To cite a length Pamela K. Gilbert’s essay, “Sex and the modern city: English studies and the spatial turn,” from The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Persectives (eds. Barney Warf and Santa Arias),
[A]s both Foucauldians and Marxists agree, human experience of space is always mediated by human relations with the world, material and discursive. Space is, then, not an Euclidean given; it is a materiality which we always experience both temporally and through a number of beliefs and practices. Most theorists posit two types of space superimposed on or coexisting with each other: physical space and social space (what Neil Smith calls relative space). Physical space encompasses both the natural or “given” and the built environment, and of course, as Smith points out, nature is itself produced, both ideologically and physically, through human interaction with the land, and through various scientific practices which seek to measure it. Place – the particularities of a named space experienced as unified with clear boundaries, characteristics, and history – was often asserted as charged with meaning against the abstraction of modern space. Place could be claimed as home, as related to the construction of identity and values. From both the feminist and the Marxist sides, ideas of place were eventually critiqued – even attacked – as nostalgic mystifications of inequality and essentialism. (103)
Home and concepts of home become target sites for sources of conflict and sites of oppression, built upon a history of informing a place of its unlimited conjecture of more-real-than-life tropes and confusion of resources; as wastelands of embodied beads of desire where we seek freedom and stages of resistance. Commonality between feminism and Marxism is often glossed over, perhaps not always explored as the unique identifiers of gender is or capitalism incursions, though clearly they are abetted towards many mutual inclinations to freedom of thought and resilience under pressure. Kathleen M. Kirby elaborates further in her boundary article, “Thinking through the Boundary: The Politics of Location, Subjects, and Space” (1993) how the body and locality are uniquely tied, as I touched upon in the last section. Freedom from the oppression of place is to be explored through an understanding of space and the foundations of demarcated rhythms of holistically global artifice and acupuncture of spanning time with our senses towards the reasoning of neglect. Kirby states,
Space has the capacity to figure many of the different aspects of identity – the psyche as volume, the body as container, discourse as spatial network, groups as closed circles, and the aloof expanses of geography and nation. Space brings together the material and the abstract, the body and the mind, the objective interaction of physical subjects and the elusive transience of consciousness (or the unconscious). Space is our environment, it links us to our environment and seems to fortify a distinction between self and environment, girding (and guarding) an interiority. As a metaphorical substrate, space provides the very medium for measuring interconnection and difference, similarity and distance-markers that become important in evaluating the possibilities of coalition or the desirability of separatism. Space, then, seems to offer a medium for articulating-speaking and intertwining-the many facets, or phases, of subjectivity that have interested different kinds of theory: national origin, geographic and territorial mobility (determined by class, gender, and race), bodily presence and limits, structures of consciousness, and ideological formations of belonging and exclusion. (174)
This is seen in literature as a form, but this form is much more triumphant in its dispersal through time as a weight on which structured “reality” rests. Yes, through literature we can begin to attest to our breaking points, but there is a wide margin between negotiating the storyform and reigniting the cacophony of bonds which restrain our reasoned intellectualism from asserting our potential onto real space. Roxanne R. Reed writes in “The Restorative Power of Sound: A Case for Communal Catharsis in Toni Morrison’s Beloved” (The Journal of Feminist Studies of Religion, 2007), that “[t]he process of spiritual development is figured in Morrison’s novels as salvation. The concept of re-memory (remembrance) recurs in Morrison’s novels and facilitates the redemption. The catalyst for re-memory comes through sound, and for the characters in Beloved sound assures communal salvation as the ultimate goal” (66). Here an instigator of release of a physical embodiment of the unexplored emotional depth as indicated and exposed through “sound” that feels out its space and harvests the rhythm of space-time’s journey into the unknown that is always-already known through communal experience. Memory is narrative. Memory is also a catalyst for change.
What is remembrance but concentration through time? And in that a breach into space, or, a place that neglects the reasoning of time. Feminist circles have reasoned that without liberation from First World market competitive dominance, resistance on the fronts in non-First World nations is a constant struggle that does not guarantee victory in space or time or through commercial assets. As Audre Lorde proclaimed, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” When First World feminists uphold the values of glass-ceiling victories to bring wealth and power to the individual, but not liberation or even the tools of liberation to the global marketplace then place, here, is indeed justified to be “ critiqued – even attacked – as nostalgic mystifications of inequality and essentialism.” We demystify space through literature, as Roxanne R. Reed is alluding to, but through that process we must take the next step and demystify our own enclaves of neglected staged rebellion. For in that space of neglected staged rebellion is the neglected body that will continue to despair within the confines of spaces of whiteness and capitalism.
Painting: DELITA MARTIN’S I SEE GOD IN US/ TRINITY, (2020).