Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

The Historical Perspective on Space

During the 19th century, researchers made a significant discovery related to the fundamental mythological aspects underpinning the second law of thermodynamics. During this era, epic narratives may have surpassed all other narratives, including those about space. These epics dealt with themes of alignment, proximity, distance, coexistence, and dispersion. Specific ideological conflicts fuel debates contrary to the ideals of past eras and individuals confined by spatial limitations. Structuralism, or a related concept, represents an attempt to establish connections among various interconnected elements along a temporal continuum. These relationships enable these elements to appear alongside, rely on, and engage with each other, ultimately forming a unified configuration.

It is not a recent development when examining the history of space in a broader sense, which is now influencing our focus, theories, and systems. Space has played a significant role in the Western human experience, and we cannot disregard the crucial intersection of space and time. In the Middle Ages, a hierarchical system of places emerged, distinguishing between sacred and profane spaces, protected and open areas, and spaces for display. Additionally, cosmological theories distinguished between supercelestial (heavenly) and celestial (non-heavenly) places, which in turn contrasted with terrestrial places (those on land) where the significance of a place is understood about its proximity to a specific point or element and formally, this relationship can be defined as a sequence, branch, or grid while on the other hand, understanding a place’s importance extends beyond its physical location. In contemporary technical endeavors, such as data collections, machine calculations, the circulation of elements with random outcomes, and the identification of marked or coded elements within a framework, issues related to location and arrangement may arise, possibly involving random distribution or categorization based on a singular classification or capability.

Anxiety and Spatial Perception in Our Era

The connection between anxiety and our contemporary spatial perception and our concept of time can be likened to a complex distribution process involving various elements scattered throughout space. It is possible that modern space has yet to be thoroughly cleansed of sanctity, as theories aiming to liberate space from sacredness might not have been fully realized. This contrast is upheld by concealed sacred ideas, such as distinctions between public and private space, family and societal space, cultural and utilitarian space, serene and functional space, and more.

Monumental works like Gaston Bachelard’s and phenomenological descriptions have demonstrated that our space is rich in attributes and possibly fanaticism. Inherent characteristics like light, transparency, darkness, elevation, muddiness, crystalline clarity, or solidification akin to stone or crystal shape our primary perception of space.

External space, which leaves its mark on us through the gradual erosion of our lives, time, and history, is defined by a network of relationships that prevent us from reducing or overlapping with each other. One can examine identifiable relationships to elucidate these distinctions, such as those related to transportation, roads, trains, temporary leisure spots like cafes, cinemas, and beaches, and enclosed or semi-enclosed resting places like homes, bedrooms, and beds.

Certain places exhibit intriguing qualities among these locales in their relationship with others. By acknowledging, neutralizing, or identifying a set of relations that characterize or reflect them, we can gain a deeper understanding of and navigate these spaces. These places are interconnected yet exhibit opposition and can be categorized into two distinct types.

Utopia represents a nonexistent realm in nearly every culture and civilization, while actual places resemble measurable spaces. These real places stand apart from the broader category of locations and are termed heterotopia. Heterotopia may encompass some ongoing experiential blend, such as a mirror. The mirror is categorized as a utopia because it is perceived as an unlocated space, permitting individuals to view themselves in an unreal, virtual realm that extends beyond its surface.


Nevertheless, when we acknowledge the mirror’s existence, it reflects into our space. Through the mirror’s perspective, we perceive our absence where we see ourselves in the mirror, temporarily transforming the location where we are when we gaze into the glass into an authentic space interlinked with all its surrounding areas. This function of the mirror as a heterotopia is intentionally designed to reach the virtual point that exists there.

Heterotopology is a systematic arrangement in which diverse spaces and locations are scrutinized, dissected, described, and interpreted. It is plausible for multiple cultures worldwide to fail to constitute heterotopia, a phenomenon that persists across various social groups. Heterotopia takes on an extensive array of forms, and there may not be a single definitive and universal form for it. However, it can be categorized into two main types: crisis heterotopia and deviance heterotopia.

