September 02, 2003

Citizens of Nowhere

... and the importance of place (and matters related to some of the dis-ease at the source of the global resistance movement) from Paul Kingsnorth in the New Statesman:

"...what lies at the root of it is something rarely discussed in modern politics but which, through its presence or absence, defines life for all of us: place. It has long been a touchstone of "progress" that place, and attachment to it, is an anachronism. Our communities are no longer geographical but communities of interest. Barriers are broken down by the mass media, technology and trade laws. Rootless, we gain freedom. Placeless, we belong everywhere.

Yet placelessness and rootlessness create not contentment but despair. Ask an unwilling refugee; ask an alienated twentysomething working in a bank in any of the world's megacities; ask a postmodern novelist. Capitalist globalisation is building a planetary monoculture of malls, asphalt, brushed aluminium and sliding doors. The rising tide of this global progress, we are told, will lift all boats. The trouble is that some of our boats are anchored; anchored by place, tradition, identity, a sense of belonging. Anchored boats are not lifted by rising tides; they are overwhelmed, and sunk with all hands."

Posted by fred1st at September 2, 2003 06:29 AM | TrackBack

Seems to me that people who are anchored to place have built their houses not in boats but on rock, so when the tide rises, and rises, they look down at it and go, hmmmm. Gettin' a little deep out there. And maybe they go up to their place in the mountains.

It's the people in boats who are placeless. Floating along on whatever Corporate America can invent.

Posted by: trish at September 2, 2003 05:09 PM

It's a double-edged sword. Globalisation and telecom technologies enable us to set afloat on a vast sea of information. One can embark on a journey and connect to far-flung places, or one can end up hopelessly adrift and lost at sea. Depends on your vision, your values, and other navigation aids and how you use them.

I am, it's safe to say, the only junk artist in my immediate geographical area. But with the wonder of the Internet, I am not isolated in my interests, and I can communicate with wonderful like-minded people. And then come back and make stuff that makes my neighbors look at me funny.

The key is to bring it back home. Every hero's journey ends with the return home, bearing the fruits of his quest for the good of his community. The vistas of freedom opened up by globalisation bear fruit if applied in a place. You know, Think Globally, act locally, that kind of thing.

Posted by: Cody at September 2, 2003 05:28 PM

Place is just another way of saying orientation point. If a person orients himself by the place where he was born and raised, he tends to view the world through an interestingly parochial filter. People elsewhere talk "funny" and have "strange" views. As Paul Kingsnorth points out, that person is an anchored boat. The Tsunami of change may indeed overwhelm such a person.

Consider instead a person oriented on his existence as a spiritual being, timeless and deathless, with innumerable lessons to learn through his own creativity and his observation of life. Such a person is oriented by the knowledge he has retained. He lives in change as his natural element and creates his future before him as naturally as he exists. He is not unlike the skipper of a sailing vessel. He uses the wind instead of fighting it and gains knowledge with every storm he survives.

He will only sink when he lets go of the lines and abandons hope.

David St Lawrence

Posted by: David at September 3, 2003 08:57 PM

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