Updated: 11/17/2006; 9:39:17 AM.

Mathemagenic


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  Thursday, October 05, 2006


  Excursions as excuses

A little side-trip before I get back to work. Two quotes from two books; something I has been playing with for a long time, but still has to find a proper way into my formal research writing.

Jan Gehl, Life between buildings, on 'excursions as excuses':

Among the requirements that are satisfied, in part, in public spaces are the need for contact, the need for knowledge, and the need for stimulation. These belong to the group of psychological needs. Satisfying these is seldom as goal-oriented and deliberate as with the more basic physical needs, such as eating, drinking, sleeping and so on. For example, adults seldom go to town with the expressed intention of satisfying the need for stimulation or the need for contact. Regardless of the true purpose may be, one goes out for a plausible, rational reason to shop, to take a walk, to get some fresh air, to buy a paper, to wash the car, and so forth.

Perhaps it is wrong to speak of the shopping excursion as a pretext for contact and stimulation, because very few people out shopping will accept the fact that the need for contact and stimulation plays any part in their shopping plans. The fact that adults who work at home on average spend nearly three times as much time shopping as those who work outside the home, and the fact that the shopping excursions are distributed evenly throughout the week, even though shopping once a week would perhaps be easier, make it natural to assume that the many daily shopping excursions are not only a question of getting supplies.

It is general characteristic that basic physical and psychological needs are satisfied at the same time, and that the basic and easily defined needs often serve to explain and motivate the satisfying of both sets of needs. In this context the shopping excursion is both a shopping trip and a pretext, or occasion, for contact and stimulation. [pp. 117, 119]

Kate FoxWatching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, on 'props and facilitators':

The English constantly form clubs and societies for exactly the same reason that we have so many sports and games: we need props and facilitators to help us engage socially with our fellow humans, to overcome our social dis-ease, and we also need an illusion that we are doing something else, that we have come together for some practical purpose, to pursue a specific shared interest, to pool resources in order to achieve something we couldn't manage alone. [] the real purpose of all these clubs is the social contact and social bonding that we desperately need, but cannot admit needing, not even to ourselves. [p. 251]


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