"THE VOYAGE OF ARCADIA"
One could also call this drawing "THE FLIGHT OF THE PRIMITIVE HUT".
The visual metaphors generated by figurative, metaphor-heavy, writing can be translated into graphic, sculptural and even architectural form. When this is done 'icons' are generated. An "icon" is a metaphor. It is generated out of a 'state of literacy'. This literacy is autonomous within the verbal medium. When it is reinvented in 'iconic' form we have a literate architecture and so a literate lifespace - a medium for thinking beings.
One can hear the smooth hiss of a sharp blade as one reads the text of the good Abbé Laugier. Hannah Arendt might have argued that the main function of the Guillotine was to stop people talking. Perhaps this was why it was used so extensively in late 18 C Paris. In the event it arrested the discourse of a courtly culture which, for all of its superficial frivolity, allowed a certain intellectual latitude. What the Court forbade was action. The silence that followed the decapitation of the 'talking heads' was followed by a regime of unbridled violence and intellectual invention that gave birth to what we know, in the West, as Modernity. The chief property of the West after Napoleon was its compulsion towards extensive action directed at a 'future'. Whether the action brought a desired future into being or rendered it ever more distant is a question we debate today. The futility of planned action is a relatively new idea, emerging out of the 1960's, calling into question the whole 'Western Project' of the last 200 years. Alternatively the current examination of the 'traincrash' of History may lead to a new version of 'planned action' designed to avoid such 'disasters'.
The Primitive Hut was Laugier's abridged, we might even say decapitated, guillotined or less-than-literate version of the Hellenic Temple. It was suitable, one might argue, for the new class of professional engineers and architects, trained in a mere four years of 'education' at the Grands Ecoles. They were to deploy the 'automatic architecture' of Durand and the 'Architecture parlante' of Lequeue, like grape-shot down the avenues of Haussmann, ordering and organising the mass of newly enfranchised citizenry. Laugier's Noble Savage of Rousseau, or was he the Savage Noble of de Sade, prefigures the pinheaded Mechanic of Corbusier, all Aryan suntan, polished steel muscles and 'distant gaze'. To escape from all of these 'Antiqued' visions of a Modern architectural clientele has been my lifelong ambition. Architects, today, remain trapped within a philosophy designed for a 'public' that has long passed away, even if it ever once existed. The real Public is distended with information that now pours about it like a tidal wave washing over a beach of thirsty sponges. The idea that the Public needs a 'simplified' culture is ludicrous. Many members of 'the Public' know more about Architectural Philosophy than practising Architects.
Yet if Architecture is to be again, as it originally was, the tool of city planning, it must become, 'a game that anyone can play'. Architecture must obtain a set of rules that are as simple and clear as an 'Order'. If such rules support the imagination, and even the 'play' of the Amateur, they also support the Professional. The rules allow the Amateur to discern, and understand, the superiority of the 'professional game'.
My drawing does not describe the rules that I use for my version of the 'simple game'. Laugier, Corbusier, even Alberti, all hid the metaphysical foundations of their thought from the architectural practitioners whom they wanted to influence. They offered their readers mere 'rules of thumb'. Publishers, today, demote the Public even further, exchanging the 'reader' for the 'viewer' of books like S,M.X,XL, where text is used like hairspray to fix the Deleuzian 'felted graphics' into place.
I imagine that Corbusier became depressed late in life as he saw his ideas give birth to huge architectural consultancies, all around the world, that used devices that he himself had reduced to mere advertising jingles, like 'piloti', 'brise soleil, 'plan libre', 'toit terrasse', 'machine a habiter' and 'fenetre en longeur', while he himself was ignored by Clients. It must have irked him to see his formal recipes rubbished by Architects who never had the capacity or the desire to understand Corbusier's complex and extensive architectural culture. No wonder he walked into the sea and never came back. Amphibian evolution is mostly one way.
The fault was entirely Corbusier's. He only published his 'hardware codes'. He refrained from advertising his intellectual 'software'. He feared that if he revealed the metaphysics behind the pseudo-pragmatism of his public position, he would scare away the practical souls who head-up the Committees that commission Architects. With hindsight, and seeing the paucity of Corbusier's actual commissions, it is obvious that he had nothing to lose. He would not only have done a service to Architectural culture by being more intellectually forthright, but, who knows, he might even have found better Clients.
Architectural philosophy, if it to break out of the steady circle of decline, and public philosophical dissimulation, that has led today to the parodistic essays in counter-formalism and contra-functionality that one finds in Decon, must be both true to both Architecture and Metaphysics. My drawing, therefore, unveils some of the thinking that lies behind, and supports, the deliberately very simple rules of my Architectural technique.
Needless to say that this thinking will seem 'peculiar' to those who lack an extensive 'architectural' literacy. I have been accused, in reputable national newspapers, of being in touch with 'occult powers' conjured from 'ancient civilisations'. I have also been accused, both at home and abroad, of being 'on drugs'. It is all quite quaint. My only drug is knowledge, gained from studying buildings and reading about Architecture, wherever it occurs in the cultural fabric, which is not only in the world of bricks and mortar. As to occultism, my only ambition has been to recover the power of the Architectural Medium. Here it is true that it can 'enflesh' ideas in natural space, a phenomenon that, when effective, does raise the hairs on the back of one's neck. But my ambitions here are entirely utilitarian. I only use this power to overcome the awful intellectual dreariness of a world made by Noble Mechanics. So far as I can see, it is only this that stands between the undeniable powers of our building technology and a world made by it that we might actually enjoy inhabiting as beings with heads still on our shoulders, talking and thinking as we do without the blessed cessation invented by the ingenious French.
