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SOUTH BEACH HERALD

Renderingofglasspalaceat321OceanEnriqueNorten

HETEROTOPIASOUTHBEACH
BY
DAVIDARTHURWALTERS

Isthisreality?Doestheartistsrenderingofapenthouseat321OceanEnriqueNorteninSouth
BeachlooklikelifeonEarthforthemostofus?
Whoisthewomanstandingdesolateattheworldsedgebeforeadazzlingvistaunhinderedby
human habitation? Where did she get this great fortune? Did she exchange her soul for the
wealthsoconspicuouslydisplayed?Isshehappy,orisshereallylonelynotwithstandingliving
largeinexclusionofthemaddingcrowd?Isshetemptedtoleapfromtheedgeofhercliffinto
nothingness?
After all this climbing, this is the living end, a sort of utopia set off from the world, and it is
indeed a lonely place, designed for ultrahigh income individuals, the top 3% of the worlds
populationinmonetaryterms,locatedonthemostaffluentportionoftheupscaleSouthPointe
neighborhood.

SOUTH BEACH HERALD

Could that woman standing fully clothed on the extended floor slab be Sharon Stone, to this
verydaythesexiestwomanintheworldalthoughshehaslatelyhaddifficultyfindingasingle
mantoloveherasshereallyis?WillIencounterherdownstairs,atStarbucks?
The expected sale of the 321 Enrique Norten penthouse alone, for $25 million or more, was
expectedtomorethanpayforthestated$18millioncostoftheentiredevelopment.Ms.Stone
is well qualified with a hardearned fortune estimated at $60 million, yet I fear she will be
reluctanttoplunkdownhalfofthattoownaglassboxsodivorcedfromrealityeventhough
any more than a million dollars is meaningless without love. Notwithstanding romance, her
financialadvisorwouldadvisehernottoboardashipoffoolscaptainedbyfastbuckpieinthe
skyartists.

321OceanEnriqueNortenreplacedahistoricArtDecobuilding,theSimoneHotel,thatperhaps
Ms.Stonewouldhavelovedtoshackupinwhenshewasanaspiringmodel.Itwasdestroyed
by neglect so developers could eventually make a killing with a couple of big glass and steel
boxescompletelyoutofcharacterwithhistory.
Not only tourists vacationed in the old hotels on the beach; some people lived in them
indefinitely as the area became a poor mans paradise. I arrived when old folks mostly
populatedSouthBeach.WasIeverpleasedwhenaforlornpornstarfromManhattanshowed
upatthehotelwhereIwasthenightmanagerafterhersugardaddydumpedherinMiami.
ThemassiveboxesnamedafterstararchitectEnriqueNorteniswhatMichelFoucaultmightcall
aheterotopia.
Wewouldliketopreservehistoryofonekindoranother,tofreezetimeandfindsomecomfort
intheillusionthatitdoesnotpassasourmortalclocksrundown.Historicalpreservationinthe

