Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urban writer and activist who championed new, community-based approaches to planning for over 40 years. Her 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, became one of the most influential American texts about the inner workings and failings of cities, inspiring generations of urban planners and activists. Her efforts to stop downtown expressways and protect local neighborhoods invigorated community-based urban activism and helped end Parks Commissioner Robert Moses’s reign of power in New York City.
Our next project for Integrative Seminar/Studio, entitled Bizarre Bazaar, looks at the ways in which we engage with our city spaces through popular markets. We often see markets as areas of trade and commerce but market spaces are the pulse of any city – languages, culture, impressions, histories and stories converge in the market. Our project celebrates these market spaces through an engagement with communities, people, languages and commerce.
We have chosen markets that are known for a particular thing – whether it is fabric or beads, vegetables or animals, flee markets and paper; these markets speak about the best and the worst of our cities. Students are encouraged to encounter these places and dig past the first impressions drawing out and teasing the nature of the city itself.
When Alice fell down the rabbit hole, Time, as we know it, began to take on new dimensions and her relationship with it began to change; just as her relationship with Space began to alter too. How do Time and Space interact with each other? Can they exist in voids? When they come together what makes them move?
Alice who is dis-located from Time and Space as she knows it begins to draw out the familiar through the lens of the unfamiliar – she talks about Geography and her cat, for example, to explain her current position in the world.
We have spoken about time as form, as formless, as linear and circular, time as an expression of memory and time and its relationship with language. These are some of the ways in which we understand time. But how does space determine action and movement? Can space be independent of time and memory? Is time, physical time, determined by the outside?
But why is this important to us? Why does Alice serve as such a good example as the exploration of the internal and the external self? As the conflicting and unrecognisable self? Alice’s adventures which begin at the top of the rabbit hole take us far into the workings of the human mind as it begins to engage with the ideas of the Self, of the new and many Selves. David Hume in the 17th century talked about the impressions of the Self, what are these impressions and what then is the Self?
Here is video that will probably explain the complexities of Time:
“But when from a long-distance past nothing subsist, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more immaterial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”
Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (Vol. 1)
Words, like the Self, can be many things simultaneously – they can take on new meanings when the spaces that surround them begin to change – they can morph and alter their shapes.
Today, we looked at the ways in which our Keywords, that are seemingly simple, can come to mean so many different things and with each new meaning they take on new forms and shapes. How can we best use these keywords? What are the keywords that seem closest to our experience of our Selves? The students of the First Year Studies for Integrative Seminar I reimagined these words by sharing their experiences of the keywords, creating tributaries of new and interesting meanings.
“I was born with skins too few. Or they were scrubbed off me by . . . robust and efficient hands.”
This, the first volume of Doris Lessing’s autobiography, begins with her childhood in Africa and ends on her arrival in London in 1949 with the typescript of her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, in her suitcase.
Are you a sum of your parts? Are you a collection of ideas and memories that are yours and yours alone? How do we talk about ourselves and tell our stories?
Here is an excellent talk that you may want to listen to: