Lit and Place Response #3 “Cathedral”

In the chapter “Spatial ability, Knowledge, and Place,” Tuan cautiously dissects the infinite notion of human knowledge, illuminating the numerous forms, or stages, that mingle with an individual’s ability to reflect and operate. Tuan states, “Walking is a skill, but if I can “see” myself walking and if I can hold that picture in mind so that I can analyze how I move and what path I am following, then I also have knowledge(Tuan 68).” “Knowledge” can act as a transferable entity, transmitted from one individual to the next. With specific knowledge, a human being can function consequently, complete with intent and schemata. Illustrating what “knowledge” truly entails, can pose as a task of great intricacy, but Tuan’s chapter certainly discusses the term effectively.

In Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral,” we examine a story through the narration of a rather ordinary man. He encounters a blind gentleman, whom his wife invited to sleep by their house after the passing of his wife of eight years. The narrator explicitly states that he had never encountered a “blind man” before this visit. With this in mind, the narrator seemed a bit troubled by the presence of the blind man, somewhat disconcerted.

The blind man would appear to be one’s essential focal point when attempting to agree with Tuan’s principles regarding “space” and “place, but focus on the narrator is critical as well. The narrator identifies with the ability of sight. The comprehension of blindness would pose as a near impossible task for him, as he has never been bound of sight before. He has the “knowledge” of vision, unlike the blind man who does not. The narrator has the ability to describe certain fixtures to the blind man (the cathedral on T.V.), thus passing over “knowledge” to another individual, but he cannot envision blindness as a lifestyle. Throughout the story the narrator attempts to relate with the blind visitor, but is seemingly rendered incapable of doing so, therefore agreeing with Tuan’s principles regarding “Spatial ability, Knowledge, and Place.”

Human Knowledge is somewhat subjective. One may claim they can relate with another, but that’s seldom the case. Rather than veering towards a more philosophical approach, I will end my discussion on the topic of “Space” and the blind man. The blind man could not see, therefore one would believe he has no sense of space or place, but that is not the case. Tuan speaks about an individual’s ability to reside and navigate in their own “place” in previous chapters. Weather it’s their home or elsewhere. The blind man still lives with the general concepts of “space” and “place.” He may not have a literal sense of sight, but he does contain the knowledge, or memory, of how to regard certain places. He remembers distance and states in “Cathedral” that he has the capability to be comfortable in an environment, even a place he is not familiar with. This stems back to my opening paragraph where I state; ability comes partly due to the ‘passing of knowledge from one to another’.

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