Page 1

ARCHITECTURE

V I O L E N C E

and

C R E A T I V E

RESISTANCE COLOURING-IN BOOK

Text & Illustration by Nurulain Mohd Noor S3161490


1.

Lethal Theory by Eyal Weizman

Theory is a practice. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have proven it so by the implementation of their new military strategy -“walking through walls” of the enemies’ domestic and interiors. This strategy, derived from their very own understandings and interpretation of several theory concepts mainly by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus has resulted in a major infestation to the urban condition of the enemy-city through the tampering with the city system alone. IDF uses the theory concept to help them redefine space of which they have used the interiors as their main thoroughfares and the streets to be strictly avoided. The outside (streets) are now the inside thus denying completely the concept of public and private within the city and in the domestic scale. The walls no longer divide nor partition, but seemingly are converted into anew functional role in time of war. ‘Several of the concepts in A Thousand Plateaus became instrumental for us . . . allowing us to explain contemporary situations in a way that we could not have otherwise explained them. It problematized our own paradigms. . . . Most important was the distinction they have pointed out between the concepts of ‘smooth’ and ‘striated’ space . . . [which accordingly reflect] the organizational concepts of the ‘war machine’ and the ‘state apparatus’.’ Shimon Naveh (Weizman, Pg.59)

Smoothing out space is a domination. IDF takes the concept of ‘war machine’ into turning the city against itself and the people in it. In doing so they strategically avoid the public streets and get themselves operated within the interior structure of the city itself. To IDF, the execution is brief; everything is border-less. It is like having one crucial set of rule in their mission to always keep it in their heads that walls do not stop you. Walls are the Medium. The inside now must go out, creating resistance from the enemy and forcing fatally-resulted insurgence onto the streets, the only space not physically occupied by the IDF. In this sense, architecture is almost transparent. Solid structure a.k.a. the walls, is disappearing. In the context of the people whose houses and interiors invaded, the supposed architectural structure of protection (wall) is now the harm physically and psychologically. It could be said violence occurs through the possibility of architectural manipulation and understandings which indeed was one of the training methodologies taught in the IDF.

Bibliography Eyal Weisman, ‘Lethal Theory’ in Log 7, Winter/Spring 2006, pp. 53-77.


Transparency Theory


2.

Against the Wall by Michael Sorkin

In Lethal Theory by Eyal Weizman, architecture is the weapon and there is a notion of border-less structure and transparency. In Sorkin’s Against the Wall, architecture is a symbolized statement used to overpower another. The architecture in this context is none other than the essential wall, yet again. When a line is drawn to nominate a partition and area, the wall is the structure to realize the line. The West Bank Wall does just this. It is making a silent yet violence statement against the Palestinians. Built by the Israelis, the West Bank Wall is claimed by the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu to have been built for security reason referring to the past Palestinians suicide bomber attacks into the country , dreading more to kill the Israeli civilians (Sorkin, Pg11). What in fact that the wall stands for is not merely security. Israeli on contrary is putting on a psychological forces into the Palestinian Land, ironically breaching the latter’s security in various manners. ‘Security’ and protection maybe for Israel but for the Palestinians, the 8-meter high wall is not only the matter of demarcation or delineation between the two countries but to enormously implicate against them of segregation, isolation, and an apartheid. These implications affect the Palestinians in so many ways; - contained in their own country, observed closely from the panopticon as if their land is a prison and that they are on the wrong side of the wall, land ownerships have been forcefully stripped off from them, losing properties, jobs, education, family members and most importantly freedom and the right to not be dehumanized in your own country. Supplies are limited and often filtered by the Israeli force. So what are the reactions from the Palestinians? The big structure is put up in the parameter of their neighbour’-now-enemy land, making it an official national project. With less power and limited supplies, it is almost impossible to destroy or ‘move through the massive wall’ (Lethal Theory, Weizman). The line that divides the two nations still remains in between them, and the wall as aforementioned is located within the Israeli border. The invasion here does not to be physical to create an impact to the other side of the wall. The violent forces, may it be physical or psychological could solely harm one side of the wall.

