Places nest in landscape

 “Places nest in landscape according to viewer intentions. Each individual defines a different set of relevant places based on anticipated behaviour. Thus architect John Donat writes: “Places occur at all levels of identity, my place, your place, street, community, town, county, region, country, and continent, but places never conform to tidy hierarchies of classification. They all overlap and interpenetrate one another and are wide open to a variety of interpretation.” Generally, people focus on the settings or situations relevant to the needs at hand, ignoring all others. This profound notion that place meaning shifts with behavioural intent has, probably more than any other fact, discouraged geographers and others from operationalising the place concept in research design. Whose cognition are we to study? Which behavioural motivations are most significant?”

(page 7)

John A. Jakle. The Visual Elements of Landscape. Amherst: UMass Press, 1987.

Borrowed from the Bibliothèque d’aménagement, Université de Montréal.

Today is two milliseconds longer than yesterday

“Like a slowing top, Earth spins slower and slower with each passing moment, making days longer now than in the past. As the planet rotates, the water in the ocean moves about and serves to brake the spin of the planet. That is why today is two milliseconds longer than yesterday.”

(page 55)

Neil Shubin. The Universe Within: The Deep History of the Human Body. New York: Vintage, 2013. Ebook.

Borrowed in digital format from the Vancouver Public Library.

Places are situations in space and time

 “Concern with landscape visualization necessarily begins with the idea of place and explores the manner by which different kinds of places are identified by different kinds of people in search of various sorts of satisfaction. Certainly, places, as behavioural settings, have spatial context. They also, however, have temporal dimension because they open and close at set points in time and thus function for set durations of time, often with cyclical regularity. They are occupied by people (usually a limited range of types), by activities (usually a limited set of general behaviours), and by a limited array of furnishings supportive of those behaviours. Thus places are situations in space and time anticipated according to ongoing behaviours as defined by actors, their activities, and the props supportive of those activities. Meanings are attached to places according to the expectations people develop in their repeated rounds of place encounter.”

(pages 4–5)

John A. Jakle. The Visual Elements of Landscape. Amherst: UMass Press, 1987.

Borrowed from the Bibliothèque d’aménagement, Université de Montréal.

The ways we parse the moments of our lives

“Humans are a timekeeping species, and much of our history can be traced to the ways we parse the moments of our lives. These intervals are based as much on astronomical cycles as on our needs, desires, and the ways we interact with one another. When the necessities of shelter, hunting, and survival were highly dependent on days and seasons, humans used timepieces derived from the sun, moon, and stars. Other early timepieces relied on gravity, with hourglasses that used sand or water clocks such as those first seen in Egypt in 4000BC. Our need to keep time has itself evolved; an ever-increasing necessity to fragment time corresponds to the demands of our society, commerce, and travel. The concept of moments parsed into second would have been as alien to our cave-dwelling ancestors as seeing a jet plane.”

(page 53)

Neil Shubin. The Universe Within: The Deep History of the Human Body. New York: Vintage, 2013. Ebook.

Borrowed in digital format from the Vancouver Public Library.

Platial behaviour

 “The process of selecting among alternative places in order to pursue a specific behaviour is the essence of what geographers call human spatial behaviour. Traditionally, geographers have been preoccupied with the locational aspects of place selection and thus have preferred the adjective spatial to describe their research. The adjective place-seeking or even newly contrived words, such as place-specific or platial (as in platial behaviour) are in my opinion more appropriate. Location is merely one criterion by which places are known and selected as settings for intended activity. For [geographer Edward] Relph, location or position is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of place, even if it is a very common condition. He writes: “Location in the strict cartographic sense is merely an incidental quality of place.”

(page 4)

John A. Jakle. The Visual Elements of Landscape. Amherst: UMass Press, 1987.

Borrowed from the Bibliothèque d’aménagement, Université de Montréal.

We track our fishy past

“The human kidney, like that of other mammals, is a magnificent adaptation to life on land; kidneys help kangaroo rats and antelope live in dry deserts, surviging only on the water locked inside the molecules of their food. Yet deep within this most unique of terrestrial organs lie roots of its aquatic origins. All jawless fish – ones we share a common ancestor with over 500 million years ago – have a very primitive kind of kidney: tissues that run the length of the body, take fluid wastes from the blood stream, and dump them directly into the body cavity, ultimately allowing for excretion from an opening at the tail. Bony fish, which share a common ancestor with us 450 million years ago, have a more specialized arrangement in which these clumps of tissue connect to a plumbing system that carries wastes outside the body. The most recent of these kidneys, the system that mammals use, doesn’t run the length of the body but sits at the level of the lower back.

During our time in the womb, we form three different kinds of kidneys, one after the other. The first kidneys are clumps of tissue that line the body and open to the body cavity, much like those seen in jawless fish. The second, like those of bony fish, run the length of the back to a common plumbing system. The adult kidney, which appears at the end of the first trimester, replaces both of these. In our first three months, we track our fishy past.”

(page 40)

Neil Shubin. The Universe Within: The Deep History of the Human Body. New York: Vintage, 2013. Ebook.

Borrowed in digital format from the Vancouver Public Library.

Rarely is the seeing of things, in and of itself, an essential concern

“Most students of cultural landscape focus on objects in the built environment, both individual structures and clusters of structures defined as settlement forms. Form is usually seen to follow from function both in the static sense of utility manifest in objects at a single point in time, and in the dynamic sense of utility evolving over time in changing forms. Such emphases undoubtedly follow the layperson’s tendency to see function in landscape, often to the exclusion of other characteristics of place. Objects are seen and given meaning primarily for their anticipated use. Rarely is the seeing of things, in and of itself, an essential concern.

The visualization of landscape has been taken very much for granted in this emphasis on utility. That various people might see and thus define elements of a landscape variously, or that the same person might see the same landscape differently, even in similar circumstances, has received serious attention only recently.”

(page 3)

John A. Jakle. The Visual Elements of Landscape. Amherst: UMass Press, 1987.

Borrowed from the Bibliothèque d’aménagement, Université de Montréal.