Globalization and the Image
Session IV
2001 MMLA Convention
Cleveland, Ohio
2-3 November

John Grech
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences,
University Of Technology, Sydney


Do not cite without permission of the author.

Image 1: Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche & Europa Centre. Once a symbol of West Berlin, the Europa Centre and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church are situated at the North East end of the Kurfürstendamm, a street renowned for glamorous shopping opportunities.

One of the points Lewis Mumford's classic study The City in History2 makes is that historically, cities are places where more and more people have gone to realize their lives. This paper is about cities, in particular, it is about the city of Berlin, or should I say it is a portrait of that city, a city that lies at the heart of many events that mark the development of the West as it is today. The central themes are the emptiness and space in the city created by the Berlin Wall. These are developed in the form of an essay in the tradition of Montaigne, a personal meditation on a theme that not only documents the transformations of the city from the1980s to 1990s, it also acts like a travelogue. Spaces geographic, economic, political, cinematic, personal, and linguistic are transcribed on an ambling sojourn from Potsdamerplatz to the Reichstag.

These impressions are those of a Maltese-Australian who has lived much of his life in the heart of the city of Sydney, and who has travelled occasionally to Berlin. This is a position of a misplaced individual who stands, both here and there, on the margins, a migrant, and a tourist. These positions, the migrant and the tourist, are considered alongside the citizen in an analytical synthesis that examines how The People occupy space in The City today.

I might have titled this essay "Sydney/Berlin; Centre/Periphery" but such a name might have suggested that this is an anachronistic exploration that travels from centre to edge, along two big cities at the end of the twentieth century. In fact, I want to displace fixed notions of time-space, here-there, past-present, in-out, as part of a larger, on-going search for a sense of belonging. For today, places like Sydney and Berlin form part of a global web of habitable spaces The City is becoming at the begining of the twenty first century.

Yet if Sydney and Berlin are explicit Blogs in this network, places like Malta (where I was born) and Amsterdam (where I am now living) remain implicitly available as places where co-habitation and belonging may become more actual, that is, places where the symbolic and material occupation of space can be accommodated together. Such places are still available, herein, even if they are never explicated.

A range of sources are presented in this essay. Two films by Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire (1987) and Faraway So Close! (1993), are central in formulating an initial impression of Berlin. Over them comes a selection of writings which are also accompanied by my work as an artist and writer. In this way, I seek to establish an inter-subjective text that doesn't claim a singular authorial voice over either the places evoked or the texts referred to. What I hope to do is to open up a third space that we, as readers and writers, may co-inhabit together. For projects like this are also always about difference and identification, integration and exclusion, a desire to participate and contribute, as well as a need to be honoured and recognized.

This paper is structured into three parts. Part 1 is about Cold War Berlin and in particular the sense of time and space created in the East and West of the City. Part 2 deals with the re-occupation of the City during the 1990s, first by looking at how capitalist enterprises took up a place in Berlin, and then by looking at the role language plays in the demarcation and capturing of space. Between parts 1 and 2, are two inter-sections where the disappearing-reappearing subject is discussed.

The communicative strategy behind this paper seeks to create a dynamic relationship between the different roles and parts found herein, and this is quite demanding of you, its receiver, too. If you seek to measure the success of this strategy, you might like to ask if there is a space, or a sense of space, a manifestation, that emerges (or not) for you to enter and speculate. We can decide if we can co-habitate, later.

Part 1

Image 2: Triptych of park near the ruined Anhalter Bahnhoff. Wim Wenders' shot several scenes for Wings of Desire at this site, including one where Peter Falk goes for a walk through Berlin in search of his German roots.

I was a late comer to Berlin, having only arrived in the city for the first time in 1995. A year earlier, my imagination had been re-captured by Wim Wenders's Faraway So Close, the second of his angels in Berlin films. Before that, Berlin was only a shadow in my mind, cast long ago when I was just a boy growing up on a sunny island in the middle of the Mediterranean. Berlin! Berlin? That was the shadow of the cold war. But today, Berlin is different.

One of the things that struck me in my first, real, encounter with Berlin is how much like Sydney it is. No I don't mean that sunny skies and blue waters surround it, as it does Sydney. Rather it seemed that everywhere there were building sites, cranes, and proposed construction projects. One important distinction between Sydney and Berlin, though, is the sense of history. For if Sydney can be characterised as a city with too short a memory, a city that can't or won't remember, or a city that forgets too easily, Berlin, it could be said, has a memory that is too long, inescapable, unbearable.

But today, it might also be said, Berlin is trying to change its image, and look more like the city it was in the 1920s than it did during the 1980s. With much hubbub, the streets are again pulsing like the veins of a wildly excited animal, intoxicated by diesel fumes.3 This city pumps like someone on a workout - to the pulsing, driving tune of construction engines and jack hammers. This is the New Republic, and the glory days of the Weimar might yet be recuperated, although no-one would dare say that in so many words. Berliners remain mindful of the lessons of history.

The Cold War City

Image 3: Europa Centre Shopping Plaza. Arcades like this were legendary in the East as word of the profusion of Western consumer goods permeated through the Berlin Wall.

Before entering the city of the present, I want to recall what Berlin may have been like during the Cold War. Not having witnessed that city myself, I have relied on the interpretations of others from which to draw and write.4 One such source, Karen Jaehn, in reviewing Wim Wenders's first angels movie, Wings of Desire, wrote that

Today kept as tarted up as Macy's Christmas window, a virtual display case of the virtues of capitalism dead centre in the Eastern Bloc.5

This impression was reiterated by Alexandra Richie in her more recently published history of Berlin, where she also suggested that

West Berlin was transformed...after the success of the Allied Airlift in 1948-49...into a 'Showcase of Capitalism' meant to prove the superiority of the West and to dazzle those in the Soviet zone.6

Long before the end of the Cold War, contemporary life in this thoroughly postmodern city7 was already primed by the promises of capitalism. Shopping arcades such as the one at the base of the Europa Centre had long become legendary in the East as word of the profusion of Western consumer goods permeated through the Berlin Wall. In some parts of Berlin at least, people were thoroughly caught up in post-industrial modes of production - commodification and consumption, the open market, and money.

