TOO MUCH WORLD
THIS IS AN UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT OF A REAL FACEBOOK WALL CONVERSATION BETWEEN PATRIK SCHUMACHER AND MARK FOSTER GAGE THAT TOOK PLACE ON SEPTEMBER 30 11:25PM, INITIATED AS A WALL POST BY SCHUMACHER.
IN THIS CONVERSATION, THEY DISCUSS DEBATE/ THROW SHADE/ DEFEND THE UPCOMING 2016 J. IRWIN MILLER SYMPOSIUM 'AESTHETIC ACTIVISM' AT YALE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE.
WE HAVE REPRODUCED THEIR WRITINGS WITH A SPLASH OF LEV MANOVICH IN PRINT TO HELP NAVIGATE THIS MOMENT IN ARCHITECTURAL DEBATE HISTORY. ALL ANNOTATIONS AND REFERENCES ARE PRODUCED THROUGH OUR INTERPRETATION.
Patrik Schumacher: AN IVORY TOWER DRIPPING IN THEORETICAL ACTIVISM - Forthcoming Yale symposium Aesthetic Activism1 “casts aesthetics as the primary discourse for social, ecological, and political engagement. Political problems may be best addressed as aspects of aesthetic experience.” Really?? That’s great, so as aesthetes we can now claim to be political activists!!! How is this meant to be made credible? How do you pull this off? By inviting one of those aging but ever-adolescent hyper-trendy French philosopher-‘communists’ 2 - who thrive in elite universities and art fairs and let them dazzle your politically and philosophically innocent architectural audience. Then pile in lots of the latest super-trendy hyperbolic radical theory including “Accelerationism, Afro-Futurism, Dark Ecology, Extro-Science Fiction, Disobedient Objects, Immaterialism, Object-Oriented Ontology, and Xenofeminism” and mix it up with your most ambitious architectural pals searching for meaning or rhetoric or both. Don’t worry too much about what kind of political action program this pile of pretensions might add up to: I guess the symposium itself is all the “activism” we can ever expect here. Or? … Is this really the way to fulfill architecture’s healthy craving for societal meaning and purpose? … Anyway, it’s certainly going to be fun and thought provoking. I don’t want to be a spoil sport: So, go if you can! I would! 160 LIKES + 25 SHARES
Mark Gage: Oh Patrik. I'm so glad you're solidifying your right-wing position in architecture against anyone who does not subscribe to your glorious monotheistic, or monopatrik, parametric religion.3 Continue to be for Brexit, and if only you had U.S. Citizenship you could vote for Donald Trump!!! The symposium includes Ranciere4 exactly to discuss the ridiculousness of having mansplaining5 single "genius-masters" such as yourself tell us all the answers to everything, what we should do, what we should believe, and how we should practice. But since I do love you, I've decided to make a last minute change to the symposium and call it "No More New Ideas: We're All for Parametricism, go Patrik YAY!!" Will you be the keynote? 21 LIKES
Schumacher: lol .. hysterical ... but seriously: my refusal to join the general, nearly ritual [and in my view intellectually bankrupt] anti-capitalist bias of our discipline (or your more trendy intellectualizing version) does NOT make me “right wing”. 6 The right-left distinction fails to locate the growing (and rather sophisticated) tendency in political and economic thinking I am excited about. “Right-wing” is here an unhelpful denunciation … Further: If architecture is meant to be a rational (theory-guided) discipline or discourse-practice, then some of us must propose, evaluate and argue over the most viable, productive and progressive ways to practice. (This has nothing to do with masters telling us what to do.) There is no point about being coy about this. 11 LIKES
Lev Manovich: You are 100% correct. That’s why I become a professor of computer science in 2013 after being professor of art for 20 years. Data and algorithms are not left or right, they are tools used by everybody from government organizations and NGOs to museums, festivals and companies. 2 LIKES As far as I can see, aesthetics today is the key mechanism of identity building and feeling part of the community for of millions of young people who post sophisticated photos on Instagram, invent fashion, lead food revolution in their countries and leave [sic] lives defined by aesthetics experiences. So what’s nice about our time is that aesthetics became a part of everybody urban life as opposed to being used for politics like during Cold War and 20th c. This was the age of ideologies. Ours is the age of everyday aesthetics and digital globalization that encourages it. And I love it! 4 LIKES
