By Yi-Fu Tuan
In the summertime of 2005, distinct geographer Yi-Fu Tuan ventured to China to talk at a world architectural convention, returning for the 1st time to where he had left as a baby sixty-four years before. He traveled from Beijing to Shanghai, addressing collage audiences, floating down the Yangtze River on a riverboat, and traveling his former domestic in Chongqing.
In this mesmerizing quantity, Tuan’s youth thoughts and musings at the areas encountered in this homecoming are interspersed with new lectures, attractive overarching rules of human geography in addition to the altering chinese language panorama. all through, Tuan’s interactions together with his hosts, along with his colleague’s youngsters, or even with a garrulous journey consultant, supply insights into person who has spent his existence learning position, tradition, and self.
At the start of his journey, Tuan questioned if he will be a stranger between those that appeared like him. through its finish, he reevaluates his personal self-definition as a hyphenated American and sheds new mild on human identity’s complicated roots in historical past, geography, and language.
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So imagine my surprise when we drove into the resplendent courtyard of a luxury hotel—the Jingshi! The hotel was built on university property and paid rent for the privilege, but in all other respects it was a business venture, and its success depended on attracting customers. Given its location, I imagined that a fair number of guests were visiting academics like myself, but most, I had to assume, were well-to-do businesspeople. The bellboy who opened the door, the maître d’ who showed me to my table, the maid who cleaned my room, all addressed me as lao shi (teacher).
The reason must be that on American campuses, athletics has become a special department, and sports (in particular, football and basketball) a quasi business activity that is conducted quite separately from day-to-day student life. On an American campus, I do not have the pleasure of walking by playing Welds where I can see students taking pride in their physical Wtness and ability, running, jumping, doing somersaults, or dribbling a ball. They do all these things in America, of course, but either indoors or in a space separate from the pathways of students and faculty going to and from classrooms and laboratories.
Some cities are beginning to look like gigantic sculptural gardens. The buildings in them are competing works of art, to be seen and admired, rather than places that mature into happy, eupeptic habitats. Do these daring buildings achieve greatness? Can there be greatness without a grounding in our biological nature, a clear reference to the cosmos, or a religious foundation? Endurance: Buildings as Art I have no answer except to say that one test for greatness in art is whether it endures. And here I have a troubling thought.