Analysis Of Yiu Tuan's Space And Place By Yi-Fu Tuon

1911 Words 8 Pages
In the introduction to his book Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, geographer Yi-Fu Tuan defines his concepts of space and place, writing that “undifferentiated space becomes place as we get to know it better and endow it with value” (Tuan p.6). By using this language Tuan creates a dichotomy between the unknown and intimate with a clear preference for the latter. Earlier in the chapter, he writes that “place is security, space is freedom” (p.3) and in his chapter on the homeland, he writes about the "attachment of a deep though subconscious sort" (p.159) which humans have for their home, an "intimate place...of nurture where our fundamental needs are heeded" (Tuan p.137). It is clear Tuan values place as a defining characteristic …show more content…
He idealizes childhood similarly to Tuan as the original, natural order and one that we as humans are trying to return. He remembers fondly finding shelter in "a hollow in a rock" (p.22). A rock is the most simple of shelters, literally living inside the earth, and this is the ideal to which Thoreau aspires. Even his own house he creates a way to invoke a burrowing into the earth, having the dirt "raised five feel all around as if it were a compost heap" (p.33) and digs his cellar "where a woodchuck had formerly dug his burrow" (p.35). Indeed he goes on to call a house "a sort of porch at the entrance of a burrow" (p.33). Thoreau as an obsession with woodchucks, going so far as to “seize and devour him [the woodchuck] raw” (p.163), to consume the animal’s flesh in an attempt to become a woodchuck. He further has a visceral need to burrow into the earth like a woodchuck. He flatly says "my instinct tells me that my head is an organ for burrowing...and with it, I would mine and burrow my way through these hills" …show more content…
By going fishing he is calling back to the idea of burrowing by equating the two physical explorations. But time, unlike the earth, is not a physical object but instead a higher plane. He has a similar experience with a rainbow, calling it "a lake of rainbow light, in which, for a short while, I lived like a dolphin," (p.157). As a dolphin he is physically in the rainbow, swimming in it and experiencing it. It is through this context of the exploration of higher planes over the firm earth that Thoreau's more abstract ideas come to be. He explains that "the universe is wider than our views of it," (p.248), and indeed it is for one can have a deep experience with more than just the material world around oneself. By burrowing deep into the earth, Thoreau has passed through Tuan's "hierarchically organized schema" (Tuan p.89), a mythological view of the cosmos which equates the universe to layers and the human body. Indeed, Thoreau explores these layers while hoeing, saying he “disturbed the ashes of unchronicled nations who in primeval years lived under these heavens,” (Thoreau p.123). As he passes through the soil, he further explores not only the earth and its history, but his own body as Tuan’s cosmological design is a schema which "puts man at the center of a world" (Tuan p.91). By diving through it, Thoreau experiences a epiphany-like understandings of

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