Gage: Patrik. You're stuck in the 19th century if you think Aesthetics is the same as Pater and Wilde's Aestheticism. 7 Aesthetics is a form of engagement, and as it turns out, a rather powerful one culturally, socially and politically --- as we are only now learning in more depth. Even Plato recognized this --- exiling as he did artists and poets from his ideal state by reason of their political agency. Nobody is proposing an 1968 anti-capitalist position as much as an anti-vast-inequality one. As Zizek reminds us, capitalism isn't going anywhere 8 --- and that's not everyone's goal, certainly not mine. But one thing that capitalism is great at is producing vast inequality, and aesthetics plays a role in this, and in a great many other things. Architecture may not be the answer to this --- but architects, philosophers, artists, scholars, writers, curators and activists may have something to say to each other about the subject. That's what my symposium is about-- discussion. If the future allows for other forms of speculation, you need to open your mind. Come. I'll save you a seat in the front row next to me. One where I can keep an eye on you so you don't misbehave and start ranting... If it's all solved and architecture is over--having reached it's pinnacle with Patrikmetricism, then by all means, keep manslaining the world to everyone from the exalted all-knowing position that you occupy. But perhaps also be reminded by Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." (Act 1, scene 5,...) 6 LIKES
Schumacher: thx for reserving me a front row seat … I would come if I could … to challenge both the prevailing (naïve) politics of your symposium, the rhetorical hyperbole I expect, and the self-inflating pretensions of ‘activism’ you falsely associate with the group you have invited. On a positive note: I share the spirit/sensibility of accelerationism (one of the catch phrases that adorn your symposium announcement) … but don’t find its adolescent hyperbole useful - I want to produce more than hot air - but agree with its fast-forward drive ... I wish I could induce the accelerationist kids to become more serious and engage with adult sociology, e.g. Luhmann’s theory of society, and adult political economy, e.g. Austrian economics, New Institutional economics, (and perhaps even adult architectural theory). 9 Some basic political points: I am critical of our current political and socio-economic systems because it is not capitalist enough, it is interventionist ‘state capitalism’ or ‘crony capitalism’ rather than entrepreneurial capitalism. There is far too much politics in the system, stifling entrepreneurial creativity and initiative. I have come to believe that all politics that drives towards empowerment via the state is special interest politics. At best we can achieve a majoritarian dictate this way, but even this is an illusion. The fact that the majority of those who vote select one bunch of crony-representatives over another is guaranteeing nothing we usually associate with the lofty phrase “democratic”. 50% of our production is channelled through the fat hands of these “representatives”. It’s corrupt, (and systematically corrupting), inefficient, with a lot of fat and little muscle. That’s why we are stagnating. (The money pumping growth produces fat rather than muscle.) The 2008 crisis and the irrational excesses it revealed should not be attributed to “capitalism” or “deregulation” but to state interventions that have systematically undermined the self-regulation capacity of markets. I am not a fan of inequality and I believe that a truly competitive entrepreneurial capitalism would reduce rather than increase inequality (which is exacerbated by entrenched elites using the state to socialize losses, to secure privileges, curb competition etc.). Also: In fact the American social security system is redistributing upwards. The attempt to use the state to eliminate inequality failed and is bound to fail again and again. (Remember Einstein’s definition of insanity? 10 ) I rather suggest: stop pretending it works or can work and let’s try something new: get the state out of economic life altogether, step by step, and allow ourselves (lobotomized sedated captives of the nanny state) to learn to live on our own account, step by step, picking up pace quickly I predict. This also applies to our arena: urban planning, housing standards, professional licensing. Let’s risk more freedom and distributed self-responsibility. The new technological and civil society conditions of our time make this a viable path. 9 LIKES
