Of Other Spaces by Michel Foucault

Utopias: sites that have a general relation of direct or inverted analogy with the real space of society.

Counter-sites: places of this kind are outside of all places, even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality.

I believe that between utopias and these quite other sites, these heterotopias, there might be a sort of mixed, joint experience, which would the mirror. The mirror is, after all, a utopia, since it is a placeless place.

But it is also a heterotopia in so far as the mirror does exist in reality, where it exerts a sort of counteraction on the position I occupy. From the standpoint of the mirror, I discover my absence from the place where I am, since I see myself over there. Starting from this gaze that is, as it were, directed toward me, from the ground of this virtual space that is on the other side of the glass, I come back toward myself; I begin again to direct my eyes toward myself an to reconstitute myself there where I am. The mirror functions as a heterotopia in this respect: it makes the place that I occupy at the moment when I look at myself in the glass at once absolutely real, connected with the place that surrounds it, and absolutely unreal, since in order to be perceived it has to pass through this virtual point which is over there.

The cemetery is certainly a place unlike ordinary cultural spaces. It is a space that is however connected with all the sites of the city-state or society or village, etc., since each individual, each family has relatives in the cemetery.

On the contrary, from the moment when people are no longer sure that they have soul or that the body will regain life, it is perhaps necessary to give much more attention to the dead body, which is ultimately the only trace of our existence in the world and in language.

It is this proximity that propagates death itself. (cemetery within city boundaries)

Persian garden: umbilicus, the navel of the world at its centre ( the basin and the water fountain).

The garden is a rug onto which the whole world comes to enact its symbolic perfection, and the rug is a sort of garden that can move across space.

Museums and libraries: the idea of accumulating everything, of establishing a sort of general archive, the will to enclose in one place all times, all epochs, all forms, all tastes, the idea of constituting a place of all times that is itself outside of time and inaccessible to its ravages, the project of organising in this way a sort of perpetual an indefinite accumulation of time in an immobile place, this whole idea belongs to our modernity.

The festival: not oriented toward the eternal, rather absolutely temporal (chroniques).

The rediscovery of fortune-tellers, Gypsies or pseudo Polynesian vacation villages abolishes time; yet the experience is just as much as the rediscovery of time, it is as if the entire history of humanity reaching back to its origin were accessible in a sort of immediate knowledge.

Brothels and colonies are two extremes types of heterotopia, and, if we think, after all, that the boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea and that, from port to port, from tack to tack, from brothel to brothel, it goes as far as the colonies in search of the most precious treasures they conceal in their gardens, you will understand why the boat has not only been for our civilisation, from the sixteenth century until the present, the great instrument of economic developmentā€¦but has been simultaneously the greatest reserve of the imagination. The ship is the heterotopia pas excellence. In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates.

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