how to read this site

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As I mentioned on the Artist Statement/About page, the format for this project, which I always knew would be an online project, was inspired by Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project.

If you’re unfamiliar with this book, Walter Benjamin was a Germany literary critic and The Arcades Project is a collection of Benjamin’s notes, thoughts, and reflections over the years on “life in Paris” (written between 1927 through 1940) that was left incomplete when he committed suicide in 1940. It’s titled The Arcades Project because it was inspired by and largely centers around the Arcades (great passages filled with shops, the precursor to the modern mall, perhaps) covered in iron and glass. It’s said that the arcades gave birth to the flâneur as the arcades provided a safe space to walk, to observe, without fear of being run down by horse and carriage in the streets.

I have seen it once referred to as a sort of “magical encyclopedia”. I have yet to read the whole thing, but I have read through several sections – my copy is filled with pencil marks, yellow and orange highlights, and dog-eared within an inch of it’s life. You don’t need to read the entire thing, you don’t need to read it in any particular order. This was my inspiration for the format of this site: a collection of thoughts, reflections, remarks, and notes collected online.

In CHID, the concept of the “rhizome” comes up frequently. I tried to find a solid definition from a more valuable source, but good old Wikipedia had the definition that was clearest in applying it to this project:

n botany and dendrology, a rhizome (/ˈrzm/, from Ancient Greek: rhízōma “mass of roots”,[1] from rhizóō “cause to strike root“)[2] is a modified subterranean stem of a plant that sends out roots and shoots from its nodes. Rhizomes are also called creeping rootstalks and rootstocks. Rhizomes develop from axillary buds and grow horizontally. The rhizome also retains the ability to allow new shoots to grow upwards.[3]

If a rhizome is separated each piece may be able to give rise to a new plant. The plant uses the rhizome to store starches, proteins, and other nutrients. These nutrients become useful for the plant when new shoots must be formed or when the plant dies back for the winter.[3] This is a process known as vegetative reproduction and is used by farmers and gardeners to propagate certain plants. This also allows for lateral spread of grasses like bamboo and bunch grasses. Examples of plants that are propagated this way include  hops, asparagus, ginger, irises, Lily of the Valley, cannas, and sympodialorchids. Some rhizomes which are used directly in cooking include ginger, turmeric, galangal, fingerroot, and lotus.

My hope is that if someone stumbles across this project, they may see something of interest and choose to go further. Perhaps one post tagged “woman” will cause sequential lateral thoughts or will cause a new idea to take root. This project CAN be read “linearly” (meaning, from the first post you see to the last, in order of posting) but it doesn’t have to be. Each post that you read doesn’t even need to be followed by another post here, on this site, it could be followed by a Google search, a search for books, a reading of another academic paper elsewhere. Again, as I mentioned on the Artist Statement/About page, I’m not seeking to give answers but to create questions an awareness. Each post has been “tagged” (I’ve tried to keep it somewhat brief and simple), and tags are listed below. You could click through them alphabetically or only the ones you’re interested in. Or not. My hope is also that it would only take one post – any one of the posts herein – to stir up at least SOME semblance of thought.

I had originally planned to include posts from others, but pinning people down (particularly people who were working on their own thesis!) proved to be quite difficult. That being said, if you have something you’d like to add, please feel free to use the contact link in the top right of each page of this site.

This is by no means comprehensive, and I often found myself paralyzed with too many ideas, too many things I wanted to say, too many words in a post. There are more stories, more ideas from each of the works that inspired ideas, more experiences from my own trips, more academic papers, more books, more current events that could be included here.

In addition to the tags and a couple of categories, if you go to the List of resources and inspired readings, I’ve included links to any posts that mention the particular readings. If you are interested in Dr Lauren Elkins’ book, for example, you can see a list of every post that it is referenced.

Some of the following categories and tags have only one post, however my intent is to, hopefully, inspire some thoughts on these topic and how they’ve been labeled.

categories: everything | a couple of introductory posts | departures (some “sidenote” thoughts)

tags: a tourist guide to Beszél and UI Qoma | alcohol | arrival city | alleys | assimilation | background | asylum seekers | asylum | bilingual | Berlin | Benjamin (Walter) | Baudelaire | bathrooms | Boisedepartures | breach | boredom | borders | city & the city | China Miéville | cafés | disguise | desert | containment | consumption | commercialization | Dr Lauren Elkin | Doug Saunders | disappearing | East JesusEdgar Allen Poeenglisheurope and european spaces | expat | etymology | flâneuse | french | francophile | Freak Alleyfoucault | flâneur | flânerie | female | eyes of power | gatekeeping | german | roma | hashish | heterotopia | Ibrahim | identity | idleness | immigrant | Instagram | intoxication | invisible | knowledge | labor | language | layers | leisure time | man | man of the world | Mike Davis | mobility | mother | Mr G | neighborhood watch | new flâneur | new identity | NextDoor | nomad | off the grid | Philadelphia | Pioneer Square | place and space | Poe | politics of space | Prague | privilege | Proust | psychogeography | public gaze | public space activation | public transport | racism | refugee | roma | Salvation Mountain | Seattle | security | seeing | Slab City | social structure | solitude | Sonennalleesuburbs | surveillance | the man in the crowd | third space | time | tourism | travel | turtle on a leash | unseeing | urban spaces | violent borders | visible | wandering | war | western passport | western privilege | western white men | white privilege | wife | woman | women walking