Monday, September 19, 2011

The Hospital Fence and Sacred Space

I said I was going to get back to Pluto Park but more of that later. This is part of the CTO hospital in Torino - that's the Centro Traumatologico Ortopedico, which specialises in serious trauma. Those involved in road and skiing accidents may end up here, often helicoptered directly to the front of the hospital. The location is meat and drink to a photographer and the hospital has the best snack bar ever. If you have to spend a lot of time waiting around, there is plenty to occupy anyone interested in sandwiches and photography. Yet the matter of interest here is the chain. Imagine the picture without the red chain and it would be so much less. Chains bind and this one is binding a specific area to make a barrier or boundary. Not much of a boundary one might think? Well, it only needs to be notional here. No serious harm will come to transgressors, but it does say "Keep Off". In our psyche too, we do do fence things off and often it's absolutely necessary to make boundaries to protect a part of ourselves that we feel is special. In particular, this personal space is prohibited to others. Jungian psychologists sometimes call this "sacred space" - a bounded area which is so personal to the individual that no one else may tread there. Temenos (τέμενος) is Greek for a cut off piece of land designated for an official function and it has become associated with the immediate area around a temple or altar. Jung transposes the term and the concept to a personal psychic location.