The Memory of Place and Ruins

Bigaku 60 (1):2-15 (2009)

Ruins are places in which memories have been accumulated. For understanding the aesthetic phenomenon of ruins, we must make it clear what places really are.M. de Certeau considers a place as a configuration of the elements distributed within the relations of coexistence and a space as a crossing of historical subjects and 'a practiced place'. This conception of place is close to Gibson's 'ground theory' of space perception. The environment we perceive is, first of all, not an empty space but a place as a surface of the earth on which we are standing. The perception of the environment as the persisting structure of surfaces accompanies the perception of an instantaneous self, including the head, body, arms, and hands. And the nonperceptual awareness such as memory or expectation is made possible by the fact that the concurrent perception of the persistence of place and that of the change of a moving self are concurrent.Memory and expectation open a space of history. Yet the space turns back to the persisting place of a ruin when the history has come to be forgotten. The poetics of ruins consists not in retelling a history but in the awareness of the persistent linkage between us and the past
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