Saturday, June 27, 2009

dream house

By Russell. Yesterday I learned the term haecceity, which can be read as "thisness," synonymous with quiddity or less so hypokeimenon, which implies an ideal form from which the actual generates. A term from medieval philosophy, haecceity was revived by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. There's a publication called the Haecceity Papers dedicated to architectural issues. This one, Volume 4 Issue 1, sounds especially interesting to me at the moment. Here, the blurb:
Architecture addresses social structures which are a product of subjective structure; while a "common-sense", psychological interpretation might be that social structures are necessary to keep individual instincts under control, a more psychoanalytical consideration suggests that in fact social institutions and structures are created by the structure of the subject. Hence, for example, rather than the judicial system being in place to help us keep our violent urges under control, it is a product of obsessional structure and creates the illusion that all of us are animalistic creatures who would lose control were it not for the system.

The Western subject seems to have a need for an historical view, a plot-line as it were, a notion of the subject as having been caused. A perspective makes things bearable - we need to have a comfortable sense of inside versus outside. Yet, as we know from psychoanalysis, it is not that simple. We are divided, not complete, subjects and certainly not subjects with an inside and an outside. Perhaps good architecture should remind us of this, but gently, not without an element of surprise or even a degree of uncanniness, and when we are ready for it - like a good analyst. The essays collected in this volume explore the issue of psychoanalysis and architecture from varying and differing angles, attempting to shed light on the relation of the unconscious to the built environment, and vice-a-versa.

The power of a space is quiet, I've noticed recently the slight sensation that when I enter a certain room or space, part of me becomes it, as if instantly intermixed with the qualities that arrangement of form offers, whether it's a bright, refined area or a crowded, dark one, an appealing, navigable system or one that speaks of abrupt departures. Like the school as it looked yesterday, with all the student work removed from the bulletin boards, which made me feel a little mournful. During the school year the teachers and their students build small societies with goals and rewards and challenges to grow towards, and then, at the end, the power structure simply unravels, the rope dropped. It takes some getting used to for some, for others, it's a joy ride.

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