Against simple identifications

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Presumed simple inhabitation: country living (near Ballachulish, Scotland)

Presumed simple inhabitation: consumerism (Nagoya, Japan)

Pressured self-inhabitation: Providence Place Mall

Those criticisms of modern places are wrong that depend on simple identifications, either thinking of us as floating place-makers with nowhere to dwell, or thinking of us as helpless pawns of some totalizing process.

There are, however, subtler versions of these criticisms, which agree that we are neither the simple products nor the lordly directors of meaning and grammar, but then go on to say that it is exactly because we are in that middle, and not in control, that we are vulnerable. These subtler criticisms admit our involvement in the process but see it as derailed or made inauthentic by factors that twist or repress our native spaciousness. But these factors are still seen as large totalizing forces.

We can lose touch with our own activity in the creation and the reproduction of social grammars. The empirical processes and social pressures that bring this about are not unstoppable transcendental forces. There is plenty of work to do dealing with the concrete details of this consumer society or that scheme of patriarchal oppression, without turning those into universal totalizing forces.

We can find room to maneuver in the temporal structures necessary for there to be any meaning at all, and in the excess meaning that is a condition for any meaning to be definite. These keep us from being rigidly confined or totally dominated. Indeed we slide around on these factors even when we are trying to make ourselves rigid and confined.