Rossi, ‘In order to be significant, architecture must be forgotten, or must present only an image for reference which subsequently becomes confounded with memories’.
Forgetting is the other half of memory. Architecture has to slip under the taught surface of consciousness, in order for it to be significant. In order for something to be committed to the unconscious, it must first be symbolised as part of a signifying system. It is not the real Parthenon that haunts me or haunts modern architecture – that’s just a pile of old stones – but its image. In Aldo Rossi’s drawings and texts, the city becomes a repository for collective memory. The architecture of the analogical city must be made over into a closed system of signs with a history and rules of engagement (the type is a logical principle, not a form) that generates its own meaning. Architecture is a signifying field which – like the language of others, Lacan’s field of the Other – is the exteriorised impersonalised locus of the unconscious.
Aldo Rossi, Scientific Autobiography, trans. Lawrence Venuti (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1981) p45. Photograph of Aldo Rossi’s Scholastic Publishers Headquarters Building (2001) within the field of Manhattan. Source unknown.