Marc Augé – Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity

…and the abundance of verbiage and documentation really does make it possible to identify Chateaubriand’s holy places as a non-place, very similar to the ones outlined in pictures and slogans by our guidebooks and brochures…

The spelling out of a position, a ‘posture’, an attitude in the most physical and commonplace sense of the term, comes at the end of a movement that empties the landscape, and the gaze of which it is the object, of all content and meaning…

In my opinion these shifts of gaze and plays of imagery, this emptying of the consciousness, can be caused – this time in systematic, generalized and prosaic fashion – by the characteristic features of what I have proposed to call ‘supermodernity’. These subject the individual consciousness to entirely new experiences and ordeals of solitude, directly linked with the appearance and proliferation of non-places…

Clearly the word ‘non-place’ designates two complementary but distinct realities: spaces formed in relation to certain ends (transport, transit, commerce, leisure), and the relations that individuals have with these spaces…

The link between individuals and their surroundings in the space of non-place is established through the mediation of words, or even texts…

Certain places exist only through the words that evoke them, and in this sense they are non-places: banal utopias, clichés. They are the opposite of Michel de Certeau’s non-place. Here the word does not create a gap between the everyday functionality and lost myth: it creates the image, produces the myth and at the same stroke makes it work…

‘Anthropological place’ is formed by individual identities, through complicities of language. local references, the unformulated rules of living know-how; non-place creates the shared identity of passengers, customers or Sunday drivers…

Supermodernity (which stems simultaneously from the three figures of excess: overabundance of events, spatial overabundance and the individualization of references) naturally finds its full expression in non-places…

The community of human destinies is experienced in the anonymity of non-place, and in solitude.

Augé, Marc (1995), Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, translated by John Howe, Verso.

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