LOCUS: index of works

an archive of articles, publications, papers-in-progress, and short writings authored by Donald Kunze

The Boundary Language Project was initially sponsored by a Shogren Foundation Grant and has since been expanded through grants/fellowships from U. at Buffalo, LSU, University of Pennsylvania, and Penn State. Boundary Language is an interdisciplinary notation system designed to explore the overlaps between architecture, film, landscape, literature, and the visual and performing arts. This collection includes original works, mostly short essays, drafts, readings for courses, and essays prepared for specific projects. Much of the material is redundant and some is incomplete. Some items are reprints that are available only for use in compliance with copyright law protecting restricted use for educational purposes. For questions about reproduction and circulation, contact the author, Donald Kunze ( Generally, special characters are not shown correctly on web-page presentations of PDF files. Download or use Firefox. Please contact Kunze for permission to quote from, reprint, or use texts, files, or images.



A seminar at WAAC (Virginia Tech's Alexandria Center) focused on a revised reading of the Vitruvian virtues in light of Jacques Rancière's concept of dissensus, Lucretius's De Rerum Natura, Freud's death drive, Todd McGowan's Enjoying What We Don't Have, and the rhetorical figure of metalepsis.

Work on encadrement, enunciation, extimity, and other boundary considerations is being collected in a longer work, Atlas of the Obverse. In the style of an atlas, "maps" are presented on one side, a text/commentary on the other. This project merges the idea of the atlas with that of the "grimoire," the magic texts that prolipherated in the first centuries of Christianity and again during the Renaissance. The grimoire is a matter of how a text is used rather than how it was intended to be interpreted or used, as is the present-day practice of using the Bible as a book for swearing oaths. In addition to the Atlas there is a running journal, 365 short commentaries on the project and its problem, and a monograph treating special problems relating the sexuation, negation, and fathers. A practical guide/summary of the Atlas methodology related to architecture education is provided in the short essay, "Architects Should Be Idiots." The Atlas provides a system of "horizontal mapping" as opposed to maps created from "zenithal authority." The idea is to move from the vertical to vertigo.

This theme is enlarged in the series of workshops/tutorials designed to use the studio system of education as a personal development strategy, for non-architects as well as architects, landscape architects, geographers, writers, and students in all those fields. This transfer from professional studio to personal study is mediated by three systems: (1) Harold Bloom's system of six aspects of the "anxiety of influence," made famous in his 1973 work of the same name; (2) the Roman philosopher Lucretius's theory of flow in his De rerum natura; and (3) Henry Johnstone's Categories of Travel, a little known work that used the journey as a metaphor of learning and experience. Bloom's system employs Lucretius's flow in focusing on the limits of learning and experience as a model of the divided spaces and times employed by works of art. Johnstone's travel categories translate all this into another metaphor involving movement, the personal journey, which he begins with Odysseus but which we can add the programs of W. F. Sebald and Bruce Chatwin. Follow this link to the index of files in the "architecture studio (and theory) for idiots" project.

A summary of the Fall 2012 semester's beta-trial seminar of the architecture-for-idiots idea can be found in the form of an "exceptions table," cryptic but synoptic. This PDF summarizes Lacan's four discourses with respect to the "detached virtuality" that operates in the >360º mark of the Goldfish Paradigm. The table's ideas are elaborated in a short supplemental essay. You had to be there.

A second edition of the book, Thought and Place: The Architecture of Eternal Place in the Philosophy of Giambattista Vico, oriignally published by Peter Lang in 1987 but out of print, is being prepared. A PDF of the new book-in-progress is be available on the LOCUS site.

An entirely independent project was initiated with a short essay on "The Open Mind Project," an outgrowth of the Commonplace Conferences initiative of 2011. This consolidates early work on Vico and some findings in the Atlas to aim at a "clinical field" where the state of the open mind can be cultivated and shared. While the main idea is to formalize a system of practices that sustain productive modes of thinking that are applied individually, the aim is to combine projects and discussions in an annual colloquium. A new check-list and evaluation template has been developed to formalize the latest ideas of enunciation. Download a blank form to evaluate films, buildings, landscapes, novels, whatever, to open your mind to new possibilities.