Not all West Germans were happy with this situation, many of whom could see what was happening in front of their eyes, and this prompted some to take action. According to the East German spymaster, Markus Wolf, West German millionaire Hannsheinz Porst

believed that the [GDR's] socialist system, particularly its welfare system and its anti-fascist tradition, represented a worthy alternative to West German capitalism.8

That is how some saw East and West Berlin during the Cold War. I'll return to consider how capitalism continues to shape the city later.

The Cinematic City
Image 4: The space where Wenders placed the Circus while shooting Wings of Desire in the 1980s might be gone but there was still some room for the circus in Friedrichstrasse in 1998.

Another picture, or set of pictures, of the Cold War city comes from films. One movie, Berlin Cinema (dir. Samira Gloor-Fadel, 1999), featured Wenders as well as another prominent European film-maker, Jean Luc Goddard. During this film, Wenders reiterated a point that emerged at the Berlin Forum back in 1992, at which he was a speaker. At that Forum, Wenders said that one of the things he really liked about Berlin was its sense of space, and he talks about space in reference to his films too, the sort of in-between space that gives audiences room to fill them with something of their own making, their own meaning.9

Drawing on his experience of filming Wings of Desire, here is how Wenders recalled Berlin in the 1980s;

There are innumerable gaps all over the city, with walls that do not exist in other cities, so that there are these empty ...unoccupied places in between ...barren land, derelict land, even in the inner city areas, ...places where nothing happens. ...There used to be a place in Berlin where we put a circus for a film10

In turning to the question of how the future capital of Germany was to be reconstituted - remember that the Forum took place in 1992 - other speakers emphatically agreed with Wenders, that it was important to retain this sense of space. Here is what Derrida, who was also at the Forum, had to say;

a city has to remain not only to aliens, but as a place for hospitality in the future's not simply the physical occupation of space ...openness has to do with a dimension of symbolic, linguistic possibilities ...The city I would like to live in is a city I could easily leave ...That's why I insisted on the principle of leaving the openness of the city.11

I'll come back to the idea of the symbolic and the linguistic aspects of space later, but first I want to continue examining the spaces found in Berlin during the 1980s.

Image 5: Cracks in the Wall? Near the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer. A photoreconstruction of the space between the East and West created by the Berlin Wall. Graffitied critiques of the East were a celebrated feature of the freedom of West Berlin.

Turning to the east of the Cold War City, Brian Ladd12 characterised the Berlin Wall as an interstice where nothing happens, a division where everything was revealed. For Ladd, the most remarkable thing about the Soviet security system was the silence and the openness they created. This empty zone of nothingness was where the East attempted to cordon off the West and secure the survival of the Communist regime, by silencing opposition, clearing out pockets of resistance, and freezing all movement. The German Democratic Republic's solution to the seductive lure of the West was to try to shut it out of the minds of the people. Empty, silent, space ...

Image 6: A graffitied poster of Gerhardt Schroeder during the1998 German election campaign. The Social Democrats finally beat Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats after more than a decade in opposition. One of the factors behind Kohl's loss was said to be increasing disillusionment amongst former East Germany electors, who abandoned the Christian Democrats and delivered a significant vote to a reformed Communist Party.

Yet it was not consumer goods or capitalist shopfronts that Berliners longed to shut out. History has given Berlin an unusual legacy, though it is not a legacy that the City remembers loudly, or proudly, even today. As a visit to the Kaiser Wilhelm Gadächtniskerche highlights, its a history of shame and darkness that renders those sensitive to the fullness and depth of its meaning to silence and, perhaps even, despair. Graffiti critiques of the East, a celebrated feature of the Western side of the Berlin Wall, may also be regarded as another 'silent' testimonial some Germans were compelled to make, concerning the deeds of the totalitarian State.

So, what is this empty, silent space really about? Can people "work off"13 the legacy of the past, either Fascist or Communist, as Jürgen Habermas keeps insisting on? Is it possible, as the rulers of the former East Germany tried to do, to stave off the totalitarian tendency lurking in the human mind that realised such "topographies of terror" - left and right - through the creation of an empty, silent, space, an area in between? Or is it better to cover it over with something new altogether, obliterating what is past?

For let me now recall that, for Erich Honecker and his fellow Communists, the Berlin Wall was actually and always intended to be an "antifascist protective rampart."14 According to Eastern authorities, the Mauer was put there to protect the East against the influence of the Nazis, who had been so willingly recuperated by the West after World War II. The Wall was somewhat more like a condom, then, a device that allowed the East to stay in bed with the enemy while protecting itself from their opponents disease. For the paternalistic leaders of the East, space was thus a form of protection, a buffer zone to keep the howling Cold War wolf, or should I say travelling salesman, away from the door.

Image 7: The Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer stands in memory of those who died trying to escape from East Berlin during the Cold War.

With the benefit of hindsight, however, it would appear that the Wall actually created a gaping hole which the West obligingly filled. As Dick Hebdige pointed out in his travelogue "Guilt Trips: Coming Up Against The Wall,"15 the Allies filled the interstice with the voice of President Kennedy, the sounds of Pink Floyd, and (again) the advertising glitter of an endless array of consumer goods broadcast on radio and TV waves. The West, so apparently unlike the East, celebrated activity, exchanges, and flows, by encouraging divergence, and embracing difference. In spite of all the walls and barriers, silences and empty spaces, nothing could stop the advertisers jingles from permeating to the people's very heart, their living room, that sanctity which is their Lebensraum, and filling it up with unending desires for goods and services, and unfaithful promises of satisfaction.

By the end of the Space Race, and certainly by the beginning of Star Wars, not long before the end of the Cold War, the West had completely succeeded in presenting itself as the state of freedom - the freedom to move and fill in empty space. There was even room for dissidents, artists and intellectuals amongst the Space Invaders, to mark out difference, utter critiques, and speak, like a conscience to the self, for and on behalf of every other.

Unfortunately for the Communists, one of the most significant features about empty, silent space, as was pointed out at the Berlin Forum, is that it is always in danger of being filled. Furthermore, the course of events since the collapse of the Berlin Wall reiterates the fact that, in a Capital city that also claims to be a city for capital, space simply cries out to be filled!

