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caleb.eckert's picture

Having spent a bit of time in this place, it's curious coming back to the topographic maps I chose in winter.

It's only really now that I've noticed the stark color difference: what's in red is largely residential, white is public/semi-public, and the green shows forested areas. In these colors, I'm thinking about my site* as a retreat (thanks to tajiboye). Unless we take a wide view, there is little around it that isn't overtaken by development. My site is not blocked off by any means. While existing in a greater context of fellow green shapes mostly outside of the greater Philly area, I still can't see that the site is much of a retreat from the city's hum. Red—houses, roads, trains, parking lots—seeps through. Even the Montgomery/Delaware County lines nearly cleave the site in two. I retreat temporarily of my own obligatory academic hum in my visits. But my retreat may not be physically (nor spatially) far removed enough from those hums to really effectively do what retreating originally meant: to make a strategic blow—to disorient, to turn the tables, to upend—by withdrawl. It is encapsulated in the red and the streets and the institutional buildings that box it in. It's neither an island nor a secluded patch of land. The topographic map, through color categorization, holds onto the notion that the little band of trees is indeed a retreat from the red, from the outside world. But there is constant interaction between its edges and its own position in the greater ecosystem.

Looks pretty green all around in this one. Deceiving? Where am I retreating to? How far can I get away?


* : I'm beginning to use "my site" rather than "the site", because now that I'm feeling at home in my site, I think I'm also beginning to change the way I think about lingual possession: just because it's "mine" or I feel attached to it does not have to mean I am its sole proprieter. It is home in the way that my house also belongs to other beings that live in it. We share that home, and in sharing ownership also belong to one another.