Mental maps of London

Deyan Sudjic claims that, “London is different for all its people. They make the most of the elements in it that have meaning for them and ignore the rest. A city is an a la carte menu. That is what makes it different from a village, which has little room for tolerance and difference’.

Certain Sudjic is right that Londoners have their own mental maps of the city, which do not take in the whole city, but just the bits they know. One can become quite attached to their part of London, and some never really leave it, its almost they somehow draw a mental border about what is familiar to them, about what matters to them, and forget about everything beyond.

There is something more to be said about these mental maps however, because these days people in London, many of whom were born outside of Great Britain, have family in other places in the world, which can be easily accessesd through air travel, which means that each person begins to develop this mental country in their head, which crosses political borders. This mental country involves the particular parts of London that one knows, the underground, motorway or train line that takes them to the airport, the rather abstract sense of a line in the sky to their home land, and then everything they know about their particular parts of their homeland. One might consider this mental map as a bit like the conventional bone, of dog and bone fame, with two round bits denoting the two homes, the London home and the Heimat, with the straight bit representing the flight connecting the two.

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