Section = 002_3

“Production….produces not only the object of consumption but also the mode of consumption” (Marx, 1970:197[1])

“Without trust, you cannot identify anything; it’s like a sandstorm. You don’t see yourself as part of the city—there are no places that you relate to, that you love to go. No corner, no area touched by a certain kind of light. You have no memory of any material, texture, shape. Everything is constantly changing, according to somebody else’s will, somebody else’s power.” (Ai Wei Wei (2011) on Beijing’s Nightmare City)

The physical strait jacket…is directly responsible for the mental strait jacket which regulates the pattern of use[2].

“…militates against durable structures…” (Bauman, 2000:117)

Domination relies on closeness to the sources of uncertainty. Freedom is relative to access to instantaneity. That which can keep its own actions unbounded, norm-free and unpredictable, while normatively regulating (routinizing, and thereby rendering monotonous, repetitive and predictable) the other, rules (Baumann 2000:119-20 citing Crozier; Also Zerzan, 2006 – preserve predictability). Control is exercised by not allowing individual variations, and manifests in architectural geometry and urban layout (Salingaros et al., 2010:66-7). The weapons of the strong are classification, delineation, division. They depend on the certainty of mapping[3] (de Certeau quoted in Bauman, 2000:113) and their control of it, but not necessarily its longevity. Capital is fast and light[4], frictionless[5]. Once the infinity of possibilities empties the infinity of time of its seductive power, durability loses its attraction and turns from an asset to a liability. Focus turns to the manipulation of transience over durability[6] – highly mobile capital flows outmaneuver geographically fixed labour markets, located communities, and to a more limited extent bounded nation states. Capital evades long-term commitment to place and the emplaced (Flusty, 2004:31[7]) in the rush to dispose of its surplus. The system has to expand[8]. >> Brittle City << Buildings are destroyed rather than adapted – erasure trumps evolution (Sennett, 2006b, also Jacobs, 1993:258-9[9]) – a metamorphosis rushes onward, changing the texture of living, the whole feel of things (Zerzan, 2006). Learning is banished[10]. Buildings, space and planning under radical monopoly are arthropodan, with growth only possible by way of metamorphosis – definite moults, a process of tearing down and building up[11] – so that the external straitjacket can be shed. Everything is the same until it is violently abolished. However, the intermediate catastrophe[12] of metamorphosis is too radical to leave lasting memory of any precision in this radical reconstruction – the path from space to place is stymied, forestalled, erased through erasure of familiar landmarks, paths and use accretions (more on this from Tuan, 1977:71) resulting in a permanently blurred space instead of a world richly populated with particular and enduring[13] things (Tuan, 1977:17). Without a past, without a future[14], environments without knowledge because without memory – the proletarianization of space[15].

As the physiological condition for memory and hence for learning seems to be a certain continuity of organization, which allows alteration produced by outer sense impressions to be retained as more or less permanent changes of structure or function (Wiener, 1954:55) this has serious consequences for humane, successful, structures, spaces and cities. Development founded on the metamorphic principle must be substantially perfect from the beginning[16] (as there is no opportunity for learning) and its consumption (use) must be consummated in full and on the spot (Bauman, 2000:95[17]).  Feedback mechanisms related to the human(e) are limited; there is no room for trial and error, no learning from mistakes and no hope of another go[18] – deep personalization (see e.g. Berardi, 2009a:88-9l; Sennett, 2006a:esp125-8) cannot be relied on to see it through uncertain futures – the result: Efficient but not Resilient; Environments incapable of the constant adjustments, adaption and permutation that make up the processes of life. Interaction is redundant[19]. Humans are excluded from participation-through-use in the evolution of their environmental conditions, excluded from fashioning experiences in which they cause their milieu to evolve (Stiegler, 2010:37 see also Latour, Verbeek). Rigidity limits spatial intelligence while the (human) fluidity that allows for almost indefinite expansion (Wiener, 1954:57) is destroyed.

[1] Quoted in Stiegler (2010:26-7).

[2] Wiener (1954:57)

[3] See also Pickles (2004), esp Part III The over-coded world, p74-141.

[4] The basis of uncertainty for the rest (Bauman, 2000:121).

[5] Swyngedouw (2011:31).

[6] Bauman (2000:125 citing Thompson)

[7] Flexism.

[8] David Harvey. See Harvey and Robles-Duran (2011:35).

[9] “Finally comes the decision, after exhortations to fix up and flight blight have failed, that the whole thing must be wiped out and a new cycle started…. A new corpse is laid out. It does not smell yet, but it is just as dead” (Jacobs, 1993:259).

[10] Both the learning of space in path to place, and the continuous piecemeal adaption of physical environments to use. Experience (Tuan, 1977:9) is impossible. Psychological accommodation to change becomes difficult and we ourselves begin to die, inwardly (Dick, 1978).

[11] Modern urban environments decay much more quickly than urban fabric inherited from the past. As uses change, buildings are now destroyed rather than adapted; indeed, the over-specification of form and function makes the modern urban environment peculiarly susceptible to decay. The average lifespan of new public housing in Britain is now forty years; the average lifespan of new skyscrapers in New York is thirty-five years (Sennett, 2006b) and housing in Japan rarely lasts past thirty (Tsukamoto). See generic city and aging (Koolhaas).

[12] Rupture.

[13] The rich, enduring, human(e) is prohibited, yet in each metamorphosis the routine, the programmed (thus dominated, weak), use remains. What is volatile and uncertain (and therefore dominant, powerful) to the human is the metamorphic development of the environment.

[14] Baumann (2000:95).

[15] After Stiegler (2010:35, 37-38)

[16] Wiener (1954). Baumann (2000:95). Also e.g. Ward (2003). A key aspect of craftsmanship is learning how to get something right. Trial and error occurs in improving even seemingly routine tasks; freedom to make mistakes is necessary (Sennett, 2006a:127).

[17] Discussing the meeting of strangers in the city.

[18] Wiener, 1954:61. See also Baumann (2000:95).

[19] Bauman (2000:105) discussing ‘public, but not civil’ places.