Bibliography Michael Sorkin, ‘Introduction: Up Against the Wall’ in Against the Wall: Israel’s Barrier to Peace, New York: The New Press, 2005.


Security or Segregation?


3.

Means Without Ends - Note on Politics by Giorgio Agamben

Agamben mentions earlier in Means Without Ends, that “the state is a community instituted for the sake of the living and the well living of men in it’’ (pg 4). A community in this notion may as well mean as a community under the sovereign with high political power. By men, he actually means the rightful citizens of that state indeed. These men are automatically expected to always be submitting themselves under the govern of this sovereign power; as protection is only given upon them when doing so. In term of human life, Agamben compares this literally with the originary meaning of sacer [sacred] (pg 5) where a certain amount of sacrifice is to be fulfilled hence the humble submission. Human life in this context is somehow represents itself as the secularized political living-model where particular ways of life is allowed. What are the rights for the non-citizens a.k.a. the refugees in the subjects of the political? These countryless refugees, in the order of the nation-state could be seen as radical, appearing strongly to a nation (not theirs) a coming political crisis as they are prone to the subject of having questionable national and human identities. Agamben himself points out that breaking the nativity and nationality could lead to a critical sovereign and that these refugees could be the cause of it (pg 20). ‘Among beings who would always already be enacted, who would always already be this or that thing, this or that identity, and who would have entirely exhausted their power in these things and identities- among such beings there could not be any community but only coincidences and factual partitions. We can communicate with others only through what in us as much as in others - has remained potential, and any communication (as Benjamin perceives for language) is first of all communication not of something in common but of communicability itself.’ (Pg 10)

In We Refugees, Arendt makes a remark that as refugees,communication is somewhat a process of assimilation with the state country that they are in (pg 3). It is essential that losing the national or mother tongue language could be one aspect of slowly losing the identity, nationally and individually. From citizens to non-citizens to slowly localizing and assimilating themselves with the local condition (denizen), they remain as only that, refugees....

Bibliography Giorgio Agamben, ‘Beyond Human Rights’ in Means Without Ends, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.


Citizens of ‘enemy origin’


4.

Homo Sacer

by Giorgio Agamben In Homo Sacer, Agamben attempts to draw a connection between power, potentiality and the problem of political and social ethics. To him, the social ethics within this context are those that have lost their previous religious and cultural grounding. This is where the concept of Homo Sacer appears. Agamben argues that throughout the history of Western thinking about state and power (or shall we say self-government), a notion of sovereignty as power over “life” is almost unspoken and unclear. Taking a direct reference from earlier theory of Aristotle’s notion of man as political animal, Agamben argues that this notion of sovereignty is not expressed directly enough due to the idea of sacralization itself where the sacred becomes totally ignored by the state power, and eventually disconnected completely from the idea of sovereignty. This contributes to the idea of exception, which is very fundamental to the entire Western paradigm of politics and taking this into account he introduces his theory on the ‘state of exception’. He explains that; ‘The state of exception, which was essentially a temporary suspension of the juridico-political order, now , becomes a new and stable spatial arrangement inhabited by the bare life that more and more can no longer be inscribed in that order. The growing dissociation of birth (bare life) and the nation-state is the new fact of politics in our day, and what we call camp is this disjunction. To an order without localization (the state of exception, in which law is suspended) there now corresponds a localization without order (the camp as permanent space of exception).’ (Pg. 174)

In the context of refugees, the concentration camp is indeed the space where this ‘state of exception’ is applied. It is the space of exception, where the occupants are excepted, excluded and taken outside the normal juridical order. The ‘state of exception’ indicates a temporary notion of the rule of law, and the camp gives a spatial expression to this ‘state of exception’, despite the fact that this expression remains outside of the normal order. Consequently, every form of life and every rule can be virtually taken as the political system no longer orders form of life and juridical rules in a determinate space. This is what Agamben argues in his essay as ‘dislocating the localization’. This paradoxical status of the camp as a space of exception perhaps could be discussed in Agamben’s definition of a sacred person which is as one who can be killed and yet not sacrificed. In the context of status of the modern individual living within a system that exerts control over the collective “naked life” or Agamben’s ‘bare life/ homo sacer’ of all individuals, this paradox is arguably effective and perhaps comparable to the status of the camp only not as literal.

