Place/Space/Writing

How do we live in our cities? How do we meaningfully interact with them in a world ever-increasingly devoted to time-functional tasks and the economic engine that has become the driving force behind all of the world’s great cities?

Our challenge is to slow down, to see and notice our cities and engage with them at the microcosmic level to enjoy the myriad small things that go to make up the joys of urban environment as well as our own habitation within it.

My interest in these questions was profoundly inspired the work  of George Perec, most particularly, his brilliant collection of meditations on place and space ­ Species of Spaces and Other Pieces which take us from the street, to the apartment and even to the writing desk in an examination of how we interact with our spaces both public and private.

Perec was a master of what I call ‘writing the mundane’: through taking time to dig deeply into the everyday, to see and notice the world around us with acute attention to detail, Perec becomes a master of taking such seemingly mundane interactions – the objects on my work-table, what I can observe in a public square or street, what I can say about the private spaces that I live in – and turning them into some of the most insightful and imaginative literary depictions of the arts of everyday life.

From the village to the mega-city we live in a kaleidoscope of cultures that are as infinitely diverse as the stories of that diversity which emerge from the streets, lanes, gutters and built environments envelope them.

Naked Cities Journal is about sharing these stories of the minutiae of everyday life from different cultures and different storytellers from around the globe.

Marcus D. Niski,  June 2017

Species of Space: Sao Carlos, Brazil.

This intriguing visual exploration of Perec’s Species of Space that I most fortuitously came across on YouTube was made by the Nomads.usp Center for Interactive Living Studies, Research Group of the Institute of Architecture and Urbanism, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, http://www.nomads.usp.br

Species of spaces is: “A reading of central and peripheral public spaces of the city of Sao Carlos, Brazil, “Species of Spaces” was filmed in just one afternoon, simultaneously by several Nomads.usp researchers, as a snapshot, a one glance and yet plural, distributed in the urban fabric. The title is a tribute to Georges Perec, a French novelist, Oulipo member and urban scholar” [Originally Published on Oct 20, 2015].

 

Space – by Marcus D. Niski

Space.

The concept of space is an enigma [to me a least].

Yet Perec and Bachelard are two of the greatest exponents in attempting to document the concept of space in its illusive and ethereal qualities.

We live in spaces.

We inhabit spaces.

We are in space.

Space is all around us, and yet nowhere.

My writing desk is one of my most important spaces.

Writing is a private activity, yet it can take place in either a private or public space.

Sometimes mundane spaces are my best source of inspiration and pleasure in terms of triggering my urge to write.

Georges Perec was a master at documenting the mundane places and spaces of our ordinary lives, as well as the objects that dwell in them: the objects on a writing desk; the bedroom; the apartment…

Writing is an inhabitation according to Perec: A writer inhabits the page and his or her world as well as inhabiting space.

Let us together explore the minutiae of spaces all around us in all their detail and infinite glory…

[MN] 14 May 2017 – 7 March 2019