Co-op Zimmer, ascetism and the cell of tomorrow

On Monday 27 May, bank holiday, the Athens Symposium organized by the Bartlett Masters Program of Urban Design, Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths and Kingston University took place in London. Athens was examined as idiosyncratic urban phenomenon and as example of decline of the west in the same time; Maurizio Lazzarato, Pier Vittorio Aureli, Yannis Stavrakakis, Costas Douzinas, Yannis Aesopos, Aristide Antonas, Platon Issaias, Orsalia Dimitriou, Penelope Charalambidou, Ross Exo Adams and Adrian Lahoud, director of the Bartlett's Program, formed the group of the discussion pannels.
I return to Pier Vittorio Aureli thoughts about asceticism and Hannes Meyer's Coop Zimmer which was the last image of his presentation in the Symposium; I think that this is a very intriguing image to conclude on an Athens investigation today. It condenses an impasse concerning the culture of the self today, related to an investigation concerning the room. The room, the self and withdrawal are the concepts that rule, in a different way, the public imagination today. At the same time I try to figure out how an investigation (which lead to such a personal room) and the concept of subjectivation to which Maurizio Lazzarato was refering to can be related to the specific condition of today in the West. It is difficult to reconstruct the great example of this room as a contemporary function; we do not see nostalgically the picture of Coop Zimmer as if it merely belongs to the past; it is not a question to return to what could be similar to it. The unity of time it proposes refers to a radically different past: to a different constitution of self. The room shows the very area where the structure of the self is distorted; it is not an area we can refer to easily. I believe that it introduces us to the culture of the "passing dweller", as Pier Vittorio Aureli suggests in his text in log, or the time of the short time renter. But there is still in the Coop Zimmer a strong emphasis on a stable space of withdrawal, a stable cell that we cannot easily prepare for the present condition. In a sense I am more disappointed than Pier Vittorio Aureli, believing that the self is a project of the past.

This is at least the point in which I insist in my House for Doing Nothing, constructed as a comment to a fragment by Slavoj Zizek, where he also calls for a self isolation in order that we find some time to read and think; I understood Zizek’s fragment as a call for an ascetic attitude. This call does not take under consideration that the background where this withdrawal of the self will have to be performed is a place where the sole concept of withdrawal is always already inverted to a reference to a “public sphere”. First and foremost a private room is delivered now to what I tried to describe as a unified infrastructure. The exterior space (in the case of the House for doing Nothing) would be a material support, the unwanted part of a voluntary incarceration to the most frivolous self, to a self that would always already had lost the question about self. The House for doing Nothing was my comment on this impossibility of return to the self because of the situation where the self is found (or better is lost) while withdrawing to a growing layered infrastructure; this infrastructure in which the post web2 Internet plays an important role, tends to always promise more possible simultaneous alternative micro possibilities, renting short time durations to existing predetermined protocols. Renting the infrastructure will be the market's rationale for the future but this also affects the constitution of the world (conceived now as a system of multiple alternative representations) and the self which can also be understood as such response to given structures. In the same time the self is lost within the public sphere and presumed found in a self's intimacy. This structure of withdrawal to a public self (in which no one can ever be a subjectivated self) seems to organize the system of self (the self in front of the unified infrastructure) than the state: a public identity of the self in infrastructure would then be the most resisting power against subjectivation. The public sphere and the upcoming society constitute the self as a withdrawn entity but in different terms than asceticism; in this condition the self is not any more a possible target per se, because the layered infrastructure that would support any primordial concept of return to the self prepares finally the self as a banal social mapping. The self is not related to any real room, it would necessarily be constituted as a series of answering to questionaries. The self would be captured by a systematic and automatic deliverance to strict, preexisting protocols; we could argue that even in the past the culture of the self was an exceptional investigation concerning open questions, a difficult and rare work to be done, related necessarily to an ascetic attitude. But what if the creation of self has already found in a certain system such a banal protocol of preparation? I am more pessimist than Pier Vittorio Aureli. The next day of the global civilization will be performed without idealization of the self as was the case in the last western civilization we know.

1 comment:

downerr said...

I believe that terms like "passing dweller" as well as ideals of seclusion, begin already within a very fixed idea about city (as in Aurelli's texts) and self. Albeit it is true that self is constituted by all these fragmentary registries in the various infrastructures, the endless proliferation of new protocols and behaviors might be the antidote to the bureaucracy of systematic classification you are describing.