DMIT: non-places and landscapes




Thinking about this image of Rebecca’s, and about what she/you wrote:

“… thinking about what you were saying Melanie about Lyotard on translation, will go and have a read, but what sprung initially to my mind about this project was a book called Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity (1995) by Marc Augé  (an anthropologist) who talks about “non-places” which refer to places of transience that don’t hold enough significance to be regarded as “places” ie: a motorway, a hotel room, supermarket, atm, etc. Thinking about the ‘space’ that exists in the world wide web..a theoretical space, a non place almost.”

And I am confined right now to the internet and my own books: I could only find glimpses of Augé’s text on ‘Non-places that discourage ‘settling in’. From there I turned from Lyotard on translation to this beginning of his essay Scapeland, which refers to transferral, displacement, estrangement. And I’m connecting his idea of landscape with translation – with transporting the mind between ways of thinking visually / musically / textually.

So I’m copying the first few paragraphs here:


“Cast down the walls. Breach and breathe. Inhalation. BREATH, inside and outside. This concerns the thorax. The muscular walls of the rib-cage, the defences of the thorax, exposed to the winds. Your breath has been set free, not taken away. An understatement: mouth to mouth contact with distance, as though with an infinity of air. And because the walls are down, there is no swelling.

Vesania or ‘systematic’ madness.’The soul is transferred to a quite different standpoint, so to speak, and from it sees all objects differently. It is displaced from the sensorium communi that is required for the unity of (animal) life, to a point far removed from it (hence the word Verrüchung) – just as a mountainous landscape sketched from an aerial perspective calls forth quite a different judgement when it is viewed from the plain.’*

Conversely, for the bird, the rat that dwells on the plain must also be systematically mad, a landscape-artist, an other alienated, an other estranged. Breathing and breaching the walls of the cage are not, then, the main point. For the bird, the mole’s myopic tunnels would mean distance, and would be a landscape which abolishes limits. A burrow in which it is impossible to see anything, impossible to breathe. No one element (an aura, a breeze) is privileged over any other. There would appear to be a landscape whenever the mind is transported from one sensible matter to another, but retains the sensorial organisation appropriate to the first, or at least a memory of it. The earth seen from the moon for a terrestrial. The countryside for the town-dweller; the city for the farmer. ESTRANGEMENT (dépaysement) would appear to be a precondition for landscape.

A stretch of road lined with poplars at midday, made strange by the light of a full summer moon a few years ago at about eleven at night when Mars was in conjunction with Venus. Baruchello calls me from Rome to ask if I’ve seen the wonderful sky…

…Infinity: inexhaustible resources are required if there is to be any landscape. ‘A palace is not worth living in if you know its every room’, writes Lampedusa. A burrow is like that palace; habitable because it is UNINHABITABLE.

The opposite of a place. If place is cognate with destination.”

* Lyotard quotes Kant: Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View 

ref. Lyotard, Jean-Francois. “Scapeland” The Lyotard Reader. Ed. Andrew Benjamin. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989. 212-219.

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