Our bodies are sites. We are locations
and dislocations and our experience is no longer a continuity. A wall can be easily
defined as a physical or conceptual separation, but the emotional metaphysical
or literary connotations vary from context to context.
Recent changes in the world-geopolitical, social, economic, technological-have
caused me to reflect upon such generalities as: "what exactly is a wall?" Nowadays,
if one has a foremost notion of a wall, it perhaps refers to the dismantling of
the Berlin Wall and the symbolic weight that those events carry for a host of
changes that took place in Eastern Europe within a relatively modest span of time.
The Berlin wall "came down", but much of it still exists: stripped of its original
function and leading a curious existence as meaningless architecture in chain
link lots around the city. These odd, graffitified strips of concrete now makes
us think of the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge, contemporary American cities-
other monuments of architecture whose continued existence are an anachronistic
reminder of conflicts and political realities buried in the past.
When nations wall themselves in or their enemies out, they merely engage (on a
grander scale) in the same sort of defenses and conceits, that humans use to eke
out the parameters of personal lives. In a sense, your every stance marks a boundary.
Your every motion crosses a border. While the specific machinations might vary
from country to country, from social class to social class, possibly from generation
to generation, every human has learned to build his walls and observe the walls
Personal Space is a modern cliché of language, but it accurately defines the intimacy
levels that humans enjoy (or exploit) with others. What are we keeping out? What
are we keeping in? What determines the borders? And again, if that wall divides,
where does the wall reside?