In concluding the first part of this paper, one can say that there existed two Cold War Cities in Berlin, each possessed and governed by two distinctive notions, or approaches, to (empty) space. These may be surmised as follows;

1) East Berlin, which openly preserved a sense of empty, silent space inherited partly from the legacies of a Fascist State and partly from the destruction of war, and which the Communists tried to fill with fear. This, the Communists hoped, would simultaneously capture and buffer against the traces of a competing capitalist West as well as contain and control the minds of the people;

2) West Berlin, where the Marshall Plan's politics of re-education sought to quickly eradicate all traces of an authoritarian culture, as well as the gaping wounds of war. The plan was to transform West Berlin into a symbol of economic reconstruction, a young, vibrant, and forward looking city that embodied a feeling of freedom through movement, over and above, beyond and through all walls.

The second part of this paper looks at how capitalism continued to define the city in the 1990s before turning to the role of language, as writing and reading, in making, filling, and finally erasing space. But first I want to say a little more about the speaking positions within this essay.

Inter-Section I

Image 8: View of the InfoBox in Leipziger Platz, on the edge of the Potsdamerplatz, in 1998 where even the reconstruction of Potsdamer Platz could be commodified and marketed.

Whenever I go to Berlin, its usually via Amsterdam, where a stamp is placed in my passport telling me the role I am expected to play. Coming from beyond the EU, I am a tourist, a visitor. The EU, with all its wonderful cities, encourages me to come, of course, is very happy to receive me, but it only wants me to stay a while. I can fill a space in this New European Citadel, but only temporarily, in passing.

Furthermore, in taking up such a space, I am asked to fulfil a particular role - not as participator or producer, but as spectator and consumer. Like the angels in Wenders's movies, I am only allowed to observe and record what I see. But like Damiel in Wings of Desire, I'd like to participate, to jump in to the stream of life. And like Cassiel in Faraway So Close!, I'd also like to contribute, to do something worthwhile and meaningful, both for myself and for others around me. So - this is what I do.

Idling through the streets, looking, as tourists do, one sees many things. Posters, ads, glamorous new buildings, and ambient old ones. In today's booming, tourist aware city, the look is clean, shiny, sterilised, and efficient. But doing as tourists (are supposed to) do, I not only see, I also buy things such as postcards which I occasionally write and post off to friends and family, reflecting as I do, on my experiences. Some of these things could be spoken of as products, or at least by-products, of the tourist's role as observer.

Yet our contemporary tourist's "observations" should not be confused with those of the Classical or Renaissance observer, who stood ideally fixed in the absolute time-space of a panoptic God. Today's tourist is (a) relative to us, in the manner of de Certeau's pedestrians, a

walker [who] constitutes [space], in relation to his position, both a near and a far, a here and a there. ...Walking [that] affirms, suspects, tries out, transgresses, respects, etc., the trajectories it 'speaks'16

This is one of the benefits of being a tourist, you have space to reflect back on where you came from, as well as observe, even to consider what responses, if any, you might like to generate to the places you are in. And all the while, you're marvelling, as you go, at what is all around you.17
For in looking and walking, as tourists do, we cannot help but make things more out of what we see. And, although given no official status, tourists still produce things in addition to eating, sleeping, and consuming - the things we need for our daily sustenance. In ambling on, tourists constitute The City in ways that neither the migrant nor the citizen, both too caught up in the busy-ness of their daily lives, can do. Yet this sense of space is never, or hardly ever, recognised or acknowledged as being valuable other than the economic benefits tourists offer.

There used to be terms like alienation and reification to identify experiences like these, where people, as creators or producers, are separated from what they make and do. Such terms sought to identify how autonomous individuals living in the state of capital are subjected, by laws and conventions, by contracts, rights of ownership, title deeds, and citizenship. Such conventions, it might be argued, take what is inalienable in truth from an individual and turn it into a right, which is distributed to some, and excluded from others. Yet in spite of this, I, like many other toursists, have produced things out of my visits to Berlin - just as surely as Berlin has produced things in me. The thoughts in this essay are some, although these are not just my own. I'm hosting other's too.

Inter-Section II

The Idler
Image 9: Construction site, Potsdamerplatz, 1998. To the amusement of workers, tourists snapped up one photo opportunity after another as they idled through Potsdamer Platz.

Susan Sontag, whose ideas are also welcome here, has this to say about a travelling photographer;

The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker, reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseurs of empathy, the flâneur finds the world picturesque.18

Walter Benjamin's notion of the flâneur19 is important to my concerns and Sontag's interpretation adds depth to it by associating the voyeur with the stalker and the reconnoitrer. There are connections here between acts of desire, hunting, and war. But I'm not sure about the relationship between the flâneur and the connoisseur. My problem with that has to do with the sense of distance such a word suggests, the space between the connoisseur and the object of his or her connoisseurship.

For this is one of the strange ironies of today's city. While cities like Berlin and Sydney impress themselves upon tourists their own particular style and regional taste, they still seek to provide a sense of the familiar (such as automatic teller machines or ATMs), and hold us, as tourists, at least momentarily, in a mythic space, that looks and feels so much like 'home' that we feel safe, even in the most exotic, far flung places. Such spaces structure tourists experiences by repeating acts (such of standing in front of ATMs punching buttons to get money), a repetition that collapses new and novel (spatial) encounters back into experiences from previously known places where familiar narratives can be re-enacted to give a sense that one is still at home.

There is a paradox in the tourist experience, therefore, that has to do with the limitations placed around us as individuals - as foreigners - at the same time as collapsing the distance between us and the places we are in - foreigners in a foreign land. (I'll return to this paradox when I discuss the role of language.) Nevertheless, tourists go along with this paradox happily, reflecting (mostly unconsciously) on experiences through acts like taking photographs or writing in travel diaries. For there are only limited ways available for tourists to take possession of the spectacles such foreign yet familiar cities present. In this way, tourists may write themselves into the City in the only way they can.

Walking around Potsdamerplatz, I realised that Berlin is a city that has not quite learned

the art of growing old by playing on all its pasts ...[successfuly, like say Rome. Yet it neither re-] invents itself, from hour to hour [like Sydney or New York], in the act of throwing away its [past] ...and challenging the future.20

I wonder what tourists really came to see (or expected to see) in Berlin during the 1990s? Was it the spectacle of a divided Cold War city, an open air museum, and a tyrant's tomb? Was it the spectre of economic renewal at Potsdamerplatz, like another Glasgow or a Sheffield? Was the attraction the transformation of a decaying, under utilised city turning itself into a buzzing revitalised metropolis, a busy thoroughfare, a freeway for ideas, hopes, and dreams? And what about the empty space, did anyone - other than Derrida, Hebdige, and Ladd - come for that?

