Piata Unirii
Does the Marketplace belong to other times?

Ș t e f a n   V i a n u

The market place represents more than a way of practicing the exchange of goods that dates back to ancient times; it also represents a particular way of being together with the others, of establishing a transient connection. The charm of this connection consists in the quick exchange of a few words and a few glances between the buyer and the seller. This exchange may sometimes go beyond the simple game of questions and answers: the basic communication becomes a dialog that is simple as much as it is spontaneous. These exchanges of goods and words, along with the general bustle, constitute the atmosphere of the marketplace, which we perceive (unconsciously) as an invitation. But who invites us? Or what invites us? When we linger on the marketplace, we have a sense of an ancient time calling, from within ourselves and from the surrounding, as if a fragment of those times would descend to the present, to the marketplace, and would animate the place creating a specific atmosphere that embraces us and pervades our body without us realizing it: a unique experience. The past offers itself to the senses and to our whole body, on the sole condition that we linger in the marketplace and not just cross it. The buyer thus becomes, in a very subtle way, the-one-that-wanders, a wanderer, the wanderer that the XIXth century poetry sings about. As he leaves behind the turmoil of the city, he discovers, in the atmosphere of the marketplace, a certain something that does not belong to the contemporary life. Not a ”beyond” of the quotidian, but, in a cvasi-poetic manner, a different quotidian. The writers and the travelers used to describe the public piazzas as the place where the distinction between the actor and the spectator has vanished, the people being the most charming form of ”spectacle” for each other. Part of this phenomenon is still present in the contemporary marketplace. And as hunters of hidden – yet visible – treasure of the past, we must learn to discover it.

 

 

 

Ștefan Vianu

He was born in 1963. He is a doctor of philosophy at the University of Geneva with a thesis coordinated by Professor Alain de Libera. He published articles in foreign journals (Revue de Theologie et de Philosophie) and Romanian (Philosophy Magazine, 21st Century, Ideas in Dialogue, Arhitectura, Arhitext, Revue Roumaine de Philosophie) and two philosophy books (The Metaphysics of Spirit from Aristotle to Hegel, Humanitas p.h., 2005; Existence and Idea, Eikon p.h., 2016). Currently he teaches philosophy and aesthetics at the „Ion Mincu“ University of Architecture in Bucharest.