From the last boundary language seminar (2011), a series of notes and drafts aims to incorporate the Aristotelian ideas of tuche and automaton into an 'operational' methodology that converts transitive conditions (appearant causalities) into 'extimate' cross-overs that derive from the 'Lacanian uncanny'. In brief, Lacan's extimate can be traced back to Vico's imaginative universal and from thence to Hegel's under-appreciated comments on phrenology. Freud and Lacan make some use of the cultural forms of the uncanny but neither connect Jentsch's 'primitives' (the dead thing that refuses to die, Da, and the living subject with a kernel of death/fate at its center, Ad). To do so allows interesting connections with popular culture examples and conditions and the Lacanian matheme for fantasy, $◊a, via the routes of anxiety and separation. Lacan's 'double inscription' becomes, in these transfers, the idea of ecadrement, or double/multiple framing. A graphic account of encadrement takes issues of causality into the visual-temporal field, where works of art, architecture, and place provide cultural laboratories for viewing these phenomena in action. Frame analysis of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive and Chesterton's 'The Queer Feet' are now available. It's only fair to turn this analytical method loose on the Lacanian field in general, where five terms work as 'ciphers' to connect psychoanalysis to the products of popular culture and the arts.

The Ultimate Cheat-Sheet

Boundary language is, and aspires to be, heterological. Its ideas are scattered all over the place, philosophically, terminologically, and methodologically. With apologies to those who experience considerable pain during the process of assimiating any collection of the corpus, this two-page review combines key aspects of boundary language into a set of linked diagrams and captions, none of which will mean very much until you have tried to make some headway into a few of the formidable domains — the Freudian unconscious, the Jentschian uncanny, the Lacanian discourses. Ouch!

The Plus-Ultimate Cheat-Sheet

The system of Aristotelian causality includes four 'normative' economies (formal cause, final cause, efficient cause, material cause), which is OK if all goes well, but literature and art, where mirrors, cliffs, and hidden passageways are the norm complicate the natural system with aleatory, magic actions involving tuché (human affordance, coincidence, and opportunity) and automaton (natural accident). Taken as a 'rule of six', the full Aristotelian system offers an interesting map of elements — a sequence of 'angles' that hinge suppression and expression, metonymy and metaphor. The consequences for the system of discourse are interesting: we see how (re-)contextualization can create folds and twists in the S2 sequence that allow the unconscious to have its 'acousmatic' voice. A short essay on tuche, automaton, and the inside frame is essential for decoding this somewhat complex system.

Enoncé / Enunciation

The subject of extimacy is closely related to the Lacanian distinction beween utterance (énoncé) and enunciation-enunciat-ING (the act of speech, in its entirety). In short, Lacan shows how the effect (the act) can be a cause. This invites a comparison to the system of three 'Aristotelian mathemes' relating the four classic causes (efficient, final, formal, material) and the two sources of chance, automaton and tuche, to the Lacanian discourses (hysteric, analysis, university, master) as well as to the operations of fantasy and the famous 'subjective object', the partial object-cause of desire. This master diagram offers a fill-in-the-blank option to relate Vico's logic of the 'imaginative universal', by which the first humans imagined the sky to be the body of a god and the thunder to be the first 'half-speech' word of god. Click here for an INDEX of énoncé treatments. For a more visual approach to the same issues, see the translation to frame analysis, more sympathetic to architectural, visual arts, and literary analysis.

Enoncé: The Queer Feet

G. K. Chesterton's short story has it all: acousmatics, the suppressed 'a' element, architecture … all you need to go through the 'Aristotelian mathemes' with or without the help of Dr. Lacan. Make sure to read the short story before you try it yourself. A frame analysis of 'The Queer Feet' shows how enunciation creates a spatial-acousmatic structure that manages the components of anxiety (theft) and separation (redemption) in ways appropriate to this famous literary detective-priest.

Enoncé: Simonides' Invention of Artificial Memory

This analysis shows what has not been discovered before this point: that the method of mnemonic places is chiastic, and the story about its invention is itself chiastic. This is revealed not just through a placement of story elements along the Λ-shaped diagram but an analysis in terms of discourse/enunciation and the idea of the (Lacanian) extimate. The frame analysis of the Simonides tale reveals a striking role of Hegel's contention that 'spirit is a bone': phrenologists are, like the mechanical users of the art of memory, using an image of place, not the raw materiality of place that is spiritualized 'in retroaction'. The proof if this is that the really effective memory systems (Metrodorus of Scepsis, Ramón Llull) were empty and non-hierarchical, as opposed to the highly romanticized systems of the Renaissance (e.g. Fludd).