Part 2

The City
Image 10: Potsdamerplatz, 1998.

From the InfoBox in Leipziger Platz, tourists as well as the citizens of Berlin could observe (mostly itinerant migrant) workers toiling away before their eyes, transforming what was, not all that long ago, the rubbish dump of history back into a throbbing centre for commerce and industry. I was somewhat amazed to see people willing to pay for the privilege of looking at a city undergoing this sort of open heart surgery.

On reflection, this should not have been too surprising, for Berlin seems to have an ingenious tradition of developing innovative, original, and sometimes highly aesthetic (not to mention financially rewarding) ways of capturing, representing, and marketing itself. Along the way, the city has fostered, nourished, and inspired many new artistic (and other) movements during the twentieth century. As the InfoBox suggests, even the reconstruction of Potsdamerplatz could be commodified and marketed.

Yet in spite of the best marketing, Berlin is still unable to obliterate its past. Instead the city clumsilly tries to turn even the darkest aspects of its history into something saleable. This could be graphically seen on one of the new tower buildings in Potsdamerplatz, which seemed determined to preserve the memory of the past by posting a monumental reproduction of a soldier helping an East German citizen to scale the Berlin Wall. Like other advertising campaigns, images of liberation, multiculturalism, even the tragedy of AIDS, may be used as marketing tools? Is this is the same as Simonedes' re-membering the bodies of the dead inside the banquet hall, I ask?21 That question, along with another that arises, namely, whether the ritual of 'honouring' the dead and the past can be appropriately performed when it becomes commercialised, would be the subject of another paper.

If space, coming back to the theme of this paper, was indeed one of the most striking features in Cold War Berlin, what is equally striking today is how quickly commerce and industry have occupied the emptiness of the city. If Wenders was right in saying, in what seems now so long ago, that "the Americans have colonised our subconsciousness",22 it seems equally true today to say that capitalism has colonised every inch of time and space, in the city, as well as in our lives.

In examining what is happening to the open space of the city, one is tempted to repeat an all too often made observation - that capitalism turns everything in the city to the interests of business. Even the City's own citizens have been turned into consumers, tourists in their own backyards. But this sounds like a cliche, today. Besides, one of the things that the end of the Cold War promised was a liberation from the tyranny of ideology. As the economic rationalists of the 1980s had us believe, the market place is without ideological baggage or meaning. Capitalism is a value free system of free floating signs without any fixed referents whatsoever.

The problem is how do we convince those poor souls living in Thatcher's Britain, who are still being shunted from one odd job to another, that they really shouldn't feel "fixed" to the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.23

The Citizen
Image 11: Monumental Marketing. This impressive image of an East German soldier helping a civilian climb over the Berlin Wall in 1989 was placed over the entire facade of this building in Potsdamerplatz. Is this a monument to the liberation of The People or is it now a marketing tool?

Economics was not the only thing that motivated the citizens of Berlin in the late 1980s, however. The falling of the barriers across the Berlin Wall gave rise to powerful dreams - dreams that gave people a sense of belonging in a city that was once their home. By the end of 1989, it really looked like the people were really taking power, and claiming the city, finally, as their own, while asking the occupying superpowers to leave.

Back in 1990, the collapse of the Wall did promise the people that longed for freedom of movement. Destiny and history looked, at last, to have come together over the same time-space. Thus re-united, Germans could finally move towards a universal, pan European, participatory democracy, where citizens could enjoy the freedom to shape their own personal lives as well as taking part in shaping the future of a new State. At last, Berlin had redeemed itself by simultaneously lifting the terrible burden of history and realising a new democracy where all can be a part.

Today, however, it appears that the body politic that emerged in 1989 was naïve in believing it could really fill the gap created by the collapse of Communism. As Howard Caygill soberingly suggests, the future of the city was already becoming clear as early as November of that year, when the reconstruction of Berlin was being "secretly"24 pre-figured in leather clad lounges and wood-panelled interiors of the city's tower blocks and administration buildings. At the centre of those "imaginings" may have been the question of how Potsdamerplatz could be re-occupied. Perhaps not so far below the surface of such "dreamings" was a mythical Homeric25 recollection of Berlin in the 1920s. Then Potsdamerplatz buzzed as people teamed all over the streets, sat in Cafes, smoked cigars, and talked excitedly about all sorts of possibilities. In those days, so legend has it, you could buy almost anything in Potsdamerplatz. Was this the pedigree that attracted German as well as multinational corporations to take up residence there?

It seems somewhat prophetic then, in the light of what has happened, that Wenders put the circus for Wings of Desire at a place called the Belle-Alliance Platz. Although that place is today called Mehringplatz,26 there is still room for a Circus in central Berlin, only now it is located in nearby Friedrichstrasse. There it may stay in the City, but like the Circus in Wender's film, only as long as the belle alliance between money and entertainment is properly maintained. The Circus still has to pay the rent.

Caygill's conclusion, therefore, was that the Berlin City Forum, where Wenders, Derrida, and company gathered in the early 1990s, became just another showcase for a "technocratic 'democracy ...where the people were to be guided by experts.'"27 Like the tourist and the migrant, the newly freed citizens of the capital were left standing in the Cold.

Image 12: The artist Christo wanted to wrap the Reichstag as long ago as the 1970s. Finally in 1995, he got the opportunity, and Berliners came out in droves to celebrate the lifting of the black shroud of history from their city.

Without reducing the importance of such socio-economic, historical and political analyses in understanding how the City was re-occupied, I want to turn now to the relationship between language, knowledge, and power and how these form part of a mechanism to occupy empty space. But first I want to stress that language, as used here, signifies any system of communication, from the written words in this essay to spoken phrases in the street, from sculpture to architecture, and from urban planning to the cinema.

