Good Example Of Self And Grave Essay
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The concepts of self and grave affect us all. We encountered these two terms many times in our lives, but perhaps we have never really pondered upon their meanings. These two concepts may seem disconnected at first. But a deeper analogy will show us that they are interrelated; in fact, one concept cannot exist without the other. Just like one of Yi-Fu Tuan’s major points in his book entitled, “Space and Place”, the concept of self and grave and interdependent as the concepts of space and place are – each concept gives meaning to the other. It is the self that gives meaning and essence to the grave and vice versa.
Before delving deeper upon the aforementioned interrelatedness and interdependency of grave and self, it is first important to understand the concepts of space and place in the context of Yi-Fu Tuan’s “Space and Place.” In order to explain the two concepts Tuan gave a short narrative of the life of a man named Paul Tillich. According to the said narrative Tillich find the concept of “place” synonymous to confinement or restraint. In other words, when a person is within a confined area, than that area becomes a place. The area could either bring about the feeling of safety or confinement. Staying too long from such confinement, a person will long for freedom. The feeling of freedom is brought about to that person when he gets out into a spacious area – a space. So is the case with Tillich; he wanted to go out of the town where he grew up because he perceived it to be small and restrictive. He therefore travelled into different places to find space to feel free (Tuan 3 – 4). From this narrative we can therefore safely infer that place may be interpreted as confinement while space may be interpreted as freedom.
Tuan added another concept in his definition of the term place. Accordingly, he discussed about the visit of Neils Bohr and Heisenberg Kronberg Palace. The two personality’s converse about the palace, wherein Bohr explained to Heisenberg how the feeling and meaning of the palace changes when one understands that it is where Hamlet lived. While initially, a person may think of the palace to be just an ordinary structure made up of stones that were put together, there is an additional meaning and feeling added to that place when one is suddenly informed that Hamlet lived there.
The essence of this conversation between the two personalities was that, place or a palace is not just a place, there are some stories associated with it that gives the person who visits it a certain kind of feeling. The story gives the place its life (Tuan 4). To make the point simple; history brings more significance to a certain area other than the physical things that are in there, due to the stories or events that have taken place there. This point is made clear by Jhumpa Lahiri in “Rhode Island” when she explains that Rhode Island is more than just an ordinary place, where people can go to for recreation such as swimming during summer, for people who reside there. To them Rhode Island brings diverse feeling such as feelings of insularity (Lahiri 101).
Patricia L. Price made the same explanation about the relationship between a place and our experiences in them. She explained in “Place” that the reason our homes means so much to us is because it where our most intimate of relationships were honed (Price 126). Indeed, if the home is simply an ordinary area, then we will not call it home, we will simply call it a house. A home is an abstract setting; it is a state of mind attributed to a certain area in this earth. A home for someone may just well be another common house, if he or she had no relevant experience in it. In this regard, I would like to point out that the place as described by both Price, Lahiri and Tuan, is similar to the concept of self. When the word “self” is used, it may mean different things, it could mean to be as simple as the physical body, but it could also mean far more abstract things. The word “self” conveys familiarity. A person is almost always familiar with one’s self. A person values his “self” more than any other physical bodies – the “others,” simply because we grew up and have experiences with our own physical body or the self. These experiences can be paralleled to the stories or histories of areas – they add meaning to the place.
With regards to space, Tuan explained in one of his lectures that space, aside from freedom, could be an action or an event that one undergoes in order to liberate him or herself of the boundaries set by places. He explained that even a person’s body “place” confined within a place his or her mind can continue to soar to diverse places and topics. Basically the mind is free up to a certain extent despite the confinement of the body.
I would argue that the liberation of the mind is most expressed in the concept of the grave of death. The act of setting ones taught beyond the boundaries of the current events or the confinement of the place is synonymous to the concept of grave. Grave is associated with death. When a person is said to went to his grave, this means that his physical body is sent onto a physical hole in the ground, where it could never be moved – a perfect confinement, but his mind or spirit will be able to transcend diverse places which the dead person has not yet visited while he or she is alive. In other words through death or through the grave comes freedom. Death is freedom. Grave for me is “after life’s homeland.” Note that I use the term “Home” here in order to point out another important aspect or relationship between the space and place and between self and grave (University of Wisconsin-Madison 1). Tuan also explained another aspect of space that coincides with the concept of grave.
In one of his lectures he explains that when someone goes to a spacious area just like the see to be free, that person is faced with certain degrees of uncertainty due to the danger that lurks in spacious new areas. Space is also synonymous to uncertainty in sense that we are not familiar to new areas (University of Wisconsin-Madison 1). For example when we live our place in search of a new place which is relatively bigger or larger than our previous place, then we also tend to feel unsecure and feeling of uncertainty lurks in initially (Tuan 5). These feelings of uncertainty are also felt when we ponder upon the concept of the grave or death. Due to the fact that no has confirmed the existence of life after death or after the grave, we are all faced with certain levels of uncertainties, despite the hope that our spirits or mind will become liberated and acquainted with the state of mind similar to home when we die.
As aforementioned, there is a reason why one person wants to go out of a place – this reason is the feeling of confinement. Nevertheless, as Lahari pointed out, one may need not to go out of the place physically to feel the feelings of freedom. She gave the concept of the “home” to establish this fact. Feelings of confinement are not good or happy feelings. Nevertheless, when the concept of home is studied, good feelings are brought about. These feeling are felt most especially when a person stays inside his or her own house – a confinement. This means that there times that the purposes of space are met by place, in a much the same way that the aims, desires or purposes of the self are realized upon death or through the grave. This shows the interdependency between the two concepts.
As I reflect back into my life, I realize that there are far greater things that can be thought of aside from the literal meanings of terms such as place and space or of self and grave. I used to fear the grave, thinking that the “self” stops existing when we descend upon our graves. But upon pondering the relationship between these two concepts I came to realize that these two concepts are indeed interdependent in so many ways. One of these ways is that when we die, we finally get to realize one of the greatest desires of our “self” which is to become really free. A state where our physical bodies, the pains that let us experience becomes no more. Indeed, we can gain more from losing.
The concepts discussed by the previously discussed authors and their works can be applied practically in our lives. Sometimes we tend to become unappreciative of places or other people around us and we want to go to other places. But as Lahari and Tuan pointed out, we can become more appreciative of these “places” if we try to have worthwhile experiences with them. This now brings another concept into the discussion, which Tuan has tried so hard to point out in his lectures. That space and place are functions of time.
We can appreciate both space and place – both confinement and freedom – if we spend our time with them. In fact, in an abstract manner, Tuan made the suggestion that the two concepts become beneficial to a person as the person comes of age. In his last lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison he narrated a story about his one of his lectures to students. In the narrative, he explains that his young students considered his class boring, because they get to stay inside the classroom doing nothing but sitting and listening to their professor. They tend to feel and believe that their classmates who are somewhere in the river riding a boat is in a better situation. Tuan then points out that there are other older students in the classroom who have the opposite view; hence, age or time, can change the perspective about space and place.
Graff, Gerald and Birkenstein, Kathy. They Say, I say. N.d. Web. 12 February 2015. <http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic862425.files/They%20Say%20I%20Say.pdf>.
Lahari, Jhumpa. Rhode Island. Text Book Readings. Print. p. 101.
Price, Patricia L. Space. Text Book Readings. Print. p. 126 – 127.
Tuan, Yi-Fu. Space and Place. London: University of Minnesota Press. n.d. Print.
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