Bibliography Giorgio Agamben, ‘The Camp as the ‘Nomos’ of the Modern’, in Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Stanford, California: Stanford Universit Press, 1998.


Camp of Exception


5.

The Capsule and the Network by Lieven De Cauter

In this essay De Cauter focuses on the spatial qualities and features of urban environment. In explaining the features and qualities, De Cauter describes a capsular environment, specifically emphasizing on the term ‘capsule’ itself. The capsular environment mentioned by De Cauter is linked directly with the network environment and that as suggested by De Cauter these capsule and network each has its own version of society. What is more essential in this article however is how De Cauter argues man does not actually live in the network but instead in capsules and that these capsules are the ones that may generate the network, where we actually move through. So what could these capsules exactly mean in accordance to De Cauter’s writing? Firstly De Cauter takes account of the human beings need for certain make-believe environment and protection as he mentions; ‘For human beings, needing artificial environments are enclosed in their extensions (clothes, buildings and even language). Culture can be called the capsule of man, and the capsule (defined as an extension of man or a tool that has evolved into an artificial environment of containment) the matrix of man.’ (Pg 77)

The capsule is indeed considered to be some kind of defense mechanism and a new form of environment (that is capsular and limited) and at the same time is seen as a form of protection that is able to exclude the dangerous outside world. By this outside world, we can only mean the actual representation of reality, the real danger itself. As a result, the reality (the outside) becomes virtual to us and that could be simply imagined or re-created as we shelter ourselves in our own bubbles which are indeed the capsules. Perhaps this is what De Cauter is trying to say by the idea of artificial environments. According to De Cauter too, architecture is one of the more important extensions of man. Comparatively to clothes as the second skin of human beings, architecture could be considered as the third skin (Pg 77). Considering this statement and taking the account of the other examples of extensions mentioned earlier such as clothes, buildings, and language (culture) it is arguable that as we are living within the capsule we are slowly finding our own reality or even identity. The virtual reality of this outside world viewed or perceived from our capsules allows us to almost assume that we are given limitless choices of what kind of ‘skin’ or environment we would want to have. It is like as if we can pick our own culture and pretend to be what we want or feel like to be depending on what kind of environment we happen to prefer at a particular time. The inclusion and exclusion in the society of this capsular effect therefore contributes a big factor in slowly eliminating the other social networks as we are only engulfed in our very own individual capsular network.

Bibliography Lieven De Cauter, ‘The Capsule and the Network: Notes for a General Theory’ in The Capsular Civilization, Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2004.


Which architectural being are you today?


6.

Right to the City by David Harvey

In early part of his Right to the City, Harvey has briefly touched on the capitalism and its process where the city is to be considered as the space for surplus capital investment. He suggests that this process could take place through the constant construction and urbanization ‘booms’ in infrastructure or more commonly housing development. What Harvey is suggesting is that because these surpluses is the result generated at the expense of the cities, there is a need to control them and that perhaps the ideal way to do just that is by having all the marginalized ‘classes’ and groups of the world to come together in alliances not only as a control solution but also to reflect on the global crisis that has been affecting the cities across the world. Harvey’s envisions the unity of these marginalized groups to be strong enough to eventually demand a human right to the city itself. ‘The Right to the City is far more than the indi¬vidual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.’ (Pg 23)

