Yesterday, we reviewed some of our favourite Toronto intersections. We were also asked to reflect upon our experiences of these spaces. The words we chose reflected the notions we also discussed last week, words such as “diversity” and “accessibility.”
This sensual information – the sights, sounds, smells, touches – these are each embodiments of Yonge and Dundas culture. I think that precisely what is embodied is the imagined community we have named the market. The market makes accessible goods and services to be purchased. And there is some amount of diversity in what is available for purchase: television, clothing, food and city tours just to name a few. Though each can be purchased and consumed, the medium of consumption is different in each of these examples: clothing is worn, food is eaten, television is watched and listened to, and city tours are in some cases watched, listened to, worn and eaten.
You, the person reading this post, have probably decided that what I have been describing as diversity is shallow relative to other examples of urban diversity. This is a description merely of a diversity of things to be purchased at Yonge and Dundas. None of my examples were of things visitors could sell themselves in the market. None of my examples were of those objects or experiences existing outside of the market.
|Yonge and Dundas (click the image to enlarge)|
Screen Capture from Google Maps
In relation to the intersection between Baldwin and Augusta, the south entrance to Kensington Market, the intersection between Yonge and Dundas is best described as another species of intersection. Of course, there are things for purchase, but the volume-dial has been aggressively spun to a nearly inaudible frequency. The goods are in many cases on-the-street to enable consumers to touch and to closely view the clothing and food for themselves. The street performers are here, as they are at Yonge/Dundas but they do not need airhorns or amplifiers to make themselves heard. If you are at this intersection you do not need to expend effort to make yourself visible because there are less people and crucially for my purposes, there is less noise (phonic noise, visual noise, olfactory noise).
|Baldwin and Augusta (click the image to enlarge)|
Screen Capture from Google Maps
The messages of Yonge and Dundas are received
, while the messages of Baldwin and Augusta are exchanged
. There is no sending return messages at Yonge and Dundas. It is a cacophony of noise. Who could hear you with all this stimulus to receive? Of course the people immediately around you might think they hear something but this exchange will almost certainly falter. You'll have to repeat yourself over and over again because another custom at Yonge and Dundas is not
to receive messages. At Baldwin and Augusta you must learn to pause long-enough to make these exchanges.
I have used the word must to describe a custom which you may think is voluntary. Why would I make an argument like this? This is a conditional, must-not usage. You must not break the law. You must not disobey your authority figures. You must not create dangerous situations. Each of these must-nots is predicated on the idea that you respect the customs of your environment, and if you contest the customs at any Toronto intersection you should be prepared to endure societal disgrace. The faces of societal disgrace include: stares, jeers, whispers, pointing, unintended injury, intended violence, malice, confusion and so on. These society-level behaviours exist wherever you find people, but the specific expectations and the degrees of severity you find are highly variable.
A consequence of participating in quieter intersections is an increase in what other people will expect from you and what you can expect from them in return (an exchanging of expectation). A consequence of participating in a noisier intersection is a decrease in expectation and an increase in the volume of information which you are exposed to.
When you and I decide to respect or contest the customs which surround us we are exercising our agencies. Depending on where these customs exist, we may need to work harder to express this agency. If we do not express our agencies we silence ourselves. If we remain silent we allow others to speak for us.