the assembled self

blog 1

Beckett’s trembling surface                Le Corbusier’s exteriorized matrix

Two different architectural models of the self: a black single sided surface/space with a mouth hole that speaks. A scaffold with eye and organ and cosmos that sees.

What does it mean to say who I am? What does it mean to say I am an architect?

Any answer will be in code, in this case avant-garde theatre or avant-garde architecture: all their props, language, forms. The code precedes you or your answer. The presence of the code presupposes an other. Code and other, precede you and your answer. [Lacan insisted that coded seeing, or seeing in perspective, is preceded by the gaze.] Accordingly, we can be more precise: What does it mean to say who I am? always goes to What it mean to you, for me to say who I am?

Still from Samuel Beckett’s Not I, performed by Billie Whitelaw at the Royal Court Theatre, London, 1973, and recorded by BBC2 for the program A Wake for Sam (screen grab by author). A Wake… was broadcast in January 1990. Beckett died in December 1989. Whitelaw described her performance at the Royal Court: ‘this relentless mouth that wouldn’t let go’ of the audience.

Le Corbusier, sketch of his installation for the Ideal Homes Exhibition, London, 1938, featuring La Ville Radieuse. From Oeuvre Complete vol 4 1938-1946 (Zurich: Artemis, 1946) p 13.

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what lacan said re: architecture

st louis empty frame

‘Architecture… like painting… is organised around emptiness.’

Jacques Lacan, Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959-1960 (New York, Norton, 1992) pp135-36 (condensed).                                                                                                                                                                                Lorens Holm, photograph of downtown St. Louis, 1990.

Emptiness = when the motel says ‘no vacancies’.