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Nov 16, 2007



Greg! I have just written a paper for a discourse and culture conference which LINKS the notions of the magic circle and heterotopia. I'm presenting it next week. Essentially I look at Second Life as being a space where the cline of imagined freedoms (from a feminist perspective) is significantly reduced the moment the magic circle is broken! What a coincidence I saw this cfp here right now just when I finished writing that paper. Anyway my question to you is why do you suggest a CONTRAST?
I'd love to find out what you meant before I presented my paper :)
Angela (aka Anya Ixchel)


I get a kick out of the "criticism" assuming, pervasive in so many fields, that an exception negates the validity of a theory.

The alternative would be looking for validation by corelations...ie like proving a genetic commponent for a disease by the statistically significant difference between a twin also getting a disease and the general population.

"proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space", involving and absorbing players utterly into a separate world set off from the "ordinary" life, while being created and maintained by communities of players."

I think that the separation issue here is misconstrued. The "utter" separation I think refers to an entirely new vector, that there is a "game reality" .. not that all movements within the game are uninfluenced by the outside reality.

A rather extreme illustration would be to put a sail on top of my car. The sail would be a new system of propulsion which could be examined in its own right even if I always used the sail in conjunction with the engine. The influence of the sail could be examined by subtracting the known inlfuence of the engine from the speed behvior of the car.

It wouldn't be correct refute the separateness of the sail as a means of propulsion just because it was usually used in conjunction with the engine.

The games are separate realities, but because people playing the games bring human traits, language, traditions into that separate world, that which is observed is a mix of that separate world and the other influences external to the game.

The mixing doesnt argue against the separateness as a vector any more than aerodynamic drag reduces the power of an engine. Drag reduces speed, not propulsive force. People playing checkers have for the duration of play, thrown a situational separate reality onto their mix of actions, though t, concious, etc.. A reality can scale in its degree of control of those gauges.. its not a boolean all or nothing thing.


Shander -- I agree.

Angela -- I'm hardly a Foucault expert, but my sense is that the notion was kind of vaguely sketched out in a couple radio broadcasts and then fleshed out in text here in ways that tend to be a bit contradictory: http://foucault.info/documents/heteroTopia/foucault.heteroTopia.en.html

Here's a key bit of definition:
"But among all these sites, I am interested in certain ones that have the curious property of being in relation with all the other sites, but in such a way as to suspect, neutralize, or invent the set of relations that they happen to designate, mirror, or reflect."

I've found a few paper that speak of sports fields and play areas as heterotopic, but none that tie those notions to Huizinga's concept of the play element.

I see much more commonality than I do difference, and I'd be just as happy to see someone think through the commonalities. If I had to look for differences, I guess, among the interesting distinctions are that whereas Focault sees the heterotopia as a site of potential political resistance (at least that is how his comments are read today by many), Huizinga sees the play space as separate and transcendent -- autotelic as Bernard Suits might say.

And whereas Foucault sees the heterotopia as reflecting, inverting, and interpenetrating dominant spaces, Huizinga sees play spaces as more dependent on boundaries and the independent creation of a new social order. Indeed, he seems explicitly concerned about the potential for the corruption of play spaces by their commercialization or mediation by external influences.

Anyway, that's just off the cuff. If you post your paper online, please send us a link! :-)


Linking Finland Foucault and Space:
in the 70s the Greek architect Demetri Porphyrios used heterotopia in his book on the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Apart from practising as an architect himself, I think I recall Porphrios was also a Greek housing minister so perhaps he managed to implement some of these ideas?
ah yes ref http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demetri_Porphyrios

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