Saturday, August 6, 2011

Parrhesia: Minor Manifesto [to myself]

Parrhesia is a freely accessible journal affiliated with the University of Melbourne University of Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy. The content of Parrhesia tends towards concise and on point essays + translations of essays in current philosophy.

The name of the journal refers to the rhetorical concept of Parrhesia which Wikipedia defines as follows:

In rhetoricparrhesia is a figure of speech described as: to speak candidly or to ask forgiveness for so speaking.[1] The term is borrowed from the Greek παρρησία (πᾶν "all" + ῥῆσις / ῥῆμα "utterance, speech") meaning literally "to speak everything" and by extension "to speak freely," "to speak boldly," or "boldness." It implies not only freedom of speech, but the obligation to speak the truth for the common good, even at personal risk.

There is some common ground between this rhetorical figure of Parrhesia -  and the intentions of the Causa Locuta web-log. The impulse to guard speech and expressions comes about for a number of reasons, not the least of which is general politeness. Domain specific talk (a la Niklas Luhman/ Patrick Schumacher's book) is generally aggravating in general company with some exceptions. As a result it is easy to begin to check and censor expressions which will become inhibited unless they are aired and will be unable to develop unless they are articulated/ manifested formally.

Transitioning to architectural practice from the academic training means coming to terms changing the terms of representation from communication that addresses professors, to communication that is addressed to clients, contractors, engineering, the various consultants that are part of the building process, the various regulatory committees and their members, etc. The core of architecture consists as it maintains a domain specific discourse and conceptual apparatus in which we remain autonomous from these other groups. This autonomy means that when we communicate to these other groups (this communication is constant) we communicate from the position of members of the architectural community. This basis comes about via detailing, aesthetics, organization, articulation etc within the architectural tradition, specifically modernism and its aftermath, and lines of experimentation and escape that we are developing (con)currently.

Causa Locuta as a web-log of experiments is based on a principle of speaking as if in confidence to ourselves (even a more private ourselves of course than 'to the profession as a whole' -people that speak like this tend to be awful/ architecture-bros-) as a way of forcing the unarticulated and the still-in-process into the open. A distinction that we would draw between the previous generation, is a shift away from the linguistic turn of the late 20th century and a move towards speculative sciences (not strictly analytical) in a dilettantish way rather than speculative language as the basis for disturbing our own operations and finding beautiful accidents. Frei Otto's work with the Institute for Lightweight Structures provides a set of work to examine for explanation of how we would like to operate.

Minor hypotheses that will increasingly play a part in the experimental derive, and that will breed in the petri dishes of this mobile architectural laboratory:   ecological thinking/ideologies/technique,  urban geographies, sociologies, geography.  These come about within the framework of architectural/urban/landscape speculations. The experimentations in computational processes, geometry and naive physics simulations (ie not for the purpose of truthful analysis, but for design, for breeding architectures) are the toolkit for this work in contemporary architecture culture. Without this toolkit, it would be difficult to carry out these experiments. Towards these ends we are constantly tooling up - though this is maybe somewhat different from the modern generations and 'technological progress' for its own sake. This is a wild technology that is increasingly lighter and more disseminated, it tends more towards software than hardware initially, and then feeds back with full force into the physical world as a new generation of objects post-internet, post-algorithm, post-economic collapse, post-global, post-mass-media. Francois Roche says that it is via narrative that we are most easily and pointedly able to gain entree. JG Ballard's emphasis on science fiction (a la Tomorrow's Thoughts Today/ the Bartlett) is similarly a strong directive within architecture. The technical capacity to realize projects may be even more important in advancing a critical conversation.

Let's see how that goes.

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