August 03, 2013

. . . back to it while working out in a drawing, searching for a prosaic design solution . . .

March 20, 2007

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poem 16


like little kings, my arbitrary breaths order me imperative

each me beats alone, drawn by breath on and along,

by a single hale drawn, in and in, within this core;

emptying its hunger, life’s single sin;

burnt quiet within, letting warmth return past this skin,

just here: in, and in, and in;

where venting air kills by use,

void sucks void, consumed in arbitrary bidding . . . it is this wasted air,

rubbing me dry, blown down and deserted,

each beat denying that peace taken of death; any world’s rightful dream;

that quiet rest it sits within, in which, it itself inheres, alone and sole, but stillborn made,

by breath’s endless take and take,

like a kingdom composed of carted stone, warmly held through dismantled time,

it slips past each me that beats inside,

just here, alone in time;

in, and in again,

and in.

so breath rattled, whistles past my toothy cage,

but will un-joined, is thrown out again, but still pressing firm,

returns to be owned; a void still less than home, mere simple aid to bone,

enduring briefly with intermingled soul transformed,

life’s pulsate tissue wetly conjoined, strips breath, brought chaff and dry,

like clumps of death, broken upon dry skin,

bent to limbered breathing; unjustly receiving . . . and so exhailed again.

and so a war is raged, ukase driven,

rival marching orders given,

across steppes of endless thirsting, necessity licking the upturned hands

burnt from asking, for the slightest rain.

in and in and out again.

my drying breath alone can bring

now raised to voice, ignorant of all reason lacking;

ordered lives now begging, a chorus asking,

and indulgence producing

ukiyoe . . .

an utterly simple whisper;

moving without pleading, without listening

inexorably to celebration, culminating before considering,

releasing by wailing: joy . . .

by necessity we ululate . . .

the arbitrary breath need letting loose,

of breath punctuating living,

through living breath, we beat.

October 06, 2006

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snow underfoot - midway to more

October 05, 2006

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perched city pigeon

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perched city gull

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driving into where it thickens

October 03, 2006

Figural Underspecification: Change and Stability

The important thing is that one must be free to have many myths – many stories. Someone who, together with all other human beings, has and can have only one myth – one story – is in a bad way.
...............................................................................................................Odo Marquard

Damn a people who cant [sic] handle or be handled
by more than a single God. Those slaves, those wisps.
.....................................................................George Bowering

Because metaphysical claims are fundamental, they must apply to all objects across all times. While this might mean that all buildings "exist" in the same way, it does not mean they all operate meaningfully in identical fashions. Their meanings, while based on the never changing essential nature of reality, exist as the related structure between that condition and the ever-changing human perspective and organization of it. Buildings are born within their originating context; the endlessly complex background of their original conceptual and physical setting. However, that context is constantly evolving and buildings quickly find themselves in changed situations. The fundamental character of a structure allows it to transcend such change within the range of its potential. However, sometimes the landscape changes to the point that existing forms can no longer maintain their meaningful participation. There is, therefore, a need to build a character capable of providing a multiple range of possible meanings.

Figural underspecification utilizes the potentially broad range of meaningful complexity which can be ‘built’ into a form. “Underspecification,” a term borrowed from linguistics, denotes a design which does not stamp a singular “correct” pattern upon its form. Instead, the components which comprise its formal potential are under-designated such that they do not coerce an unequivocal formal reading. Traditionally fixed codes are stretched so that they entertain a potential of ambiguity, allowing them to apply to new situations without the need for a completely new formal creation. It remains important that the overall code not be overly compromised in the process. Here it is a question of what is the appropriate balance and rate of progression at which a form needs to retain some degree of recognizable government. If meaning is to be at all comfortably achieved, the past (1) (established institutions and conventions) in some form is indispensable. A fully new discourse drawn from the saturated openness of the present is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fulfil. Perhaps Arnold Schoenberg’s work sits at the furthest possible edge from the past. His invention of twelve-tone or serial composition for atonal music remains a rare example of a creation based on an originary rejection. (2) By establishing a structure of unity and coherence for atonality, he radically challenged the inherited foundations of musical sense. However, even in such a violent revolution, Schoenberg, and this may almost sound nonsensical, did not challenge “musicality” itself. It is a musical language nonetheless. It opposes the exclusivity of the chromatic scale, the exclusivity of thirds in building harmonic combinations, and even the requirement to resolve dissonance into consonance; but in doing all of this it reinforces these issues as the ultimate components of musical argument. In other words, he systematically enforced the negation of tonality (a refusal of a single tonal centre), but in so doing, by guaranteeing their equality, he supported the centrality of the singular tone itself.

