9 Walking in the city - 90 ' latter is already at work....

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Unformatted text preview: 90 ' latter is already at work. Thus it is exemplary that Détienne and-Y I it." This discursive practice of the story [I'ht'stoire] is both its art. discourse. At bottom, this is all a very old story- When he grew old, - i‘ " who is not generally considered exactly a tightrope dancer, lik ' himself in the most labyrinthine and subtle of discourses. He. arrived at the age of mats: “The more solitary and isolated l the more I come to like stories.“” He had explained the --= :v ably: as in the older Freud. it was a connoisseur's admiration f that composed harmonies and for its art of doing it by surp lover of myth is in a sense a lover of Wisdom. for myth is wonders."'° ""\-:'-_'r"r'".'"_' __’ "' ‘7 ' - " Part III Spatial Practices Chapter VII Walking in the City Center. Beneath the haze stirred up by the winds. the urban island. a sea in the middle of the sea, lifts up the skyscrapers over Street. sinks down at Greenwich, then rises again to the crests of Tififltown. quietly passes over Central Park and finally undulates off into - distance beyond Harlem. A wave of verticals. Its agitation is ' entarily arrested by vision. The gigantic mass is immobilized before eyes. It is transformed into a texturology in which extremes cide——extremes of ambition and degradation, brutal oppositions of i .. - and styles, contrasts between yesterday's buildings. already trans- litfiflned into trash cans, and today's urban irruptions that block out its Unlike Rome. New York has never learned the art of growing old Playing on ali its pasts. lts present invents itself, from hour to hour. 'Blhe act of throwing away its previous accomplishments and challenging future. A city composed of paroxysmal places in monumental reliefs. I _Spectator can read in it a universe that is constantly exploding. In it a,“ l"scribed the architectural figures of the cofnrt'datio oppositorum - ' "13' drawn in miniatures and mystical textures. On this stage of true. steel and glass. cut out between two oceans (the Atlantic and AIllerical'l) by a frigid body of water. the tallest letters in the world pose a gigantic rhetoric of excess in both expenditure and pro- EEING Manhattan from the [filth flour of the World Trade 1 9] 92 WA LKING IN THE CIT -. Voyeurs or walkers To what erotics of knowledge does the ecstasy of reading such cosmos belong? Having taken a voluptuous pleasure in it. I wonder w'” :tis the source ofthis pleasure of “seeing the whole." of looking down 0 .' totalizing the most immoderate of human texts. To be lifted to the summit of the World Trade Center is to be lift " out of the city‘s grasp. One‘s body is no longer clasped by the st a- that turn and return it according to an anonymous law; nor is it sessed, whether as player or played, by the rumble of so many differe and by the nervousness of New York traffic. When one goes up there, leaves behind the mass that carries off and mixes up in itself any ide t of authors or spectators. An Icarus flying above these waters, he ignore the devices of Daedalus in mobile and endless labyrinths I below. His elevation transfigures him into a voyeur. It puts him 1.. distance. it transforms the bewitehing world by which one was . . sessed" into a text that lies before one's eyes. It allows one to readi be a solar Eye, looking down like a god. The exaltation of a scopic gnostic drive: the fiction of knowledge is related to this lust to ' viewpoint and nothing more. , a po: like, addresses an enigmatic message to the pedestrian who ' an instant transformed into a visionary: It's hard to be down you 're ttp. Sphinx- The desire to see the city preceded the means of satisfying it. M v or Renaissance painters represented the city as seen in a perspective no eye had yet enjoyed} This fiction already made the medieval. tator into a celestial eye. It created gods. Have things changed _ technical procedures have organized an “all~seeing power”?3 The to ' ments. The same scopic drive haunts users of architectural prod by materializing today the utopia that yesterday was only painted. 1370 foot high tower that serves as a prow for Manhattan contin 93 WALKING IN THE CITY of, by the space planner urbanist. city planner. or cartographer. The am c't is a “theoretical” (that is. usual] simulacrum, in short a meoreamzhtis: condition of possibility is an oblivion and a misunder- Plcniilin‘g of practices. The voyeur-god created by this fiction. who. like 5m: eber's God, knows only cadavers.‘ must disentangle himself from 15; [murky intertwining daily behaviors and. make himself alie‘p to them}; The ordinary practitioners of the city live “down below, below t i; thresholds at which visibility begins. They walk—an elementary 0:10;): _ — this experience of the city: they are walkers,“Wan:1ersmttnner, 2th 1—:— bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban text they write W1 out_ being able to read it. These practitioners make use of spaces that 'cannoh be seen; their knowledge of them is as blind as that of. lovers 1n eac other‘s arms. The paths that correspond in this intertwining, unreEog- nized poems in which each body is an element Signed by many-0t erts.