There has begun to develop a burgeoning new problematic in recent works in human geography addressing the debate around postmodernism and the city. David Harvey's The Condition of Postmodernity (1989) and The Urban Experience (1989), and Edward Soja's Postmodern Geographies (1989) are major works on this theme. While their contribution to 'postmodern geography' is now widely accepted, they have been criticized by some feminist geographers such as Massey (1991) and Deutsche (1991) for their suppression of difference, their failure to be aware of masculinity and their lack of recognition of feminist theories of representation in their works. There is one other matter which is important in these criticisms. As Deutsche and Gregory (1994) have acutely pointed out, Harvey and Soja read the city as a distant silhouette and both accord a particular privilege to this distant view.
The purpose of the present paper is to outline a series of debates, as mentioned above, around ways of seeing the city in contemporary urban studies in general, and to undertake a critical assessment of Harvey's voyeurism in his 'Introduction' to The Urban Experience and Soja's solar Eye (looking down like a God) in 'an imaginative cruise' in particular. In addition to this purpose, I am going to suggest two directions for a postmodern geographical critique of the modernist gaze on the urban condition-the politics of representation and the politics of scale.
The second section of the paper explains the change in Harvey's attitude towards the city. We can observe this change in the transfiguration of the leading figure from a 'restless analyst' (in Consciousness and the Urban Experience) to 'the voyeur' (in The Urban Experience). Harvey, as the restless analyst, places an exaggerated importance on wandering the streets, playing 'flaneur', watching people, eavesdropping on conversations and reading local newspapers. In short, he learns more about the city and its urban condition by engaging in microgeographies of everyday life and pursuing a view from the city streets. As the voyeur, however, he makes a point of ascending to a high point and looking down upon the intricate landscape of streets, built environment and human activitv. In the 'Introduction' to The Urban Experience, Harvey so obviously prefers the view from above as a voyeuristic way of seeing the city that homogenizes street life, urban life and everyday life in a desire for legibility/readability. Thus, the privileging of the high viewpoint is his particular method of conceptualizing 'the city as a whole'. For Harvey as the voyeur, therefore, the position of restless analyst in the street 'cannot help acquiring new meaning'. This goes to his modernist sensibility.
In Postmodern Geographies, Soja introduces his most exciting essay on Los Angeles as an attempt to evoke a 'spiraling tour' around the city that he made with Frederic Jameson and Henri Lefebvre. This essay is not a mere field report, but he tries to recapture their travels as ';an imaginative cruise'! The third section of the paper points out that his 'imaginative cruise' is conducted from many vantage-points and so Soja's position on urban studies implies a Foucaldian panoptic gaze. For example, although Soja declares that 'only from the advantageous outlook of the center can the surveillant eye see everyone collectively, disembedded but interconnected', he climbs the high rise City Hall building and looks down on the landscape of downtown. The view from this site is especially impressive to Soja as one of surveillance.
What I try to show in sections 2 and 3 is that there is a great similarity between Harvey and Soja in their ways of seeing the city.