- continued -


Space as a human system of control and orientation has been greatly neglected by conventional theories of culture. It was assumed as an apriori category in the modern sense of physics, geometry and astronomy. However recent studies have shown that the human perception and organisation of space has evolved from early human settlement conditions and that homogenous space is a modern development which in Europe began with the 14th century (Bollnow 1963). Premodern space is not homogeneous, it is not abstract, not independent from materia. It is closely related to the human cultural environment. Research into space concepts of traditional societies shows clearly that "cosmic" orders are related to polarities like mountains/ valley, upper/ lower valley etc. and that rivers were a primary factor in a basically local orientation.

Thus in the rural domain topological conditions provided axial systems of spatial organisation primarily on the extensions of polarities (Upper/Lower Egypt). Later, with extended space perception we find increasingly centralistic terms (Rome). Note that primary rural polar systems survive into the modern world (Ganges).

In architecture and urbanism modernism has introduced the homogeneous space of physics, resp. universal space from astronomy into our vital environments and has thus imposed tremendous adaptations on the population. This is the basic problem of our urban growth.

Note that the history of cartography speaks very clearly of this evolution of space perception:

Even in early modern times there was initially no knowledge about the American continent. America was discovered paradoxically on the Western way to India around the globe. Kepler still used the Platonic spheres to explain the planets' movements. Galileo Galilei and particularly Tycho Brahe were the first to use instruments and exact observations systematically.

Still today we are on this extension of space perception: the universe may be endless.

But, what was at the beginning of this journey into space perception? With Bollnow (1963) we would opt for the following hypothesis: the village, the primary settlement. If we understand the beginnings of this journey into space, we will be able to become aware of the projective character of our modern worldviews, even of its humanistically questionable impacts. The technodreams of starwars destroy our human environments.

We will later deal with another important problem of space: the retroprojection of evolved space concepts into early historical texts (myth problem).


The concepts of time too are basically structured by urban history. The historistic outlook in urban history is definitely linear. It finds its expression in early monumentality with its bold allusions to an eternal future as well as in the dynastic lists of kings and emperors in early empires. This linear consciousness of time has remained dominant throughout history. Among the Greeks and Romans time was related to the ancient cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean. Central and Northern Europe was considered barbarian. For the Romans, these barbarians had no time. In the Middle Ages written history, in particular the Jewish scripts, became the basis of time concepts. Jerusalem was considered the first city, Hebrew the first language and its writing the first script. The world was considered to be created about 2-3 thousand years ago. Science as a continuous reaction against medieval scholastic absolutism questioned this historistic concept on various levels. The history of creation broke apart into at least six scientifically supported histories. The history:

This is our modern outlook on time. However, the narrow historistic time concept of the Middle Ages has not disappeared. It lives on in religion and was even imposed in American schools recently as "creationism".

However, these linear time concepts of the urban world cover up that there is another type of temporal perception, namely cyclic time of the rural domain. This time concept is very different. It is focussed on the present existence legitimated by its local beginnings and its cyclic reconfirmation as documented in cyclic cults. This cyclic time finds its scale in the local festival calendar with its cults on various levels.

Cyclic time has no future to project its ideals. It is focussed on the present as norm. The antithesis, the absolutely different dimension is included in the cycle as festival, as cult, often as ecstatic condition. Consequently there are no dreams of progress, of reaching better times. Time is not homogeneous, the cycle consists of norm and its dissolved antithesis, and thus - in a humanistic sense - is complete.

Cyclic time can be reconstructed clearly in ethnology, but can also be shown in history and prehistory. It must have developed in Meso- and Neolithic times with increasing territorial control and sedentarisation. In early empires of Mesopotamia and Egypt it played a central role in very complex festival calendars related to local, regional and imperial territories.

On the urban level this cyclic time scale is preserved as festivals (often degenerated to amusement!), or institutional liturgy, but it has lost its fundamentally legitimating importance. Legitimation has shifted to written myths. Rural cyclic time had its origins in the foundation of settlement. This was considered the creation, the creation of the local world. Thus the traditional local 'myth' is factually existential: it legitimates the present topospecific existence of the population and thus, in a scientific sense, is true.

In contrast to this, as we have mentioned, the urban historistic world translates such 'creation myths' handed down in written form with its own evolved concepts of universal space. Legal texts describing the local foundation of settlements, villages or towns, thus are blown up into universal spatial dimensions. To say the least: historico-methodologically absolutely illegitimate.

Evidently, if we manage anthropologically to demonstrate that there is a developmental relation between linear urban and rural cyclic time perception, we will become aware of the projective character of our time systems. Time appears as a human construct.

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