Architecture Depends by Jeremy Till

By Jeremy Till

Polemics and reflections on tips to bridge the distance among what structure really is and what architects wish it to be.

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But in fact the normalizing disguises a stealthy process of the marginalization of di=erence, as William Connolly so convincingly argues in his Politics and Ambiguity. “The irony of a normalizing democracy,” he writes, “is that it . . tends to be accompanied by the marginalization of new sectors of the population or newly defined sectors of the self . . ”57 What is normal to one group may be abnormal to another. The problem is that the definitions of the normal are controlled by the powerful and, as generations of feminists have reminded us, this leads to the suppression of various sectors of society.

68 This is not to suggest that architects actually read all this di;cult stu= and thereby get a deluded sense of their own importance as the mirrors of rational thought. But it is to suggest that the metaphor of architecture as a stable authority is so powerful as to make one believe that this is also the reality of architecture. The danger is not so much when philosophers come A Semblance of Order 43 to believe in the myths that this metaphor promotes; it is when architects do. The Japanese philosopher Kojin Karatani argues that this has happened: “Platonic architecture is metaphorical.

I suspect that architectural theorists have largely ignored Bauman’s territory because it is too damn real. It reminds us too constantly of our own fragility, our bodies, our politics. It reminds us, crucially, of others and our responsibilities to them. In the realm of this sociology there is no room for autonomy; indeed, the whole idea of architecture as an autonomous discipline would be treated with the disdain it deserves. Bauman is too prolific a thinker and writer to summarize here. He has produced almost a book a year for the past fifteen years, and I came to each new one with a mixture of dread and anticipation.

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