Harvey’s human right to the city then is about re-creating not just the cities but ourselves as the process takes place. Re-creating ourselves in this context allows the opportunity to seek for higher values and social justice, arguable the fundamental human rights themselves. The marginalized people that Harvey mentions in this article may be generic but I would like to touch on those who are marginalized from political power specifically, where the application of powers of expropriation in the name of civic improvement and renovation has affected them significantly. This power is discussed by Harvey as an excuse for urban restructuring and that these people are the ‘victims’ of ‘creative destruction’ (Pg 33). It is perhaps fair to say that the marginalization eventually leads to the dispossession discussed later by Harvey. Having such right to the city as suggested by Harvey however could be problematic or even could be called as harsh. This is because there is now a certain set of regulation to access the cities and this access is carefully monitored and filtered which also means that the city is indirectly being controlled. This may contrast to the idea of global cities being evolving as its potential growth is somehow being restricted. The cities with the rights granting rules may as well be gated.

Bibliography David Harvey, ‘Right to the City’, in New Left Review 53, September/October 2008, pp. 23-40.


Key Only


7.

Foam City

by Peter Sloterdijk What Sloterdijk was mainly emphasizing on in this article is the notion of how architectural designs were integral to establishing an assembly for the post-revolutionary collective where he takes direct example from the French Revolution. But before going into this in much deeper detail, he purposely introduced the concept of Foam City to demonstrate how the concept o assembly could be formed metaphorically. The metaphor of foam and bubbles in relation to this would be of the relationship between the individual bubbles that are inter-connected to each other. Foam allows itself to cluster freely, appearing in all kind of shapes but no matter what the shape is, it is the contact between these individual bubbles that matters most. As they all cohere to form the a certain collective foam shape, these bubbles at the same time playing their roles influencing on one another that eventually will contribute to relative distortions between them. Sloterdijk argues that this is the special behavior of the foam as it is not to be considered as a singular entity but as a collective of other individuals that rely on each other and that the isolation of each individual bubbles is somehow not significant as they still share partition barrier with the other adjacent bubbles. Here Sloterdijk draws a parallel of this behavior to the real world where there is no outright private property medium as we ourselves at least share one partition wall with an adjacent world-cell. (Pg 64) In the foam-making term, he claims that all individuals are living in a specific bubble within a communicating foam. ‘But whatever the degree of isolation established by respective individuals, they are always co-isolated islands that are momentarily, or chronically, connected to a network of adjacent islands constituting midsized or larger structures - a national assembly, a “Love Parade,” a club, a Freemason lodge, a work force, a shareholder meeting, a concert hall audience, a suburban neighborhood, a school class, a religious community, drivers stuck in a traffic jam, a convened federation of taxpayers.’ (Pg 63)

Therefore only connected isolation is possible and this concept of co-isolation is what essential to the notion of urban society and social spaces and in this article specifically, the meeting and assembly place – the public squares. This ties back to his reference on French Revolution example, where Sloterdijk focuses on the importance of public squares in the wake of National Assembly and its commitment architecturally. Giving the scenario of refunctioning of a Jeu de Paume (tennis court) as a replacement for the Salle des Menus-Plaisirs (meeting hall) , Sloterdijk questions the purpose of architectural form in providing such meeting space and at the same time highlighting that through such revolutionary gathering, the assembly to gain power of vocalization could be dominant.

Bibliography Peter Sloterdijk, ‘Foam-City,’ in Log 9, Winter/Spring 2007.


Assembly


8.

