On Disorientation (II) – Completely Lost in the Modern City

Aerial view of I-110 and I-101 freeway interchange, Dodger stadium, ”Dick

Aerial view of I-110 and I-101 freeway interchange, Dodger stadium (detail), ”Dick” Whittington Photography Collection, 1924-1987, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Previous post: On Disorientation (I) – The History and Pathology of a Concept

In a sense my entire thesis is an explication of a single passage, one of the most striking, in Kevin Lynch’s classic 1960 work of urban planning theory, The Image of the City:

To become completely lost is perhaps a rather rare experience for most people in the modern city. […] But let the mishap of disorientation once occur, and the sense of anxiety and even terror that accompanies it reveals to us how closely it is linked to our sense of balance and well-being. The very word “lost” in our language means much more than simple geographical uncertainty; it carries overtones of utter disaster. (p. 4)

The primary concern of Lynch’s work was city design – with how we might build or remodel cities to be highly legible, thereby minimising their tendency to disorientate residents and making them more pleasant, satisfying places in which to live. His evocative descriptions of the trauma of urban disorientation are the point of departure for my own analysis of Los Angeles fiction and cinema.

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Unstable Identities and Irregular Distances, AKA My First Journal Article

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It’s the nature of academic publishing that after working on something a year ago that briefly took up all of my attention, I almost didn’t notice a couple of months ago when the article was actually published. But since this is officially My First Academic Publication, it’s probably worth acknowledging the milestone. (And of course although I’m being mildly flippant, I’m also quietly proud of what it represents.) Continue reading →

Amnesia victim, 1958

Amnesiac Women in Los Angeles, 1954-2001

Something shorter and a little more visual, after a rather text-heavy last post. I’ve spent some time working my way through various online photographic archives for relevant material to supplement my research, or illustrate conference papers.

Results have been mixed so far; there is a particular lack of material on mid-century South LA, which other sources had prepared me for but which I was hoping had improved in recent years. But I’ve turned up a few interesting or odd ones, two of which are below, and taken from the Los Angeles Examiner Collection at the USC Digital Library.

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