Gage: Well. The position you articulate is partially Rancieres- that what we call politics is actually more of a policing of an existing political framework, of course empowered by things like crony capitalism. don't be so quick to dismiss new threads of speculation they might in fact nourish your own arguments in some scenarios. By the way the new Antwerp port house is great. 11 It's amazing that you're so anti even discussing an aesthetic position when you and Zaha's work has been so forceful in that particular area. 12 What we're discussing could be empowering to architecture in some way-- quit being such a party pooper. I'm sending you a Xanax. ;) 3 LIKES
Schumacher: don't get me wrong: aesthetic values and sensibilities play a significant role in my theory of architecture (and in my theory of styles in particular) ... we all inevitably navigate the world on the basis of aesthetic values/sensibilities and designers also must rely on them in the heat of the design process .. these values must be queried and revised but can never be avoided. .. however, i do not see the emphatic connection with political activism ... concerning my reflections of the relation between architecture and politics see the link below (this is a good start - although I am going to publish a revised account of my recently further evolved position soon): LINK TO “Architecture and Politics Dissecting the Pretense of Political Architecture”. 4 LIKES
Gage: The entire symposium has an anti-critical, anti-Frankfurt school stance Patrick. Ranciere and to some extent Badiou staked out this position ages ago. I'm telling you man- half of what you're arguing for is being argued for by the people you're continually slamming. 1 LIKES
1 Mark Foster Gage published “Aesthetic Theory: Essential Texts for Architecture and Design” in 2011. It is meant to be“a collection of pivotal ideas about beauty from throughout history, with an introduction and critical headnotes." The three themes of the symposium include AESTHETICS AT EARTH MAGNITUDE: CAPITAL, PROPERTY, AND ECOLOGY, THE AESTHETICS OF EQUALITY: OBJECT ORIENTED ONTOLOGY AND SOCIAL THEORY and THE AESTHETICS OF ACTIVISM: AFRO-FUTURISM, XENOFEMINISM AND DISOBEDIENT OBJECTS.
2 “The Politics of Aesthetics “. 2006. Jacques Rancière.
3 “Parametricism as Style - Parametricist Manifesto”. 2008. Patrik Schumacher. Presented at the Dark Side Club.
4 “WHO THE FUCK IS JACQUES RANCIERE?”. 2013. Eugene Wolters.
5 “Men Explain Things to Me”. 2014. Rebecca Solnit. mansplaining: a portmanteau of the words ‘man’ and ‘explaining’, defined as “to explain something to someone, typically a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing”.
6 Since Brexit, Schumacher has been openly supportive of the UK’s creative industry moving away from regulations imposed by the EU. He considers Brexit a ‘great opportunity’ and he supports the breaking off of other ‘large states’, including Italy, Germany and Scotland ‘if that comes back on the table’. He commonly defends that he has ‘very little in common’ with the values pushed by the Leave Campaign. “Brexit is a great opportunity, says Patrik Schumacher”. Sept 17 2016. BDONLINE.CO.UK. “Brexit: a chance to roll back the interventionist state and unleash entrepreneurial creativity – op-ed by Patrik Schumacher”. Jul 08 2016. ARCHINECT.
7 “The Renaissance”. 1873. Walter Pater. “Imaginary Portraits”. 1878. Walter Pater. “The Critic as Artist”. 1891. Oscar Wilde.
8 The Abyss of Freedom/Ages of the World (The Body, In Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism). 1997. Slavoj Žižek. “inherent stupidity of all proverbs”. “Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy”. 2012. Graham Harman. “The Inherent Stupidity of All Content”
9 “Theory of Society”. 1997. Niklas Luhmann. “The Nature of the Firm”. 1937. Ronald Coase. “The Problem of Social Cost”. 1960. Ronald Coase. “Markets and Hierarchies, Analysis and Antitrust Implications: A Study in the Economics of Internal Organization.” 1975. Oliver E. Williamson.
10 “Insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.” Einstein has been attributed for many witty one-liners that he probably did not say. This may be the result of the ‘Matthew Effect’ in sciences. This definition of insanity is most likely from Narcotics Anonymous “Basic Text”, released in 1981.
11 Antwerp Port House, a recently completed project by ZAHA HADID ARCHITECTS in Belgium. Called by some as ‘a giant spaceship’.
12 “Zaha Hadid, Early Paintings and Drawings” Exhibition Serpentine Sackler Gallery 08 December 2016 to 12 Feburary 2017
13 “Architecture and Politics Dissecting the Pretense of Political Architecture”. 2009. Patrik Schumacher.