For, as Derrida pointed out at the Berlin City Forum, space is not only about geography - space is also symbolic. Indeed, one may argue that empty space is first brought into being, into the realms of knowledge, when it is identified through language. One could take this further and suggest that space, any space, is both shaped and formed in this initial, reflexive act of naming, an act of identification.28

The drawing of space with words and images - the two semiotic systems used here - constitutes this space and forms the first and perhaps most important step towards capturing and territorialising what would otherwise remain empty and silent - the space of difference and the space of the other. This is one of the most important features of empty space: it is available for anyone to occupy, irrespective of where they come from, who they are, what they believe, and what they have to say. Language created space for those other-selves to come into being through the act of writing, as well as placing a limit around them. Through such acts of writing, a sense of belonging (identification with and through writing) could slowly emerge.29

The graffiti artists inscribing themselves on the Berlin Wall were engaged in precisely such an activity when they uttered their cheeky critiques right under the Communists noses. The West German authorities, who treated the Wall as a kind of "no-man's land," were happy to tolerate such disorderly expressions because it served the overall objectives of the West. The East Germans, on the other hand, kept their side of the wall in a pristine state of white sterility, a blank, clean slate just begging to be written on. That whiteboard of concrete, kept forcibly at bay from the hands of the East German people, allowed the West to invisibly write a message of freedom and democracy in indelible ink.30

Yet if space is left open for occupation by the people, the voice of the State (especially a State that depends, however superficially, on the people to legitimate itself) may become fractured into many differing, conflicting, and contradictory voices. This might especially appear to be so if the people are given 'too much' of a say. That is why the East German authorities would never have allowed Christo to wrap up the Reichstag in the 1970s, when he originally wanted to do it. For that would have freed the meaning of the building, which the Communists wished to tie down as a sign of World War II, the tyranny of Hitler, and the fall of German democracy. Christo's act would have turned the Reichstag into a lighter, freewheeling, symbol.

Yet it was not only the gravity of the symbol the Communists wished to maintain, but also its fixity. Totalitarian systems seem to prefer to maintain their authorial voice through absolute control over the production of meaning. That iron-fisted rigidity of the Eastern Bloc's signifying system actually allowed the West to develop a more flexible network of signs that didn't rely on fixing internal locations for meaning to achieve credibility. By providing the West with a set of fixed referents, the East allowed the West to outmanoeuvre it.

Yet it was not only the East German authorities who struggled with this dilemma. For if the tolerance of graffiti at the Berlin Wall came to symbolise the difference between the people's ability to express themselves in the two States, the graffiti artists capacity to define and occupy (empty) space in West Berlin was really only true for a time. A different story emerged when those same graffitists sprayed anti-American slogans during President Reagan's 1987 visit to the Brandenburg Gate.31 Now it was the West Berlin authorities who hastily removed such writings.

In this essay, I have conflated the idea of the East (usually thought of as Asia and the Middle East) with the former Soviet Bloc to emphasise the dependence the West (as distinct to Europe) has had on identifying an 'Evil Empire' to the East as the straw figure at the core of the binary (linguistic) opposition that gave the West its signifying 'orientation' during the Cold War.32 The dependence on the other for the generation of meaning is amplified in every aspect of culture, not just the military, but also economic, as well as cultural, through which the West asserted its superiority. Today, however, we are confronted by the apparent failure of that system as part of the bedrock for a universal rationalism, and this has affected every aspect of Western culture.33 As Iain Chambers pointed out, even critical thinkers in the West today

... find ourselves employing a language that is always shadowed by loss, an elsewhere, a ghost: the unconscious, an 'other' text, an 'other' voice, an 'other' world; a language that is 'powerfully affected by the foreign tongue.'34

And there are other contemporary Western thinkers besides Chambers who recognise the "other's" roles in shaping the languages of the self. These theorists too, continue to struggle to acknowledge and accommodate the other's contribution. Here is how Paul Carter sees it;

it becomes more than ever urgent to develop a framework of thinking that makes the migrant central, not ancillary, to historical processes. We need to disarm the genealogical rhetoric of blood, property and frontiers and to substitute for it a lateral account of social relations, one that stresses the contingency of all definitions of self and the other, and the necessity always to tread lightly.35

Transition (Osmosis)
Image 13: View of Glienicker Bridge as seen from the Volkspark on the shores of the Havel. The Glienicker Bridge was where the East exchanged captured spies and other political prisoners with the West during the Cold War.

At this point I must confess to feeling silenced and emptied by these attempts to pursue this task. I especially feel displaced when artists and theorists such as Derrida and Wenders, even Sontag, Chambers, and Carter, talk about invisible spaces - the spaces of the other. I lose my sense of place, that wild, untrammelled, open terrain, of difference, and being, on the outside - even while standing in. That space to be, in my hitherto empty silentness, is recuperated and lost by its translation into language and transliteration into words and images. But I stand distanced from my own created artifices now too, these words and these images, as much as from my experience of being an immigrant and tourist.

This new sense of silence and emptiness seems both inexplicable and inescapable, as if the very act of being an author encroaches on the other, whose space remains invisible - but no less real. Reduced, again to silence, he is obliged to keep on moving.

Emmanual Levinas argued that this exteriority (illeity) needs to be acknowledged without reduction to the self's language, if the other is to be truly honoured, negotiated with, and 'moved towards.' For Levinas, this other remains beyond the phenomena of the self in language, an absoluteness that interrupts the self's linguistic systems, an unmitigated trace or presence beyond self 'being.'36 It is difficult to articulate this point precisely because here we are at the breakdown of language and the (emergency) immersion into what might be termed the sublime, a moment created when we are forced to co-habitate with our Immanent Selves, where the contingency of all our possibilities is suddenly realizable.

