2004 volume 22(1) pages 13 – 26

Cite as:
Law J, 2004, "And if the global were small and noncoherent? Method, complexity, and the baroque" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 22(1) 13 – 26

Download citation data in RIS format

And if the global were small and noncoherent? Method, complexity, and the baroque

John Law

Received 5 February 2002; in revised form 11 November 2002

Abstract. What is it to be big? What is it to be small? And what is it to be global? Common sense, including a good deal of the common sense underlying network metaphors for complex globality, involves the assumption that the global is large, that it includes the (smaller) local, and that to understand it we need to adopt a holistic approach in which we look up to explore emergent complexities, and so obtain a provisional overview of the whole. In this paper I argue, following Chunglin Kwa, that this is a particular and romantic method for imagining complexity. I then follow Kwa by considering a baroque alternative. Instead of looking up, this looks down and discovers limitless internal complexity within, which is materially heterogeneous, specific, and sensuous. In this monadology there are no limits to complexity within, but neither is there any possibility of modeling and knowing that complexity in full. There is no overview and neither is there any assumption of coherence. In this way of thinking the global lies within each site and is small, sensuous, specific, heterogeneous, noncoherent, and cannot be more than patchily modeled.

Restricted material:

PDF Full-text PDF size: 154 Kb

HTML References  40 references, 1 with DOI links (Crossref)

Your computer (IP address: has not been recognised as being on a network authorised to view the full text or references of this article. This content is part of our deep back archive. If you are a member of a university library that has a subscription to the journal, please contact your serials librarian (subscriptions information).