Space, Knowledge and Power by Michel Foucault

A change in an understanding of ‘space’ has questioned the validity of power in the architect’s professional capacity to design, as they are no longer the ‘technicians’ of variables that arguably create architecture today. It might be interpreted that architecture is no longer able or responsible for the direct betterment of human lives in a society that is primarily governed by territory, communication and speed and their impact on space more so than the direct involvement of the architect’s genius, particularly when it relates to liberation and resistance. However, Foucault himself indicates that it should keep trying, even though the ends of which may differ from its original intentions, consciously or otherwise. Foucault interprets power as the primary generator of space as a way to explore alternate themes of history, sexuality, religion and the institution. Social relations between people in architectural spaces, such as the bath houses of Ancient Rome, look into how the specific architecture of the thermes offered society more than what was functionally offered, placing the role and consequence of architecture as somewhere in between the social and sexual relations among people, which is where actual power was created and held. Architecture largely remained as a consequence of power relations between people, and remained in similar forms at different times, in different societies and in alternate contexts, as long as the basic power structure remained more or less the same. The Roman bath house, Parisian brothel or Arab hamam remained as a space to explore sexual relations as a sub-layer of social relations between people in society. Foucault argues that he creation of space could be understood as part of the exercise of power, as it is a fundamental part of communal life. Spaces may relate to one another, or may not at all in the case of ‘heterotopias’ where distinct spatial islands may occur where its function is distinctively different or opposite to its larger or surrounding spaces. Foucault’s focus on spaces indicates that architecture is merely a technical approach to contain, manage and code space that will cause impact with specific effects in a field of social relations. Architectural drawings are, in effect, a record of social relations, hierarchies and accounts of relations of power, though he optimistically suggests that architecture can be much more than merely an echo of social power as the human imagination may be an equally powerful tool of creation. Architects on the other hand, according to Foucault has no notion of authority in their relation to this exercise of power. He argues that architects are not one of those professionals through whom power passed or who are important in the field of power relations. However, architects knowledge through their mentality and attitudes should be taken into account in order to understand a certain number of techniques of power that are invested in architecture. ‘After all, the architect has no power over me. If I want to tear down or change a house he built for me, put up new partitions, add a chimney, the architect has no control. So the architect should be placed in another category-which is not to say that he is not foreign to the organization, the implementation, and all the techniques of power that are exercised in a society.’ (Pg. 357)

Bibliography Michel Foucault, ‘Space, Knowledge and Power’ in Power, London: Penguin, 2000, pp. 349-364.


Power-Less


9.

Critique of Violence by Walter Benjamin

In ‘Critique of Violence’, Benjamin mainly addressed the relation between law and justice and how dependant they are on the subject of violence and later throughout his essay he even argued that it is impossible to separate violence from law, for violence itself is always subjected to occur latently. He slowly dismissed the possible forms of non-violent resolution to occur and rationalized his reason by saying that the sphere of non-violent means itself opens up in the realm of the conflicts between people mostly relating to goods and that they are easily bound by law through the idea of treaties and legal contracts. More specifically in this essay, Benjamin raised the question on how in the social and political realms could violence be justified in itself as pure independent means or whether it could be related to just or unjust ends. In his version of violence, he claimed that all violence is either law-making or law-preserving and that the law is what constitutes it. By law-making he probably was referring to the idea of violence that makes the law itself, and then only the law in its context could be established. In preserving the law, perhaps we could assume that he was relating it directly to the preservation of the system of legal ends, as he stated; ‘…violence when not in the hands of the law, threatens it not by the ends that it may pursue but by its mere existence outside the law.’ (Pg 281)

Then there is the notion of coercive violence, conducted by the public in general and partially; - the workers strike and their right to it. Considered as a nonaction, it is arguable that a strike cannot be described as violence. However, in Benjamin’s essay, the workers strike, specifically the organized labor is seen almost as the only legal subject (which is not the state) that is entitled to exercise violence. Nevertheless, the state doesn’t only justify this, as they rather view the strike admitted to the labor as an escape from a violence that is indirectly exercised by the employer instead. The ‘nonaction’ strike is actually an omission of actions. It constitutes in the view of labor itself as the right to use the force in attaining certain ends. (Pg 282) This is where the concept of revolutionary general strike comes in, and later be argued that this strike could be treated as political or proletarian; both somehow are due to act against the power of the state. ‘In this, labor will always appeal to its right to strike, and the state will call this appeal an abuse, since the right to strike was not “so intended,” and take emergency measures. For the state retains the right to declare that a simultaneous use of strike in all industries is illegal, since the specific reasons for strike admitted by legislation cannot be prevalent in every workshop. In this difference of interpretation is expressed the objective contradiction in the legal situation, whereby the state acknowledges a violence whose ends, as natural ends, it sometimes regards with indifference, but in a crisis (the revolutionary general strike) confronts inimically.’ (Pg 282)

