Universal Categories of Culture in Landscape: Time and Transcendence

  • Olga LavrenovaEmail author
Part of the Numanities - Arts and Humanities in Progress book series (NAHP, volume 8)


This chapter focuses on interpreting such features of the world picture as a sense of time and space, comprehension of the dichotomy of «sacred–profane» in the cultural landscape. Universal categories of culture, determining its mentality and existence create a sustainable object, which Aron Gurevich defines as «a model of the world» («world view», «image of the world»), typical for a given culture and era—that «grid», which determines the perception of reality and nature of the activity. Universal categories form the basic cognitive matrix and the basic semantic «tools» of culture. Such subtle categories as time and transcendence can be expressed through a symbol and a sign, and respectively they can also be expressed in the semantics of the cultural landscape.

The first section shows us the time as category of culture, manifesting in the cultural landscape. Temporal and spatial concepts vary in different types of cultures, they are inherited from generation to generation for centuries, or they are replaced by a new paradigm for decades. The correlation of space and time is interesting in the point that a model of the world from the archaic to modern admits interaction and interpenetration of these categories. In the cultural landscape time has several beats, it takes on the spatial characteristics—it has loci or clusters, where it is concentrated, there are ways in which it moves along with the nomads and innovations, there are the crossroads where it is possible both direct and reverse flow of time. The different rhythms of time, manifesting itself in the cultural space, give to the cultural landscape the property of fluidity and plasticity. Geological, mythological, historical and physical time is always present in the cultural landscape. Through the process of semiosis certain loci in cultural landscape can become a spokesman even of such categories as eternity and timelessness. As a result the cultural landscape becomes a «landscape of time», where the names of places appear as signs of a quality time, generated by the culture. This allows us to build a spatial metaphor for time, sealing its sense of human exploration. Understanding the space-time in its diversity constantly creates new meanings in the culture, expands the boundaries of semiosphere.

The second section deals with the semantics of the sacred landscape, the process of transformation of the landscape or geographic area as a whole into the expression of the archetypes of human consciousness. Despite the fact that the image of the world in the modern world culture is formed mainly by natural science paradigm through this paradigm a more or less «visible» original religious and mythological world picture is seen. It was studied by Mircea Eliade, Vladimir Toporov, Aron Gurevich, Nikolai Terebikhin, Gaston Bachelard and others. The basis of religious-mythological image of the world is a cosmogony, as it applied to real geographical space. The structure of world records the basic ontological and cosmological categories, so, depending on the various aspects of philosophy, either the whole space becomes sacred, or a cleavage appears, separating the world into sacred and profane. In the cultural landscape such mythological categories as the center and the axis of the world are expressed, the Cosmos–Chaos, heaven and hell also find their images.

Sacred loci become such through a ritual (the naming, dedication, the building of worship, worship), they form a network, efficient within the culture spawned. Sacred space usually has two options of interpretation—not only as a text but also as an icon. Understanding the semantics of sacred landscape leads to a new understanding of its organization, morphology and gives a new possibility of modeling geo-cultural interactions.


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  1. 1.Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences RASMoscowRussia

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