From places to Non-places

Non-places by Marc Augé focuses on the concept of place and non-place. The term place is defined, “relational, historical and concerned with identity” (Augé 77), whereas Non-place cannot be defined in this way. Place is never completely erased since we build on top of our past, either incorporating it into our future or claiming it as our roots. Non-place on the other hand is never completely finished. It relies on new ideas, relationships and identities to blossom while most individuals still base their future on the past even if that is only through memories. Non-places struggle to gain identity through history as they rely on blurred memories which have gaps, making building their own historical identities far more of a challenge. The question that arises is; does our reliance on the past and drive to the future lead to isolation and lack of new ideas. It is arguable that after modernism, architecture and art have moved only to postmodernism, which was founded on the ideas of pre-existing styles. There are undoubtedly several great scientists and writers who are still working on new inventions and theories, however most people are either building on the past or living in the solitary and lonely existence that results from a non-place. Without the ability to identify with the past or to create, people fall into a routine.

As beneficial as our globalized world can be, the instant communication also means that there are few completely new perspectives. The second someone has a new idea they share it with the world and soon enough it has been changed and integrated into another train of thought. This is a result of the increased solitude. Communities that have shared beliefs, untouched by the outside world are becoming less common and beliefs are individualized and thus changeable before any significant number of people collectively support them.

Either we focus our future on our past and try to become a part of a culture that is no longer our own, or we attempt to live without properly acknowledging our history any further than memory, leading to us falling into isolation and routine. Both options seem very dejecting. The majority of inventions in society nowadays are those which make our lives easier, there is no longer an urgency to invent. Theorists, artists and writers continue to produce work with evolved ideas, but they either refer to previous works or follow stylistic patterns. Without any desperate need for the new, will places slowly become non-places as the history we rely on sinks into memory?

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