I see connections here to Jean Luc Nancy's attempts to deal with a body-of-the-senses. In The Birth of Presence, Nancy suggests that what is needed is a new, impossible corpus, a corpus of discourse (of language as well as of the body) as if it were an itinerary or a dictionary. Nancy's "Corpus" is of a permeable body where organs and body parts point towards their emergent openings rather than a totality as their origins. Those open wounds become openings that signify themselves and "where [their] sense gets lost."37 This suggests a bank of body parts after a surgical operation, where the body's capacity for discourse (to render or totalise itself whole in language) is abandoned for the sense of feeling, touching, smelling, tasting, seeing. There is, in Nancy's corpus, an irreducible sense of excess, a body beyond the reach of its own limits, which is to say both beyond and before the self, where sensation floods the body's senses with the recognition of its 'saturated totality' (p 206). This extended/distended/attenuated 'naked body' is where senses are exposed to senses, and nerves end up on nerves. Nancy's corpus is thus a glossary for a sensing body, open to all sorts of possibilities left by a surgeon's knife that has opened wounds that act like bioports.38

We again arrive at the floating of significance performed by Christo on the Reichstag, an event witnessed by millions, in which a weathered and battle scarred building was made so buoyant that it almost disappeared into the sky just by being wrapped in a silver foil. No longer fixed as a sign pointing towards the wounds Hitler and the Second World War inflicted on the German people, Christo's transformation of the building opened up those scars and allowed people to reflect on the emergent possibilities presented by the 1990s. Now, once again, the people could exercise their freedom by just walking around that sealed off building. Their corpus, the wounded polity of The People, still bore the potential (and longing) for that body to be healed, but how to do it? By suturing its wounds in yet an(other) act of enclosed solipsism? Or might it be done by connecting with other, open bodies?! Either way, Nancy's open corpus is a difficult one to live in, as he himself admits.39

History has repeatedly shown that the State is more inclined to sealing off such an open body, like East and West Berlin, even though there must remain some portals, no matter how insignificant, for no human system is capable of independent survival. Berlin's Glienicke Bridge was one such place where the two systems once connected together. Across that bridge, both sides exchanged their captive spies in an act that mediated their separate meaning at the same time as enabling each to negate the other.

On the other hand, many artists, writers, thinkers try to bear an open, wounded body into existence - through our art, a form of language. But as we do, we cannot help but realise that in doing so, we come to occupy another's space, obliging them to move. The thing we really long for, to enter and be a part of, is abandoned once more, and is again retreating, back, beyond, behind, beneath. Standing, again defeated, we still don't have what we came looking for. Even this attempt to enter my silent emptiness, what once seemed a sovereign right, has failed again! Again and again, I stand on barren, abandoned land, a hollow act made speechless.

What's really interesting about writing or art-making is not that the voice of the author, any author, your Ego-I or mine, is incapable of speaking for this, that, or any other. Or even that such attempts to speak the others truths renders our thoughts to shallow utterances, like simple, solipsistic reflections of and on the self (masquerading as the other). Such problems have consumed the minds of many including Derrida and Spivak.40

I want to explore the losing of the space, space once occupied by the self as other, living in the self, like standing on the outside while also standing in. This magical disappearing-reappearing act seems partly to hinge upon culture and also - partly - to hinge upon language. But in continuing to exist in different cultures and different languages, one sometimes becomes aware, glimpses for a moment, that the very things once promised by language and by culture, our selves and others realised, are lost again to lasting silence.

Image 14: A behind the scenes view of the reconstruction of the Reichstag in 1998. This image was taken only months before the German Parliament was to again take its seat in Berlin. Yet the Reichstag is a symbol of mixed meanings, the house where the will of the German people was excercised, as well as the place where German democracy was curtailed and overthrown.

Not everyone agrees that the self and other are linked in silence. Homi Bhabha, for example, suggests the loss of the other can be overcome through parody, by cloaking in the language of the self half jokingly, in mimicry of the centre.41 For Bhabha, the act of faking a semiosis of the self, acting like a naughty shadow if you like, distorts the self and allows the other to be seen. But that seems an extreme position, eccentric and freakish, and one that undermines the integrity of both the self and other. It also avoids the problem of the many sided bodies co-existing in the one and many places simultaneously. Bhabha's formulation may be appropriate to a non-European other coming from beyond a European self but I'm inclined to Tzvetan Todorov's position, which he came to on returning to his native Bulgaria after living in Parisian exile for eighteen years.

My double belonging only produces one result: in my own eyes, it taints each of my two discourses with inauthenticity, since each can correspond but to half of who I am; yet I am indeed double. I thus once again confine myself to an oppressive silence.42

Is there something more compelling in Todorov's silence, a resistance that stays beyond both time and space, beyond the language of oppression and discourses of capture? Is the other-self more real in emptiness, in silence, and in loss? Wouldn't it have been better if the German Parliament remained seated elsewhere, therefore, leaving the Reichstag, a tragic symbol of mixed and (now) empty meanings, to stand in silence? In an essay about the emptiness in the word-paintings of Ilya Kabokov, Mikhail Epstein writes ...

Art ...becomes a rite of circumnavigating emptiness, of slow, cautious, and deliberate capitulation. It is [Mikhail] Kutozov's, not Napoleon's tactics of encountering emptiness: instead of attacking it with militant cultural projects, one retreats, ceding ...where emptiness least expects to find a place - at the heart of the artist's creation. In order to prevent emptiness from swallowing up this creation, depriving it of meaning from the outside, it is made to curl up inside it, like a quiet, well-fed, docile wild animal in a cage.43

Well now, is that all there is left, the work of art in the age of global capitalism?44 Is a caged up silent terror, that wild and cunning beast at the heart of creation, still the centre of our culture? If so, where will that lead us now? Should we still be satisfied by such mythologising explanations? Kutazov's technique, as successful as it might be in avoiding capture, still leaves us, as self and other, in a (linguistic) conundrum with nowhere apparent left, logically, but to remain in separation, as if we are at war.

In thinking further about this problem, and I'm thinking out aloud, right now, at least part of the dilemma seems to be of situation, as Sartre45 might have replied, of discerning when to withhold or withdraw into-beyond one's location, and when to uncloak and become an other-self in language. Because, more than just a connoisseur, the flâneur finds the animal in its cage not only picturesque, he also wants to engage it. Paradoxically then, the German Parliament may be quite right to re-occupy the Reichstag and confront the questions it raises head on. Danger remains, however, whether we leave that animal locked up or we open up the door.

Conventionally, The City-State resolves this problem by deferring special properties - for example, when the migrant becomes entitled to the mantle of the citizen. This solution, however, reproduces the mechanisms of capture and colonisation by re-instating boundaries between our selves and others. Are other language games possible, then, as suggested by Ernesto Laclau,46 that seek to move through empty spaces without filling them with a rigid, sealed off self? What is needed is a kind of multiple epistemology(ies) that allow(s) an ever-emerging ontology(ies) to dissect both time and space, by constantly entering unknown time-spaces that remain logically (and linguistically) irreconcilable. What is missing, it seems to me, is an extra-sensory, out of body experience, a sense of that other-self - the body of a traveller if you like - always moving within/without The City. Must that traveller remain contained and invisible, like a Trojan Horse, even if, on the margin, they are reduced, accept in silence? Is this a silence of respect?

