The Zone and Zones - Radical Spatiality in our Times

Broj 2 - Godina 2 - 06/2012

Uvodnik

The long-expected fourth issue of [sic] – a Journal of Literature, Culture and Literary Translation offers a selection of papers presented at the second international conference entitled Re-Thinking Humanities and Social Sciences and held at the University of Zadar in September 2011. The conference topic, The Zone and Zones - Radical Spatiality in our Times, proved to have been intellectually enticing to almost one hundred scholars who managed to create a radical space of their own. Immersed into the zone of Croatian seaside filled with the aroma of pine trees and the Adriatic Sea, the zone of leisure rather than work, they managed to create an intellectual heterotopia by discussing the multilayered meanings of space. ..

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Izdvojeno

Papagajeva mesnica nalazila se na prašnjavoj cesti na kraju grada. S betonske prizemnice visio je zahrđali željezni znak. Izdaleka se doimala poput autobusne stanice ili skladišta punog praznih boca, tako nešto. Ali kad biste se polako približili, nema toga tko gromki glas koji je punio radnju ne bi pripisao njezinu vlasniku. “Govedinu ste rekli? Od goveda imam ovo. Muuuuuu! Ih, što ne zvuči dobro? Da vam pravo kažem, i ovo je meso dobro mukalo! Muuuuuu! Muuuuuu!“To je bila jedina mesnica u gradu i bila je otvorena od jutra do mraka. Pred vratima su čest prizor bile žene s košarama. Na putu u školu uvijek smo mogli čuti mesarovo glasanje (tim smo putem išli i u osnovnu i srednju školu). Svaki put kad bismo u prolazu bacili pogled na njega, bucmasti bi se mesar oglasio, crvenih očiju i podbuhlih obraza. Žene u mesnici namignule bi jedna drugoj i smiješile se. Još više od prodaje mesa, barem je to tako izgledalo u očima nas djece, mesar je bio posvećeniji oponašanju domaćih životinja.Njegove su izvedbe bile doista sjajne. Da je kojim slučajem neki stranac prošao onuda, vjerojatno bi stekao dojam da se radi o staji u sklopu neke velike farme. Krave, svinje, ovce, kokoši... U rijetkom slučaju kad bi kroz ulaz dopiralo rzanje, kućanicama u prolazu smjesta bi bilo jasno da je u mesnicu došla svježa konjetina. Mesar bi si na ruke nataknuo prazne limenke i drvene kutijice i oponašao topot kopita. Zahvalio bi im na potpori i protresao limenku u kojoj je zveckao sitniš....

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Na periferiji glavnog grada stajala je niska bijela kuća, veoma nalik kućama koje su je okruživale. Ulica u kojoj se nalazila nije bila popločana zato što je to bila siromašna četvrt. Vrata te kuće, posve nova i ukrašena čavlima, bila su zakračunata i s unutarnje i s vanjske strane. Velika soba, opremljena s nekoliko modernih kromiranih stolica, barom i džuboksom otvarala se na prazno unutarnje dvorište. Na jednoj od tih stolica sjedio je debeo dječačić Indijanac i slušao Good Night, Sweetheart, pjesmu koju je netom odabrao. Svirala je vrlo glasno, a dječačić je ozbiljno zurio u stroj pred sobom. Bila je to jedna od kuća kojima je upravljao njihov vlasnik, senor Kurten, napola Španjolac, napola Nijemac. Poslijepodne je bilo tmurno. U jednoj od soba upravo su se probudile Julia i Inez. Julia je bila sitna i nalik majmunčiću. Bila je privlačna samo zbog svojih neobično velikih i sjajnih očiju. Inez je bila visoka, čvrstih grudiju. Glava joj je bila premalena za tijelo, a oči suviše blizu. Kosu je nosila ukrućenu u valove....

