Isomorphismes on Enclosures

Click on the title or here for a fascinating post by isomorphismes about the isolation caused by the way we conceive of real estate in our culture. There are great pictures and a BBC audio link, too.

I had no idea that so recently people roamed about each other’s land, no fences dividing the farms and folds.

The modern structure of towns, like so many things, is an outcome of economic structure.

  • When shepherds no longer roamed freely through the hills
  • and it became efficient for homes to be built in a rotary array around some kind of centre,
  • then pubs (public houses = free houses) became the meeting place

This is one of the most influential things I’ve heard, period. Think about how much longer you have to walk and how much lonelier life became once you don’t cut across another person’s land.

My pessimistic image of the culture that I live in is

  • city people all in their separate flats, with their separate computers, or separate televisions, on separate couches, alone in the space they’ve paid for with the career they fought to dominate
  • going out to a restaurant, pub, or coffee shop to experience the unexpected bumpings into people
  • so everything costs money. It costs money to have friends, costs money to hang out, costs money to flirt, costs money to meet people, costs money to put yourself in a place where people will happen to encounter you–unless you do it over the internet–and then people wonder why nobody makes friends after college
  • suburban people the same, except also having their own pools instead of sharing a few community pools
  • having their own medium-sized lawns – big enough to keep the neighbours from peeping in the window, or seeing you on the porch and say hello – instead of sharing a large park cutting all the medium lawns down to small lawns (not that they individually choose this – the decision is made by real estate developers)
  • country people even more isolated because land tracts are so huge
  • and nobody, but nobody, knows their neighbours.