Enoncé: 'Mulholland Drive'

David Lynch's famous 2001 film employs the method of 'chiastic' mnemonic places, and the two stories created with its application are themselves chiastic. This is revealed not just through a placement of story elements along the Λ-shaped diagram but an analysis in terms of discourse/enunciation and the idea of the (Lacanian) extimate. See also the essay, 'Building of Rooks'. The frame analysis of Mulholland Drive reveals the necessity of a double death-dream to accommodate the mulitple criss-crosses of narrative and the role of the four 'acousmatic enclosures' where speech is riddled (the Cowboy), whispered (Mr. Roque), truncated (the engagement dinner party), or negated entirely (Club Silencio).

Enoncé: Poe's 'The Purloined Letter'

This famous short mystery by Edgar Allan Poe tells of a letter that is concealed by leaving it out in plain sight. Naturally, this attracted Lacan, who devoted a chapter of Ecrits to the story. The scholar Richard Kopley has discovered and desribed Poe's use of chiasmus in creating internal ciphers that match the 'odd' and 'even' sides of the narrative, making it grist for the matheme's mill.

Enoncé: Categories of Travel

In Henry W. Johnstone, Jr.’s identification of the ‘categories of travel’, travel is distinguished from other kinds of motion in terms of the ‘authenticity’ of the relationship between the traveler and the travel environment; travel is related to knowledge and representation and both are related in turn to pleasure as a surplus/lack or ‘gap’ that cannot be closed, because this gap is related to the home left behind. Travel requires a ‘construction’ of the representational experience, made by two ‘vectors’, one representing the artifacts that support representation, another standing for the structure and result of representation. The formal aspect of this representation is the construction of a self-guide, principles of travel that seem to be derived empirically but actually recovered, as implicit components of the apparent accidents of travel. Frame analysis of Johnstone's categories suggests a basis for even non-travel narrative, where action and exposition, (perspectival) planning and (contingent) local conditions, continually re-form the travel project in episodes of experiment to test the 'authenticity' of travel.

Enoncé: Vico's New Science

Vico and Lacan 'go together' as if one were the reincarnation of the other — but in which historical direction? Each has a set of master keys to their ideas, and the locks, if not the keys, are identical: the extimate, the theory of discourse, mi-dire — these Lacanian geodesic points correspond to Vico's imaginative universal, ideal eternal history, and theory of reading. The benefit of this connection is indirect: no Lacanians or Vichians seem to have discovered this yet.

Enoncé: Architecture

Does architecture have an 'enuncating/énoncé structure? The payoff would be a means of analyzing the move from 'conventionalized' architectural meanings assigned by ideology and functionality to a reception-based field of signification guided by the 'mathemes' drawn from the system of six Aristotelian causes. This temporalizes (experientializes) architecture, making architecture a verb rather than a noun.

Frame Analysis: Lacan

This visual protocol resembles Lacan's account of the gaze, the 'fourth' of Lacan's system of five partial objects(breast, shit, phallus, gaze, voice). In a famous diagram, the gaze is symmetrically opposite the direction of the subject's look. Its point is a blur or rupture in the subject's visual field. This corresponds to a vanishing point, but with a much more portable range of actions (i.e. not limited to the horizon) and roles (it can be acousmatic as well as visual). R1 and R2 are managed by two frames, F1 and F2, respectively. Between the two frames, a radically anamorphic condition pervades spaces and objects. This can be modeled as a square-wave function, where there is no mediation between two alternative appearances/identities, as in the case of twins. Read first the application of frame analysis to Lacan's theory of the subject itself, to see how a set of five 'ciphers' is used to serve as a visual protocol and bridge connecting the evidence of the Freudian-Lacanian clinic to popular culture, the arts, literature, architecture, and landscape. To see an explanation of frame theory in terms of Lacan's theory of enunciation, see this analysis of Jacques-Alain Miller's essay on Lacan's term of inversion, extimité.

Frame Analysis: Polythetic Method

Frame Theory is a method that disavows, from the beginning, what most methods regard as essential: the guarantee of consistent outcome. Such methods are called ‘monothetic’, partly on behalf of this goal. Polythesis deals, however, with an ‘imperfect’ world where single effects can be the product of multiple causes, where single causes have multiple and changing effects, where some effects become causes and vice versa.Polythetics is not relativism. It does not endorse pragmatic approximations of theory. It invests in the embedded polysemy (sliding) of the signifier and the ‘structure of the unconscious as language’ as a means of precision and determinacy but cites representations of theory as inherently inadequate, hence Lacan’s use of mi-dire (half-speech) and Vico’s employment of the ‘unreliable narrator’ technique in The New Science. The ‘science’ of the New Science is actual; practical. It is knowledge in terms of the fate of thought, its historicity and utopias (and dystopias).

