I often get the feeling that 21st Century Americans are lost in the generic urban and suburban worlds that we inhabit. We yearn for a sense of connection to real places and are willing to pay exorbitant sums to travel to destinations that wear a distinctive "thereness" on their sleeves. I believe that recapturing a true sense of place in our localities would go a long way to curing what Christopher Lasch called our "uprootedness."

Here is a review of a new book that features a series of essays on the critical importance of "thereness" and place.


Why Place Matters is a collection of essays that make the case for place. As co-editor Wilfred M. McClay writes in the introduction, “There is no evading the fact that we human beings have a profound need for ‘thereness,’ for visible and tangible things that persist and endure, and thereby serve to anchor our memories in something more substantial than our thoughts and emotions.”

That essential “thereness” drained out of American life over the 20th century, which makes a recovery of place an urgent project for the 21st century. The lesson to be gleaned from this book is: centralization is bad, but centeredness is good.