wk6 reading response

Enduring Innocence: Keller Easterling

The cynical, nihilistic arguments put forth by Easterling were quite convoluted.  If she intended on talking about power structures through the means of capital wealth and warfare, hes notions of this were not clear.  Additionally, I think the reader was bound to lose track of what Easterling proposed was the role of architecture (spatial capital) in all of this, unless she was talking about the architecture of power structures.  Our physical environs emerge out of current context (context that cannot be simplified into “this caused that”), often times in ways that are ironically supportive of those who are already in power.  If this was part of her argument, it what not clear.  Additionally, it seemed she contradicted herself several times.  She says pirating is a response to the powerless environments in which it exists, yet alludes to the fact that large corporations (who are inherently powerful) are the real pirates of the world.

What seems to propagate throughout this reading was the fact that we’ve created and submitted to “falsified” environments (call it spatial products, spatial capital) which really responds to a context that is eclipsed by the notion of monetary gains, and is the creation of very narrow worldviews.  Additionally, she proposes that organizations, corporations, and the wealthy use distortion, trickery, etc in order to protect their power.  Simply put, Easterling is talking about power structures in a global market.  This sort of top-down approach is contrary to life in general.  Life happens in the details and intricacies of chance interactions and moments in time.  Such choreographed spaces and activities cannot possibly produce an environment beneficial to its occupants.  Further, there is no omniscient being who can predict all possible outcomes.  There is no singularity in our complex world.  Everything is constantly in flux, evolving, changing in relation to a context that is never static.  What comes to mind is Lorenz’s butterfly.

Back to the idea that power and money go hand in hand, Easterling exemplifies this fact by attempting to uncloak a well organized system of the dumbing down of the American consumer.  No longer are we a customer with a need that can have a real conversation with a shop owner.  Rather, we are merely consumers who can be coerced through marketing tactics into unjustified or unsolicited consumption.  This is merely a single explanation and example of world trends.

Now to spatial products: Easterling says that (and I am obviously paraphrasing) we build to suit out needs.  For those logistics parks (shipping ports) and Free Trade Zones, this means building with an architecture of efficiency responsive to a narrow context- a context that does not embody the cultural environment of place or social environment of people, but of the economic environment of wealth accumulation.  For me, this is emergent architecture with a small “a”.  It is very interesting to try to begin to decipher these “natural” systems and processes that have developed and evolved over the years out of particular contexts in support of a select few.  But it becomes worthwhile to note that, in my opinion, this is not architecture with a big “A”- a formalized architecture that is responsive and responsible to a more holistic context; an architecture that is un-self-interested; an architecture that is thoughtful.

My stream-of-consciousness and disconnected thoughts embodied in this entry probably relates well to the reading that it is responding to.

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