-_I elude legibility. It is as though the practices organmng a bustling c] y were characterized by their blindness. The networks of these movmg. intersecting writings compose a manifold story that has neither autho; nor spectator, shaped out of fragments of trajectories and alteratipns (I) spaces: in relation to representations, it remains daily and rude mite y mlllfsrcaping the imaginary totalizations produced by the eye, the everyday has a certain strangeness that does not surface, or whose surface is only its upper limit, outlining itself against the visible. thbsnnthis ensemble, I shall try to locate the practices that are foreign to the geometnca- or “geographical” space of visual. panoptic, or theoretical construction: These practices of space refer to a specific form of operations (“ways onl -— operating“). to “another spatiality"6 {an “anthropological. poetic an mythic experience of space), and to an opaque and blind mobility char- a: acteristic of the bustling city. A mt'gmtt'onal. or metaphorical, c1ty thus slips into the clear text of the planned and readable city. 1- From the concept of the et't y to urban practices Tilt: World Trade Center is only the most monumental figure of Western urban development. The atopia-utopia of optical knowledge has long had the ambition of surmounting and articulating the contradictions a“'is'll'lg from urban agglomeration. It is a question of managing a growth of human agglomeration or accumulation. "The elty 1s a'huge monas- tery." said Erasmus. Perspective vision and prospective vismn constitute the IWofold projection of an opaque past and an uncertain future onto a 94 WALKING IN THE C! surface that can be dealt with. They inaugurate (in the sixteenth cc -. tury?) the transformation of the urban far! into the concept of a city‘s Long before the concept itself gives rise to a particular figure of history; it assumes that this fact can be dealt with as a unity determined by urbanistic ratio. Linking the city to the concept never makes th identical, but it plays on their progressive symbiosis: to plan a city both to think the very plurality of the real and to make that way -,g thinking the plural effective; it is to know how to articulate it and able to do it. I An operational concept? The "city" founded by utopian and urbanistic discourseT is defined :. the possibility of a threefold operation: 1. The production of its own space (rm espaee propre): ratio' organization must thus repress all the physical, mental and poli _ pollutions that would compromise it; 2. the substitution of a nowhen, or of a synchronic system. for indeterminable and stubborn resistances offered by traditions; univ_ '_ scientific strategies. made possible by the flattening out of all the datai a plane projection, must replace the tactics of users who take adva of “opportunities” and who, through these trap-events, these lapses visibility. reproduce the opacities of history everywhere; 3. finally. the creation of a universal and anonymous subject whi the city itself: it gradually becomes possible to attribute to it. as t. political model, Hobbes‘ State. all the functions and predicates that previously scattered and assigned to many different real subjec groups, associations. or individuals. “The city," like a proper name. provides a way of conceiving and constructing space on the basis ' finite number of stable. isolatable. and interconnected properties. Administration is combined with a process of elimination in this p organized by “speculative” and classificatory operationsf On the hand. there is a differentiation and redistribution of the parts and f tions of the city. as a result of inversions. displacements, accumulatio etc.; on the other there is a rejection of everything that is not capable being dealt with in this way and so constitutes the “waste products" . -- functionalist administration (abnormality. deviance. illness. death, To be sure. progress allows an increasing number of these waste prod I! 0 WA LKING IN THE CITY 95 m be reintroduced into administrative circuits and transforms even deficiencies (in health. security. etc.) into ways of making the networks of order denser. But in reality, it repeatedly produces effects contrary to those at which it aims: the profit system generates a loss which. in the multiple forms of wretchedness and poverty outside the system and of waste inside it. constantly turns production into "expenditure." More- over, the rationalization of the city leads to its mythification in strategic discourses. which are calculations based on the hypothesis or the neces- sity of its destruction in order to arrive at a final decision.9 Finally, the functionalist organization. by privileging progress (i.e.. time]. causes the condition of its own possibility—space itself—to be forgotten; space thus becomes the blind spot in a scientific and political technology. This is the way in which the Concept-city functions; a place of transforma- tions and appropriations. the object of various kinds of interference but also a subject that is constantly enriched by new attributes, it is simul- taneously the machinery and the hero of modernity. Today. whatever the avatars of this concept may have been, we have to acknowledge that if in discourse the city serves as a totalizing and almost mythical landmark for socioeconomic and political strategies, urban life increasingly permits the re-emergence of the element that the urbanistic project excluded. The language of power is in itself “urbaniz- ing." but the city is left prey to contradictory movements that counter- balance and combine themselves outside the reach of panoptic power. The city becomes the dominant theme in political legends, but it is no longer a field of programmed and regulated operations. Beneath the discourses that ideologize the city. the ruses and combinations of powers that have no readable identity proliferate; without points where one can take hold of them, without rational transparency. they are impossible to administer. The return of practices The Concept-city is decaying. Does that mean that the illness afflicting bfilh the rationality that founded it and its professionals afflicts the urban populations as well? Perhaps cities are deteriorating along with "16 procedures that organized them. But we must be careful here. The ministers of knowledge have always assumed that the whole universe 96 WALKING m me C This pathway could be inscribed as a consequence, but also reciprocal, of Foucault's analysis of the structures of power- He u. it in the direction of mechanisms and technical procedures. ' instrumentalities" capable. merely by their organization of “detai transforming a human multiplicity into a “disciplinary” society managing. differentiating. classifying. and hierarchizing all de concerning apprenticeship, health. justice, the army, or work.m ' often miniscule ruses of discipline.” these “minor but flawless“ nisnts. draw their efficacy from a relationship between procedures the space that they redistribute in order to make an “operator” out" But what spatial practices correspond. in the area where discip manipulated, to these apparatuses that produce a disciplinary spam the present conjuncture. which is marked by a contradiction betw' collective mode of administration and an individual mode of reap priation, this question is no less important. if one admits that 5 side the field in which it is exercised. and which should lead us"- theory of everyday practices. of lived space. of the disquieting fam- ' of the city. "IA LKING IN THE CITY 97 2. The chorus of idle footsteps “The goddess can be recognized by her step” Virgil, Aeneid, I. 405 Their story begins on ground level. with footsteps. They are myriad, but do not compose a series. They cannot be counted because each unit has a qualitative character: a style of tactile apprehensmn and kinesthettc appropriation. Their swarming mass is an Innumerable collection of singutarities. Their intertwined paths give their shape to spaces. They weave places together. In that respect. pedestrtan movements fog-n one of these “real systems whose existence in fact makes up the city." They are not localized; it is rather they that spatialize. They are no more inserted within a container than those Chinese characters speakers sketch out on their hands with their fingertips. It is true that the operations of walking on can be traced on city maps in such a way as to transcribe their paths {here well-trodden. there very faint) and their trajectories (going this way and not that). But these thick or thin curves only refer. like words. to the absence of what has passed by. Surveys of routes miss what was: the act itself of passing by. The operation of walking, wandering, or “window shopping." that is, the activity of passers-by. is transformed into points that draw a totaltzutg and reversible line on the map. They allow us to grasp only a relic set In the nowhen of a surface of projection. Itself visible. it has the effect of making invisible the operation that made it possible. These fixations constitute procedures for forgetting. The trace left behind is substltuted for the practice. It exhibits the (voracious) property that the geographical system has of being able to transform action into legibility. but In doing 50 it causes a way of being in the world to be forgotten. Pedestrian speech acts A comparison with the speech act will allow us to go further]2 and not limit ourselves to the critique of graphic representations alone. looking fmm the shores of legibility toward an inaccessible beyond. The act of Walking is to the urban system what the speech act is to language or to “1‘3 statements uttered.” At the most elementary level, it has a triple “enunciative” function: it is a process of appropriation of the topo- gmEthical system on the part of the pedestrian (just as the speaker 98 WALKING 11v THE appropriates and takes on the language); it is a spatial acting-out of ; place (inst as the speech act is an acoustic acting-out of language); implies relations among differentiated positions. that is, among matic “contracts” in the form of movements (just as verbal enunc' : is an “allocution.” “posits another opposite" the speaker and puts _ tracts between interlocutors into action).” It thus seems possible t ' a preliminary definition of walking as a space of enunciation. . We could moreover extend this problematic to the relations - - - the act of writing and the written text, and even transpose it relationships between the "hand" (the touch and the tale of the brush [ie e! in gene (in pi'riceauD and the finished painting (f colors. etc.). At first isolated in the area of verbal communication;. speech act turns out to find only one of its applications there. and ' guistic modality is merely the first determination of a much more distinction between the forms used in a system and the ways of- this system (i.e., rules). that is. between two “different worlds.” acteristics which distinguish it at the outset from the spatial systc present, the discrete, the “phatic.” First. if it is true that a spatial order organizes an ensemble of. bilities (e.g.. by a place in which one can move) and interdictions" by a wall that prevents one from going further), then the walker. _ izes some of these possibilities. In that way. he makes them exist as emerge. But he also moves them about and he invents others. the crossing. drifting away. or improvisation of walking privilege. form or abandon spatial elements. Thus Charlie Chaplin multipli possibilities of his cane: he does other things with the same thing. goes beyond the limits that the determinants of the object set U utilization. in the same way. the walker transforms each spatial :3“ into something else. And if on the one hand he actualizes only a is. the possibilities fixed by the constructed order (he goes only he not there). on the other he increases the number of possibilitiesi, example, by creating shortcuts and detours) and prohibitions (fol: ample. he forbids himself to take paths generally considered a r or even obligatory). He thus makes a selection. “The user of a city .- out certain fragments of the statement in order to actualize them. ._ n is secret. He thus creates a discreteness. whether by making choices among 1"- WALKING IN THE CITY 99 - "tiers of the spatial "language" or by displacing them-through the use 518'“ kes of them. He condemns certain places to Inertia or disappear- he rmil-ind composes with others spatial “turns of phrase" that are “rare.” 6 " or illegitimate. But that already leads into a rhetoric of Wiring; framework of enunciation. the walker constitutes. inhreiationh2o his position, both a near and a far,‘a here and a there. To t e actatI in me adverbs here and there are the indicators of the locutionary se _ that communiwtionls—a coinCidence that reinforces the parallelism “tween linguistic and pedestrian enunciation#we must add that this ifcation (here‘rherel (necessarily implied by walking and indicative o; a present appropriation of space by an "1"] also has the function 0 introducing an other in relation to this "I" and of thus establishing a conjunctive and disjunctive articulation of places. 