Other Frame Analysis Examples

The double frame returns to boundary language's primary formation, the 'bolagram' (BOundary LAnguage diaGRAM), where five elements (double frame, acousmatic enclosures, internal defects, anamorphic functions and a suppressed artifact) relate enunciation, with its internal split between énoncé and performative enunciating give Lacan's three domains (symbolic, imaginary, Real) their own space to construct (imaginary) fantasies.

the double frame as the symbolic, imaginary, and Real
frame theory and the global versus the local
the space of hysteria: North by Northwest
stereognosis and propriocept (left and right issues)
frame analysis: Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train
frame analysis: Fassbinder's Veronika Voss

The Intimate of the World

This essay is devoted to the the Lacanian idea of extimacy on the occasion of a conference on the Virtue of the Virtual, McGill University, May 2011. I also involve the Lacanian ideas/motifs of 'between the two deaths', mi-dire, and the discourses, particularly the discourse of hysteria, as a counterweight to the usual claims made on behalf of parametrics as an 'autopoiestic' science. For preparatory notes see False Azure.

Sculpture on Stage

A panel at Tyler School of Art, held on the occasion of an exhibit by Lead Pencil Studio (Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo) of Seattle focuses on the relations of sculpture and architecture. The key text in this case is Rosalind Krauss's famous essay in October, 'Structure in the Expanded Field'. This essay wonders why Krauss, at times a 'good Lacanian', missed the opportunity to connect to the Lacanian idea of the extimate, a subject specified by the 'location' of the Mirror Stage, which in so many ways combines her interest in sculpture's new captions: the site construction, the marked site, axiomatic structure, and sculpture proper. The essay is in two parts: Part 1: A Reading of Rosalind Krauss’s Essay, ‘Sculpture in the Expanded Field’. Part 2: Obversion, Chance, and the Unconscious of Optics.

Flash! Pop!

Giorgione's mysterious painting, La Tempesta, is the occasion to reflect on Lacan's extimate as an economy of the temporal. Involved: a strategic arrangement of the Aristotelian causes and a (Lacanian) explanation of the relations between the four main causes (efficient, final, formal, material) and the sources of chance, natural (automaton) and human (tuché).


How does one get from the Jentschian uncanny (with its polar cases of death and life 'inscribed' within each other) to the four forms of (Lacanian) discourse? The trick lies in seeing the themes of separation and anxiety, the twin 'modes' of fantasy, as two ways of ordering networks of signification in relation to the subject's traumatic confrontation of the Real. This ten-step plan is expanded into a generic 'methodology' that suggests all reseach is bi-modal, with work to be done at the conscious (tuché) and unconscious (automaton) levels. But, first, read the brief definitions of the different modalities of contemporary research.

Laying Ghosts

Fantasies exist to be exorcised, but their hold on to their fragile existence is so ferocious that they appear, by virtue of this strength, to be permanent. Pushing and pulling them off their territory requires the discovery of the physics of their tenaciousness, but what is this struggle for, exactly? This essay links Vico's verum-factum ('we know truth in terms of what we have made') to Lacan's and Freud's 'uncanny' idea of the extimate (subjective objects, objective subjects) and comes to terms with the multiple applications of the idea of anamorphosis as cipher.


The Talking Board Project

The origin of talking boards, probably in fourth-century BCE China, has created a long tradition of divinatory use of user-generated 'texts'. Skeptics may prefer to explain the effectiveness of talking boards ('Ouija Board', the modern version) in terms of 'cold reading' or auto-projection, but the logic of the boards seem ready-made for boundary language's conversion of the six Aristotelian causes into diagram form. Paricularly, the role of tuche and automaton, two forms of chance, open up the system of standard four causes to the same kind of revelation that Lacan intended for his four 'standard' forms of discourse. Combining Aristotle and Lacan diagramatically is the first step in a novelization of the adventures of an architectural studio who, finding an antique talking board in the Porta Portese market, discover its relationships to architectural theory stemming from the 15c. Veneto and earlier. In a novel, conspiracy theories do not have to be avoided simply because they cannot be entirely debunked. This multi-level project includes a web site, consulting collaborations, exhibits, faked artifacts, and possibly even symposia in the spirit of Borges' "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius." See the Lacanian-Architectural talking board combining four films, four sets of 'avatars', and the employment of the Aristotelian 'causes' of accident (tuche, automaton) as dynamic interpretants. The circular mechanism of the discourses is demonstrated in the simplified movie, "big wheel." A discourse-architecture 'workpad' is available for personal divination projects. For personal use, see workpad instructions, a short list of definitions and advice. Divinatory criticism, using the workpad, has been applied to the Hitchcock film, North by Northwest, revealing a hitherto undiscovered role of acousmatics and doubles.