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The cartographer’s dream is that of a perfect map: a map that perfectly represents a territory, a dream of Divine knowledge; a map that has haunted the ideology of representation throughout history; a map so detailed that it coincides with real space. In a short parable, ‘Museum, on Exactitude in Science’, Borges describes the mysterious gild of cartographers which charts such a map. Although Borges’ narrative finishes with a nostalgic conclusion about a superfluous and forgotten discipline, the cartographer’s dream of a perfect map has never ceased: it has merely varied throughout history. For medieval cartographers the perfect map included the physical cosmos and the spiritual one. In Dante’s time the European ‘mappa mundi’ depicted one single landmass, the Northern Hemisphere, with Jerusalem in the middle and the world is variously shown as dominated or held by God. In the Psalter mappa mundi, which is surmounted by an illustration of the Last Judgement, God holds a little dark red ball, the size of a golf ball – the world. Its size reminds us of the world’s shrinkage due to the advancing technology of transport and communications of the 20th century. Borges’ mystical Aleph on the other hand contains the whole cosmos within its confines (no bigger than the globe held by God on the Hereford map). In a sense the Aleph is a goal of cartography, its theology. Instead of God’s gaze into the unknown distance (as on the Hereford map), Renaissance cartographers imagined the Ptolemaic human gaze looking down on the Earth. The cartographer’s ‘organ of sight’ began to shift from the inner eye of the soul to the physical eye of the body: the idea of the globe as a whole observed by a ‘roving human eye’ is connected to the Renaissance idea of perspectivism. In many respects Renaissance concepts of space laid the foundations for the Enlightenment project. Maps were stripped of spiritual space, of their angels and their monsters; cartographers were involved in the production of abstract and functional systems based on mathematically rigorous depiction. By conceiving space as abstract, homogenous and universal, perspectivism and mathematical mapping enabled the era of great discoveries and colonization. Since then, the world has become more and more enmeshed in different maps, in different spaces, including that without volume, a new immaterial space of digital being. By constantly increasing digital connections of one site with thousands of others, cyberspace branches out in many directions at once, creating a labyrinthine web. Its expansion parallels the latest theory of cosmology, of an ‘inflationary’ period, during which the whole cosmos swelled from a microscopic point smaller than a proton to the size of a grapefruit in a fraction of a second. Paradoxically, we live in an ambiguous spatial construction: on one hand there seems to be a perfect map of the Empire that covers the territory (modern science masters both micro and macro worlds ever more precisely); on the other hand social theory reflects an overwhelming disorientation and confusion, characteristics of an existence within ‘the ruins of the Map’. However, both premises of Borges’ parable appear to be confusing. The map that covers the territory would confuse a traveller: does one navigate the actual or the virtual? Is the perfect map that would be a substitute for reality possible? Do we live in the ‘Tattered Ruins of that Map’? Maybe the map does not mirror the real, but precedes the territory and opens new, as yet undiscovered spaces. Or, better still, we should invent new maps. Borges’ parable teems with many readings describing postmodern cartography’s attempt to map the territory, or reality, and at the same time show the impossibility of such an endeavour. ...

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On the basis of ever-mounting evidence, amongst which is the “zone” problematic of the Zadar conference that occassioned these notes, it can be concluded that the spatial turn has insinuated itself as an all-pervading heuristic tool throughout the humanities and the social sciences. The extent to which space and spatiality have usurped the central stage in the various branches of reasearch can be gauged by admonishments that what we are witnessing is a new fundamentalism that has simply inverted the terms of the dualism of time and space (May and Thrift 2001: “Introduction”). According to Michael Dear the sway of space is manifested in multifold ways: in the ubiquity of spatial analysis in social theories and practices; in the explosion of publications devoted to the exploration of the interface of the social and the spatial; in the reintegration of human geography into various domains of knowledge; in the focus given to difference and the consequent diversification of theoretical and empirical practices; in a theoretically informed exploration of the relation between geographical knowledge and social action; and, finally, in the unprecedented proliferation of research agendas and publications pertaining to these isuuses (Dear 2001: 24). Two recent collections of papers are indicative of the ubiquity of spatial issues in scholarly work....

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