1 would stress particu- larly the “phatic” aspect. by which I mean the function. isolated by Malinowski and Jakobson. of terms that initiate. maintain. or interrupt contact. such as “hello.” “well. well." etc.l7 Walking. which. alternately follows a path and has followers. creates a mobile organicity in the environment. a sequence of phatic topoi. And if it is true that the phatic function, which is an effort to ensure communication. is already charac- teristic of the language of talking birds. just as it constitutes the “first verbal function acquired by children.“ it is not surprising that '1! also gambols, goes on all fours. dances. and walks about.-with a light or heavy step. like a series of “hellos” in an echoing labyrinth. anterior or parallel to informative speech. . The modalities of pedestrian enunciation which a plane representation on a map brings out could be analyzed. They include the kinds of relationship this enunciation entertains with particular paths. (or state- ments“) by according them a truth value (“alethic“ modalities. of the necessary. the impossible. the possible. or the contingent). an epistemo- i°Eical value (“epistemic" modalities of the certain, the excluded. the plausible. or the questionable) or finally an ethical or legal value (“de- °nlic" modalities of the obligatory. the forbidden. the permitted. or the Wtionall."l Walking affirms. suspects. tries out. transgresses. respects, etc. the trajectories it “speaks.” All the modalities sing a part in. this chow?» changing from step to step. stepping in through proportions. s""‘luences. and intensities which vary according to the time. the path talien and the walker. These enunciatory operations are of an animated leErsity. They therefore cannot be reduced to their graphic trail. '00 WALKING m THE C! Walking rhetorics The walking of passers-by offers a series of turns (tours) and deto { that can be compared to “turns of phrase” or “stylistic figures." There a rhetoric of walking. The art of “turning” phrases finds an equivalent -— an art of composing a path (warmer an parrours). Like ordinary guage.l9 this art implies and combines styles and uses. Style specifies linguistic structure that manifests on the symbolic level . . . an indi. ual’s fundamental way of being in the world?!" it connotes a I.'_ Use defines the social phenomenon through which a system of munication manifests itself in actual fact; it refers to a norm. Style use both have to do with a “way of operating“ (of speaking. wa- . etc.). but style involves a peculiar processing of the symbolic, while refers to elements of a code. They intersect to form a style of use. a of being and a way of operating.21 In introducing the notion of a “residing rhetoric" (“rhétorlque tame“). the fertile pathway opened up by A. Médam22 and system validity of this application: I) it is assumed that practices of space correspond to manipulations of the basic elements of a constnicted o' 2) it is assumed that they are. like the tropes in rhetoric. devia of walking (a stylized selection among the latter is already found in figures of dancing) insofar as both consist in “treatments” or opera bearing on isolatable units,”I and in “ambiguous dispositions“ that d tremulous image confuses and multiplies the photographed object these two modes, the analogy can be accepted. I would add that - geometrical space of urbanists and architects seems to have the status; the “proper meaning“ constructed by grammarians and linguists in o to have a normal and normative level to which they can compare _ drifting of “figurative” language. In reality, this faceless “proper” in ing (68 “propre” sans figure) cannot be found in current use. wh verbal or pedestrian; it is merely the fiction produced by a use that also particular. the metalinguistic use of science that distinguishes 'i by that very distinction.21 WALKING IN THE CITY 10] The long poem of walking manipulates spatial-organizations. no matter how panoptic they may be: it is neither foreign to them (it can take place only within them) nor in conformity with them (it-does- not l.eccive its identity from them). It creates shadows and‘am-biguitles Within them. It inserts its multitudinous references and citations into them (social models. cultural mores. personal factors). Within them it is itself the effect of successive encounters and occasions that constantly alter it and make it the other's blazon: in other words. it is lLke a peddler. carrying something surprising, transverse or attractive compared with the usual choice. These diverse aspects provide the basis of a rhetoric. They can even be said to define it. _ ‘ . By analyzing this “modern art of everyday expression" as It appears in accounts of spatial practices.” J.-F. Augoyard discerns in it two espe- cially fundamental stylistic figures: synecdoche and asyndeton. The pre- dominance of these two figures seems to me to indicate. in relation to two complementary poles, a formal structure of these practices. Syner- dorhe consists in “using a word in a sense which is part of another meaning of the same word.”” In essence, it names a part instead of the whole which includes it. Thus “sail” is taken for "ship" in the expression “a fleet of fifty sails“; in the same way, a brick shelter or a hill is taken for the park in the narration of a trajectory. Asyndeton is the suppres- sion of linking words such as conjunctions and adverbs. either within a sentence or between sentences. In the same way, in walking it selects and fragments the space traversed; it skips over links and whole parts that it omits. From this point of view. every walk constantly leaps. or skips like a child. hopping on one foot. It practices the ellipsis of conjunctive lac-f. In reality. these two pedestrian figures are related. Synecdoche ex- pands a spatial element in order to make it play the role of a “more” (a totality) and take its place (the