Archive for March, 2009

迂回的道路

Monday, March 23rd, 2009


虽然说《地理学和地理学家》有翻译的中文版本,但是相对学究的写作方式再加上翻译之后带来的另一层“误读”,使得阅读变成一种迷宫式的环绕,看了大半天还在云山雾绕之中,多亏andrew推荐了《All possible worlds: A history of Geographical ideas》,刚刚读了第一章已经完全吸引了我。这是牛津大学出版社出版的书,作者是Geoffrey J. Martin, 教授(Southern Connecticut State University),同时他还是《Geographers: Biobibliographical Studies》和《The Association of American Geographers: The First Seventy-Five Years, 1904-1979》的作者之一,可见其有深厚的地理学思想史的研究。现在书已经是第四版,我从图书馆借来的是第二版,第四版增加了一些当代的研究思潮和进展,在amazon看到的二手书40多刀,暂时没有拿定主意买不买。

全书真的是字字珠玑,每段话都主旨明确,内容衔接也逻辑清晰,太适合对地理学思想史的学生阅读。第一章就用一些简单的文字解释了我们本科一直在思考的问题。比如什么是地理环境

its a complex universe: there are things (phenomena) on it produced by physical and chemical processes; there are plants and animals produces by biotic processes; and there is man himself, influenced by his natural surroundings and also an agent of change in his surrounding acting through economic, social, and political events. All these things and the events of which they are the momentary signs exist in complex association and interconnection, forming what is called the man-environment system.

什么是地理学的思想

The history of geographical ideas is the record of man’s effort to gain more and more logical and useful knowledge of the human habitat and of man’s spread over the earth: logical in that explanations of the things observed could be so tested and verified that scholars could have confidence in them; useful in that the knowledge so gained could be used to facilitate man’s adjustment to the varied natural conditions of the earth, to make possible modifications of adverse conditions, or even to gain a measure of control over them.

什么是思潮以及思潮的周期

The new observations may demonstrate the inadequacy of the hypothesis, which is then withdrawn in favor of a new one or is substantially modified. These are periods of great progress. Then, when a conceptual structure becomes widely accepted and a paradigm of scholarly behavior is established, there is a period when observations increase so fast that they must be stored away for future use. These periods of intellectual stability are not periods of notable progress. Eventually, a new and sometimes radically different concept of the meaning of the observed data is set forth, and the sequence is repeated.

地理学的边界在哪里:

What then does geography do? It is important to understand that since World War II this question does not call for a definition of geography that would establish its boundaries. The trend now is for all fields of study to come together around specific problems. The process of separation has now been replaced by a process of integration in which each professional field brings its own special skills and concepts to bear on such major difficulties as poverty, overpopulation, race relations, and environmental destruction…..Geography has always had a holistic tradition so that it comes as no intellectual shock to study systems of interconnection and interdependent parts of diverse origin. Geography is closely involved with cartography in the development and use of maps, which are ideally suited to the study of complex location factors. A geographer is a person who asks questions about the significance of location, distance, direction, spread, and spatial succession. The geographer deals with problems of accessibility, innovation diffusion, density, and other derivative of relative location.

地理学主要的研究问题

There are at least five different kinds of questions of geographic character that can be investigated: (1) There are generic questions that have to do with the content of earth space but that cannot be effectively answered without a framework of concepts to guide the separation of the relevant from the vast complexity of the irrelevant. (2) There are genetic questions that have to do with the sequences of events leading from past situations through geographic changes to present conditions; these are studied by the methods of historical geography. (3) There are theoretical questions that deal with the formulation of empirical generalizations or of general laws, perhaps even with basic theory, and with the methods of drawing logical deductions. (4) There are remedial questions that have to do with the application of geographic concepts and skills to the study of practical economic, social, or political problems. (5) There are methodological questions that have to do with experiments in new method of study, new techniques of observation and analysis, or new cartographic methods.

最后是对于科学而又自由地研究的警示

Although there are many in each generation of geographers who are inclined to establish their own methods of work as the only acceptable paradigm, these efforts have been resisted. The freedom to inquire curiosity leads has been preserved. There are still new worlds to be discovered by the enthusiastic scholars.