What Schoenberg did do was to largely compromise the inherited code. The resulting challenge of this act remains. His negation of the past was to such an degree that its doctrine has never achieved its full resolution. Schoenberg himself questioned whether it was fully possible to put into practice. Theodor Adorno, an enthusiast of Schoenberg, acknowledges the degradation of meaning which was atonality’s ultimate sacrifice. “It dies away unheard, without even an echo. If time crystallizes around that music which has been heard, revealing its radiant quintessence, music which has not been heard falls into empty time like an impotent bullet. [. . .] Modern [atonal] music sees absolute oblivion as its goal.”(3) Such is the fate of extremity. But I think that the real lesson, one even Schoenberg accepted, is that we cannot create without the past any more than we can by slavishly adopting it in toto. Except for the chimera of creation ex nihilo, invention and adaptation “. . . [depend] upon an act of double-recognition, of both a model (even if we cannot name it) and the [ ] transformation of it.” (4) This is definitive of the Classical use of figures, and illustrates how figuration is a metaphor for creative presentation and representation. The idea of underspecification can now be seen as merely an analytical drawing out of the essence of figuration itself.

In the case of underspecification, when trying to establish a meaningful formal compliance to unstable conditions, the question becomes one of where the model is to be accepted and where it begs to be transformed. Sometimes the inertial force of tradition, like the character of the city, alone propels its continued adoption, and major misfits between form and functionality are required to fuel change. While radical transformations must often be restricted to limited (small) aspects of the whole, it is equally the case that “. . . the most rigidly deterministic conceptions of the world are the ones which generate in the individual will an urge to move forward, as though will and free choice can only be effective if they carve out their openings against the hard rock of necessity.” (5) This after all is at the very definition of individuality. It is the locus of each and every subject, and therefore a general characteristic of humanity and all its cultures. The need for movement, against either the conventional or the normal, is rooted in the conceptual misalignment between subjectivity (ultimate finitude) and objectivity (ultimate inclusive infinitude). We can go so far as to say that such operations are what sustain subjectivity . . . its need to forever identify itself against its world; even if that world is the matter by which this is accomplished.

This is why it is critical to open the range of meaningful readings and the valency between them. (6) Works which behave polyphasically in their form, create a space of autonomy for subjective awareness. (7) By virtue of one meaning, from another, and vice versa (and multiply so, in criss-cross fashion, by further interferences), persons gain a form of freedom. Monophasic works oblige the subject to recognize a single meaning. Whereas the subject-object relationship is static it tend towards atrophy. Such work is dangerously restricted in its identity because of a lack of internalized non-identity. In other words, the freedom which accompanies non-exclusivity equals multiplicity. It involves the separation of the powers, already potential in a patterned object, into a manifold of formal aspects; aspects which are therewith left up to individual determination. The building is polysemous but only so far as human desire demands. Here again we see the forces of the individuality of subjects at work. By allowing a figure to recognize its inherent ‘landscape’ qualities, its internal compound elaboration; figural underspecification enhances the individual’s freedom of experience. By being formed so that certain strong readings cannot fully specify how it is encountered, a building is free to be understood, or even used, in a number of different ways. A re-investment by architecture in the potential of figural processes offers the hope of letting go of the conservative constraints unnecessarily imposed upon the figure . . . allowing it to accommodate both order and disorder. By shaping the limits of underspecification, formal adaptability over a range of potential contextually driven changes becomes possible.

