The Difference Space Makes: Bergsonian Methodology and Madrid's Cultural Imaginary through Literature, Film and Urban Space
AuthorFraser, Benjamin Russell
Committee ChairCompitello, Malcolm Alan
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn the present effort, the philosopher Henri Bergson’s (1859-1941) seminal philosophical work functions as a revitalizing force and even an implicit point of departure for the more urban-oriented critique of Henri Lefebvre’s (1901-1991) watershed text L’Producción de l’espace/The Production of Space (1974). Both Lefebvre and Bergson in fact share a common perception of space—it is neither a static ground, nor an apriori condition of experience as Kant argued, but is instead a process inseparable from time and implicated in thought itself. Grounded in this resulting novel understanding of space, time and difference, I use an interdisciplinary approach to analyze Madrid’s cultural imaginary through novels by Belén Gopegui (1992), Pío Baroja (1911) and Luis Martín-Santos (1961); films by Carlos Saura (1996), Alejandro Amenábar (1997), and American Jim Jarmusch (1992); and the urban space of Madrid’s Retiro Park. The purpose of this work is twofold. On the one hand it is an attempt to reconcile the spatial issues of concern to cultural or human geography with an approach to social life grounded in the humanities. On the other it is a call for a deeper understanding of methodology taken in its widest sense. The former seeks not only to introduce spatial questions to the analysis of literature and film but also to articulate the intimate relation of cultural products to the urban processes in which they are formed, interpreted and sold. The latter requires an investigation of the philosophical preconceptions that structure our spatial practice and interpretation, as well as an awareness of the consequences these preconceptions hold—not only for understanding our common world, but also for producing it and finally for the possibility of changing it through action. These twin purposes—bringing geographical concerns into the humanities and assessing the philosophical bases of our spatial production and interpretation—are not so far removed. Through a careful reading of the above key literary, filmic and urban texts from twentieth century Madrid, this work explores the important consequences of conceiving of space as simultaneously mental and physical. In the Bergsonian fashion, these explorations seek to dispense with the stagnant and irreconcilable philosophical tropes of both pure materialism and pure idealism in order to yield a more precise understanding of cultural forms as living processes.