Cathedrals of the Surf Zone: Regulating Access to a Space of Spirituality by Jon Anderson

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Surfing has long been considered a sport or a serious leisure pastime centered on a desire for hedonistic thrills as well as serious risk taking. Nonetheless, the issue of spirituality in surfing has caused some anxiety. The surfers' spiritual connection to the water is palpable. Anderson's article 'Cathedrals of the Surf Zone: Controlling Entry to a Spiritual Area' will be discussed in this paper.

The essay discusses surfing as a human nature activity as well as the spiritual side of surf zones. It argues that the deep immersion, involvement and transcendence in nature is much closer to spirituality than hedonism (Anderson, 958). Just as people are usually bound to their religion, the surfers also tend to be bound to the surfing places by being attached to the territory and they pledge their loyalty to the territory. In addition, they are also bound by being spiritually involved with the waves. Hydrologically, the surf zone is considered littoral space, considering social and cultural geography, it is a liminal space. There are people who undergo reorientation in their lives just to get more connected to the waves.

In addition, it is identified that most of the surfing zones are in lowly populated areas and these places tend to have poor travelling cultures. The right of access to surf localism borders is normally limited to the local inhabitants of the area (Anderson, 960). As such, the localism border is simply defined that as long as one does not stay within the particular locality, then he or she is not allowed to surf there. The article describes the localism as some form of territoriality. The concept of geographical provenance also comes out clearly in the article. It is described as the measure that the surfers invoke bordering the surf zone. Surfer positioning is concerned with the fact the surfer who is closest to the place where the wave is breaking has all the rights to ride that wave. Another key point is the tendency of surfers to spray paint the ways and rocks with the writings ‘locals only’ intending to inform people that those beaches and the turfs belong to them. The surf zones are regulated by the surfer provenance and surfer positionality.

Even though the surfing culture is well brought out in the article, there are certain aspects in the article that I dislike. For instance, the fact that the surfers have created informal borders which they use to regulate the access to the surf zones. I feel the surfing zones should be left free for access by everyone who wishes to access them. I also find the concept that surfers surf to escape the realities of the modern world quite disturbing. Change is inevitable, and they should embrace the modern day changes that are taking place.

Work Cited

Anderson, J. Cathedrals of the Surf Zone: Regulating Access to a Space of Spirituality. Social & Cultural Geography, 14 (8), 954-972

May 17, 2023

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