The piece, “From Places to Non-Places” by Marc Augé offers a complex analysis of supermodernity, with a focus on the idea of anthropological places and non-places. Places are defined as anthropological places rooted in history, relations, and societies. Places give people identity and purpose. In contrast, non-places are all the spots in between, mostly locations associated with transit. Here people are stripped of their identity – save the necessary facts – and instead, essentially, become their actions.
It can be argued that many elements of our lives are only endured to meet an end goal: we go to school to get a degree, the degree works to get us a job, we keep a job to earn money to support ourselves and potentially those we care about and so on and so forth. Thus, many places could be considered non-places, if reduced to their most basic level. So, a question that can be considered is, how many true places do we have in our lives, or can there even be any true places? The single strongest example that stands out is home. Home is where we produce our complex identities and are our truest selves.
As a university student who has just moved away from home, the single place I could have identified is now ambiguous. Is Barrie, as my hometown, where my history, identity, and relations are rooted, still home? Am I now shifting to a new home here in London, where I will start to root myself and adapt to a new environment? My home in Barrie is not erased, but I may be producing a new home here. This new home is not as strongly connected to my past, but instead connected to my future. Perhaps there begins to be a half-place, originally a non-place – coming here to achieve an end result of a degree – that is starting to become a rooted place for me, another home. Or will it continue to be a non-place, as I will most likely move on from this place as well? This would fit into the idea of home under supermodernity, as you can be always and never there at the same time. My home seems to move with me, adapting and shifting as I move from places to non-place and everywhere in-between.
Then again, perhaps, all of life is just non-place as we move from birth to death, executing the purpose of surviving until we can no longer do so.