Landscapes: Space and Place

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Mediterranean Sea, near Marseille. 

When Europeans first saw North America, what many reported seeing was a vast, empty space. When many North Americans visit Europe for the first time, they are enthralled by the history of the place. How one interprets what they see before them is informed by their understanding of its history. None and the space is a void, empty, nothing. One with a long history of events, memories, is a place. The latter might stir some emotion — a sense of home — the former can feel cold, inert.  Space vs. Place. 

When I look out onto the Mediterranean near Marseille, I am aware of the seafaring Greeks and Phoenicians who arrived on this bit of coastline over two-thousand years ago.  But this is not my history; it’s a learnt history.  This second-hand knowledge decouples me from this as a place. It subdues my sense of place. I can see this as both a space and a place.  One man’s space can be another’s place.  Just like the European settlers who arrived who saw space, vs. the indigenous peoples who lived in the place. 


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