Cosmos and Hearth: A Cosmopolite's Viewpointby Yi-Fu Tuan
In a volume that represents the culmination of his life's work in considering the relationship between culture and landscape, eminent scholar Yi-Fu Tuan argues that "cosmos" and "hearth" are two scales that anchor what it means to be fully and happily human. Illustrating this contention with examples from both his native China and his home of the past forty years, the… See more details below
In a volume that represents the culmination of his life's work in considering the relationship between culture and landscape, eminent scholar Yi-Fu Tuan argues that "cosmos" and "hearth" are two scales that anchor what it means to be fully and happily human. Illustrating this contention with examples from both his native China and his home of the past forty years, the United States, Tuan proposes a revised conception of culture, one thoroughly grounded in one's own society but also embracing curiosity about the world. Optimistic and deeply human, this important volume lays out a path to being "at home in the cosmos."
Up front, Tuan stakes claim to his cosmopolitan leanings; for him they represent optimism, playfulness, inquisitiveness, opposition to dogma. Yet he also appreciates home and hearth and their gifts of nurturance and renewal, though he is troubled by the current trend toward particularism and the drumbeat of ethnic heritagedoes not the typical movement of life tend from hearth to cosmos? The product of both a Chinese and American (and Australian and English) upbringing, Tuan penetrates both cultures to see how they have dealt with the attractions of home and horizon. In China Tuan finds strong pullings in both directions: cosmic harmony and Confucian humanity, an authoritarian heavenly order versus a chaotic heterogeneity on earth. In the US he samples both our worldly role as economic and military power, and the rise of ethnic and cultural aspirations that have a very close-quarters vision. From these deliberations, Tuan proposes his own version of high modernism (optimistic, playful, etc.) couched in front of a cosmopolitan hearth: Know your own place, but know other places as well, the differences contributing to self-awareness. Those many hearths, that self-awareness, yield the ultimate peace: the acceptance of our impermanence. Go forth, read widely, laugh, be open to life's mysterious workings, think, think, thinkTuan's credos are laudable and engagingly presented, but hardly earthshaking.
Readers may wish a bit more spontaneity from Tuan, a man forever on the lookout to improve and elevate. Regarding sex, for instance, he wants to "convert the raw throbs of the body into grand human passions," via literature. So what's wrong with a little unreconstructed raw throbbing?
- University of Minnesota Press
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- 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)
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