Utopias and heterotopias link to burning spirit money idea…

17 06 2006

The idea of regulated spaces and things in the universe that is relative to each other can part of the basis of this research. As we see, everything is relative to something else. When people burn spirit paper, the smoke goes up to the sky and supposedly reaches the ancestors. Where does the smoke go? Of course it stays in Earth’s atmosphere, but it benefits the ancestors who reside in the spirit world. That means that although there is no way to physically reach them, even with the burning of spirit money, they do receive the rewards we send them. Therefore, this is an act of religion and spirituality which only has its connection in a supernatural or spiritual domain. With understand this, we can use other methods that is smoke free to perform spiritual rituals and still gives blessings to our ancestors. It seems that because this act transcends the physical and the spiritual worlds, the smoke itself is not necessary and can be produced through a computer and the same offerings made to the ancestors while making the physical world a cleaner place. This should actually please the spirits 🙂

Perhaps this is the reason we need to send things to our ancestors. Even though their world is spiritual, they still seem to reside in a world where sites are relative to each other, where all things have given spaces and make up definite sites.  Taoists believe that the spiritual realm is one where the goods and materials of life can be found in death, and that we can help to fill up the spiritual world of our ancestors through the smoke of burned spirit money and goods. The idea of “sites” is alive and well, so to speak, in the spiritual world of the dead.

Below are some thoughts about how the spirit world is an utopia, but follows the principals of heterotopias. I’m not saying that the spirit world is a heterotopia. For us it is more of a utopia, but because it has so many similarities to a heterotopia, it has the qualities of a mirror, both real and not real (Michel Foucault, 1967). I try to argue that a computer using cyberspace (heterotopia and utopia) may be the perfect place to send money to the spirit world because they are so closely linked. 

According to Micheal Foucault, He argues that sites can be either real places or not real places, although both exist. The spirit world to us must be an utopia (unreal place) because we can not see it or go there physically. That is exactly the same as with utopias because they are spaces we can conceive in our minds but can never go there. What is cyberspace? Where is it? It’s everywhere and it’s nowhere. Where to the ancestors stay? –everywhere and nowhere. These spaces are mental, psychological, and of course spiritual. Since sending spirit money by smoke is a purely physical act (in terms of human sites and spaces – the sky is a holder of sites like the land or the sea; think of airplanes, satellites and weather balloons). The smoke we send shares space with all these things and remains in the atmosphere in invisible form. The smoke isn't actually reach the spirit world in any physical way. 

It makes good sense then to send things to an utopia by using an utopia to get it there. Let cyberspace (a non-physical space) be the medium that we send spirit gifts to heaven (another non-physical space). There has been some mention that people might feel that their gifts are not reaching their ancestors because no actual smoke is being produced (some of my interviewees said that), but according to this theory, cyber spirit money may actually be more effective than smoke because we are dealing with two similar realms, the non-physical cyber world and the non-physical spirit world. This could be better insurance that our ancestors receive our non-physical offerings.

Cyber space and the spirit world are utopias (non-physical places or sites). However, like the mirror which is both utopia and heterotopia (both real and unreal) the connection between cyberspace and those using it is through a heterotopia, a computer. Servers and phone lines and the like are also part of the relativity of this connected web. The computer also allows us to make a connection to another utopia, the spirit world, hence it mirrors, the mirror itself in being somewhere between utopia and heterotopia.




2 responses

11 03 2007

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