“Che Vuoi?”: architecture as a mirror to western narcissism

Proto, Francesco (2013) “Che Vuoi?”: architecture as a mirror to western narcissism. In: Trangression - The 10th international conference of the Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA), 21-23 November 2013, Department of Planning and Architecture, University of the West of England - Bristol.

Full content URL: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/et/research/transgression

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

It is generally understood that the issue of transgression came to the fore, in its socio-political implications, over the students’ revolutions of the 1960s, when the state, the patriarchal authority per excellence in contemporary society, was challenged by and large. To the same extent, it is often ignored that a greater transgression was taking place centuries before, and by dint of a new-born discipline: architecture – an earthquake in western culture that shook the roots of philosophy’s foundational discourse.

By interpolating contemporary philosophy, psychoanalysis and visual culture, this paper will trace a genealogy of Western narcissism as embodied, launched, materialized and brought to the fore by the emergence of architecture as a discipline whose ‘original sin’ is fully experienced only in post-modern times. Architecture’s primary aim is here identified with nothing less than the challenge to the architect of the universe, God himself. What was implied, was again religious belief as grounded on the supernatural father of human mankind.

Starting from the implications embedded within the aesthetic and philosophical conundrum set by the institution of architecture, the latter will be addressed as the transgressive discipline par excellence, one paving the way not only for the divine nature of man, but also for the successive artificialization of the environment. The result will be the development of typological features mirroring desire in a post-oedipal society.

In this respect, the paper will investigate not just a number of psychoanalytical concepts (the mirror stage, the name-of-the-Father, the paternal horde, etc); but also philosophical principles such as simulation and symbolic exchange, an interpolation whose methodological approach will support the decoding of the symbolic understanding of transgression and its consequences.

In conclusion, the essay will focus on the development of western architecture as leading to the free-plan, the highest expression of conquered liberty (political, social and religious) and for this very reason as the mirror of the western modern ontological legacy. That is, that Lacanian “Che vuoi?” (“what do you want?”), that poses the reason for transgressing boundaries.

Additional Information:It is generally understood that the issue of transgression came to the fore, in its socio-political implications, over the students’ revolutions of the 1960s, when the state, the patriarchal authority per excellence in contemporary society, was challenged by and large. To the same extent, it is often ignored that a greater transgression was taking place centuries before, and by dint of a new-born discipline: architecture – an earthquake in western culture that shook the roots of philosophy’s foundational discourse. By interpolating contemporary philosophy, psychoanalysis and visual culture, this paper will trace a genealogy of Western narcissism as embodied, launched, materialized and brought to the fore by the emergence of architecture as a discipline whose ‘original sin’ is fully experienced only in post-modern times. Architecture’s primary aim is here identified with nothing less than the challenge to the architect of the universe, God himself. What was implied, was again religious belief as grounded on the supernatural father of human mankind. Starting from the implications embedded within the aesthetic and philosophical conundrum set by the institution of architecture, the latter will be addressed as the transgressive discipline par excellence, one paving the way not only for the divine nature of man, but also for the successive artificialization of the environment. The result will be the development of typological features mirroring desire in a post-oedipal society. In this respect, the paper will investigate not just a number of psychoanalytical concepts (the mirror stage, the name-of-the-Father, the paternal horde, etc); but also philosophical principles such as simulation and symbolic exchange, an interpolation whose methodological approach will support the decoding of the symbolic understanding of transgression and its consequences. In conclusion, the essay will focus on the development of western architecture as leading to the free-plan, the highest expression of conquered liberty (political, social and religious) and for this very reason as the mirror of the western modern ontological legacy. That is, that Lacanian “Che vuoi?” (“what do you want?”), that poses the reason for transgressing boundaries.
Keywords:Architecture, Psychoanalysis theory, Politics, Geography. Anthropology, Aesthetics, Philosophy (General), philosophy of architecture, critical theory
Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K110 Architectural Design Theory
L Social studies > L200 Politics
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V500 Philosophy
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K100 Architecture
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V360 History of Architecture
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:7690
Deposited On:27 Feb 2013 20:06

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