Category Books

Bad Architecture

For Nikos Salingaros, the persuit of formal or critico-ideological concerns in place of adapting to nature and the needs of ordinary human beings defines “bad architecture” which makes people uncomfortable or physically ill. Salingaros’s targets were the star postmodern architects who emphasized meaning at the expense of the concrete experiences of the people who used their buildings. Take Bernard Tschumi—from the premise that there is no fixed relationship between architectural form and the events that take place within it, he drew a socio-critical conclusion: this gap opens up the space for critical undermining. Architecture’s role is not to express an extant social structure, but to function as a tool for questioning that structure and revising it. Salingaros’s counter-argument would be: should we then make ordinary people uncomfortable and ill at ease in their buildings, just to impose on them the critico-ideological message that they live in an alienated, commodified, and antagonistic society? Koolhaas was right to reject what he dismissively calls architecture’s “fundemental moralism,” and to doubt the possibility of any directly “critical” architectural practice—however, our point is not that architecture should somehow be “critical,” but that it cannot not reflect and interact with social and ideological antagonisms: the more it tries to be pure and purely aesthetic and/or functional, the more it reproduces these antagonisms.

Slavoj Žižek, Living in the End Times, Architectural Parallax, p. 273-4

Representation of Space

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We may be sure that representations of space have a practical impact, that they intervene in and modify spatial textures which are informed by effective knowledge and ideology. Representations of space must therefore have a substantial role and a specific influence in the production of space. Their intervention occurs by way of construction—in other words, by way of architecture, conceived of not as a building of a particular structure, palace or monument, but rather as a project embedded in a spatial context and a texture which call for ‘representations’ that will not vanish into the symbolic or imaginary realms.

By contrast, the only products of representational spaces are symbolic works. These are often unique; sometimes they set in train ‘aesthetic’ trends and after a time, having provoked a series of manifestations and incursions into the imaginary, run out of steam.

Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, Plan of the Present Work, p. 42

From the Accursed Share Vol. 3

Nietzsche’s cry recalls the cry we would need to give out, with all our strength, in dreaming, and which we know in our terror emits no sound. It is nonetheless a cry of joy: it is the cry of happy subjectivity, which the world of objects will no longer deceive, and which will be reduced to NOTHING. Within an apparent despair, it gives rise to a burst of malice (this is the wisdom to which we can aspire). Nietzsche joined the intelligible to the sensible in himself and there is nothing that he gave as the purpose of his thought, unless it be sovereign moments that give humanity countenance. No cause, no commitment issue from an empty generosity, with which no expectation is connected. But Nietzsche is on the side of those who give, and his thought cannot be isolated from the movement that tried to promote a resumption of life in the moment, in opposition to the bourgeoisie, which accumulates.

Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share Vol. 3, p. 370-371

Maglia Rosa

Vuelta e Bolivia from Rouleur Issue 23

Philosophy and Simulation: The Emergence of Synthetic Reason

From Continuum Books

In this groundbreaking new book, Manuel DeLanda analyzes all the different genres of simulation (from cellular automata and genetic algorithms to neural nets and multi-agent systems) as a means to conceptualize the possibility spaces associated with causal (and other) capacities. Simulations allow us to stage actual interactions among a population of agents and to observe the emergent wholes that result from those interactions.

Simulations have become as important as mathematical models in theoretical science. As computer power and memory have become cheaper they have migrated to the desktop, where they now play the role that small-scale experiments used to play. A philosophical examination of the epistemology of simulations is needed to cement this new role, underlining the consequences that simulations may have for materialist philosophy itself.

This remarkably clear philosophical discussion of a rapidly growing field, from a thinker at the forefront of research at the interface of science and the humanities, is a must-read for anyone interested in the philosophy of technology and the philosophy of science at all levels.

Situationist Theses on Traffic

Revolutionary urbanists will not limit their concern to the circulation of things, or to the circulation of human beings trapped in a world of things. They will try to break these topological chains, paving the way with their experiments for a human journey through authentic life.

Guy Debord, Situationist Theses on Traffic, Situationist International Anthology, Edited and Translated by Ken Knabb, Bureau of Public Secrets, p. 70

Revolutionary-Romantics, Theses on Cultural Revolution, Part 4

We are excluded from real control over the vast material powers of our time. The communist revolution has not yet occurred and we are still living within the confines of decomposing old cultural superstructures. Henri Lefebvre rightly sees that this contradiction is at the heart of a specifically modern discordance between the progressive individual and the world, and he terms the cultural tendency based on this discordance “revolutionary-romantic.”

Guy Debord, Theses on Cultural Revolution, Situationist International Anthology, Edited and Translated by Ken Knabb, Bureau of Public Secrets, p. 53-54

Theses on Cultural Revolution, Part 3

An international association of situationists can be seen as a coalition of workers in an advanced sector of culture, or more precisely as a coalition of all those who demand the right to work on a project that is obstructed by present social conditions; hence as an attempt at organizing professional revolutionaries in culture.

Guy Debord, Theses on Cultural Revolution, Situationist International Anthology, Edited and Translated by Ken Knabb, Bureau of Public Secrets, p. 53-54

Theses on Cultural Revolution, Part 2

Art can cease being a report about the sensations and become a direct organization of more advanced sensations. The point is to produce ourselves rather than things that enslave us.

Guy Debord, Theses on Cultural Revolution, Situationist International Anthology, Edited and Translated by Ken Knabb, Bureau of Public Secrets, p. 53-54