Sunday, July 6, 2014

The total body begins to appear

"The magic carpet has already carried me away, and I fly past embankments and beaches. From high above, like a stripe, a thin ribbon of sand. But near at hand the beach. The elements are there: earth, air, the sun's fire, water... Here, the elements meet, but their intersection signals the demise of each in the other. The earth culminates in the sea; the sky dissolves into the earth and the water. This surface of encounters is one of interference: the fine sand, its delicious fluidity. Here, bodies no longer experience water alone or earth alone, or air and sun in isolation... Each element plays a role, receives the others... Where they end, the beach begins. Transition, passages, encounters. A space of enjoyment... The total body begins to appear. Until quite recently, a sense of fear was associated with beaches, which were given over to fishermen, peasants, collectors of kelp to fertilize fields, pillagers of shipwrecks. The modern era discovered them as a space of enjoyment that could be used by everyone, all class distinctions being dissolved in a strip of land near the sea... Unfortunately, beaches can support no constructions other than those that are forgotten. Anything more and the structure would obliterate the space of enjoyment, in the process destroying its most characteristic feature: fluidity, transition. And architecture?

"... Of course, what purpose does it serve to investigate enjoyment and a suitable morphology when we know that between now and the end of the century, millions, tens of millions of homes, the humblest, the simplest shelters, will be needed around the world? Of course! What good is poetry or what is still referred to as art?... Nevertheless, questions need answers: Who will build the architecture of enjoyment, assuming it is possible? For whom and with what means? ... Will it be an apartment building, a public building, a village, a ch√Ęteau, a town? A ''folly'... We cannot continue for long to set aside social needs and demands.

".... That there is no architecture or, to put it in simpler terms, that there exists no morphology of enjoyment, that it is barely conceivable and almost unimaginable, is terrifying. Especially given that this is not an isolated finding but connected to other facts. And in this way, the petty and perfidious interrogation of architecture, insignificant in appearance, assumes its full scope."

—Henri Lefebvre, Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment [1973], (University of Minneapolis Press, 2014) p48-49,55, 59.

For my response to a chapter in this book, called architecture, see the experimental archi-poem "Arch of Enjoyment" (for and against Henri Lefebvre).