Brunelleschi Lacan Le Corbusier (London: Routledge, 2010), by Lorens Holm, argues that we construct our selves as subjects in the way that we construct space, by architectural means. There is, in other words, an affinity between architecture and subjectivity. The book makes the case by looking closely at two details in architectural history. In the early part of the Fifteenth Century, the Renaissance architect, Brunelleschi, demonstrated the invention of perspective to the citizens of Florence, in a kind of performance piece that mirrored Lacan’s diagram of the structure of the visual field. In 1911, the Swiss French architect, Le Corbusier, encountered the Parthenon for the first time; by his own account, this encounter triggered an anxiety attack and launched his career, a career that – arguably – evinced the loopy repetitive future anterior structure of the drive. We might call it the drive to space, to want space, to make space, to have space, to be space.
If this book poses a challenge, it is how to carry forward a psychoanalytic exegesis of the texts of architecture, and an architectural exegesis of texts of analysis. If it is possible, as Holm argues, to systematically structure the subject as a subject of perspective, and a subject of the future anterior, how can architecture use this knowledge? How can words and images collaborate, to think together what they cannot think alone?
The front cover shows a snapshot of the future Le Corbusier in the Parthenon, 1911, by his traveling companion Klipstein, pictured in the kind of shallow stratified space that would subsequently be reproduced in the free plan. The back cover shows a photograph of Brunelleschi’s nave of San Lorenzo, Florence, 1440’s, the kind of authorized space that had been made possible by the invention of perspective. They are mediated, at the binding, by a Corinthian column which might be the hidden presence of Lacan.