The Map as a Musical Score: Fantasies of Temporal Management and Resistance in 1930s London
Hornsey, R. (2008) The Map as a Musical Score: Fantasies of Temporal Management and Resistance in 1930s London. In: Geographies of Rhythm, Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, Boston, USA, April 2008.
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Beyond the study of the contemporary moment, rhythmanalysis has great potential for the historical geographer. By drawing our attention to tempo and rhythm, it can reanimate the lifeless remains entombed within the archive (maps, diagrams, photographs, etc) and reveal the deeper, more complex textures of past quotidian experience. Here I explore this idea in relation to urban maps. Rhythmanalysis allows us to rethink the map not as a static spatial representation that reifies lived space, but as an embedded, active technology with its own prescriptive rhythms of usage and temporal performance. In short, a map is analogous to a musical score, inhabiting a double temporality that is at once a static timelessness and a direction for a certain rhythmic order through the grounded practice of its use. My case study here is interwar London, a privileged time and space in the reorganisation of urban rhythms. As London’s economy shifted towards monopoly capitalism – the age of the Hoover Building, the suburban semi and the expanding Civil Service – urban movement likewise emerged as the legitimate object of bureaucratic management. The introduction of Belisha beacons, one-way streets and the London Transport Passenger Board marked one side of this dynamic, but in turn provoked new imaginings of resistance and opposition. This paper, therefore, reconstructs both these fantasies of temporal management and their oppositional negotiation by listening to the rhythms inscribed within two seminal mappings of interwar London – the Tube map (1933) and the A to Z street atlas (1936).