bicycle or the piece of furniture in a store window stands for a whole street or neighborhood). Asyndeton, by elision. creates a "less." opens gaps in the spatial continuum. and retains 0111)! selected parts of it that amount almost to relics. Synecdoche re- Places totalities by fragments (at less in the place of a more); asyndeton disconnects them by eliminating the conjunctive or the consecutive (nothing in place of something). Synecdoche makes more dense: it am- plifies the detail and miniaturizes the whole. Asyndeton cuts out: it undoes continuity and undercuts its plausibility. A space treated in this Way and shaped by practices is transformed into enlarged singulari- ties and separate islands.m Through these swellings. shrinkings. and 102 WA LKING by THE C:- .: fragmentations. that is, through these rhetorical Operations a spa': phrasing of an analogical (composed of juxtaposed citations) and ellip ‘ (made of gaps. lapses. and allusions) type is created. For the tee ‘ logical system of a coherent and totalizing space that is “linked” a simultaneous, the figures of pedestrian rhetoric substitute trajecto that have a mythical structure. at least if one understands by “myt I discourse relative to the placefnowbere (or origin) of concrete existe a story jerry-built out of elements taken from common sayings, an -. sive and fragmentary story whose gaps mesh with the social practices symbolizes. ' ' Figures are the acts of this stylistic metamorphosis of space. Or ra as Rilke puts it, they are moving “trees of gestures." They move even rigid and contrived territories of the medico-pedagogical institute which retarded children find a place to play and dance their “3 stories.“‘N These “trees of gestures" are in movement everywhere. forests walk through the streets. They transform the scene. but cannot be fixed in a certain place by images. If in spite of that an tration were required, we could mention the fleeting images, yello . green and metallic blue calligraphies that howl without raising voices and cmbiazon themselves on the subterranean passages of city, “embroideries” composed of letters and numbers. perfect gest of violence painted with a pistol. Shivas made of written chara dancing graphics whose fleeting apparitions are accompanied by rumble of subway trains: New York graffiti. if it is true that forests of gestures are manifest in the streets. movement cannot be captured in a picture. nor can the meaning of movements be circumscribed in a text. Their rhetorical transplantatl carries away and displaces the analytical. coherent proper meanings urbanism; it constitutes a “wandering of the semantic"32 produced masses that make some parts of the city disappear and exaggerate othe distorting it, fragmenting it. and diverting it from its immobile order. 3. Myths: who: “makes things go " The figures of these movements (synecdoches, ellipses. etc.) characte '- both a “symbolic order of the unconscious" and “certain typical pro of subjectivity manifested in discourse.“” The similarity between “ course““ and dreams35 has to do with their use of the same “styl procedures": it therefore includes pedestrian practices as well. The “' cient catalog of tropes“ that from Freud to Benveniste has furnished "1 WALKING IN THE CITY "33 appropriate inventory for the rhetoric of the first two registers of expres- sion is CQually valid for the third. If there is a parallelism. it is not only because enunciation is dominant in these three areas. but also because its discursive (verbalized. dreamed. or walked) development is organized as a relation between the place from which it proceeds (an origin) and the nowhere it produces (a way of “going by"). From this point of view. after having compared pedestrian processes w linguistic formations, we can bring them back down in the direction of oneiric figuration, or at least discover on that other side what, in a spatial practice, is inseparable from the dreamed place. To walk is to lack a place. it is the indefinite process of being absent and in search of a proper. The moving about that the city multiplies and concentrates makes the city itself an immense social experience of lacking a place—an experience that is. to be sure. broken up into countless tiny deportations (displacements and walks). compensated for by the relationships and intersections of these exoduses that intertwine and create an urban fabric. and placed under the sign of what ought to be. ultimately. the place but is only a name. the City. The identity furnished by this place is all the more symbolic (named) because. in spite of the inequality of its citizens‘ positions and profits. there is only a pullulation of passer—by, a network of residences temporarily appropriated by pedestrian traffic, a shuffling among pretenses of the proper. a universe of rented spaces haunted by a nowhere or by dreamed-of places. Names and symbols An indication of the relationship that spatial practices entertain with that absence is furnished precisely by their manipulations of and with "proper" names. The relationships between the direction of a walk (1e sens do In marrhe) and the meaning of words {l9 sens des mots) situate two sorts of apparently contrary movements. one extrovert (to walk is to 80 outside). the other introvert (a mobility under the stability of the signifier). Walking is in fact determined by semantic tropisms; it is attracted and repelled by nominations whose meaning is not clear. Whereas the city. for its part. is transformed for many people into a “desert” in which the meaningless. indeed the terrifying. no longer takes the form of shadows but becomes. as in Genet‘s plays. an implacable liBl'lt that produces this urban text without obscurities. which is created by a technocratic power everywhere and which puts the city-dweller lmder control (under the control of what? No one knows): “The city 104 WALKING IN THE CITY keeps us under its gaze, which one cannot hear without feeling dizzy." says a resident of Rouen.