Archives for posts with tag: cognitive dissonance

I’ve written a lot recently about the concept of geognitive dissonance: geography-induced cognitive dissonance. These are moments when the supposed linearity of space gets warped, and you experience a non-contiguous geography. Times when your senses mix, and vision defers to more subtle, powerful experiences of taste, touch, smell that break at the seams of our notion of objective space. Basically, geognitive dissonance is when you’re in one place, but something causes you to feel like you’re in another place, a place you’ve been before and know quite well.

I realize that I’ve inadvertently written about geognitive dissonance many times without naming it as such.

I’ve written about how the sweet-stale subway scent in Berlin transported me to Toronto’s TTC;

I wrote about closing my eyes on Toronto BIXIs, and feeling as if I were on a bike I got to know in Montreal;

I explored the proliferation of heterogenous big box architecture, and how it served to emphasize the difference of context in a pharmacy of the exact same layout in Montreal versus Halifax.

Though there isn’t a post about it, today with my dad, I biked a former rail path that has since been converted into a bike trail in Nova Scotia, and when I closed my eyes, felt I was in Toronto’s belt line – the same soft gravel crunching under moving wheels, the same sense of enclosure between the trees on each bank, the same light filtering through the leaves.

This is a powerful concept, I think.

It demonstrates that reality is not linear. That our world can never be known fully as objective, and that our senses have transformative, transport-ative properties. Vision and observation only go so far to explain the relationships in this world, as I, for one, experience geognitive dissonance quite often. Perhaps daily.

I know reality through a nuanced, deeply entrenched personal geography, and that personal geography is located squarely in the realm of my senses, altering my perceptions and the spatial locations of vantage points that I interpet the world from.

The Leslieville Cheese Market is located at 541 Queen West, just west of Augusta; this is very far from Leslieville, for those unfamiliar with Toronto geography.

A locus of place names is often the only thing we have to orient ourselves in an urban vernacular that repeats itself throughout a city.

Every area has it’s own version of a pizza shop, a corner store, a green grocer, a coffee shop. It’s the ties of these places’ names to their location that affirms their unique geography, their relative spatiality, and by extension confirms our relative spatiality in an often disorienting world.

Yes, there is indeed a Leslieville Cheese Market in Leslieville, also on Queen Street, however many kilometres east. I think it funny that they retained their name in their expansion to a different neighbourhood — it contradicts the need for a place to be anchored by its location that I explored in a previous post.

Perhaps this was the intended affect, but it’s as if the Leslieville Cheese Market on Queen West is an outpost of Leslieville itself. When you enter this shop, you are on Leslieville soil, like some embassy in a distant country.

I dig the effect this geognative dissonance (geography-induced cognitive dissonance) has on the streetscapes. It jumbles my linear notion of place and my interrupts my expectations of the seemingly inevitable connection between a place and its unique coordinates.

I suppose this can happen in other circumstances: visiting a North American style shopping plaza in Europe, or being in another’s home that has the exact same blueprint as your own.

Indeed, supposedly objective, relative space is less linear than it appears.