In his City of Rhetoric, “The Persistence of Space” section, David Fleming argues on the importance and influence of the physical spaces that surround us. When speaking of physical spaces Fleming introduces the idea of the towns, countries, and areas we as citizens live in. The concept of the different sections of those towns, and how the community living in and surrounding that area view that particular space. And through such perceptions the influence that our personal experience and the experience of others have on us when identifying a space for what it is. Fleming himself states in the beginning of the section that, “…we routinely make discriminations among them: we know which are better and which are worse, which are ours and which are someone else’s” (32).
The title of this section “The Persistence of Space” acknowledges the fact of the continuity of a space. The idea that space is permanently there but what truly changes is the stories connected to that area and the individuals that either decide or are forced to live there given personal circumstances. Fleming influences the reader to think about how easily were tier and rate these spaces for what they are. Through such ratings, we decide which spaces should get our attention and the ones we should stay away from and warn others about. This idea as Fleming argues is presented as “spatial manifestations” and “place-based thinking.” In postmodern United States landscapes, we see a major contrast of very poor and very rich neighborhoods coexistence in the same area. Fleming states, “It is a landscape in which residential areas are separate from commercial ones, single-family ones, multi-family housing, rental from for-sale properties, and people of one social group from those of all others” (33). The area that one chooses to live in is subconsciously where everyone else with the same mindset and lifestyle as well. Every area has a specific type of citizen living in it, and areas such Washington D.C, Brooklyn New York are prime examples of that.
Fleming notes a great point that on a national and global scale, companies among other businesses capitalize on such area distinctions/characterizations. Businesses whether it be an apartment complex, small own business among others use such distinctions to thrive. Fleming states,
From a national, rather global point of view, meanwhile, we can see that some locations in the United States are capitalizing on the economic transformations of our time — places like Boulder, Raleigh-Durham, Austin , and Washington, DC, variously”creative centers,” “ideopolises” or “latte towns” — while others are stagnant or declining” (32).
It’s spatial manifestations, in order to succeed individuals as well as groups migrate to the areas that will able them to do so. There is no real thought of the consequences that might follow or result in such migrations. As a result, two different things may occur in a certain space, it will it slowly but surely turn into an affluent isolated area and lose the history of what it once was, or continue to be poor and the citizens in such areas will have to suffer from the fact that they are being forced out of their homes because they cannot afford it. The persistence of the space does not necessarily mean it will stay one way, more so, the presence of the space will be there and the stories concerning such area will change.
Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany: SUNY Press, 2008.