My own conception follows Alberti in burying the Temple inside the cataclysmic (in the sense of 'flood') mass of the City. It parts from him by denying the combination of perspective space and Antiquity that allowed the Renaissance to open doors through the solid walls that fortified the Court from the Citizen. My Temple-hut may be 'occluded', but its space is open and porous to the buildings, and their 'citizens', that press in upon it. My Temple rehearses the three categories of event which constitute the human lifespace, Infinity, Novelty, and History .
The Hypostylar 'forest' of columns, consisting of an infinity of identical architectural events, is my embodiment of a condition that, by denying difference, constitutes the event of eventlessness, or Infinity. This is the Architectural embodiment of the entity that St. Augustine defined as the 'Nothing' that God chose to create before he created the 'Something'. To walk in a park planted as an hypostyle, or, more rarely, to walk amongst the columns of an hyposylar array, is to walk in the space of Edinnu, the Orchard 'outside the walls' that was planted by God before historical time began,.
The architectural component of the Entablature is here embodied as an Ark containing 'that which comes from afar'. This 'flying raft' of the Entablature, or Epistylion, is conjoined, at the moment of the Singular Event, with the architectural figure of the Hypostylion, 'base' or podium. The intersection of these two figures, one a flying raft the other an impassive heap or 'mountain', is mediated by the Stylion, or column. The column both ties the 'flying raft' down onto the 'mountain' as well as 'cores-out', 'explodes' and 'excavates' the interior of the mountain so as to release the flow of History within its previously timeless resistance to 'narration'.
The Stylion is the agent that brings the upperness 'that comes from afar' and the lowerness 'that was always there' into the fixed relation that constitutes my version of the Singularity that 'founds' the Project. The Novelty is a 'gate' or door, protending, without either cause or plan, the space and time of Narrative from an improbable past into an inconceivable future. The story of this 'Founding Event' is written onto the ceiling, columns and floor of my 'buried' Temple (Laugier's Hut).
This new Being, once catastrophically released from its twin imprisonments within that which is different, and Exotic, and that which is the same, or Native, flows into the prefigured Event Horizons of its own History. It emerges out of the unknown, crosses the ten stages of its Historical narrative, and dissipates into the unknowable. The Temple-hut, can serve as one, or as up to five, of these stages. This one great room can serve as both the viewing-balcony and theatre - occasionally reversing these roles. It receives and conceives the ebb and flow of the daily events of an Institutional life that is always the same yet always different, acting as the focus, the civic hearth, of the lifespace of the created Institution.
The three kinds of Event are only apparently sequential, or chronological. In the reality of our thoughts they remain ever-present, that is to say always 'in being'. They can not be separated if they are to remain conceivable. There could be no Infinity without Genesis, no History without Singularity and no continuing Tradition, that is to say no Re-cycling and Re-circling, without Novelty. Novelty is the prerequisite of the Eternal Return. The role of my Temple (my far-from-primitive Hut!) is to constitute, through an architectural rhetoric whose purpose is to 'enflesh ideas', (of which more some other time) a space in which one may literally 'walk into' a coincidence of this Trinity of Eventualities.
One is placed on the stage of a time that is 'real' in the sense of being 'embodied'. Actions occur 'sub specie aeternatis' (in the mirror of time). One's actions, therefore do not require to be anything out of the ordinary. The vita activa and the vita contemplativa coincide in being both 'inside of time' in sense of it being embodied around one, and 'outside of time' in the sense of it being apparent to the mind. Husserl's ambition was to reify time. Only the peculiar medium of Architecture can do this. It can bring into being the still eye of the hurricane of Time itself.
My drawing shows the Ark of the Entablature voyaging across an Earth that has alrady been 'urbanised' by being alienated into saleable, and thereby economically-productive, plots. The Epistylion carries below it, on columns that are in'tension' rather than compression, a romantic, unspoilt, "natural valley". This is my architectural analogue and metaphor for a politically-effective, because harmonious, community.
The Ark 'navigates' by drifting aimlessly, like the raft of Odysseus, along "cultural co-ordinates" mediated by diverse cryptograms, which guide it, mainly by a sequence of fortunate accidents, towards an appropriate (or even an inappropriate!-who knows?) "Mountain of Resistance". The arbitrary and cataclysmic combination of Ark & Mountain, Entablature & Cella, will hollow out the lifespace of the Institution. This interior space is constituted so as to bring to mind the pre-requisite of the singular event of the 'Act of Foundation', namely Infinity.
Further, the space will be modulated to as to embody the 'stations of the valley'. these ten (or so, the number is irrelevant) Event Horizons enable the 'citizens of the 'Republic of the Valley' to work and live in a space that allows them to move from public to private, periphery to centre and intermediate sub-centre, in a way that is not merely 'functional' but also explicit, dramatic and apparent. In this way the Institution, which begins life as a fiction, a mere 'vision', acquires a real history constituted of its real, public, apparent, 'body politic.
The Institution is 'enfleshed' within its created 'space of appearances'. It 'comes into being', remaining there by virtue of its constant enactment and re-enactment upon the stage of a contemporary Microcosm. These events and their main protagonists are gradually inscribed into the multiplicity of special places that I deliberately 'build-into' the 'Institutional body'. They become a recollection and a memorial (albeit clever and cheery) of the deeds and persons that constitute its illustrious (because illustrated) History.