The beginning of the non-place and Italo Calvino….

I’m reading Marc Auges’ ‘non-places – introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity’.  He addresses the non-place as an indeterminate state.  Supermodernity perpetuates a state of transience caused by an excess of time, space and ego.  But as I am reading my mind is thrown back to a book I read earlier this year called ‘Invisible Cities’ By Italo Calvino.  Some of Calvinos’ conclusions could be seen as a foundation for Auges’ writings’.  So before I reflect upon what Auges’ interpretation is of the non-place, I think it would be beneficial for me to refresh myself on this book.   


 I love the way Calvino writes, his style is fluid, fictitious storylines that also throw a speculative view over the position of reality.  Marc Auges’ writing style in similar in some ways, yet Auge prefers to predominantly focus on the real.  

Calvino observes that modernity perpetuated a new capacity for travel, via airplanes, cars etc. He suggests that this causes a disillusionment to travel and presents us with a very bleak view of a world of continuous uniformity, where our experiences of transit leave us with a feeling of numbness and a lack of fulfillment.  Modern life is epitomised by speed and continuous movement.  

Calvino suggests a homogeneity of cities, where the capacity for movement transforms the identity of the city, he writes ‘cities are turning into one single city; a single endles city where the differences which once characterised each of them are dissappearing’ 

Calvino writes of the ‘empty interval‘, the space that exists when in transit between these locations that we visit almost ephemerally.   

This ‘empty interval‘ that Calvino refers to is the non-place, which is the focal point and foundation of Marc Auges’ writings. 

It makes me think about to what extent this transient collective can affect how a place is defined.  Because we can now move easily and continuously from to place to place.  Does an influx of transient bodies moving through the space dilute the historical and relational connections that initially defined it?  

If the space is predominantly occupied by individuals’ that personify the non-place, that are only there as a result of experiencing a non-place, can this potentially redefine the place? and alter other individuals’ perception of it?

This observation adds’ context to the book I am currently reading and also gives me a foundation from which to work from.  

I want to think about this idea further that the transient collective can affect the definition of a place, potentially redefining our own perception of that space.  I’ll think about how this concept relates’ to Darnell M. Hunts viewpoint that the urban environment is shaped by the peoples experiences with it.  To what extent are our experiences affected by the presence a transient collective that personify the non-place?  

Back to the Auge……     





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