愿用最后一句话给大家共勉

四十八分之五:贴图流水

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

前一秒还信心满满,下一秒就有可能崩坍,所以说还是不成熟
计划好了多写写,但是最后也就这样贴图结束了

1. 健身计划顺利,增胖到70kg,每周一三五将近一个半小时,跑步机25分钟、各种器械20分钟、划船机20分钟。

2. 旅行去了周围几个小城市,Guelph、Burlington、Hamilton,看到路边一个路牌指示前方Toronto、前左Paris、前右London,多么post-modern metropolitan。

3. 好像要回国了,期末的压力也大,看完了The guns, germs, and steel,还算有趣,正在看All possible Worlds,非常经典,每一句话我都想摘抄下来。国内为什么没有这样一本很好的地理学思想史的书呢,繁冗的历史不是人人都想翻阅整理的吧。应该给自己制定一个更有方向并且可行的计划。

4. 安全,这是过来另一深刻感觉。MIAO落在mall的熨斗竟然没有丢,别人帮我们保管了两周。还有很多点点滴滴,都让我感觉高素质的一种安全。

5. 快要搬家,每一次离开,都是为了解脱束缚吧,其实前方还有更多的束缚。


Burlington旁边的安大略湖,真的跟计算机制作的3D游戏里面的蓝一样,很梦幻很能形容

My lady, Guelph Church
Guelph教堂,OUR LADY在阳光下

Burlington
Burlington,一个为保护环境而变得落寞的问题。环境和产业之间真的很难平衡,这里以后就可能就是一种环境死城吧。

Burlington
Burlington公园,日落时光,给人一种沉静而有安全的感觉。

Burlington
阑干锁湖

正太
正太一枚,我要混血儿

Burlington Ikea
瑞典美食,肉丸无敌

红萝卜牛腩
何以解忧,唯有吃肉

Mongolian grill
蒙古烤肉,这种buffet烤肉方式大开眼界,连调料都自制

Ikea
仙人掌,期望这些植物们不要死掉啊

Hamilton
回途,美啊,归心似箭

小事日记

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

事情多,但是不想做,耗费在blogging上了

今天健身是一个月纪念,也终于碰到一个极品,一个魁梧异常的大壮男在旁边做器械,那个声音那叫一个高八度直追porn里面的叫床声,我不得不从旁边飘走

出了健身的地方,看到Civil Engineering的太阳能车,并且竟然还是有人在开的!看着一个人开着那个像纸板一样的UFO从面前看过去,并且还有一堆车在后面,我还是不得不想笑

所谓的daylight saving time时间来了,好像莫名其妙的少了一个小时,冻在冰箱的都豆浆也莫名其妙的消失了。所以晚上回家的时候可以看见松鼠叼着松果从你面前飞奔而过,到家的时候还可以看到大雁迎着夕阳拍成一字人字还挺浪漫的

另外要提的就是初中同学结婚了,经历很神奇,又是MIT,又是南方周末,还有商报的巨大广告,毕竟,别人结婚了
marriage

这个月肯定会很忙,我肯定易怒,不用星座专家预言我都知道,所以不要惹我。

Geography as a mirror

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Guns, Germs, and Steel

只是记录一下最近读书的一点点想法。

1.关于地理的研究对象(subject)

学地理特别是自然地理的时候说地理研究的是上至平流层下至岩石圈浅层的所有对象。这个界定注定了地理既人文(human)又自然(physical),包罗万象,也使得起学术地位和认同。但是,就现在所学来看,有所谓的两个核心,一个是空间问题,另一个是人地关系问题。前者引申出地统计学,空间分析学(kriging interpolation)等等;后者最出名的例子还是全球变暖的人为作用(anthropogenic effect),但是也有在人本情怀上面的例子(比如房间私密程度的演化,SNS网络的空间隔离(segregation),ie. 中国用校内,北美大多用facebook)等。

虽然很早之前环境决定论就被否定了,但是读了Guns,Germs,and Steel之后,从一个更客观的角度看地理空间的作用,确实在人类社会的发展历史上起了非常重要的作用。以前没有想过的很多现象,都有了更好的解释。比如欧亚大陆(horizontal)比起美洲大陆和欧非大陆(vertical)更有利于病毒知识技术的传播。读了nature纪念达尔文200周年的纪念文章,更加觉得地理空间隔离对进化的重要性。

