labyrinth dossier

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2012.11.21 13:04
21 November
Every so often, when I have about a half hour before it's time to turn off the computer, I do a web search of two architect names that don't usually have anything to do with each other, just to see what results come up. Last night I searched lequeu venturi, and one of the links was The Art Historian's Studio: a virtual allegory of the last 7 years of my intellectual life, a very satisfying cabinet of curiosities.
"The development of museums has plainly surpassed even the most optimistic hopes of the founders. Not only does the totality of the world's museums today represent a colossal accumulation of riches, but, above all, the totality of visitors without any doubt represents the most grandiose spectacle of a humanity freed from material cares and dedicated to contemplation."
Georges Bataille
"All things would be visibly connected if one could discover at a single glance and in its totality the tracings of an Ariadne's thread leading thought into its own labyrinth."
Georges Bataille
"Be wise, Ariadne, you have small ears, you have my ears: let a wise word slip into them: Must one first not hate oneself, if one is to love oneself? I am your labyrinth…."
Friedrich Nietzsche
"The interior is not only the universe but also the etui of the private person. To live means to leave traces. In the interior these are emphasized. An abundance of covers and protectors, liners and cases is devised, on which the traces of objects of everyday use are imprinted. The traces of the occupant also leave their impression on the interior. The detective story that follows these traces comes into being."
Walter Benjamin
Just over a week ago I searched hejduk piranesi, and one of the links was Anti-Vitruv & Super-Brunelleschi. It's a nice little virtual museum of architecture.
For a week now I'm reading Le Corbusier: The Architect on the Beach.
"I know of one Greek labyrinth which is a single straight line. Along that line so many philosophers have lost themselves that a mere detective might well do so, too."- Jorge Luis Borges, Death and the Compass
"He had edified a crypt within him: an artifact, an artificial unconscious in the Self, an interior enclave, partitions, hidden passages, zigzags, occult and difficult traffic, two closed doors, an internal labyrinth endlessly echoing, a singular discourse crossing so many languages and yet somewhere inside all that noise, a deathly silence, a blackout. He will die with or through the crypt within him."- Jacques Derrida
"He is not me but he is more than me: his stomach is the labyrinth in which he has lost himself, loses me with him, and in which I discover myself as him, in other words as a monster."- Georges Bataille
"Minos contrived to hide this specimen in a maze,
A labyrinth built by Daedalus, an artist
Famous in building, who could set in stone
Confusion and conflict, and deceive the eye
With devious aisles and passages…"- Ovid, The Metamorphoses
"More than anything else, we are curious to explore the labyrinth. We strive to make friends with Mr. Minotaur, about whom we have been told so many horrific stories."- Friedrich Nietzsche
"Beneath English trees I meditated on that lost maze: I imagined it inviolate and perfect at the secret crest of a mountain; I imagined it erased by rice fields or beneath the water; I imagined it infinite, no longer composed of octagonal kiosks and returning paths, but of rivers and provinces and kingdoms…I thought of a labyrinth of labyrinths, of one sinuous spreading labyrinth that would encompass the past and the future and in some way involve the stars."- Jorge Luis Borges, The Garden of Forking Paths
"One can participate in and share the fundamentals of the Labyrinth as it manifests itself. One can never see it in totality, nor can one express it. One is condemned to it and cannot go outside and see the whole."- Bernard Tschumi
"One abstract model of conjecturability is the labyrinth. Like any other conjectural space it can be traversed in many ways. Naturally you find your way out of classical labyrinths. But at this point we should specify that there are three kinds of labyrinths. One is the Greek type, that of Theseus. This labyrinth does not allow anyone to lose his way: you enter it and arrive at the center, and then from the center you make your way to the exit. That is why there is the Minotaur at the center; otherwise there would be no point, you would just be out for a harmless stroll. The terror comes in because you do not know where you will come out and what the Minotaur will do. But if you unravel the classical labyrinth, you will find a thread in your hands, Ariadne's thread. The classical labyrinth is its own Ariadne's thread.
Then there is the mannerist labyrinth. If you unravel it, you find in your hands a kind of tree, a root-like structure with many dead ends. There is only one exit, but you can get it wrong. You need an Ariadne's thread to keep from getting lost. This labyrinth is the model of the trial-and-error process.
Finally, there is the network, the structure that Deleuze and Guattari call a rhizome. The rhizome is set up so that each path connects to every other one. It has no center, no periphery, and no exit, because it is potentially infinite. Conjectural space is like a rhizome."- Umberto Eco
"It suffices for a short time to follow the trace, the repeated course of words, in order to perceive, in a sort of vision, the labyrinthine constitution of being."- Georges Bataille
"To all appearances, the artist acts like a mediumistic being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing."- Marcel Duchamp
"The language of nature is comparable to a secret password that each sentry passes to the next in his own language, but the meaning of the password is the sentry's language itself."- Walter Benjamin
"…into what labyrinth, what multiplicity of heterogeneous places, one must enter in order to track down the cryptic motivation…"- Jacques Derrida
"The development of museums has plainly surpassed even the most optimistic hopes of the founders. Not only does the totality of the world's museums today represent a colossal accumulation of riches, but, above all, the totality of visitors without any doubt represents the most grandiose spectacle of a humanity freed from material cares and dedicated to contemplation."- Georges Bataille

