Saturday, April 07, 2007

Psychogeography of the Cafe

In Rhetorics of Place issu of reconstruction magzine: Michael Benton is talking about The Importance of Public Spaces and Public Spheres. his claim is that our physical places are shaped and understood through the "public sphere" by the various "communities of meaning" competing for attention, and, in which "public opinion is formed and policy decisions are made. read on @

In This essay by Anthony M. Orum, uses his personal experience, the routine of daily activity at his local coffee shop, to illustrate the importance of places to the nature of human experience.the writer talks about his morning routine, and reflecting some thoughts on Place, identity, community and place-based philosophy, such as: "it is at this place, my coffee shop, that habitually my sense of identity – of who I am – and my sense of community – of the people who are a part of my daily life – are reaffirmed. I am who I am, in part, because these people connect with me daily at a particular place; and they are who they are for the very same reasons. In the course of our exchanges, we re-affirm daily who we are, both individually and collectively. But, beyond this, we establish for ourselves a sense of civility: we treat one another with respect, opening doors, making friendly gestures, asking about work even if it is really asking about the other. This sense of civility emerges and re-appears, day in and day out....There exists some confusion about the nature of places and the nature of space. That happens, I believe, because the two are often conflated with one another. Space is a medium independent of our existence in which there exist objects that behave according to certain natural laws. Place, in contrast, is a special site in such space where we acquire a certain sense of identity, a sense of community, a sense of a past and a future, and a sense of being at home. Place, in other words, is not simply a material form independent of us but it is a material form that has become a part of us,"

Vincent van Gogh, The night café 1888

"Place, identity and community. These words sound complex, but, in fact I believe, if we all look around ourselves, in the morning, or in the evening, there are corners and shops, grocery stores and newsstands, bars and playgrounds, where the sense of our identity as well as that of our community are constantly replenished. We are emplaced not only, or merely, because of special sites; but those sites, those places, become special because, in fact, they are the locations where our sense of who we are is constantly reaffirmed. We feel safe and secure because it is usually the same community of people, of customers, of passersby, that, through their gestures and their language, however much it differs from day to day, recreate us daily as social creatures."

photo of Pellicci cafe's customers (circa 1980)

Classic Cafes site is dedicated to the classic British cafes. the site celebrates their ambience and architecture with over 130 vintage London Formica caffs reviewed (as well as lost cafes of London Town long list), revealed and reappraised as well talking about Psychogeography of the Cafe and giving an interview with Iain Sinclair( and here as well - role down the page).


Princess Haiku said...

I posted an entry on Teance in Berkeley and wish that we could meet there for oolong tea. sigh

sydneyland said...

I haven't lived in my parents house for decades yet I dream of it constantly. Many of the drama's or mysteries of my dream life are played out within those walls.

I've been wondering about this lately. Why don't visions of all the other place of my life imprint themselves on my dream worlds.

I suppose you're right. There are places that are always with us. For me it's my neighborhood. I never moved away.

It's the American tradition to leave as fast as possible. I couldn't leave I'm happy or at least used to where I am. I'm actually starting to grow old here,..imagine.

"Place, identity, community" they're never perfect or even that beautiful, but it's where you're rooted.

sydneyland said...

Hello princess,

Didn't see you there. Be well.

moon said...

i could say as well that many of the drama's and mysteries of my life are played out within my childhood neighborhood and parents house as a for my dreams they are mostly in unknown vast places, houses and castels i've never been to...

moon said...

Princess - having tea with you ANYWHERE over this enchanted globe would be a grand gelight :)

Princess Haiku said...

This is an excellent discussion; downloaded the paper.

Indestructible flower said...

Hello there...I very much love this issue about these places...I used to dream alot about my primaryschool and one day I just decided to go by and told them about how much I would like to have a look "see' this feeling I had about it....and it was simply great! There are more places that have this 'grip'on me...most of them are in Adelaide Australia, and sinds I live in Holland and don't have a lot of money...I just can't visit it will have to saty in dreams then...Further more: I love your site! Keep up the good work!!