The Vertigo of Power: A Review of Stephen Graham’s “Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers”

Deterritorial Investigations


In his 1991 tome on postmodernism, Frederic Jameson famously suggested that under “late capitalism” – that is, the kind of globalized, flexible capitalism that tore past the limit points imposed by earlier stages of development – we’ve lost the ability to properly deploy ‘cognitive’ maps of our environment, thus producing a disorienting effect in which what was once familiar becomes unrecognizable. Jameson’s insight was drawn from the work of Kevin Lynch, the MIT-based urban planner and author of The Image of the City, who had suggested that people’s relation to their urban environments relied on imaginary representations to properly orient them; the city, then holds a psychological dimension wedded to the repeated movement of individuals through the spaces they live in. Radically alter that space – or set off a cascade of seemingly never-ending modulations – and the ability to tap into that imaginary representation begins to decay. Jameson…

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