interview with/in a labyrinth 3/1
A labyrinth is a complicated structure in which one becomes lost.
The meanders of the design impede progress (toward the central enclosure).
A formalized design within which a wandered can lose his way remains a constant.
The labyrinth as a motif for quest.
Quaestio Abstrusa
Pliny maintains that Daedalus took from this Egyptian labyrinth the pattern of the one he made in Crete, "although he only copied the hundredth part of it, since it contained winding ways and bewildering twists and turns . . . with many entrances designed to produce misleading goings and comings."
Eternal Wrest
The labyrinth holds out alternative possibilities for interaction with it.
The Labyrinthine city.
In Victor Hugo's novelLes misérables (1862), the sewers of Paris are described as a dark labyrinthine double to the city's labyrinth above the ground.
...a labyrinthine text to portray the city and its inhabitants.
Just as the labyrinthine mind resembles the labyrinthine world it inhabits, so the labyrinthine mind creates labyrinthine fictions.
...a kind of magical chameleon labyrinth, one that entraps different people differently: "each is led on by the complexities in his own mind to lose himself . . . in a labyrinth of his own devising."
Lawrence Durrell centers his novel The Dark Labyrinth (1947) around a tour to a series of caverns in Crete. Since the tourists all experience varying degrees of self-revelation in the caverns, exploration of the physical labyrinth symbolizes psychological exploration.
[In Anaïs Nin's Seduction of the Minotaur,] a woman travels to a "primitive" labyrinth jungle, hoping to escape her labyrinthine city life.
[Albert Camus' Le Minotaure ou la halte d'Oran presents] the city of Oran as a labyrinth turned in on itself . . . for an artist this solitary labyrinth can serve as a necessary stage of hermetic concentration before he creates his works.
[In the short stories and poems of the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges] labyrinths symbolize both the world and the artificial systems--including the art of fiction--that men create in attempting to understand, or at least to order the world.

2013.07.12 18:36
Why is everyone bashing OMA and Rem Koolhaas?
... just before I read your post above, I read (in the Labyrinth preface), "As for Kafka's precursors, Borges's erudition takes pleasure in finding them in Zeno of Elea, Kierkegaard and Robert Browning. In each of these authors there is some Kafka, but if Kafka had not written, nobody would have been able to notice it--whence this very Borgesian paradox" "Every writer creates his own precursors.""
Because of this thread I have a whole new appreciation of the Seattle Public Library--"a genuine affordment of a covered liberal space." Is this really something of a rare manifestation in today's urban realm? Can the SPL be seen as a truly new paradigm of "covered liberal space"? Is commerce-free, covered liberal space even a viable urban typology? Yes, "it needs more thought."

2013.07.12 19:37
12 July
Just read this is Maurois's 'Preface' of Borges's Labyrinths:
(Schopenhauer, Borges remarks, has already written that life and dreams are leaves of the same book: reading them in order is living; skimming through them is dreaming.) In death we shall rediscover all the instants of our life and we shall freely combine them as in dreams. "God, our friends, and Shakespeare will collaborate with us." Nothing pleases Borges better than to play in this way with mind, dreams, space and time. The more complicated the game becomes, the happier he is. The dreamer can be dreamed in his turn.

18 July
2013.07.18 13:13
...some Borges, some Capote, some Quondam
"A labyrinth of symbols," he corrected. "An invisible labyrinth of time."
"...I questioned myself about the ways in which a book can be infinite. I could think of nothing other than a cyclic volume, a circular one. A book whose last page was identical with the first, a book which had the possibility of continuing indefinitely."

I have taken on the mysterious duty of reconstructing literally his spontaneous work. My solitary game is governed by two polar laws. The first permits me to essay variations of a formal or psychological type; the second obliges me to scarifice these variations to the "original" text and reason out this annihilation in an irrefutable manner...
Some years earlier, Lillian Ross had published Picture, her account of the making of a movie, The Red Badge of Courage; with its fast cuts, its flash forward and back it was itself like a movie, and as I read it I wondered what would happen if the author let go of her hard linear straight-reporting discipline and handled her material as if it were fictional--would the book gain or lose?
...I wonder what would happen if the architect let go of his straight-curating discipline and handled the material as if it were fictional--would the museum gain or lose?

