is a place for all.
In this essay, the author employs Edward S. Casey’s philosophy of place in order to perform a reading of Dave Eggers’ recent biographical novel, What is the What (2007). This reading is dependant upon certain concepts that Casey articulates in Getting Back Into Place (1993) and Remembering (2000), particularly the concepts of displacement, desolation, and homesteading. After an exegesis of these concepts, the author employs them in order to better understand the life of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the so-called ‘Lost Boys’ from southern Sudan. Since his life is largely a narrative of displacements, Deng’s story provides us with an exceptionally rich opportunity to implement Casey’s articulation of place.
This article addresses a project by Bernard Lassus, a celebrated French landscape architect, for a rest area on a highway outside Nimes, France. Using this project as a lens, it asks whether a tourist can approach any sense of Heidegger’s concept of dwelling. It goes on to inquire about fresh visions of places, citing familiar modernist approaches and postmodern ones advocated by Lyotard. After dealing with cultural differences in the promotion of tourist sites, it attempts to dissect Lassus’s motives and references in the design of the Nimes-Caissargues Rest Area. Finally, it places Lassus’s project in the context of earlier gardens about cities, use of simulacra, Heidegger’s theory of dwelling, and Lyotard’s concept of “unpresentable.”