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areaknownasSouthofFifthStreetinMiamiBeachisnotevenanillusion.Itisafarceunlessit
is the history of the progress of the wealthy who have historically led the preservation
movementthatpreservestheirtastesandwealth.
InOfOtherSpaces:UtopiasandHeterotopias(1967),FoucaultobservedthatTimecannotbe
severedfromspace,yetwearemoreanxiousoverspacetodaythantimegiventhepopulation
explosion and consequent competition for resources including space. People vie with one
another to exclude each other by hogging space, or to live large, as realtor Saul Gross
advertisesinMiamiBeach,inminimallyfurnishedoruncluttered,luxuriouscondominiumsthat
constitute for ultra high income individuals little heavens on earth contradicting the brute
realityofthecrowdedandclutteredurbanpavements.
These high end condos are, to cite a notion coined by Foucault, heterotopias. Whereas
utopias are imaginary no places conceived as constructive criticisms of real places,
heterotopiasarecounterculturalattemptstoenactorrealizeutopias.Alltheotherrealsites
thatcanbefoundwithintheculturearesimultaneouslyrepresented,contested,andinverted.
Foucault discusses crisis heterotopias, i.e. privileged, sacred, forbidden places reserved for
individualswhoare,inrelationtosocietyandtothehumanenvironmentinwhichtheylive,ina
stateofcrisis.Hementionsboardingschoolsandmilitaryservicewhereyoungmenliveaway
from home and are initiated into their virility; honeymoon hotels where young women are
deflowered;Americanmotelswhereillicitsexmaybehidden;brothels;resthomesforreliefof
theelderly;psychiatrichospitalswheretheanxiousaresupposedtofindpeace;prisonsforthe
rehabilitationofcriminals;gardensthatrecaptureEdenbeforeoriginalsin;cemeterieswitha
box or crypt for everyone that can afford one. We may recall the withdrawal of the early
Christians from the Jewish communities, the Puritan societies and Jesuit colonies, the
monasteries designed by Joachim of Flora, and the various communes that set themselves
apartfromsocietyandeventuallyfailed.
Wealsohaveheterocroniessuchasmodernmuseumsandlibrarieswherealltimesmeetinone
place. Whereas museums and libraries used to preserve times according to individual taste,
the will to enclose in one place all times, all epochs, all forms, all tastes, the idea of
constitutingaplaceofalltimesthatisitselfoutsideoftimeandinaccessibletoitsravages,the
projectoforganizinginthiswayasortofperpetualandindefiniteaccumulationoftimeinan
immobileplace,thiswholeideabelongstoourmodernity.Similarly,wehavetheatres,where
time may be reversed, and all times including future times may be enacted in one place in a
short period of time. Add to that list ephemeral or absolutely temporal chroniques such as
festivalsonfairsoncertaingrounds.

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Brothelsandcoloniesaretwoextremetypesofheterotopia,andifwethink,afterall,thatthe
boatisafloatingpieceofspace,aplacewithoutaplace,thatexistsbyitself,thatisclosedinon
itselfandatthesametimeisgivenovertotheinfinityoftheseaandthat,fromporttoport,
fromtacktotack,frombrotheltobrothel,itgoesasfarasthecoloniesinsearchofthemost
precioustreasurestheyconcealintheirgardens,youwillunderstandwhytheboathasnotonly
beenforourcivilization,fromthesixteenthcenturyuntilthepresent,thegreatinstrumentof
economicdevelopment(Ihavenotbeenspeakingofthattoday),buthasbeensimultaneously
thegreatestreserveoftheimagination.

The ship is the heterotopia par excellence. In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up,
espionagetakestheplaceofadventure,andthepolicetaketheplaceofpirates.
Methinksthecruiselineristheheterotopiaparexcellenceservingthepurposeofthepassenger
to nowhere in particular, the sailor who sails effortlessly for the sake of sailing, perchance
dreamingofutopia.Isnotcivilizationitselfashipofslumberingfoolswithnooneatthehelm?
OfcoursethereisalwaystheInvisibleHanduponwhichfatecanbeblamed.
WeneotericshavevacationfantasylandslikeDisneylandorduderanchesandthelike.Andover
the bridge from Magic City we have Miami Beach with its luxury condominiums in stark
juxtaposition to what was once a poor mans paradise and a soldiers barracks now being
rapidlyrenovatedintoarichmansghetto,withalldueapologiestothehistoricalpoorinthe
formofhistoricalpreservationofthephysicalfeatureswheretheyoncedwelledandhavesince

SOUTH BEACH HERALD

been evicted to preserve the historical progress of the rich who dominate historical
preservationforthesakeoftheirprivilegedclass.
Andwherethosephysicalfeaturesmaynotyieldagreatenoughprofit,theymaybereferredto
abstractly.Theabstractreferencingofhistoricarchitectureisamodernistinnovationinwhich
the compatibility of the new and old is suggested by the reduction of composite form to
abstractshape.Theabstractionmaybetakentosuchlengthsthatotherthanaroofline,ifeven
that,isallthatisleftofhistory.
Foucault is right: although space may not be divorced from time, space is what is wanted
nowadays. Everyone wants breathing room. We want more than breathing room. Everyone
wouldliketopersistforeverwithoutresistance,butthatwouldnotbeexistence.Utopiadoes
notexistbecausenothingandonlynothingisperfect.Wewanttolivelarge,highoffthehog,in
Heterotopia.Thatwouldbetheendoftheworld,inaglassboxwithaspectacularuninhibited
viewatoceansedge.
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MiamiBeach2015