I’ve felt a specific type of amazement twice. An overpowering sensation of the vastness and emptiness of a space. Something like agoraphobia, but with the opposite emotional valence: I felt overwhelmed, maybe a bit anxious, but mostly unbelievably (and uncommonly) euphoric.
It’s a sense of possibility, of being able to move limitlessly. This may be very me-specific? But we exist, at least in part, through our bodies, and our bodies’ existence to us is brought about by motion (and sensation). If essence is begotten by use, a static body is a non-entity; and a wide open space is a maximization of the potentiality of one’s being. Dasein as fuck.
It’s also a feeling of irreality, of uncanniness (unheimlichkeit); these spaces are rare, and transgress on our expectations of the world, which include barriers, walls, roads, cars, crowds, buildings, hills, trees. The feeling is not unlike that of encountering a video game glitch; one sort of wonders — is this empty “level” here by mistake?
(Is twice enough? For a lifetime? I mean, it’s not nothing, but it’s close to it. And where could I go to seek this sensation? can it even be sought? Can there be proactive uncanniness? predictable overwhelmingness?)
The sensation requires vastness, flatness, featurelessness, and peoplelessness. All these criteria are required: the vastness is what elevates the sensation to an extraordinary level where it becomes qualitatively different from what you would have in a mere park or field; relief, from below, interrupts perspectives, and, from above, creates a detachment between oneself and the space; the same can be said about overly present physical features: something like, say, a river would structure, define, and therefore reduce the space; and people (above a certain density) just inherently impose themselves on, and interfere with, my perception and enjoyment of a place.
The two places were the Hackney Marshes football fields, in London, and Tempelhof Airport, in Berlin.