As you may know, yesterday a powerful earthquake struck Mexico,
Damaging many cities and towns including Mexico City,
Where I used to live.
What I find interesting,
Thinking in terms of space and place,
(And the Poetics of Space?)
Is the following.
One can feel empathy when knowing about other people’s tragedies.
We can read about them,
We can see pictures,
We can see videos,
We can even get immersed in a VR experience,
We can indeed do many things
To “enter” into those worlds.
One can identify their problems as their own,
Fight for them,
What struck me yesterday,
Was noticing the very different sensation that appeared inside me
When looking at a picture or a video
Of a familiar place
Damaged, partially destroyed.
Even when trying to rationalize it,
When thinking “Well, it’s just a building”,
When thinking “Other people have it worse”,
When thinking “Nobody I know got hurt”,
The sensation, that I don’t know how to call,
Was powerful and was unavoidable.
For example, the school that was my second home
Where I studied high school
Where I studied my undergraduate degree
And where I taught in high school,
Is a place I had been for eleven years.
Watching pictures of its bridges destroyed and in the floor.
Caused and causes something definitely different than
Watching pictures of any other building in the world destroyed and in the floor.
I can imagine the horrifying sensation of
seeing those bridges fall,
hearing those bridges fall.
I am familiar with them.
I am connected to them.
What I find interesting to think,
Is how we, as creators in space,
Can create that familiarity,
Converting a space into a place.
A place that you can feel you know for many many years
And a place that can move you in a powerful and meaningful way
When you know that an earthquake strikes it.