Lefebvre


… consuming is no joke, well-wishing and helpful, the whole of society is with you, and considerate into the bargain, for it thinks of you, personally, it prepares for you specially pesonalized items; or better still, these items are delivered to your personalizing free will to be used at your leisure: this armchair, these assembled elements, this bed-linen, this underwear; this and not that. We had misjudged society; all of us; it is maternal and fraternal; our visible family is duplicated by this invisible one, better and especially more efficient, the society of consumption that showers its consideration and protective charms on everybody. Who can be ungrateful enough to be uneasy?

The swivels turn at ground level. Consuming of displays, displays of consuming, consuming of displays of consuming, consuming of signs and signs of consuming; each sub-system, as it tries to close the circuit, gives another self-destructive twist, at the level of everyday life.

– Henri Lefebvre. Everyday Life in the Modern World. New York: Harper & Row, 1971: 108-109.

The form of centrality which, as a form, is empty, calls for a content and attracts and concentrates particular objects. By becoming a locus of action, of a sequence of opeations, this form acquires a functional reality. Around the centre a structure of (mental and/or social) space is now organized, a structure that is always of the moment, contributing, along with form and function, to a practice.

The notion of centrality replaces the notion of totality, repositioning it, and rendering it dialectical. Any centrality, once established, is destined to suffer dispersal, to dissolve or to explode from the effects of saturation, attrition, outside aggressions, and so on. This means that the ‘real’ can never become completely fixed, that it is constantly in a state of mobilization. It also means that the general figure (that of the centre and of ‘decentring’) is in play which leaves room for both repetition and difference, for both time and juxtaposition.

– Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (1974). Donald Nicholson-Smith, trans. (Oxford: 1991), p. 399.

How and why is it that the advent of a world market, implying a degree of unity at the level of the planet, gives rise to a fractioning of space — to proliferating nation states, to regional differentiation and self-determination, as well as to multinational states and transnational corporations which, although they stem this strange tendency towards fission, also exploit it in order to reinforce their own autonomy? Towards what space and time will such interwoven contradictions lead us?

– Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (1974). Donald Nicholson-Smith, trans. (Oxford: 1991), p. 351.

The departure point for this history of space is not to be found in geographical descriptions of natural space, but rather in the study of natural rhythms, of the modification of those rhythms and their inscription in space by means of human action, especially work-related actions. It begins, then, with the spatio-temporal rhythms of nature as transformed by a social practice…. Traversed now by pathways and patterned by networks, natural space changes: one might say that practical activity writes upon nature, albeit in a scrawling hand…. Could it be called a text, or a message? Possibly, but … it would make more sense to speak of texture rather than of texts in this connection. Similarly, it is helpful to think of architectures as”archi-textures”, to treat each monument or building, viewed in its surroundings and context, in the populated area and associated networks in which it is set down, as part of a particular production of space.

– Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (1974). Donald Nicholson-Smith, trans. (Oxford: 1991), pp. 117-8.

When the history of a particular space is treated as such, the relationship of that space to the time which gave rise to it takes on an aspect that differs sharply from the picture generally accepted by historians. Traditional historiography assumes that thought can perform cross-sections upon time, arresting its flow without too much difficulty, its analyses thus tend to fragment and segment temporality. In the history of space as such, on the other hand, the historical and diachronic realms and the generative past are forever leaving their inscriptions upon the writing tablet, so to speak, of space. The uncertain traces left by events are not the only marks on (or in) space: society in its actuality also deposits its script, the result and product of social activities. Time has more than one writing-system. The space engendered by time is always actual and synchronic, and it always presents itself as of a piece; its component parts are bound together by internal links and connections themselves produced by time.

– Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (1974). Donald Nicholson-Smith, trans. (Oxford: 1991), p. 110.