online: 19 march 2005
modified: 20, 23 march 2005

19 march 2005 the politics of space

15:25 Seat overlooking wooded valley, warm day, over 20C, many people in summer clothes...

...i can see about 50, sitting on the grass in groups of 2, 4, 6, even 10 or 12 - i'm estimating even numbers as they are mostly couples and mostly young - the ones with children seem to have gone to other parts of the heath...

...if there are 100 areas like this each with 50 people there must be about 5000 people on the heath today - it's a Saturday afternoon when we regular walkers in all weathers must welcome these who only come on warm weekends... and we must not think that the heath (or western nations, or the world) is 'only for us'... but my immediate reaction was to see them as invaders... my ideal way of thinking (or in any civilisation worth the name?) each place is 'for everyone' - and that entails a changed culture in which we all act as visitors to each other's (mobile and overlapping) personal spaces and act in consideration of that... i imagine personal spaces as zones extending say 100 metres from each of us (and in theory reaching to infinity)... i write this i can't help overhearing nervous laughter, and giggles, from couples 20 to 40 metres on each side of me who are eagerly exploring each other's personal spaces (and thoughts) at near zero distances...

...amd now four more couples arrive and some stop as if to choose an empty spot to sit down, but no, they continue walking...

...these are the basic processes (l think to myself) of claiming territory, of migration, of peace or war, of love and hatred... the elements, you could say, of spatial or territorial politics.

...while i was writing that a hawk-like bird circled over the valley, looking for prey... I don't hear any bird calls, nor do i hear many aircraft. I do hear some distant shouts, and a man whistling to control his dog, its distance from him, and from others... i write i realise that all the things i'm noticing today are examples of movements into or out of overlapping spaces or territories, legal or otherwise, contested or respected (mainly the latter) - and i wonder if (in our personal and informal interactions) we are already well experienced in the friendly and considerate spatial behaviour which is so absent in 'exceptional cases' such as between nations and immigrants, between house owners and nomadic people, between officials and citizens, etc etc...?

16:37 while i've been writing this most of the people around me have gone. It's only slightly cooler than it was and evening has not i think begun. But already a large crow, one of several i often see at this spot, has arrived and is slowly moving about on the grass. It walked within say 4 metres but now it has gone as a child and a man walk slowly across what the crow probably takes to be its territory.


16:45 now all the people have left this western side of the valley (now almost in shadow) and there are only about 20 remaining on the eastern side which is still in sunshine. But many birds have already appeared - a flight of about 6 ducks, a few magpies, what i think is a kestrel, and several other birds i could not identify... they must all have been hiding while the people were here!

And now on my left hand (which is holding the handheld), is an insect about two millimetres long. It is barely moving and seems to be unthreatened by the movement of this scriber and of my writing hand about 3 cm from where it is... But now it's gone.

Next day:
the implication of these simple thoughts and behaviours is a vast rewriting of the laws of property, trespass, immigration, international conflict, etc. - and enormous changes in thought, language and custom. Some of it is happening, much of it is not. ...but in softopia i hope that some of this can be explored?

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