(1)The past here stands for the ‘already determined,’ if we can even speak in such strong words.
(2) I am indebted to the formulation of atonality in Bruce Murphy, ed., Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition (New York: HarperCollins, 1996): 61.
(3) Theodor Adorno, Philosophy of Modern Music, trans. Anne G. Mitchell and W. V. Blomster (New York: Seabury Press, 1973): 133.
(4) Donald Mitchell, The Language of Modern Music (London & Boston: Faber and Faber Ltd., 1993): 97.
(5) Italo Calvino, “Denis Diderot, Jacques le Fataliste,” in Why Read the Classics, trans. Martin McLaughlin (Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 1999): 110.
(6) I am indepted to the analysis of Odo Marquard for these thoughts. See the section entitled “Monomythical and Polymythical Thinking,” of his essay “In Praise of Polytheism,” in Farewell to Matters of Principle: Philosophical Studies (esp. page 93).
(7) polyphasic a. (OED, paraphrased): commonly used to describe an electronic design which simultaneously supplies or uses several different alternating currents which share the same voltage but are out of phase (the particular stage of their periodically recurring sequence of charges). [f. POLY + PHASE]
More generically, polyphasic describes a form which simultaneously carries several different sets of ‘information’ which share the same ‘language’ but exist in separate phases of the structure. As such they can be ‘picked-out’ by a reading which is in phase with their diffence. (note: one of the denotations of the word phase in the OED is: “3. (Chem.) Physically distinct form of matter that can be present in a system.”)

September 29, 2006

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bluenote riding in wait

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June 23, 2006

. . . this earth a spot, a grain,
An atom, with the firmament compared
And all her numbered stars, that seem to roll
Spaces incomprehensible (for such
Their distance argues and their swift return
Diurnal) merely to officiate light
Round this opacious earth, this punctual spot,
One day and night; in all their vast survey
Useless besides, reasoning I oft admire,
How nature, wise and frugal could commit
Such disproportions, with superflous hand
. . .

June 14, 2006

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tools for putting the body through physics and geography - two

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June 01, 2006

thoughtnote 5

It is as if our form did not know how to resolve itself from one into two, from trunk into legs, from core into the extensions required to interact with the ground (the vast other beneath us with which gravity causes us to most closely associate) . . . and so it made a complication, our sex, in which we truly make the break from our singular selves into the multiplicity of the world: as body into body into new bodies . . . and so, also into time from space.
Above our sex, we split again . . . so that we can interact with the world at some separation from gravity’s reign: and so find the possibility to interact also with ourselves. With our back curved against the world, we focus our being to the front and physically form the loop in which the universe miraculously becomes self involved.

poem 015

poetry passing time

poetry ends
like time
drawn from magazines
sitting still
in the face
all pain.

April 21, 2006

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rubber above Zagreb

April 05, 2006

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March 31, 2006

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in building a home we set about it, mastering ourselves through our active creating, that wide universe built inside by that same self . . . mostly unformed, rarely brought to speech, even less written or passed along . . . little fundamental connections to the grounding incidentals, bits built into the core itself immersed . . . becoming who we are: that endless universe left mostly below the level of sense we share, instead felt like a chord holding true beneath it all . . . by artful profiles, we turn it out for others to see, still mysterious because still connected below the point above which is open to simple reason

March 26, 2006

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tools for putting the body through physics and geography - one

March 24, 2006

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huckstart - 24.03.06 - another fluidity

March 15, 2006

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March 14, 2006

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In Linings from Jeremy Reed

In dark matters I abound,
surrounded by walls I cannot sound,
as poet I write whatever on,
wanting paper, serves as ground.

Scarred and scratching,
the mess into heaps; eccentric laughing,
with ideas messed with grime,
I turn to forms precise,
and figure my interest pointedly.

Thus, in manner, I speak to me,
pounding a course from letters wrung,
or using my sharpened lead I pull,
a line whose product begins the start,
of a world from part I come.

From out that centre I present,
by negatatives within mind’s reform,
tending myself past the peace,
of quiet calm reigning sovereign,
where my intent always furthers
places I need yet create.

