Sunday, August 22, 2010

"The Hidden Dimension" HALL, E.T.

Published in 1966, "The Hidden Dimension" is one of the very few attempts in documenting psychological effects in correlations with our environment. The concept of PROXEMICS is introduced by the author to mean "interrelated observations and theories of man's use of space as a specialized elaboration of culture". While measurements of space often only means limitation of site and regulation by default, the author argued for a strong case that the effect social distances have on us is rooted in our biological past, and can be precisely measured into centimeters. Subject to a much greater degree of variation, however, is man's perception of space; which is filtered by our (cultural conditioned) senses, language, and even personality development.

"When approached too closely, these schizophrenics panic in much the same way as an animal recently locked up in a zoo. In describing their feelings, such patients refer to anything that happens within their "flight distance" as taking place literally inside themselves. That is, the boundaries of the self extend beyond the body. These experiences recorded by therapists working with schizophrenics indicate that the realization of the self as we know it is intimately associated with the process of making boundaries explicit." (p12)

Prolonged social intrusion beyond these defined distances (most likely due to overpopulation) would unleash biochemical defense mechanism, or simply put, crowding induces stress. Not only psychological distress but a BEHAVIORAL SINK results in observation of "gross distortions of behavior...(as) the outcome of any behavioral process that collects animals together in unusually great numbers." Such observations necessarily suggests city today as a collective sink, that perhaps deviant behaviors, suicides and crimes, roots in the idea of urbanization itself.

To complicate the matter further, perception of density, and space in general, is not objective, but subject to the alternation of kinesthetic experience:

"As he moves through space, man depends on the messages received from his body to stabilize his visual world. Without such body feedback, a great many people lose contact with reality and hallucinate. The importance of being able to integrate visual and kinesthetic experience has been demonstrated by two psychologists, Held and Heim, when they carried kittens through a maze along the same track on which other kittens were allowed to walk. The kittens that were carried failed to develop 'normal visual spatial capacities.'" (p66)

Living in the society of automobiles, sounds like we are born handicapped in visual-spatial capacities, and the "city" exists only in our hallucination.

No comments:

Post a Comment