18 July
2013.07.18 18:20
I understand you are staying at the new hotel. La Bataille. How do you find it?
Very pleasant. In a bit of turmoil because they are in the process of opening a casino. The man in charge of the casino is called Shelley Keats. I thought it was a joke at first, but that really happens to be his name.
Marcel Proust works at Le Foulard, that fine little seafood restaurant in Scheolcher, the fishing village.
Semiquincentennial: an almost novel architectonics
Miers Fisher Jr. and Helen Gregoroffsky reunited

2013.09.19 12:27
19 September
Borrowed some books (from the Free Library) about "novel writing." Read "The opposing missions of the various characters create the plot" this morning. Then thought, "Apposing missions of the various architectures creates the plot."
Herzog at Columbia said, "Stirling lost his way" and "Rossi lost his way." I ask, "Labyrinth, wo bist du?"

2013.09.21 20:46
21 September
"For even in the most favorable hypothesis, the biographers of the Historia Augusta are separated from the Antonines, their great models, by an instance of some hundred and twenty-five years. Of course this is not the first time an ancient historian found himself so far, or even much further, from the figures he was seeking to portray. But the ancient world in the time of Plutarch, say, was still homogeneous enough for the Greek biographer to produce, at nearly a hundred and fifty years' distance, an image of Caesar carved in virtually the same substance as Caesar. At the period when the Historia Augusta was compiled, on the contrary, the world was so altered as to render the great Antonines' way of life and of thought virtually impenetrable to biographers already on the road leading to the Byzantine Empire. A little closer in time, but more exotic, more rapidly distorted by popular superstition, the rulers of the Syrian dynasty vanish even more utterly beneath a forest of legends. Thereafter, chances of error due to remoteness in time gradually diminish with the emperors who devour one another during the rest of the third century, but models and painters alike sink into that magma of confusion, violence, and mendacity characteristic of all periods of crisis. From one end of the Historia Augusta to the other, everything sounds as if a small group of today's men of letters, more or less well informed but mediocre, and often no more than ordinarily conscientious, were to tell us first the history of Napoleon or of Louis XVIII by means of authentic documents seasoned with prefabricated anecdotes, anachronistically tinged by the passions of our own day and age, and then, shifting to figures and events of more recent vintage, were to offer about Jaurès, Hitler, Pétain, or De Gaulle a mass of worthless gossip mingled with some useful informations, an avalanche of literature from Propaganda Bureaus and sensational revelations from the gossip columns."
Marguerite Yourcenar, "Faces of History in the Historia Augusta."
This passage seems useful in terms of thinking about a novel whose scenes and complications occur within the realm of labyrinthine architectural history, or is it within the realm of architecturally labyrinthine history?

2013.09.23 09:37
23 September
"I certainly have my uncharted territories."
...and I felt very fortunate to begin reading the third book "Joseph in Egypt" while on my first trip to LA, September 1982--there was an uncanny commonality between both 'events'. Was Eutropia at Trier on 23 September 326? Is that when she (metabolically) gave orders for the destruction of the Imperial palace there to then create the enormous twin basilica in its place?
"Perhaps Constantine should have mentioned that I didn't send the letter about Mamre from Mamre. Perhaps Constantine knew he was 'oaking' at the expense of modern doubters."
Yelling loudly, the 35-year-old woman attacked "Office Baroque," a cutout section of wall by American artist Gordon Matta-Clark, doing a series of head-over-heels flips before landing on the work in a handstand, punching both her arms through the drywall... She then ran across the large room, pushing over a section of a spray-painted truck called "Graffiti Truck," also by Matta-Clark, bending back the metal roof.
"There is an artist that devised a machine that 'reenacts' the human digestive system, which ultimately produces turds."
At the very end of the video interview of Peter Eisenman in conjunction with the latest Venice Biennale, the architect makes reference to "Kafka's Magic Mountain," as in hopefully the architect's project of a City of Culture at Santiago de Compostela will find a happy artistic commonality with Kafka's Magic Mountain. Maybe Eisenman is knowledgeable of some manuscript that Kafka himself destroyed (as Kafka did destroy some of his own manuscripts), but otherwise it was Thomas Mann that wrote The Magic Mountain.
"Yes, let's hear it for [some] contemporary architecture and [it's knowledge of] culture!"
Take a look at Le Corbusier's Palais des Congrès à Strasbourg (1964), and then look at OMA's Hotel at Agadir, the Library at Jussieu, the Educatorium, and then MVRDV's VPRO--a trail of design reenactments. Maas worked on the OMA projects. Right now it looks like the novel begins at the Hotel of the Palais des Congrès. All the architects are registered there for the "Turning the Labyrinth Inside-Out" conference. None of them is confident, however, that the 'Buildings Present Themselves' portion will proceed without a variety of embarassing technical glitches.
"His last word to me (sixteen years ago today) was "battery."
twelve eleven ten
nine eight seven six five four
three two one zero



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