Heteropia is a word which originates with Michel Foucault, derived from the Greek héteros (“other”) and tópos (“place”). Its meaning is most concretely delineated in his essay “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias” (from the French “Des Espace Autres,” March 1967), though the phrasing “concretely delineated”may be overly generous. Foucault’s own definition of the heterotopic varies from lecture to lecture, and the aforementioned paper contradicts itself both inter- and intra-paragraph. Yet the term’s formulation has touched some nerve in academia, leading to a wide range of scholarly implementations which somehow must be reconciled and dealt with.
“To pilgrims and many expats, it is a temple of techno, a consecrated space, a source of enchantment and wonder.”
Nick Paumgarten, “Berlin Nights”
Is ritual still possible in contemporary society? This essay is one in a series which will examine those spaces which facilitate ephemeral and loosely structured (rather than repeated, highly structured, and strictly observed) events. Such spaces are communal but not socially mandatory; they are spiritual but derive transcendence from ecstasy instead of trial or mundanity.