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been having a thought about this thing which might do to be written somewhere. why not, huh?

i've been reading Postmodern Geographies by soja, and, in it, he is talking about how previous geographical work of a social level (in relation to spatial areas) were linked to history. history would form how they were talked about, how they were discussed, they were linked to a piece of history from which the space had originated. like saying the reason the western suburbs is the western suburbs is because when the convicts and naval officers divided up the area, the convicts were strap bang onto the west side. but of course, soja is saying that this is not necessarily true, that the history of a space does not give the reasons for it in the present.

or something close to this. i'm only half way through the book. forgive any incorrectness.

but, it got me thinking: when you read books on cities, they are almost always tied to a history of the place. here is where this happened and has influenced in such and such. but often, i think, the history of a city is the present, the now, it is being defined as a place in the now. salman rushdie's Fury captures this in its descriptions of new york, i believe.

the only problem with that? well, in rushdie's case, in the representation of everything now, everything happening in that moment of the city, it becomes dated very quickly.

so, as i do not wish to do a work that draws heavily on history (i, like soja, don't think that the history of an area defines it), but rather it is defined by the present. but id on't want to date myself so quickly. a thin line to walk, i think.

Comments

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(Anonymous)
Mar. 18th, 2002 06:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, Come on! I love history.....
I shan't belittle the work of this soja person knowing so little about it (unlike Donny, whose ignorance screams out from the screen even in a retelling of what he thinks). However I do feel that it is true in every aspect of life that to ignore history is to embrace ignorance.

And one wouldn't want to do that, surely.

The term history is a bit general tho. When you say 'history' efines how a place is discussed, what do you mean by that exactly? Is it events in history that define the place, or history as a measurement of time, ie the perspective that is important?

One loses info by ignoring the past and it is laughable hubris to suggest that the history of a place doesn't influence the plac in the present, it may be the MOST influential thing.

Focusing on the now, no matter how good Fury may be, is like taking an insect's perception of the world, how much validity could it possibly have. Metaphysically, as the now is never fully experienced, any attempt to describe it is doomed to failure, the moment is passed before the thought let alone the pen appears. Culturally, a book that describes a certain period in time is doomed to become part of the history of a place, ironically this is even more true of a work that is appreciated as accurate for it's time.

Finally, this point begs the question of the value of the up"to the minute" commentary. Current doesn't mean best. That is the realm of american news services, not literature. What is wrong with something being "dated"?
Jase
benpeek
Mar. 18th, 2002 06:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh, Come on! I love history.....
actually, Fury wasn't that good.

while i don't doubt that history *is* important to the formation of place, we're also talking the social aspects of an area. like westfield. i don't think it is fair to say that, the history of parramatta can be found, and is directing what is happening within westfield shopping mall. this space, i would argue, is not so much formed by the history, as it is by the social practices of the now, if you follow what i mean?

i sometimes think that history is given too much credit. it's like a weight around people and social aspects. while i do not think we should forget history, i do think that we should stop looking at it in a way to define everything that is happening around us. as unpopular as that might be for me to say, and as much as i do think we should admit the mistakes of the past, to ignore that the social aspects which we currently have do not influence a place, perhaps even moreso than history, is a rather larger bit of ignorance.

so, you know, it's probably a mix of both.

as for why i want to say away from things dated. well, it comes from the simple fact that a historical way of looking at this is very popular. it's become done, you know? almost anything in a book about a place talks so revelently about it's history--become, perhaps, over fifty percent of it, if you can follow me there? i want to write something different, something new. while i don't doubt that history will have some affect, i wouldlike to keep it to a minimum.

you know?

well, it makes sense to me.
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