If we conclude, as Markus Wolf, one time Stasi boss conceded,47 that the erection of the Berlin Wall was as much a sign of failure and defeat as it was a sign of force and (attempted) containment of The People, then we must also recognise that closing the city gates (like Fortress Europe) on those unwanted migrants and tourists is an admission that we have yet to learn from history. For if we really want out of the cage, and bridge the gap between our selves and our imprisoned others, we must be reconciled to being with them. We are still haunted by the question - can we co-habitate?


Image 15: Car showroom, Potsdamerplatz,1998. Dreaming of freedom or base material aspirations?

Perhaps the greatest legacy we've inherited from the moderns is an inescapable sense of exile, an exile not just from our physical homelands, but also from the home that is ourselves. As postmoderns we still know this condition, although it does not seem as strong as the alienation our parents and grandparents might have felt. Unlike their sense of total separation through migrant duality, we merely feel displaced, as tourists, today, decentred, disjointed subjects, somewhat incoherent, and unintelligible, like drug-fucked addicts going through cultural withdrawal.

Berliners know such feelings, but at the same time, maybe they don't, or maybe they've forgotten. Nevertheless, its important to acknowledge that Berlin today has come a long way from the war ravaged tyrant city of the twentieth century. The beginning of the end came when Real Living Socialism tried to contain and direct the people's imagination. Yet in spite of all intention, the vacuum at the Berlin Wall still gave people space to roam and soar and climb once more, over the strictures of the everyday.

On the other hand, it could be said that the greatest "success" of the West is its rapacious capacity to occupy and exploit free and empty space. But where is that now leading to? Is there still space for an other-self? For, as capitalism drives us harder, into the immersive immediacy of the moment, have we succumbed to the desire of the present, without regard, as Derrida might have put it, for others-spaces deferred to others-times? Can the invisible still be seen beneath the drying concrete on the holes within the heart?

Berlin provides a somewhat glossy reminder of where Western culture has come from, and where it might be going. In such peaceful scenes of civic reconstruction we may yet find ourselves in a moment of new creation, symbolic as well as geographical. But just as surely as our chiefs of capital seek out ever new and unexploited places, they bind them up with money, the language of our power, and lock them up behind the glassed in walls of sanitised shopping malls. You could see this literally taking shape at Potsdamerplatz, where the empty space that once signified a longing place for freedom has today become a shopping arcade. Inside are exclusive showrooms where dreams of freedom are underwritten with credit cards.

Now, yet again, another timely reminder: The City must still fulfil its founding task, to allow the people to actualize their lives, not just as tourists, migrants, or citizens, but simply as The People - for that is the meaning of a metropolis.48 Is there still room, one has to ask, for that strange, mystical power, the source of our creative energy, name it what you want, "God"49 if you like, to surge us forth and point towards a yonder, a beyond dot com? Or are we about to find that, in the end, our dreams were only ever primed for ads?

1This paper will be published under the title "Empty Space and The City; The Re-occupation of Berlin" in a forthcoming issue of Radical History Review: Citizenship, National Identity, Race and Diaspora in Contemporary Europe, issue editors Ian C. Fletcher and Van Gosse, Duke University Press, number 83, forthcoming.

2For a classic history of the city, see Lewis Mumford's The City in History: Its origins, its transformations, its prospects (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1974).

3See also the description of Potsdamerplatz during the 20th century in Peter Conrad, Modern Time, Modern Places; Life and Art in the 20th Century (London: Thames and Hudson, 1998) 62-64.

4For other views on life in Berlin and German during the Cold War, see ed. Charles E. McClelland and Steven P. Scher, Postwar German Culture; An Anthology (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1974), Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing, Cold War (London: Bantam Press, 1998), and ed. Rob Burns, German Cultural Studies: An Introduction (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). For a more general sociology of major developments in Germany during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, see Norbert Elias, The Germans (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press 1997).

5Karen Jaehne, "Angel Eyes: Wenders Soars," Film Comment, 24.3 (May/June 1988): 19-20.

6See the photo caption for the image of Kurfürstendamm between pp 852 and 853 in Alexandra Ritchie Faust's Metropolis; A History of Berlin (London: Harper Collins 1999).

7For some contemporary views of the postmodern city, see ed. Jonathan Crary, Hal Foster et al, Zone 1/2; City , (New York: Urzone Publications, 1986). See also Jonathan Raban, Soft City (London: Harvill Press, 1998).

8Markus Wolf, Man without a Face: The Memoirs of a Spymaster (London: Jonathan Cape, 1997), 114.

9For analytical surveys of Wenders' films, see ed. Roger F. Cook and Gerd Gemünden, The Cinema of Wim Wenders: Image, Narrative, and the Postmodern Condition (Michegan: Wayne State University Press, 1997), Thomas Elsaesser, New German Cinema, A History (London: Macmillan 1994), Kathe Geist, The Cinema of Wim Wenders: From Paris France to Paris Texas (Michegan: UMI Research Press, 1988), and Robert Phillip Kolker and Peter Beicken, The Films of Wim Wenders: Cinema as Vision and Desire (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press 1993).

10 Wim Wenders cited in Jacques Derrida, Kurt Forster, and Wim Wenders, "The Berlin City Forum Symposium", Architectural Design, 62 (Nov-Dec 1992): 53.

11Jacques Derrida cited in Derrida, Forster, and Wenders, "The Berlin City Forum Symposium", 45, 50, 51.

12Brian Ladd, The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 7-39.

13Jürgen Habermas, The Berlin Republic (Cambridge & Oxford: Polity Press, 1998), 17-40.

14Ladd, The Ghosts of Berlin, 18.

15Dick Hebdige, "Guilt Trips; Coming Up Against The Wall", Art + Text, 36 , May 1990, (Sydney: College of Fine Arts Press) 52-69.

16Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, (Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1988), 99.

17For more on the way tourism may be transforming toursists' senses of identity, and time-space and location, refer to "Chapter 10: Mobility, Modernity and Place" in Scott Lash and John Urry, Economies of Signs and Space, (London: Sage, 1994), pp 252-278.