March 10, 2006

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March 03, 2006

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February 27, 2006

1 for Clo

'multilingual' must meet the multiple side of ambiguity somewhere . . .


ambiguity n. (OED): Double meaning; instance of this; expression capable of more than one meaning. [ME, f. OF ambiguite or f. L ambigiguitas]
ambiguous a. (OED): Obscure; having double meaning; of doubtful classification; of uncertain issue. [f. L ambiguus doubtful f. ambigere (ambi- both ways, agere drive) + OUS]
Grammatical Ambiguity (Lexical or Syntactic Ambiguity): refers strictly to instances where the grammar specifies more than one meaning. It is distinct from cases in which the grammar specifies a single representation that then corresponds to potentially multiple refents. Grammatical ambiguity is internally generated. While it may not be fully systemic, it is a systematic product of either syntax or lexicon.

The interesting thing about systematic polysemy is its ability to become conventionalized, and so enter the structure of overt cultural norms. Our ability to process this kind of ambiguity depends upon a number of abstract and pragmatic issues. Interpretation is governed by things like useablity, as well as standards of meaningfulness like connection and coherence. Limited interpretations can then become conventionalized for different isolated requirements (useful or symbolic). This is the normal process by which comfort is achieved against multiplicity. In the same vein, uncertainties of interpretation are usually not recognized at all, provided a suitable conventionally driven understanding can be achieved without undo difficulty. Standard assumptions concerning the nature of things prevent us from straying into the “unknown” realm of other possibilities. This is most strongly the case when the ‘language’ used is a commonly shared code based upon pragmatic requirements. Both the independent life (order) of the code and the pressing need for which it used determine the depth to which our assumptions govern our perceptions.

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between knees

thoughtnote 4

Consciousness is a loop. A loop requires space. The consumption of space entails movement and distance and removal; all forms of trans-position. The presentation of things to consciousness occurs in consciousness; occurs within the space of the loop . . . occurs by the mechanism of intended reference. All of this is to say that presentation involves re-presentation. A thing’s presentation in consciousness equals that thing’s representing only itself. Art contains the whole world because the whole world is a represention within consciousness by way of subjective limitation. That limitation equals meaning, which equals interrelated form . . . formal body is that tertiary component of our existence, the idea, which couples the immediate and direct into relationships with both themselves and ourselves. This is the connection between a subject and its object. And this connection constitutes the sense of experience.

thoughtnote 3

from Borges to Montale . . . the space behind conscious existence, opens . . .

You alone knew

...........that movement and stasis are one,
...........that the void is fullness and the clear sky at its airiest. . . .”

................Euginio Montale, “Xenia I,” in Satura {Poems}, trans. W. Arrowsmith (New
................York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1998): 19.

thoughtnote 2

The artifice of modern culture; its structures of value, knowledge, technique, and memory; make it necessary that the self be consciously constructed. We might argue that subjects simply exist and have no need of being constructed. However, culture, in its need to understand and empower itself, actively engages the subject as a topic of theory and investigation. Modernity has constructed its idea of subjectivity for numerous ends; some more neutral than others. As a culture constructs a metaphysics and epistemology in order to understand itself, a poetry to experience and express itself, and a mythology to comfort itself; it also develops various mechanism which use these constructs for their effectiveness in its exercise of power, both internally and externally. Thus the forces of political, economic, national and other such institutions have taken advantage of the modern subject-concept. They have used it to further their efficient operation, to defend or expand their territory (material or ideological), and they have worked to develop or change it accordingly. The notion of the subject both benefits and suffers from this involvement.

This double aspect contributes to the dialectics which propel cultures through change. Recently, this debate has questioned the foundations of western culture to their core. Modern thought, a tradition now in its own right, increasingly falls under attack by forces seeking a more inclusive, open and flexible culture . . . one more suitable to the increasing complexity of our means of interrelation and dividing up work, wealth and power. However, this attack does not preclude the complexity inherent in the deep structures of modernity. It is possible to strip away the biases external to the foundations of modernism and allow its foundations to inform us through the complexity which has so often been misunderstood, ignored, misrepresented or covered up by the powers that be. Such a resurrection must start with revisiting the metaphysical sites of the modern impulse. One such group of sites is that of the constructed subject and its implications. We exist as subjects and all enquiry ultimately begins there. However, subjects exist as part of reality as a whole, and as such, any inquiry into subjectivity immediately becomes an inquiry into the nature of reality itself.

