PLACES OF HAUNTED GEOGRAPHY/LANDSCAPE/ARCHITECTURE; AND WHY I SEE THEM THUS

Flughafen Tempelhof: gargantuan empty passenger lounge, when airport still open

1.TEMPELHOF AIRPORT, BERLIN

It carries with it, in the present,its own haunted history, enspectred by evil incarnate(Hitler’s vision of the grand airport of the gateway to his Fascist Germania), and goodness manifest; an aporia, if you like; its habitation of diametrically opposed psychological spaces adds to its spectrehood; it is split beween itself(see earlier collage on its conflicted, complex history). Also, it was not quite finished: the rooftop space, meant to be the meetingplace for Hitler’s rallies was never utilized. It is also haunted by its endless underground passages, which housed God know what instruments of terror. But, conversely and contradictorily, it was  also the location for the “raisin bombers”, the Allied forces’ planes dropping food parcels to beleaguered and cut-off West Berlin (by the Soviets in 1948): it was literally a lifeline, as Stalin cut off the tenuous rail links, and only the few air corridors into the isolated area, 100 miles from the West German border, remained. And, finally,when it closed in October 2008, it had 12 flights per day(sic!), local-haul business flights, small propellor planes; it had a semi-deserted mammoth departure lounge, a tiny duty-free shop, a travelator with little luggage on it, a small cafe, and this was the utilised part; there were miles of disused corridors, offices, an obselete baseball court: it had an air of desuetudinously outstaying its natural life span, like Lewis’s in its last 15 years or so…

So, Tempelhof is a place of spectral geography/architecture because, still standing monolithically(though the runways are now a public park), it carries its past into its present and uncertain future, like some spectral revenant. No-one knows what to do with it; it is its own spectre{I am indebted here to Derrida’s ideas of the “spectrology” of bankrupt or corrupted ideologies}

2.SUFFOLK AND SEBALDIAN SUFFOLK

a.Dykes leading nowhere, in right angular twists on empty, flat landscapes; spectral anyway, but especially because , but for the irrigation, the landscape would be under water: indeed there are plans to deliberately FLOOD parts of coastal Norfolk and Suffolk, should climate change reach the stage that sea-defences and irrigation should become unmanageable for the below sea-level areas.

b. In Fact, DUNWICH, once, the second largest city in the U.K, after London, and erstwhile a great port, is now mainly underwater: it slipped remorselessly onto the beach below, as the cliff crumbled, gradually but surely;just a few cottages remain, a tiny village, to which, I noticed, aimlessly planning bus routes across the county (not even having read “Rings of Saturn” at this point), one or two buses PER WEEK ran desulitorly, the ghost of a bus service, a token ackowledgement of Dunwich’s great and lost past.

c. DUNWICH HEATH’s empty vast space where the sebaldian narrator(in “Rings of Saturn” again)wanders aimlessly, at one point becoming so filled with a vague menacing sense of unease and malaise, that he LITERALLY becomes paralyzed briefly,circles around in a maze, as a metaphor, perhaps, for how he wrote, circuitously,around the subject of the Holocaust, in his other fiction, but also for his state of mind(torpid and enrvated), mirroring in turn the ghostliness and the repetetiveness of the Suffolk landscape, and, finally,alighting on the house of his friend Michael Hamburger, the poet, now truly spectral, dead as he is now.

d. ORFORD NESS: with its folly -like(in appearance only, but, in actuality, total desolation) bizarre, architectural relics of Cold War testing programmes, now defunct as an installation(there is a quintessentially grainy sebaldian photograph of one of the pagoda-like structures in “Rings of Saturn”)

Roofless hulk of a station. Lowestoft

e. LOWESTOFT CENTRAL STATION, with its collapsed and then removed roof ,and original (?early British Railways) blue sign, announcing “Lowestoft Central”(sic), when the other stations in Lowestoft closed years ago: a spectral re-visitation(revenant) from the past, almost making us think, as we view it in the now, that the other stations are still operational, the outer building still(just) standing, around the central carapace, where once the trainshed overall roof was

These, in Sebald’s re-envisionings, or in the “reality’ they inhabit, are clearly examples of spectral/haunted landscape/geography in the senses of: the past acting as a ghostly revenant in the present(Orford Ness/Lowestoft “Central”);the spectrology of the future if we do not abandon our polarized and warring ideologies(Orford Ness); and the vertical nature of ALL time,-past, present, future-in the sense of it co-existing in memory and landscape(tales told of the history of Dunwich town,and the eternal-or is it? see above-nature of all landscape, usually, as it does, outliving mankind, which become spectral because WE die). Obviously, their desuetude also mirrors OUR OWN empty psychological and ghostly places, of contested identities, illness and malaise.

3. LEWIS’S DEPARTMENT STORE LIVERPOOL

Not the actual sign;but there IS no access and the emergency exit was used

Lewis’s(see earlier mammoth posting),now-probably-a (temporarily, till rebuilt, and the back of the shop knocked out from within)empty shell. Still, in the future re-development, it will carry the signs “Lewis’s”, though no shop now, ANYwhere(Liverpool was the last outpost), exists. The past as a ghostly return; and presence within the NOW; vertical time again. There is, poignantly, a sign in a now deserted, former display window, “Lewis’s apologizes for any inconvenience”(sic!), an almost Benjaminesque, ironic, quirky vestige of capitalism, the tiny remnant of what was once one of the largest shopping empires in the U.K.

4. PRIPYAT AND CHERNOBYL

The former denizens of these ertwhile, now skeletal, cities, are beginning to return to what were(and still, psychologically and emotionally, ARE their homes), previously, since the unspeakably horrific Chernobyl nuclear accident,inhabited only by feral animals. Pripyat neighboured the plant: it was the city for the workers there; and its ruined, Stalinized, monolithic (mock)Haussmannesque boulevards stand spectrally, a grim reminder of human callousness.Now there are even TOURS of the city(even thougn it is still within the nuclear fall-out, radioactive  exclusion zone); and people are still dying of cancers and radiation sickness. We cannot escape this past awful activity in our present; and the spectral geography obviously lies in the fact that these types of buidings still stand, shakily, like the half-dead, their insides RIPPED OUT by nuclear explosion, as poignant and horrific remnants and reminders of the horror unleashed by the accident; and are also haunting in the ineffably poignant attempts to re-claim their homelands by their former inhabitants

Advertisements

Published by: decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)

Categories Uncategorized3 Comments

3 thoughts on “PLACES OF HAUNTED GEOGRAPHY/LANDSCAPE/ARCHITECTURE; AND WHY I SEE THEM THUS”

  1. Thank you, Steve. I’m delighted to find this morning the additions (both your prose and the photos) to the discussion of spectral geography, in part because last evening I began to re-read “Rings of Saturn.” Love, Merry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s