The Dark Side of Desire

The dystopian film festival held at Penn State (Institute for the Arts and Humanistic Studies) was the occasion for this short essay on eugenics, the filmic gaze, the automated pleasure of the Other, and the geographic organization of fantasy.

Discourse as Architecture

This extended essay attempts to establish a 'study method' that combines the four Lacanian discourses with the 4+2 Aristotelian causes to create 'cosmograms' as templates to write 'Turing sentences' — provocative statements to direct thought and research in the re-imagining of key works as well as the creation of new ones.

Discourse Architecture, Part 2

Part 2 of 'Discourse as Architecture' employs two key diagrams, the first of which operates in the role of a 'scholar's cosmogram', a diagramatic guide to thought in light of Lacanian discourse's relationship to the Aristotelian set of six causes (formal, final, material, efficient, tuche, and automaton).

Studio Performance: the Huge/Tiny Ghost Studio

Does a ghost architecture precede the actual design and construction of real buildings? Plato thought so, in his articulation of a retro-actively generated form/idea that comes from an 'elsewhere'. In this sense, architecture is the result of divination, and its mirror is the ruin, as recognized by such major figures as Soane and Piranesi. This proposal for a performance of the classic architecture school studio aims to show that performance is at the heart of architecture to begin with.

Tuche and Automaton

It is commonly said that Aristotle identified four causes (formal, final, material, efficient) but his Physics clearly cites two additional causes related to chance: tuche (the affordance related to living beings) and automaton (the 'blind chance' of material objects). Lacan took special interest in these and so should we, as a means of connecting the issue of motive to the Freudian drive (Trieb) and the partial objects that structure the time and space of this drive.

Chiasmus, Artificial Memory, and the Arts of Arrangement

This essay, published in the journal Nexus: Mathematics and Architecture, summarizes the relation of the arts of memory to architecture's central use of metaphor and metonymy. The key is the rhetorical figure of chiasmus, seen here through a Lacanian lens that explains how the theater, especially the 'universal theater' of Giulio Camillo, continues to connect architecture to the larger cosmos on one hand and the micro-concerns of the subject on the other.

The Master's House

The master is whoever has a 'house' — meaning an architecture that facilitates — but later explicates and undermines — mastery. The architecture of this house positions the master and his house with respect to the space around it, both in material and ideological terms. This essay is intended for an anthology on the 'unconscious of architecture', edited by Nadir Lahiji.

The Missing Guest

The popular-culture image of hearth as the center of the home has a curious history. The hearth was the primordial place of cooking. Yet, ancient Greeks and others sought above all to shield the hearth from the view of visitors. The hearth localized the spirits and voices of the dead. As European cultures evolved customs and spaces to accommodate strangers, the family home retained many vestiges of this worship of ancestors and household gods. The secular home opened itself to guests but its topography protected the hearth’s sacred relations to wives and daughters and made cuisine and domestic space two parts of the same design. This is a draft of “The Missing Guest: The Twisted Topology of Hospitality,” in Eating Architecture, ed. P. Singley and J. Horwitz (Cambridge: MIT, 2004), pp. 169-190. Figures not included.

Natural Attitude versus the Uncanny

This essay, intended for an anthology that was never published, introduces the Freudian-Lacanian uncanny as a portal for a new synthesis of interests in the 'spatial fields' — geography, architecture, landscape architecture, etc.

Anamorphosis, the Imaginary, Alchemy

[Excerpt]: When Leonardo da Vinci advised art students to spend time gazing at stains on walls, in order to find scenes, portraits, landscapes, etc. hidden in their blurs and smudges, he was giving away a key secret about stochastic resonance, the subject’s relation to the other, and the imaginary. Leonardo, the hero of representational art, was thus in many ways a proto-Surrealist, anticipating the modern Surrealists’ (and ‘Pataphysicians’) flirtations with chance and the unconscious. Even more curiously, however, he was a proto-Lacanian, giving out valuable advice about the imaginary and its alliances.


A large number of essays have accumulated around the seminar, 'Boundary Language', which has run since 1986. The best search method for these is the boundary language web site. A more compact but limited list is given by the index to downloadable essays.


