DeCerteau.doc - In the late 1970s cultural theorist Michel de Certeau wrote an essay"Walking in the City that begins with the author standing at the top

DeCerteau.doc - In the late 1970s cultural theorist Michel...

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In the late 1970s, cultural theorist Michel de Certeau wrote an essay, "Walking in the City," that begins with the author standing at the top of the World Trade Center looking out over Manhattan. From this vantage point, the city is offered up as a whole, graspable image, in contrast with the messy, meandering city that one moves through down below. "Down below" is the realm of lived experience, inhabited by walkers, Wandersmanner , who use and transform space, defying the geometrical discipline imposed by urban development, of which the World Trade Center stood as the most monumental of figures. From According to de Certeau, it is specifically the walking people who bring the city to life . They do not have that god-like "all-seeing power" and are therefore trapped within the "city"s grasp." They are at ground level and looking down, and ironically it is these people who write the "urban text" without being able to read it. More importantly to note, it is the mass movement of people who write the text. With thousands of individuals each writing his own story and giving his own interpretation, the city is pieced together something like a patchwork quilt of individual viewpoints and opinions. "The created order is everywhere punched and torn open by ellipses, drifts, and leaks of meaning: it is a sieve-order." It takes a single city to provide the stimulus, but it requires a multitude of people -- all unaware of their role in the creation of the city -- to provide the meaning.
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  • Fall '19
  • Urban decay, Michel de Certeau

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