thoughtnote 1

Once reality is divided into subjective and objective parts their interrelation becomes problematic . . . in what way are they connected, and do they define each other's existence necessarily? For its part, the West has developed a long tradition of understanding the conscious ego as something essentially disconnected from its outer/exterior objects. Even before Descartes, the unified cosmos, which had held subjects and objects together in balance since antiquity, had begun to be replaced with an egalitarian construction in which the subject dominates. This construction can best be described as a neutral field within which the intending subject can exercise its fullest effects. For its part, philosophy has been busy generating a subject, newly self-conscious, which would be up to the task. The result has been a subject which primarily sees itself as an agent of control. Through its scepticism of orthodoxy, its refusal of authority, its commitment to progress, and most importantly, its confidence in its own powers of judgement; the relationship between the subjective and objective has increasingly become understood through this single particular category, its action and its exercise. At its most profound level, understanding reality based upon the requirements of keeping it under control, reduces the essence of things to mere depositories of potential content. They remain impenetrable save for their capacity to enter the subject-driven realm of experience and manipulation. This condition sets up the material foundation of reality as an object of experience, knowledge, desire. As such it stands in opposition, even frustration, to the nature of the subject; but it does so in a passive way, through its muteness and difference. I equivocate concerning whether this is a good or bad development. On one hand, it speaks of an existence out of balance. But perhaps this is temporary, and indicative of a limited understanding of what our dominant position fully entails . . . especially concerning responsibilities. On the other hand, this model incorporates its own latent forces of balance. In it, epistemology is not limited to the description of states of affairs relative to the attainment of knowledge, but includes our active (motivated) engagement of our objective context. The alienation of a world of cold facts is hereby potentially undone. In modernity’s alienation of subjects from objects there lies a seed of unity. The philosophical battle pitting the contemplative spirit (the true home of philosophy's original impulse to speculate and doubt) against the overwhelming pragmatic spirit of calculative control was introduced to cultural practice precisely when positivism tried to throw it out. Our folly was always inherently exposed . . . as if we could ever replace the position conceived of for the gods.

thoughtnote 0

- a single sentence from Borges and we can begin:

“There is something that wants to live, something that opens a passage [a spatial loop?] across matter, or in spite of matter.”

........Jorge Luis Borges, “Immortality” in Selected Non-Fictions, ed. Eliot Weinberger, trans. E. Allen, S.J. Levine and E. Weinberger (New York:Viking, 1999.): 489.

February 02, 2006

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sixside stride

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post dive curving ride

January 08, 2006

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The line’s end

Trying to find the end of places,
crisp-eyed, out running from stilled standing,
finding ends within cluttered traces
across papered spaces, mirrored looks
over edges, cuttings, knife-edged stable landing.

Because lines seen, divide and multiply,
I cannot understand that my eyes see an end,
because lines exist to hold the sides they imply
whatever surface or volume over which they tend;
we all look to find some standing reply
some reliant line up which our backs ascend.

Then standing, we walk a path, crossing lines we do not see.
Feeling our movement progress – like dancing through a fill
which emotion calm-in-place, yet creating questions for free . . ., free, freedom looks at infinity,
................and freely balks losing with feeble nerve, it’s will.

Like a wall, at its opening, seeing the same wall; another
..............hole and glassy reflection traced over the outside tract
................understanding its many edges makes clear
the idea of outside . . . is it there or here?

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December 18, 2005





October 29, 2005

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October 27, 2005

artcrop series #3 - poetry market

October 14, 2005

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September 11, 2005

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offline steel sneeking under column

August 31, 2005

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August 26, 2005

The Status of the Theoretical Project

Looking at John Hejduk's work, and reading its gloss by Alberto Perez-Gomez, raises questions concerning the place of theory in relation to architectural practice. Is the "theoretical project" a form of authentic architecture? Perez-Gomez argues that phenomenology has proven fallacious the assumption that "theory and practice (mind and body) relate to one another as in a mechanistic diagram." (1) Theory is an activity of consciousness, and consciousness is always embodied consciousness. Their intrinsic interrelation means that thinking cannot occur except through the content which it intends. This connection rejects any implications of Cartesian dualism. It is experienced content, whether of thought, dream or sensation, which provides the phenomenal ground of our existence. Perez-Gomez agrees with this, but his own exclusionary polemic does not accept the full implications of the interactive nature of this ground.(2) The concretization of the theoretical (be it Perez-Gomez's or Hejduk's) in the mimetic/metonymic work of Hejduk shows the limitations of their approach to architecture. Architecture as art includes a priori the aspects which Perez-Gomez shunts aside...especially the logos of science.