So is the right to strike considered as violence? The state claims that whenever it is active in its conduct to somehow threaten to bring down the legal system then it may as well be called as violence. Perhaps at this point, we may say that ‘exercise of violence’ takes place and this somehow could be argued to be associated with what Benjamin has regarded in his essay as “pure means”, where the strike itself is used as a part of class struggle. Bibliography Walter Benjamin, ‘Critique of Violence’ in Reflections, New York: Schocken Books, 1978.


Right to exercise, Right to strike – Exercise strike, Exercise violence


10.

On Cosmopolitanism by Jacques Derrida

What did Derrida mean by the “cities of refuge”? He lets us think in a utopian manner about the radical idea of the new city without having to insert any political attributes and power for once. He even assures that the city of refuge is simply about the dream of having just ANOTHER concept, ANOTHER set of rights for the city and ANOTHER politics of the city (that is not the sovereign or state power) (Pg 8). He gave his proposal speech to the International Parliament of Writers to enable them to be aware of the actual concept of “cities of refuge” which is to offer asylums to the victims of injustice (refugees). In these victims, Derrida obviously refers to the refugees where refuge can actually be offered to them. He further explains this act of offering refuge as another notion of hospitality perhaps, an unconditional welcoming. To Derrida, the ideas of asylum and hospitality could be seen as another channel of the main cores of religions and philosophical traditions, where he make certain reference of the Torah, the Bible and the mixture of Pauline Christianity and even Stoicism that produced certain Enlightenment type of cosmopolitanism (Pg 19). In understanding the condition of unconditional hospitality, Derrida mentions that obligation somehow is resulted where there is the obligation to welcome and accept these migrants (refugees) and that as obligation occurs there will soon be laws and policies to follow. What he means here is perhaps it cannot be avoided for this hospitality in the end will have some limitations and conditions on it; from the limit of migrants’ numbers to the limits of integration later to take place. He calls this law as the “Great Law of Hospitality”; ‘An unconditional law, both singular and universal, which ordered that the borders be open to each and every one, to every other, to all who might come, without question, or without their even having to identify who they are and whence they came’ (Derrida, Pg 19)

So in the notion of a city/cities with ANOTHER set of concept, rights and politics, Derrida attempts to propose the cities with perhaps greater rights and sovereignty, and by greater perhaps, he means through the openness of citizenship and non-national democratic?” Cities of Refuge” then is a proposal on internalizing the border where borders and police (as referred to Benjamin’s A Critique of Violence) may have certain limitations of. It is another way of looking at the idea of hospitality as a refuge let alone to conduct it in the scale of a city and its state of law/right.

Bibliography Jacques Derrida, ‘On Cosmopolitanism’ in On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness, London: Routledge, 2002.


Refugee City


11.

Cosmopolitical Proposal by Isabelle Stengers

What is the cosmopolitics, meant by Stengers? Does she purposely try to differ it from the idea of the cosmopolitan, where the whole idea of the universe or world somehow according to her may lack the effect in reality. She separates the two words and relates them together by making argument through her view on science. In this article especially she discusses heavily on the idea of ‘modern science’ in particular, to which she has also suggested for it to have certain themes. She drew on some examples from diverse range of sciences, like the formation of physical-mathematical intelligibility, from Galilean mechanics and the origin of dynamics to quantum theory, the question of biological reductionism, and the power relations at work in the social and behavioral of sciences in order to relate them back to the material and living world (contemporary society). The word “cosmos’ of Stengers’ cosmopoltics; ‘…refers to the unknown constituted by [the] multiple, divergent worlds and to the articulations of which they could eventually be capable.’ (Pg. 995)

