A radical postmodern political programme? 6
his notion of ¡¥heterotopias¡¦ as the characteristic spaces of the modern world, superseding the hierarchic ¡¥ensemble of places¡¦ of the Middle Ages and the enveloping ¡¥space of emplacement¡¦ opened up by Galilileo into into an early-modern, infinitely unfolding, ¡¥space of extension¡¦ and measurement. Moving away from the ¡¥internal space¡¦ of Bachelard¡¦s brilliant poetics (1969) and the intentional regional descriptions of the phenomenologists, Foucault focused our attention on another spatiality of social life, an ¡¥external space¡¦, the actually lived (and socially produced) space of sites and the relations between them:
¡§The space in which we live, which draws us out of ourselves, in which the erosion of our lives, our time and our history occurs, the space that claws and gnaws at us, is also, it itself, a heterogeneous space. In other words, we do not live in a kind of void, inside of which we could place individuals and things. ¡Kwe live inside a set of relations that delineates sites which are irreducible to one another and absolutely not superimposable on one another. (23)¡¨
heterotopia v.s. utopia¡XF contrasts these ¡¥real places¡¦ with the ¡¥fundamentally unreal spaces¡¦ of utopias, which present society in either ¡¥a perfect form¡¦ or else ¡¥turned upside down¡¦:
¡§The heterotopia is capable of juxtaposing in a single real place several spaces, several sites that are in themselves incompatible. . . they have a function in relation to all the space that remains. This function unfolds between two extreme poles. Either their role is to create a space of illusion that exposes every real space, all the sites inside of which human life is partitioned, as still more illusory. . . Or else, on the contrary, their role is to create a space that is other, another real space, as perfect, as meticulous, as well arranged as ours is messy, ill constructed, and jumbled. The latter type would be the heterotopia, not of illusion, but of compensation, and I wonder if certain colonies have not functioned somewhat in this manner.
General argument 129