18Susan Sontag cited by John Urry, The Tourist Gaze : Leisure and Travel in Contemporary Societies (London: Sage, 1990), 138. See also Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism; trans Harry Zohn (London: New Left Books 1973). For an analysis of walking in the city, see de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 91-130.

19Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire, 35-54.

20de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 91.

21For an exposition of the "classical" technique of relating space and memory, see Frances A. Yates, The Art of Memory (London: Pimlico Press, 1992), 17-41.

22Wim Wenders, The Logic of Images (London: Faber & Faber 1992), 98.

23For an analyses of Margaret Thatcher's economic rationalist policies on the un(der)employed, see Will Hutton, The State To Come (London: Vintage 1997), 35-41.

24Howard Caygill "The Futures of Berlin's Potsdamer Platz", ed. A Scott, The Limits of Globalisation, (Routledge: London 1997), 25-54.

25In Wings of Desire, Homer is the storyteller who remembers Berlin as it was in the 1920s and eventually decides to go looking for Potsdamerplatz amongst the ruins and the shadows of the Berlin Wall.

26Wim Wenders, The Act of Seeing (London: Faber & Faber, 1997), 104-105.

27Caygill "The Futures of Berlin's Potsdamer Platz", ed A Scott, The Limits of Globalisation.

28In a recent interview, Eugene Victor Walter recently made the point about the (linguistic) distinction in Ancient Greek between topos as empty space and choros as a place that is enrichened with a sense of love or affection for it by walking, talking and singing. Walter went on to add that the word choros was linked to chorus and thus talking and singing (as a linguistic act) where intimate acts tied to the rendering of empty space (topos) into a sacred place of love (chora). Refer to Phillip Adams, "Late Night Live", broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday 15th August, 2001. See also E. V. Walter, Placeways: A Theory of the Human Environment, (North Carolina: University of Nth Carolina Press, 1988) 120-121.

29See the treatise on nomadology, the refrain, territorialisation and deterritorialisation in Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Masumi (London: Athlone Press, 1988), 299-302, 312, 317, 321, 347-348.

30For a discussion on the differences between officially sanctioned writing (such as advertising) and unofficial writings (such as graffiti), see Tim Cresswell, "Night Discourse", in Images of the Street: Planning, Identity, and Control in Public Space, ed. Nicholas R. Fyfe (London: Routledge, 1998), 268-274.

31Ladd, The Ghosts of Berlin, p 28.

32See also Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage 1978).

33There are trends that suggest that China is being cajoled into again taking up this role, something that would certainly restore the linguistic system of the West, but would be disastrous for global politics.

34There are many useful ideas in Chambers' first chapter "An Impossible Homecoming", where, in addition to his own thoughts, the author also refers to Rudolf Pannwitz who was quoted by Walter Benjamin. See Iain Chambers, migrancy, culture, identity (London: Routledge 1994), 2, 3, 4, (the quote comes from page 4).

35Paul Carter cited in Chambers, migrancy, culture, identity, 5.

36Emmanuel Levinas, "The Trace of the Other", in, Deconstruction in Context, Literature and Philosophy, ed. Mark C. Taylor (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 345-359, (especially 356-359).

37Jean Luc Nancy, The Birth of Presence (California: Stanford University Press, 1993), 189-207, (the quote is from 197).

38I refer to David Cronenberg's (dir.) eXistenZ, (1999), a film in which people have computer ports inserted at the bottom of their spines so that they can participate with other living subjects in a computer generated game that combines reality with the simulated possibilities of the game's codes and rules.

39Nancy, The Birth of Presence, 189.

40See the entry on Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak in The Icon Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought, ed. Stuart Sim (Cambridge, UK: Icon Books, 1998), 362.

41Homi K. Bhabha, "Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse", October, ed Rosalind Krauss and Annette Michelson, 28, (Massachusettes Institute of Technology, Spring 1984) pp 125 - 133. Refer also to the entry on Subaltern Theory in The Icon Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought, ed. Sim, 366.

42Tzvetan Todorov, "Bilingualism, Dialogism, and Schizophrenia," New Formations: The Question of 'Home', 17 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, summer 1992), 23.

43Mikhail Epstein, Alexander A Genis, Slobodanka M. Vladiv-Glover, Russian Postmodernism; New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture (New York & Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1999), 326. (Thanks to Slobodanka Vladiv-Glover for introducing me to Epstein's work.)

44For more on art as a sign system where meaning is seen as an 'operative' language, see Alphonso Lingis' "Translator's Preface" in Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, ed. Claude Lefort (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968), l-liii.

45William L. McBride, Sartre's Political Theory (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1991).

46Ernesto Laclau has developed a cogent argument for the preservation of progressive language games based on a "universalism" as a "contingent historical product." In the concluding paragraphs of his Emancipation(s) (London & New York: Verso/New Left Books, 1996), 122-123, Laclau rejects the use of terms like "God" and "Nature" on the grounds that they discourage people from becoming "strong poets" - that is to say, terms like God and Nature, as it seems to Laclau, reduce people's capacity to act out of their own volition, and are instead inclined to defer their creativity extrinsically. I see similarities between the idea of "strong poet[s]" and Heinze von Foerster's notions of the self creating "autopoesis" of "non trivial machines." Foerster ascribes the term autopoesis to the Chilean neuro-philosophers F. Varela, U. Maturana, and G. Uribe. See Lynn Segal, The Dream of Reality: Heinze von Foerster's Constructivism (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 1986), 127-128.

In contrast to Laclau, I use multiple epistemologies and emergent ontologies (similar, perhaps, to the idea of ontochronology found in Heidegger) because I am not completely comfortable with the word 'universalism'. I remain committed to ideas of "multiculturalisms" as a recognition of multiple, co-existent languages. I do concede, however, that Laclau speaks about (multiple) language games, so perhaps this is more an argument over our choice of words.

47Wolf, Man without a Face, 98-122.

48See also Scott Lash and John Urry, Economies of Signs And Space, pp 314-326

49I use of the word 'God' because I want to suggest that there is almost certainly always something inexplicable about space that the human mind cannot fully know and understand within or through language. Recognising the limits of human language means, first and foremost, that we remain humble about our own capacities and capabilities to apprehend space and any claims we might wish to make over it, our sense of place, and the faith we have in our knowledge and understanding over it.