Along with this science consideration and tolerance, in her concept of cosmopolitics she therefore addresses a proposal that is modeled upon scientific method that reflects on all kind of assumptions and facts that are questionably arguable. The purpose of this is to ultimately be able to re-assimilate the notion of natural and the social, the notion of the modern and the ancient and more importantly, the importance of scientific and the irrational. For the scientific notion, modern science is criticized and perhaps analyzed (by Stengers) to have the need of conceptual themes. Her argument for this is reflected on her concept of “ecology of practices” where as creative aspect of these themes is constantly being considered, such practices may contribute to our understandings on scientific knowledge, specifically on its characteristic of evolvement. Here Stengers perhaps suggests that it is crucial to understand and investigate the limitations and obligations of the practices and the effect they have on the sciences. Theoretically speaking, these practices (in tandem with existence) may relate to or influence each other, and that the practices of science itself are included. We cannot simply argue whether or not that scientific discovery on our living world (or beyond) may influence the idea of the world itself. ‘Political’ (science) + ‘Cosmos’ = Cosmopolitics? I believe Stengers may have claimed that somehow science is represented as ‘true’, and the other dissertations may just be deprecated as irrational and superstitious.

Bibliography Isabelle Stengers, ‘The Cosmopolitical Proposal’, in Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, eds. Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2005.


Cosmo + Politics + Science


12.

Welcome to the Desert of the Real by Slavoj Žižek

Have we ever questioned the idea of realism? It could perhaps be an overrated question as the direct experience of the Real as opposed to everyday social reality was once the ultimate and defining moment of the twentieth century. The possible deceptive layers of this experience of the Real bring us to Žižek’s discussion on the authenticity of reality to which he often refers to the idea of the ‘passion for the Real’. One of the examples given by Žižek here in order to gain the actual ‘passion for the Real’, is the ‘cutters’ phenomenon, the certain people who will have the urge to hurt or precisely cut themselves as a desperate approach to return to the Real of their body. Reality is (re) gained as they get to see the warm red blood flowing out of the self-inflicted wound and that they feel once again alive. The opposite of the Real here is the question of non-existence. To the cutters, it is the blood that represents the Real. This way of returning or experiencing reality may be controversial to others. It is even arguable that if it is a mere psychological perception and that the blood itself might not be real. This when Žižek introduces the notion of virtualization, a process of living the experience of the Real unnecessarily if it is even the ‘real reality’ itself; - that is Virtual Reality. There are so many variations of virtualization and Žižek mentions that in the market today, we could find a whole series of products deprived of their malignant properties and that is no secret of being un-Real of the real thing but we do aware that these products are very successfully accepted by the consumers. Virtual Reality does the same thing, it is not real but we are able to live it. The authenticity of the Real is questionable here in the term that if we are able to live to the same experience as the Real will offer, why would we be needing the ‘real reality’ itself, or to go a bit further we might as well ask is there even a ‘real reality’? Taken directly from the character Morpheus’ dialog in The Matrix, the title ‘Welcome to the Desert of the Real’ is almost trying to idealize the idea of the Real being a not-so desirable entity and that we might be better of living in the virtual world where reality could be anything we want it to be. The discussion on the WTC towers in the context of this virtual reality could be tied in when we get at the end of the virtualization process itself where we slowly begin to experience the ‘real reality’ itself as a virtual entity. Žižek argues that the footage of the collapsing of the towers that we saw on the news on the TV screen all seem familiar and perhaps we have seen them all before. Indeed we have, and that they are in make-believe cinematic world, not in the Real world. Žižek emphasizes on the irony in the expected conclusion of the collapse of the towers, which is highly comparable to some other climatic plots of war or action movies where one distinguish as a cinematic art scene and that the former could be perceived as a form of twentieth-century art’s ‘passion for the Real’.

Bibliography Slavov Žižek, ‘Passions of the Real, Passions of Semblance’ in Welcome to the Desert of the Real, London: Verso, 2002.


Un-Real

Colouring-in Book with architectural violence  

'Architecture Violence & Creative Resistance' inspired colouring-in book by Nurulain Mohd Noor

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