Architecture is a discipline with a very wide cultural base. It reflects the full complexity and ambiguity of 'knowing' in the profound sense because it combines the dipoles of practical and poetic life. It is not merely that it combines the aesthetic with the structural, the technical, the rational (order and program), the sensual and the intellectual (historical memory, the symbolic, etc.), but that it operates as an 'art' and a 'thinking' of all of those components as well. In philosophical jargon, real architecture is always both itself and meta-architecture . . . it operates as both a specific object and as a set of relationships and qualities which engage across the whole of culture. Perez-Gomez claims that theory is always embodied theory (embodied within practice). It is difficult to assess the truth of this claim, especially in its hard form that theory is intrinsic with the full nature of the practical. Heidegger's understanding of how we dwell amongst things, how we orient and find belonging through our interrelation with things at hand and things made by hand, shows that the opposite is surely true. Practice always involves the theoretical; directly or without intention. However, theory can stand significantly apart, within what we call the ideal; a thin, reduced, and thus abstract connection to reality's infinitude. Its participation in the fullness of culture is governed by a coefficient of unrealizability which arises through its interaction with the real (existing, in part, outside of its control). This supports the argument that theoretical projects are meta-architectural, and however important as disclosing, critical or inventive explorations, they cannot constitute architecture proper.

In Hejduk's work, especially his inclusion of the written word as an architectural device, the question becomes whether the boundaries of architecture are elastic enough to include written language. Heidegger's explication of language as the "house of being" is misapplied by Perez-Gomez in his effort to directly relate it to architecture while negating the peculiar qualities which give architecture its noumetic identity. Language involves a displacement, allowing for indirect reference to the eidetic in experience, but architecture's reference is of a different kind. Architecture does not exist as displaced from fundamental reality, but exists as a part of it . . . it exists within and without of experience. It straddles between the ideal and the real. It relates to life's complex of physical, emotional and intellectual intentions by making 'place' which reflects, suggests, encourages, permits, discourages or excludes them from possibility. Furthermore, architecture's explication of life's richness requires of its occupants a participation of equal attention. Architecture is completed through its occupation.

Hejduk's use of words to search for a figural ground provides a powerful criticism of the generalized loss of poiesis within the mainstream of modern culture, but it ignores the real need for the reintroduction of poetics into the very fabric of architecture; into its own devices and referential systems. Heidegger's notion of 'naming' is epistemologically prior to metynomy, and is not approached through such literal devices. Even complex narrative cannot stand in substitution for the inherent meanings of architectural organization, structural expression, colour, texture, material and form. At the deepest level, it is wrong to claim that the theory which reflects the mind is no longer a logos, but a poiesis. The revelation of Heidegger is that the ultimate ground reveals itself as a point of collapse between these two. Hejduk's work, as concrete poetry, as storia remains as fiction, a luxury which real architecture cannot afford. Real architecture satisfies by maintaining an uneasy equilibrium between logos and poiesis.

Notes -
1. Alberto Perez-Gomez, “John Hejduk and the Cultural Relevance of Theoretical Projects,” in AA Files, no. 13, Autumn 1986: 26.

2. By this I refer to his discourse which pits common sense opposites against each other at the profound level of ontological and metaphysical foundations. For example: poiesis against logos, prose against poetry, the specific and mutable against the ideal and universal, and further; disclosure of meaning against invention, and modern body image against that of the Classical.

July 29, 2005

artcrop series # 2 - drawing project

July 07, 2005

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contorted hazel

July 05, 2005

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constructed cuff