“ In the spaces brutally lit by an alien reason. proper names carve out pockets of hidden and familiar meanings. They “make sense“; in other words. they are the impetus of movements. like vocations and calls that turn or divert an itinerary by giving it a meaning (or a direction) (sens) that was previously unforeseen. These names create a nowhere in places; they change them into passages. A friend who lives in the city of Sévres drifts. when he is in Paris. - toward the rue des Saints- Peres and the rue de Sévres. even though he is going to see his mother in another part of town: these names articulate a sentence that his steps compose without his knowing it. Numbered streets and street numbers (112th St.. or 9 rue Saint-Charles) orient the magnetic field of trajectories just as they can haunt dreams. Another friend unconsciously represses the streets which have names and. by this fact. transmit her—orders or identities in the same way as summonses and classifications; she goes instead along paths that have no name or signature. But her walking is thus still controlled negatively by proper I names. What is it then that they spell out? Disposed in constellations that hierarchize and semantically order the surface of the city. operating chronological arrangements and historical justifications. these words (Borrégo. Botzaris. Bougainvilie. . . ) slowly lose. like worn coins, the value engraved on them. but their ability to signify outlives its first defi- nition. Saints-Peres. Coremin Cehon. Red Square . . . these names make themselves available to the diverse meanings given them by passers-by; they detach themselves from the places they were supposed to define and serve as imaginary meeting-points on itineraries which, as metaphors, they determine for reasons that are foreign to their original value but may be recognized or not by passers-by. A strange toponymy that is detached from actual places and flies high over the city like a foggy geography of “meanings” held in suspension. directing the physical dearnbulations below: Place de I'Erofie. Concorde. Poissonniére. .. These constellations of names provide traffic patterns: they are stars directing itineraries. “The Place de la Concorde does not exist," Malaparte said. “it is an idea.“” It is much more than an “idea.” A whole series of comparisons would be necessary to account for the magical powers proper names enjoy. They seem to be carried as emblems by the travellers they direct and simultaneously decorate. WALKING IN THE CITY 105 Linking acts and footsteps. opening meanings and directions. these words operate in the name of an emptying-out and wearing-away of their primary role. They become liberated spaces that can be occupied. A rich indetermination gives them. by means of a semantic rarefaction. the function of articulating a second. poetic geography on top of the geography of the literal. forbidden or permitted meaning. They insinuate other routes into the functionalist and historical order of movement. Walking follows them: “I fill this great empty space with a beautiful name.”s People are put in motion by the remaining relics of mean- ing. and sometimes by their waste products, the inverted remainders of great ambitions.” Things that amount to nothing. or almost nothing, gym-bolize and orient walkers‘ steps: names that have ceased precisely to be “proper.” In these symbolizing kernels three distinct (but connected) functions of the relations between spatial and signifying practices are indicated (and perhaps founded): the believable. the memorable, and the primitive. They designate what "authorizes" (or makes possible or credible) spatial appropriations. what is repeated in them (or is recalled in them) from a silent and withdrawn memory. and what is structured in them and con- tinues to be signed by an in-fantile (infirm) origin. These three symbolic mechanisms organize the topoi of a discourse on fof the city (legend. memory. and dream) in a way that also eludes urbanistic systematicity. They can already be recognized in the functions of proper names: they make habitable or believable the place that they clothe with a word (by emptying themselves of their classifying power. they acquire that of “permitting” something else); they recall or suggest phantoms (the dead who are supposed to have disappeared) that still move about. concealed in gestures and in bodies in motion: and. by naming, that is. by imposing an injunction proceeding from the other (a story) and by altering func- tionalist identity by detaching themselves from it, they create in the place itself that erosion or nowhere that the law of the other carves out within it. Credible things and memorable things: habitability By a paradox that is only apparent. the discourse that makes people believe is the one that takes away what it urges them to believe in, or never delivers what it promises. Far from expressing a void or describing '06 WALKING IN THE CITY? 3 lack. it creates such. It makes room for a void. In that way. it opens up; clearings; it “allows” a certain play within a system of defined places. I; "authorizes" the production of an area of free play (Spielraum) on -:I- checkerboard that analyzes and classifies identities. It makes pla: habitable. On these grounds. 1 call such discourse a “local authority.” 1 is a crack in the system that saturates places with signification a .32; indeed so reduces them to this signification that it is “impossible I breathe in them.” It is a symptomatic tendency of functionalist to _ -'-. tarianisrn (including its programming of games and celebrations) that :5; seeks precisely to eliminate these local authorities. because they co ‘r- promise the univocity of the system. Totalitarianism attacks what _i= quite correctly calls superstitions: supererogatory semantic overlays t .::. insert themselves “over and above” and “in excess,”‘" and annex to 7-; past or poetic realm a part of the land the promoters of techni_ rationalities and financial profitabilities had reserved for themselves- I Ultimately. since proper names are already “local authorities” I that haunt urban space like superfluous or additional inhabitants. are the object of a witch-hunt, by the very logic of the techno-struct . ' _5 But their extermination (like the extermination of trees. forests. a hidden places in which such legends live)" makes the city a “suspend symbolic order."42 The habitable city is thereby annulled. Thus, as woman from Rouen put it, no. here "there isn't any place special. ex for my own home. that’s all. . . . There isn‘t anything.” Nothing “spec' :- nothing that is marked, opened up by a memory or a story. signed something or someone else. Only the cave of the home remains beli able. still open for a certain time to legends, still full of shadows. Ex' for that. according to another city-dweller. there are only “places .. which one can no longer believe in anything?