Category Philosophy

OMA, Casa da Música, Part 01


Slavoj Žižek at Occupy Wall Street: Transcript

From Impose

They are saying we are all losers, but the true losers are down there on Wall Street. They were bailed out by billions of our money. We are called socialists, but here there is always socialism for the rich. They say we don’t respect private property, but in the 2008 financial crash-down more hard-earned private property was destroyed than if all of us here were to be destroying it night and day for weeks. They tell you we are dreamers. The true dreamers are those who think things can go on indefinitely the way they are. We are not dreamers. We are the awakening from a dream that is turning into a nightmare.

We are not destroying anything. We are only witnessing how the system is destroying itself. We all know the classic scene from cartoons. The cat reaches a precipice but it goes on walking, ignoring the fact that there is nothing beneath this ground. Only when it looks down and notices it, it falls down. This is what we are doing here. We are telling the guys there on Wall Street, “Hey, look down!”

In mid-April 2011, the Chinese government prohibited on TV, films, and novels all stories that contain alternate reality or time travel. This is a good sign for China. These people still dream about alternatives, so you have to prohibit this dreaming. Here, we don’t need a prohibition because the ruling system has even oppressed our capacity to dream. Look at the movies that we see all the time. It’s easy to imagine the end of the world. An asteroid destroying all life and so on. But you cannot imagine the end of capitalism.

So what are we doing here? Let me tell you a wonderful, old joke from Communist times. A guy was sent from East Germany to work in Siberia. He knew his mail would be read by censors, so he told his friends: “Let’s establish a code. If a letter you get from me is written in blue ink, it is true what I say. If it is written in red ink, it is false.” After a month, his friends get the first letter. Everything is in blue. It says, this letter: “Everything is wonderful here. Stores are full of good food. Movie theatres show good films from the west. Apartments are large and luxurious. The only thing you cannot buy is red ink.” This is how we live. We have all the freedoms we want. But what we are missing is red ink: the language to articulate our non-freedom. The way we are taught to speak about freedom— war on terror and so on—falsifies freedom. And this is what you are doing here. You are giving all of us red ink.

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The Bastard Form of Mass Culture

The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition…always new books, new programs, new films, news items, but always the same meaning.

Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text


From Lacanian Ink, by Alain Badiou


But today, maybe, we have to create a new trend of politics, beyond the domination of the places, beyond social, national, racial places, beyond gender and religions. A purely displaced politics, with absolute equality as its fundamental concept.

This sort of politics will be an action without place. An international and nomadic creation with-as in a work of art-a mixture of violence, abstraction and final peace.

We have to organize a new trend in politics beyond the law of places and of centralisation of power. And in fact, we have to find a form of action where the political existence of everybody is not separated from its being, a point where we exist in so intense a fashion that we forget our internal division. Doing so we become a new subject.

Not an individual, but a part of a new subject.


Art: Jockum Nordström
Family Trait – collage on paper, 2006
David Zwirner Gallery

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

Memorial to the Ancestors

Via ArchDaily, by Andrew Rosenberg

Architects / Team Leaders: Travis L. Price III, FAIA, Principal, Travis Price Architects; Founder, Spirit of Place-Spirit of Design, Inc., Adjunct Professor, The Catholic University of America- School of Architecture and Planning / Kathleen L. Lane, Assoc. AIA, Director, Spirit of Place Institute; and Lecturer, The Catholic University of America- School of Architecture and Planning
Location: Namje-Thumki, Nepal
Students from The Catholic University of America: Kayode Akinsinde, Andrew Baldwin, Miguel Castro, Liz-Marie Fibleuil Gonzalez, Scott Gillespie, Carrie Kramer, Gina Longo, Patrick Manning, Ashley Marshall, Kristyn McKenzie, Andrew Metzler, Ashley Prince, Chloe Rice, Abigail Rolando, Arvi Sardadi, Mandira Sareen, Lucia Serra, Allie Steimel, Kevin Thomson, Spencer Udelson, Lauren Warner, Evan Wivell
Students from The Corcoran College of Art & Design: Suzanne Humphries
Students from Aalto University: Wilhelmiina Kosonen, Inka Saini
Project year: 2011
Photographs: Travis Price Architects, Price III, FAIA

Travis Price, FAIA (Principal of Travis Price Architects, Washington, DC) and Kathleen Lane, Assoc. AIA, of Travis Price Architects and Spirit of Place-Spirit of Design, Inc., led 18 architecture students from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC and two students from Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland on a design-build expedition to Nepal. Over 9 intensive days, students constructed a Memorial to the Magar Ancestors at the remote villages of Namje-Thumki in the eastern foothills of the Himalayas.

Located on the highest hill of the Thumki village, the Memorial to the Magar Ancestors is located in an ancient burial ground surrounded by the growing fields of a newly-established sustainable agricultural education center. Alongside the built memorial project, Price taught students of a spring semester graduate design studio at Catholic University to explore and envision new models for rural community spaces for sustainable agriculture and eco-tourism in the village. It is envisioned that the memorial will not only honor the dead, but will be a symbol of regeneration of the deepest aspects of the culture of the villages to inspire new development for housing, tourism, education, and employment within this community, and as a model for other villages in remote Nepal.

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Representation of Space


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

Georges Bataille Literature and Evil

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.

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