Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book- "Unruly Places" by Alastair Bonnett

Book- "Unruly Places" by Alastair Bonnett

I picked up a book from the library called "Unruly Places" by English author Alastair Bonnett.  He explores many places on Earth that are unique such as islands that have risen and sunk, such as off the coast of India/ Bangledesh, and places that have gone through many changes such as the Islamic state of Mecca, European cities before and after World War 2, you name it.

The great thing about this book is that the author expresses a broad sense and perspective of what defones space/ place.  Bonnett writes, 

"In ancient and medeival thought place was often center stage, the ground and context for everything else."  And that "most modern intellectuals and scientists have hardly any interest in place... place was demoted and displaced..."

He also goes on to write: 
"As many cities are still learning, sweeping away the past deprives the world of more than just rare and beautiful landscapes.  Planners and developers also remove the memories, stories, and connections that hold people together, socially as well as individually.  Turning complex, diverse places into shallow, simple ones creates a culturally more vulnerable population, an unrooted mass whose only linking thread lies in the ideology that is fed to them from above.
This process was well understood by those communist regimes that undertook similar mass demolitions in the past.... for Mao, molding the people to his will demanded the death of the old city [Beijing]...
and in describing the city of modern day Mecca, "Today what little remains of this complex past survives by luck or because it is just too prominent to pull down."

To me, here in North America, it always seemed that developers and planners who blow up whole ledges (sometimes containing stone-works) and level a place flat to put in a condo complex, where all the units look identical and are all the same, seems very monotonous and communist, as well as un-American.  Just a thought on that one.  As one friend once put it, "we are living in the Twilight Zone."

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