2.关于地理研究的界限(multi-discipline relationship)

就是由于读其他学科的东西,往往都会提到地理,比如上面提到的进化理论,空间隔离的小岛确实提供了天然的观测场所。可见地理和生物的不可分离性,更不用说在景观生态(Landscape)上面的两者更加紧密的联系。再看看其他学科,话说史地不分家,历史和地理更加分不开,事物本来就在时空四维上面发展,讲一个故事往往都要注意时间地点。文学上面那些大师也常常讨论地方感(sense of space and sense of place)和文化冲击(cultural collision)的格格不入(out of place)。换到社科上面,人文地理所采用社会调查记录采访方法基本都跟社会学人类学一模一样。而GIS和RS方法对于数据的存储和处理方式,跟信息学、信号学、数据库、拓扑学、统计学、概率学又有相连通之处。

这样来看,地理还真的很博物学。博物学虽然已经过时了,但是很多伟大的发明发现都是以博物学为基础,很多出名的研究都是多学科交流沟通开窍出来的。

3.关于地理所需要的基础(prerequisite)

已经看出地理是如此“通学”,所以我们老被问需要什么基础。最重要的可能还是数学和思维两者。数学自不必说,无论你做人文还是自然哪怕经济地理,都需要数学基础,概率线性代数和微积分至少是一个基础,再往上就看你的方向了(specialization)。另一个思维可以归结为发现问题和思考问题的方式,可以拿到下面一点说。

4.关于创新和批判性学习(innovation, critical thinking)

到了国外,对于创新和批判性思考有了更深的认识。首先是他们对于前人(precursor)知识的尊重,再者就是他们老爱想(pros and cons),并且往往能从一个比较新颖独特的角度想到解决的办法。虽然可能带来更多的问题,但是至少确定的这是一个死胡同。这也是为什么在书中作者说“Tolerance of diverse views and of heretics fosters innovation, whereas a strongly traditional outlook (as in China’s emphasis on ancient Chinese classics) stifles it” 这句话的原因。

就我现在来看,严格的审查制度(比如GFW、文化XX部门)的所作所为,也造成一个很大贫富差距,对于“异端”的思想层面的贫富差距。对于能够翻墙看到这些或者努力翻墙看到这些和很大一部分根本不知道墙在哪里的人,这个差距所产生的影响更加深远。幸运的是,我们有那么一群人不断的挑战“民主”,“权力”的界定范围(跟Boston Legal里面所讨论的问题有些类似),虽然他们的行为可能偏激,可能唐突,但是至少我们知道现状不是让人满意的。来到这边,总能感觉到外国人,哪怕是香港人,或者说早期的移民者对于国内的一些既定观念(stereotyping),并且很多都是老套(cliche)和负面的(negative connotation),但是,这也不能作为停下一个个体追求真善美的原因啊?

下面的两段话出自John K. Wright于1925年发表在Annals of the Association of American Geographers上面的文章The History of Geography: A Point of View,关于地理学思想的镜子比喻,值得珍藏。

In conclusion, we may compare the mind of man to a mirror which has the ability not only to reflect but to retain, record and interpret more or less imperfectly the images that it reflects. It is not a clean, bright mirror which gives exact images, but too often is warped, clouded, spotted, cracked and broken. The appearance of the image, no matter of what the reflection may be, is determined very largely by the nature of the mirror itself and by the spots, dust, and other foreign matter that may have accumulated upon it.

The history of geography is the history of images of the geographical environment that have been distorted and discolored by the quality of the minds in which they have been lodged; they have been blurred by accumulations of extraneous lore in these minds and confused by other thoughts. Yet the mere fact that they are images of the geographical environment, not images of anything else, make it possible for us to distinguish in some measure between the elements that are true reflections and the appearances that are due to the mirror. In other words, if we are looking for the kind of thought best suited for study from the geographical point of view, may it not be a good plan first to select geographical thought itself?

postcard from Chongqing received on Mar. 2009