Yi-Fu Tuan’s Space and Place and Italian Gelato in Philly
Space and Place
I just finished a wonderful book. Though written in 1977, Yi-Fu Tuan’s Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience felt fresh and new; it revealed things about my experience that I have taken for granted.
For Tuan experience is both intimate and conceptual; it involves complex and often ambivalent feelings. Take the title and theme of the book: space and place. Tuan explains in the introduction that “place is security, space is freedom: we are attached to the one and long for the other.” But he quickly complicates these apparent dichotomies, explaining how space can become place as we gain familiarity with a space and “endow it with value.” Tuan continues, “the ideas ‘space’ and ‘place’ require each other for definition. From the security and stability of place we are aware of the openness, freedom, and threat of space, and vice versa. Furthermore, if we think of space as that which allows movement, then place is pause; each pause in movement makes it possible for location to be transformed into place.” I love how in this passage and throughout the book Tuan moves past the semi-obvious (though unnoticed and unheralded)—place and space inform each other—to the mind blowing, completely surprising revelation—place is pause.
After this introduction, Tuan proceeds to expand these definitions/perceptions of space and place in various ways. He investigates how a child experiences the two, how different cultures create spatial values, how “crowding is an awareness that one is observed,” how humans spatialize time, how nostalgia can be produced by a feeling of changes occurring too rapidly and without one’s control, and so much more.Tuan makes these and other concepts intimate through peopling his book with various cultures and ethnic groups (Eskimos, Shetland Isle cottagers, among many others) and finding examples from psychological studies and literature. Though I’m not entirely sure that I agreed with all of Tuan’s propositions, they were interesting and provocative, and expanded my awareness, making me hyper aware of my relationship to my surroundings.
Other books in a similar vein that might be of interest: Gaston Bachelard’s sumptuous The Poetics of Space and Italo Calvino’s intricate Invisible Cities.
—Nicola Fucigna, Fiction Editor
A Taste of Italy in Philly
What do I remember most about Italy? No, not the ancient ruins; not the beautiful piazzas with their ornate fountains; and not even the pizzas with fresh tomato and buffalo mozzarella; I remember the Gelato! It was unlike any ice cream I’d ever had (here’s the real difference between the two). The gelato tasted so light, almost airy, and bursting with the precise flavor it claimed to be. The coffee tasted exactly like drinking the best sweet-cream coffee on ice, and don’t even get me started on the fruit flavors. If you’ve ever gone to an orchard to pick fresh peaches or berries, recall that right off the tree or vine taste, and imagine it put in a deliciously cold concoction with the texture of the smoothest whipped cream. All this is to say, the Gelato I ate in Italy, two to three times a day mind you, was unlike anything I’d tasted here in the states . . . until this weekend.
I was visiting my husband in Philadelphia, PA, my soon to be permanent residence, and it just so happens that the place he is subletting is right above Capogiro Gelato Artisans. We simply had to go try it, and once we did, we had to come back just about every day of my visit. The staff at Capogiro let you try every flavor, from the fan-favorite-basic Amish Sweet Cream to the exotic Pineapple Sage or Honey Cumin flavors. And, the gelatos change daily, so you have to keep coming back to try them all. Even National Geographic rated Capogiro the #1 Place to Eat Ice Cream, above all the Gelaterias in Italy and all the ice cream shops in the United States. As a graduate student living in Philadelphia, opportunities for world travel are bound to be few, but luckily, a real taste of Italy is only steps away.