Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 1991. pp. 130-168.
annotation by Peter Adams (Theories of Media, Winter 2004)

Chapter Ten (p. 130):
Here Lefebvre begins to deal with the temporality embedded in space—how what he terms the "always difference" (the way in which the present moment is always, a new moment) and the "now repetition" (the way in which we see largely the same things in those moments, everywhere and always) are absolutely primary. Time and space, in other words, are in tension: every new, but often still. We pass the same landmarks on different days, in different seasons, in different years; in a way which makes the space quite different in its various instantiations (which he calls tragic) and yet still very much the same in its fixity (which he calls comic).

Chapter Eleven (pp. 130-140)
Lefebvre turns to looking for "the relations between language and space" and compares verbal sign systems to non-verbal. Both space and language, then, have a before and after; and in both, the present dominates. He goes on to point out that all language/ discourse takes place in space; and that it further produces the space of its own absolute knowledge (produces, in other words, the study of itself). In fact, everything we can recognize, he goes on to say, is collapsible into the linguistic realm, space included (insofar, at least, as we have names for the spaces concerned; a point which seems a bit indulgent and unremarkable). In this way, he says, "[p]ure formalism" becomes an "hub for the totalization of knowledge" which is, however, empty (which is why the comment before feels unremarkable). He warns of the over-ambition of some linguists, saying they are more responsible for producing a knowledge void than a knowledge core. Characteristically, however, Lefebvre immediately contradicts himself and explains the power and danger of the sign (as replicas of the physical world, they have the power to manipulate the physical world) in its "hegemony over human beings" (134). While language, then, might seem to dominate space by being able to abstract it, space reasserts itself by enveloping discourse (all language takes place in space). In fact, Lefebvre seems to hint here that the very exploration of language (in time freed from physical work) is due to production, which is unavoidably spatial (especially historically). He ends the chapter in a discussion of Nietzchean thought on metaphor and metonymy, the point of which is to conclude, again, that while such constructs of language seem to be purely figures of speech, they in fact "become figures of speech" through spatial relations (139, original emphasis). In other words, language is produced in space and so can only be applied to space which has already been produced; it does not explain the production of new space.

Chapter Twelve (pp. 140-147)
Lefebvre uses this chapter to explain why it is so tempting to see language as more primary in its relation to space than it actually is (i.e. why it is easy to imagine it as a dominant or at least parallel system) by tracing signs’ ability to invest their referents (in space) with significance (emotion). A space, in other words, which is invested with a certain meaning can come to represent that meaning. Space is thus said to be "susceptible of a ‘reading’…to embody a discourse, a language" which, according to Lefebvre, both does and does not make sense (142). Insofar as someone can arrange things in space to convey a meaning to another, the statement is true; but insofar as space itself can be said to carry one meaning or set of signs, it is false. If anything, he says, space is "over-inscribed…, jumbled and self-contradictory" (142). Because space is the definitive context, it is easy to miss; because it is so pervasive, what it allows or disallows is difficult to think about. Any reading of space, then, is secondary; a trace of the activities it has already allowed. The chapter ends vaguely, discussing the reductive (and so destructive) nature of interpreting structures in space; by reading things, in short, you divest them of their significance (emotional charge) and hence destroy them. Space, however, he seems to be saying, is still left.

Chapter Thirteen (pp. 147-158)
This chapter is largely an exampled discussion of the last. Lefebvre introduces "three general concepts" that social space is related to: form, structure and function. Analysis of space through any of these terms "provides a code and a method for deciphering what at first may seem impenetrable" (147). After explaining each term, he begins to explain form in an extended example. Citing the Orders for Discovery and Settlement of colonial Spain (the publication which detailed how to lay out a colonial town and, thus, the reason for the plaza-centered grid patterns throughout their former empire), he discusses how a form may be imposed in space as a function of production and may, in turn, look like other forms (the modern grid of New York, for example; or the quadrangles of the Roman military camps) but differ vastly in content (the political and power dynamics which produced the form). He ends the chapter by using two more extended examples which analyze various debates about the cohesive logic of religious, social and political forms and functions.

Chapter Fourteen (pp. 158-164)
He begins this chapter by discussing structural analysis, which he sees as concerned with "scale, proportion, dimension and level"; with the determination of material forces (as embodied in columns, vaults, arches, pillars, etc.) (158). He concludes, in the middle of the chapter, that the "tripartite" of form, function and structure cannot be "the method for deciphering social spaces, for what is truly essential gets through the ‘grid’" (160). We should, he goes on, adopt this approach, but use it with caution. He then moves into a use of the approach in trying to explain certain forms, structures and functions of the physical world as the signs which enable spaces to signify. He uses the example of the Greek columns on the New York Stock Exchange to engage the extent to which they signify "the inability of capitalism to produce a space other than capitalist space and its efforts to conceal that production as such"; of the extent to which they signify "well-being, happiness…riches, power, prosperity, and so on" (160). He then cites Barthes’ notion of the five available codes for reading texts and the way these codes—knowledge, function, symbol, value and the subjective—influence readings of space. Lefebvre then questions the method by which Barthes determined these codes (why not four or six, he asks) and points out that they overlook both the body and power. Space, he concludes, can never be reduced to a mere representation, which he considers nothing more than description. So-called empiricism, in other words, "presupposes a conception of space which contradicts the premises of empiricism itself" (163). He uses the insufficiency of the decoding approach to introduce his ideas about taxonomizing space, and begins with the distinction between dominated and appropriated spaces.

Chapter Fifteen (pp. 164-168)
Before dealing with this distinction, however, Lefebvre discusses "the relationship between the basic axes of diachronic and synchronic" (164). This relationship produces an overlap between time periods (elements in space which persist alongside newer ones, others which are destroyed and leave a trace)and between natural, religious and political space. Natural objects, for example, "continue to be perceived as part of their contexts in nature" even as their surrounding space begins to fill with manufactured objects. He then turns to a discussion of dominated space, characterizing it as a "space transformed—and mediated—by technology, by practice"; a type of space which is, as it were, becoming completely dominated (pun his) (164). This dominance of dominated space, in turn, invokes history and military power; but can only be understood next to the concept of appropriation and appropriated space (i.e. "natural space modified in order to serve the needs and possibilities of a group") (165). Ideally, then, dominant and appropriated spaces coincide (power, in other words, shapes space in the group interest); but too often there is a dissonance between them (power shapes space in its own interest in disregard of the group interest). In the latter instance (that of an antagonism between the two), dominant space usually wins; but we should not forget that there have been instances of "appropriation without domination", such as igloos and straw huts (166). Domination has grown alongside military and political power. He then applies these concepts to the body, explaining its domination and calling for its reappropriation "in association" with that of space as well (167). He ends the chapter and Social Space section by further distinguishing the practice of diversion of space (the putting to new use of spaces which have outlived their original purposes) as related to appropriation. This distinction can "teach us much about the production of new spaces" under capitalism and the ways in which diversion seems separate from production (e.g. squatting) (168). Ultimately, he ends by saying, "diversion and production cannot be meaningfully separated"; diversion is rather a kind of reappropriation and, hence, a temporary halting of domination.