Église Saint Honora, Alyscamps, Arles, France

Doors are entrances into or exits from some a place. The Roman god Janus was the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings, hence a connection with beginnings and endings. An open door represents a new opportunity, a beginning. On the other hand, a closed door represents an ending. Unlike windows, if they are open, they allow passage through the wall. If they are closed, they represent a barrier, but unlike that role of a wall, they add frustration from a denied opportunity. Being closed might represent a specific act of power. Unlike the spectator sport that windows offer, doors allow active participation. An open door allows the movement and thus the integration of things [people].

This porosity exists within time and space. On entering an ancient castle we experience the space bound by the walls, the height of the ceilings, the size of the rooms, and the types of rooms. We also develop a sense of the past. We walk along corridors that have been travelled for hundreds and may be thousands of years.

The door as a portal of access to what’s on the other side applies to intellectual and cultural matters as well. Often there are language barriers. Local cultural norms may be difficult to understand and overcome. Or locals might resist. Do I take the cruise-offered guided walking tour through the old town, which includes transportation and lunch, or do I go out on my own, find a restaurant, get lost, struggle with the local language, use hand signals, take the local bus? Physical access vs. a deeper engagement. Neither is better nor worse than the other; each has their place. They are simply different.

Église Saint-Trophime, Arles, France

When we let people into our house we expect them to pay attention to certain norms of behaviour. We have similar expectations with tourists. Tourists travel with objectives, ranging simply from rest-and-recuperation to heritage and cultural enlightenment. They often arrive in hordes overwhelming local infrastructure. Streets are crowded with pedestrians, traffic is jammed, local businesses re-align their services to meet their needs, apartments are recast to support tourism, reducing rental space available to the local population or escalating rents beyond what is affordable. The theory is that tourism bring jobs and money, but places like Venice have been overrun and have become sites of [tourist] experience rather than sites where one can live.

Historically, global corporations have sought locations that benefit their business: low wages, access to markets, access to materials, etc. As transportation costs have reduced over the past century, the choice of location is now effectively world-wide. As first-world economies increase regulatory requirements, such as for labour practices, safety and environment controls, companies have sought locations where a reduced regulatory framework benefits their requirements, such as a chemical plant locating in a region where there are no expensive safety controls. This is changing as in recent years some companies have been held to account.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *