Axioms for Reading the Landscape...

1. The axiom of landscape as clue to culture
-The man-made landscape- the ordinary run-of-the-mill things that humans have created and put upon the earth- provides strong evidence of the kind of people we are, and were, and are in the process of becoming.


2. The axiom of cultural unity and landscape equality
-Nearly all items in human landscapes reflect culture in some way. There are almost no exceptions. Furthermore, most items in the human landscape are no more and no less important than other items- in terms of their role as clues to culture.


3.The axiom of common things
-Common landscapes- however important they may be- are by their nature hard to study by conventional academic means.


4. The historic axiom
-In trying to unravel the meaning of contemporary landscapes and what they have to "say" about us as Americans, history matters.


5. The geographic (or ecological) axiom
Elements of a cultural landscape make little cultural sense if they are studied outside their geographical (i.e., locational) context.


6.The axiom of environmental control
-Most cultural landscapes are intimately related to physical environment. Thus, the reading of cultural landscape also presupposes some basic knowledge of physical landscape.


7. The axiom of landscape obscurity
-Most objects in the landscape- although they convey all kinds of "messages"- do not convey those messages in any obvious way.


D. W. Meinig
The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes (1979)
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