Crisis heterotopia denotes places regulated, sanctified, or concealed, exclusively designated for individuals with a particular relationship to society and the human environment under critical conditions. These crisis heterotopias have primarily diminished in contemporary society, with only fragments remaining visible. Conversely, deviance heterotopia refers to spaces designated for individuals whose behavior deviates from societal norms and standard conventions. Instances include retirement homes, psychiatric hospitals, and prisons, which may fall somewhere between crisis heterotopia and deviance heterotopia.

Heterotopias in a Complex Society

Heterotopias are societal constructs, each with a specific and limited role. Take, for instance, the cemetery, which serves as an illustrative example of a heterotopia, connecting diverse locations within a city, country, society, or village. Cemeteries have always been present in Western tradition, but they have undergone substantial transformations since the late 18th century. Previously, burial grounds were centrally situated within cities, adjacent to churches, featuring a hierarchical arrangement of graves for distinction. However, as society became more secular, a need arose to pay greater attention to the deceased body, as it became the sole means of tracing our existence in the world and through language.

During the early 19th century, cemeteries began relocating to the outskirts of cities, fostering an obsession with death due to the personalization of death and the bourgeoisie’s contributions to cemeteries. The proximity of the deceased to residences, right beside churches, symbolized a closeness that embodied death itself. This theme of disease transmission within cemeteries propagated, leading to the relocation of cemeteries to suburban areas around the 19th century, resulting in them becoming more established and losing their sacredness.

Heterotopias are often linked to fragments of time, offering opportunities for what is defined by symmetry or heterochrony. Heterotopias come into being when humanity experiences a series of radical ruptures from their traditional perception of time. The cemetery stands out as a highly advanced heterotopic site due to its commencement with an unusual heterochrony—a representation of the loss of life and a quasi-eternity ensnared in perpetual, fragmented, and lost destinies.

In a heterotopian and heterochronic society, structures and distributions become intricately complex. Notably, there are heterotopias related to our comprehension of time accumulation, exemplified by institutions like museums and libraries. These places become heterotopias because they embody the ongoing construction of time, never reaching a pinnacle. Instead, they embody the idea of collecting everything, preserving the continuity of a collective archive, and forming a space composed of various temporal dimensions that transcend the very essence of time itself. Museums and libraries are prime examples of heterotopias that found their place in Western tradition during the 19th century.

Temporal Synchronization

Heterotopias represent networks that aim to synchronize with the flow of time, emphasizing their highly transient and ephemeral nature. These networks can coexist simultaneously, like the carnival week celebrated in urban areas or the temporary tourist villages in Polynesian communities. Heterotopias may acquire a sanctified status through rituals or purification procedures, such as reciting “Amen” in Islamic tradition or other cleansing practices.

The fifth principle of heterotopia introduces a system for creating openings and closures that isolate something, rendering it easily accessible. Gaining entry to heterotopic locations typically necessitates specific permissions and effort, while some undergo complete sanctification through purification rites. However, a straightforward and uncomplicated form of access often conceals an exceptional quality. While anyone can enter these heterotopic sites, the illusion of inclusion often underscores the sense of exclusion.

The sixth principle of heterotopia connects all remaining spaces and operates along a spectrum between two extremes. On one end, it involves creating illusory spaces that exhibit natural spaces as heightened illusions, akin to brothels. On the other end, it entails forming an alternative real space, which is equally perfect, intricate, and disordered as the original, albeit with some alterations. This latter type constitutes a genuine heterotopia, not an illusion but a space with certain compensations, and some colonies may not function as intended.

Brothels and colonies exemplify two extreme categories of heterotopias. The initial wave of colonization in the seventeenth century, initiated by Puritan society in America, gave rise to a wholly distinct and perfected space. Similarly, the remarkable Jesuit colonies established in South America showcased human excellence in effective planning and organization. Christianity played a significant role in marking the spatial and geographic identity of the American continent.

Daily life within heterotopic spaces was orchestrated through the sounds of bells, with everyone rising, working, and having meals simultaneously. The concept of temporal regulation was deeply ingrained.

Boats and colonies represent two extremes within the realm of heterotopias. They have played a crucial role in economic development and fueling the imaginative aspects of our civilization from the sixteenth century to the present day. In a society devoid of boats, dreams lose their vitality, espionage supplants adventure, and law enforcement takes on the role traditionally associated with pirates.


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