An inhibition of movement is always an opportunity for the reconsideration of space and spaces. This might concern public spaces, or living spaces, but also the transitive spaces that we cross in our daily lives. In the current pandemic, this revision seems to have taken a specific form: Movement was indeed inhibited for us, who inhabit and occupy spaces, but at the same time, it continued in other forms. For example, while we didn’t have the opportunity to go window shopping and strolling through malls, online sales have soared. The movement of the commodity and of money – indispensable for our economic system – has completely detached from our movement within spaces. Of course, the headphones we ordered online need to traverse a physical space, but it is a purely linear one, a line from A to B. The detachment of movement and space, a tendency that was obviously already present, seems to be complete. The new ideal of home office – not only saving the company the cost of office spaces and electricity, and the time lost in public transport – reduces the multiplicity of spaces to the one space we inhabit; we can be productive members of society without getting out of our chairs. Sure, this ideal is awfully middle-class, the return of ‘my castle my home’, safely protected from the circulation of the virus, while the abstract lines that our commodities and our money cross are sustained by a complex net of logistics based on the labour of packers and drivers. But the warehouse (dot) and the road (line) also participate in this abstraction. Whatever does not disappear, can at least become invisible, just like the factory did throughout the last century.
The reapprehension of spaces therefore seems to have uncovered once again a political urgency. The complete economization and rationalization of life butts up against this unabstractable problematic, which always develops itself via an undissolvable dispersal – logistics before statistics. The ancients were probably right to venerate geometry, but they seemingly drew the wrong lesson. It’s not the rigor of its demonstrations that make it such a venerable science, but rather the depth of its problems, that in turn lend their weight and substance to these demonstrations. But, here, if we are to grasp this weight, then we see that these geometrical problematics underline the ethical, the political, the psychological and the creative. Logistics before statistics, and the relational space of the ethical before its principled and axiomatic calculus.
It is the age-old question of the possibility of truly democratic spaces. Beyond efficiency, and even justice, beyond the optimization of distribution: the unity of movement and space.
Cover illustration: Arthur Rackham, from “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” [Detail], (1907)