“ It is through the opportunity they offer to store up rich silences = wordless stories. or rather through their capacity to create cellars L ._ garrets everywhere. that local legends (l'egenda: what is to be read. b" also what can be read} permit exits. ways of going out and coming in. and thus habitable spaces. Certainly walking about and Have-lifts substitute for exits. for going away and coming back. which were merly made available by a body of legends that places nowadays laCkgj Physical moving about has the itinerant function of yesterday‘s or today? . "superstitions." Travel (like walking) is a substitute for the legends that I WA LKING INTI-IE CITY It)? used to open up space to something different. What does travel ulti- mately produce if it is not. by a sort of reversal. “an exploratiOn of the deserted places of my memory," the return to nearby exoticism by way of a detour through distant places. and the “discovery” of relics and legends: “fleeting visions of the French countryside.“ “fragments of music and poetry."“ in short. something like an “uprooting in one's origins (Heidegger)? What this walking exile produces is precisely the body of legends that is currently lacking in one‘s own vicinity; it is a fiction, which moreover has the double characteristic. like dreams or pedestrian rhetoric. of being the effect of displacements and condensations.” As a corollary. one can measure the importance of these signifying practices (to tell oneself legends) as practices that invent spaces. From this point of view. their contents remain revelatory. and still more so is the principle that organizes them. Stories about places are makeshift things. They are composed with the world 's debris. Even if the literary form and the actantial schema of “superstitions” correspond to stable models whose structures and combinations have often been ana~ lyzed over the past thirty years. the materials (all the rhetorical details of their “manifestation") are furnished by the leftovers from nominations. taxonomies. heroic or comic predicates. etc.. that is. by fragments of scattered semantic places. These heterogeneous and even contrary ele— ments fill the homogeneous form of the story. Things extra and other (details and excesses coming from elsewhere) insert themselves into the accepted framework. the imposed order. One thus has the very relation- ship between spatial practices and the constructed order. The surface of this order is everywhere punched and torn open by ellipses. drifts. and leaks of meaning: it is a sieve-order. The verbal relics of which the story is composed. being tied to lost stories and opaque acts. are juxtaposed in a collage where their relations are not thought. and for this reason they form a symbolic whole.“ They are-articulated by lacunae. Within the structured space of the text, they thus produce anti-texts. effects of dissimulation and escape. possibilities 0f moving into other landscapes, like cellars and bushes: “0‘ massrfs. d Planet's?“ Because of the process of dissemination that they open up. stories differ from rumors in that the latter are always injunctions. initiators and results of a levelling of space. creators of common move- ments that reinforce an order by adding an activity of making people believe things to that of making people do things. Stories diversify. n-lrnors totalize. If there is still a certain oscillation between them. it l08 WALKING IN THE CITY seems that today there is rather a stratification: stories are becoming; private and sink into the secluded places in neighborhoods. families. or ' individuals. while the rumors propagated by the media cover everything-5' and. gathered under the figure of the City, the masterword of an anony-.-. -' mous law. the substitute for all proper names. they wipe out or combat any superstitions guilty of still resisting the figure. The dispersion of stories points to the dispersion of the memorable well. And in fact memory is a sort of anti-museum: it is not localizabh, Fragments of it come out in legends. Objects and words also have holl ' places in which a past sleeps. as in the everyday acts of walking, eating going to bed. in which ancient revolutions slumber. A memory is only :- Prince Charming who stays just long enough to awaken the Sleepi - Beauties of our wordless stories. “Here. there used to be a bakery.- “That's where old lady Dupuis used to live." It is striking here that places people live in are like the presences of diverse absences. What can”: be seen designates what is no longer there: “you see. here there used a. be . . . ." but it can no longer be seen. Demonstratives indicate the in' visible identities of the visible: it is the very definition of a place. in fact-i; that it is composed by these series of displacements and effects among? the fragmented strata that form it and that it plays on these moving layers. “Memories tie us to that place. . . . lt‘s personal. not interesting to: f anyone else. but after all that's what gives a neighborhood its chardA acter.”"1 There is no place that is not haunted by many different spirit'S‘é hidden there in silence. spirits one can “invoke” or not. Haunted places.‘ are the only ones people can live in—and this inverts the schema of thei ' Panoptt'eon. But like the gothic sculptures of kings and queens that once adorned Notre-Dame and have been buried for two centuries in the' basement of a building in the rue de la Chaussée-d‘Antin."g these' “spirits.“themselves broken into pieces in like manner. do not speak any‘ more than they see. This is a sort of knowledge that remains silent. Only. hints of what is known but unrevealed are passed on “just between you and me.” Places are fragmentary and inward-turning histories. pasts that others are not allowed to read. accumulated times that can be unfolded but like - stories held in reserve. remaining in an enigmatic state. symbolizations enCySled in the pain or pleasure of the body. “I feel good here":5" the well-being under-expressed in the language it appears in like a fleeting ' glimmer is a spatial practice. WALKING IN THECITY 109 Childhood and metaphors of places Metaphor consists in giving the thing a name that belongs to something else. Aristotle, Poett‘es l457b The memorable is that which can be dreamed about a place. In this place that is a palimpsest. subjectivity is already linked to the absence that structures it as existence and makes it “be there." Daset'n. But as we have seen. this being-there acts only in spatial practices. that is. in ways of moving into something dt'fl’erent (manieres de passer a l'autre). It must ultimately be seen as the repetition. in diverse metaphors, of a decisive and originary eXperience, that of the child‘s differentiation from the mother's body. It is through that experience that the possibility of space and of a localization (a “not everything") of the subject is in- augurated. We need not return to the famous analysis Freud made of this matrix-experience by following the game played by his eighteen- month-old grandson. who threw a reel away from himself, crying oft-oh- oh in pleasure. fort! (i.e.. “over there," “gone,” or “no more”) and then pulled it back with the piece of string attached to it with a delighted da! (i.e.. “here.” “back again")? it suffices here to remember this (perilous and satisfied) process of detachment from indifferentiatiOn in the mother's body. whose substitute is the spool: this departure of the mother (sometimes she disappears by herself. sometimes the child makes her disappear) constitutes localization and exteriority against the back- ground of an absence. There is a joyful manipulation that can make the maternal object “go away“ and make oneself disappear (insofar as one considers oneself identical with that object). making it possible to be there (because) without the other but in a necessary relation to what has disappeared; this manipulation is an “original spatial structure.“ No doubt one could trace this differentiation further back. as far as the naming that separates the foetus identified as masculine from his motheruubut how about the female foetus. who is from this very moment introduced into another relationship to space? In the initiatory game. just as iri the “joyful activity" of the child who. standing before a mirror. 9665 itself as one (it is she or he. seen as a whole) but another (that. an image with which the child identifies itself).52 what counts is the process or this “spatial captation" that inscribes the passage toward the other as “0 WA LKING {N THE c; the law of being and the law of place. To practice space is thus to re a»; the joyful and silent experience of childhood; it is, in a place. to be or 7" and to move toward the other. Thus begins the walk that Freud compares to the trampling underfo" of the mother-land.53 This relationship of oneself to oneself governs internal alterations of the place {the relations among its strata) or , pedestrian unfolding of the stories accumulated in a place (moving a In; the city and travelling). The childhood experience that determines spa practices later develops its effects, proliferates. floods private and pi: spaces. undoes their readable surfaces, and creates within the plan city a “metaphorical” or mobile city, like the one Kandinsky dreamed “a great city built according to all the rules of architecture and :-..-.; suddenly shaken by a force that defies all calculation.”5" Chapter VIII Railway TiaVlgatlon and Incarceration . ' e the train, seeing TRAVELLING INCARCERATION. Immobil£_ ?Nothing is moving A immobile things slip by. What is happen)! inside or outside the train. Fwd. and regulated in The unchanging traveller is pigeunhuled! “um ation of the rational the grid of the railway car, which is a perfect act ‘pigconhole. “Tickets. utopia. Control and food move from pigeonhole l“ [he restrooms offer please. . . " “Sandwiches? Beer? Coffee?. . . " 03¢ phantaSm. a way an escape from the closed system. They are a 1" mfg lime space of out for the ill, an escapade for children (“Wee-“Wigs of earlier times_ irrationality, like love affairs and sewers in the {wing has its mace in a Except for this lapse given over to excesses, evcf.‘ Dbl: of panoptic and gridwork. Only a rationalized cell travels. A bit makes possible the classifying power, a module of imprisonment1 “15 insularity_mat '5 production of an order. a closed and amonom‘ t of local roots. what can traverse space and make itself independ [fist and dreams reign Inside. there is the immobility of an order. H5 of reason. Everything supreme. There is nothing to do. one is in the 5!!!” Ever), beng is placed is in its place. as in Hegel‘s Philosophy of Righi'ngcd in military order. there like a piece of printer's lypfi on a Page at“ of a certain reason, is This order. an organizational SYStem. “‘3 quiet" '5 movement from one the condition of both a railway car‘s and a 183‘ place to another. 'h'mgs‘ towering moun- Outside, there is another immobility. that of villages, colonnades of tains, stretches of green field and forest, arrested pink evening sky. the buildings. black urban silhouettes against the cedcs or succeeds our lwinkling' of nocturnal lights on a sea that Pinon“, a speculative ex- histories. The train generalizes Diirer‘s Melafl‘ things that stay them perience of the world: being outside of thefieeing aflything to do with detached and absolute, that leave us without ha 111 ...
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