Aposiopesis is the figure of speech that terminates speech, calling for the power of silence to replace the rattle of discourse from subject to subject and the correlative use of discourse as a "model" for "interrogating/valuing" the object. Far from being the justification for a negative response or a purism dedicated to the heroic material gestures of mute art, aposiopesis is the most eloquent of rhetorical tricks. By breaking off suddenly, a wave of feeling (let's call it pleasure-pain) rushes into the gulf created by the reversal of what's expected.

Anacoluthuthic Pathway

What is thought? The difficulty of the question lies in the abundance of analogies of thought that offer misleading comparisons. In the study of neurologically ‘brain-dead’ patients, the test of cognition has been to begin sentence with a word with a main conventional meaning that is reversed by the ending of the sentence: ‘The shell was … (thinking of sea-shells) … fired at the tank’ (Groopman, 2007). The secondary meaning is virtually present but has to be revived as context shifts. Rhetorically, this is the figure of the anacoluthon, which can be diagramed as chiasmus’, the V-shaped figure of double meanings. The broad temporal and spatial aspects of chiasmus show how meaning’s ‘gold standard’ may in effect be equivalent to the Turing test’s ‘minimum cognitive estimate’, a path-way of exchange that, lacking further evidence, substantiates ‘thought’ without reference to external analogies …

Four Types of Encadrement

Slavoj Zizek describes the results of the flaw in causality in terms of a blurring, overlap, or gap (they amount to the same thing) between the rigidly separated categories of subject and object. The frame, which would seem to be the ideal device for maintaining this separation, conspires to form this blurring, overlapping, and gap when it doubles itself in the practice of encadrement. Because there are four main strategies of this doubling of the frame, there are four relations of the artworks employing double frames to the gaze, which is the logical key behind suspension and discovery.

Motion in Poe

In questions of architecture’s and landscape’s function as a medium of transformation, two adjustments are required. First, the idea of transformation should be positioned to appreciate the “pre-Surrealist” status of Poe’s works. Here, transformation takes a simultaneously ultramodern and ancient quality. In Aristotle, the question of truth is linked to the dramatic moment known as anagnorisis — “discovery” — where complexity is compressed from its narrative original into a “spatial” simultaneity.

Screen Theory

Architecture theory is customarily generated from the contingent historical conditions that surround architecture or theory-making itself, but three "methodological" sources have proven very influential, if not revolutionary: (1) the interest in popular culture, introduced most notably by Rudofsky, Banham, and Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour; (2) semiotics/semiology, undertaken by Broadbent and others, developed intensively by Preziosi, and deepened philosophically by Frascari; and (3) film theory, adopted to a variety of uses by a variety of theorists, too numerous to mention. These individual fields have suffered varied fates, but a survey of contemporary cultural studies would find that new theories, even so-called "Post-Theory," have blended and reinstated their predecessors at new and sometimes influential levels.

The Performative

At the base of architecture’s “secular” functional service to everyday life, there is a substrate of performative meanings, some collective, some individual. It is not inaccurate to refer to this substrate as an “architectural unconscious,” or to demand that architecture history and theory be reconstructed around this central and original relationship.

The Architectural Performative and the Uncanny

Any inquiry into the role of the performative in architecture should ask this question: Is not architecture fundamentally performative? Don’t the origins of architecture, viewed as a historical emergence of the human psychic investment in the built environment as well as the “originative” foundational actions taken to initiate buildings, monuments, and cities, suggest that “the performative” as such constitutes the dividing line between architecture and everything else? See reviews of this paper and responses to reviewers' remarks.

Vertigo: An Introduction to the Visual Uncanny

Towers and rooftops seem high, but it is the depths that Scotty fears, the void
beneath that cannot support. Hitchcock connects this fear to winding: the circuitousness of San Francisco city streets, the winding stair in the monastery tower, the curl in the hair in Carlotta’s portrait. In Organs without Bodies: on Deleuze and Consequences (New York: Routledge, 2004), p. 163, Slavoj Zizek notes that the tower is the “point at which the gaze inscribes itself into reality, the point at which the subject encounters itself as gaze.” Hitchcock grasps this point by portraying Scotty’s nightmares in terms of an encounter with his own face, the “subject on stage.” The Vertigo narrative is covered by Vertigo Narrative. Other close readings of part of Vertigo are:

Opening scenes
Judy and the jewel
Cut to the chase

Boundary Language Seminar Notes

Introduction to the seminar
The Name
Dead of Night
Rear Window
The pym
The five obstructions
Types of encadrement
Fractal line
Place as unconscious
Zizek on architecture

Other Works Related to the Boundary Language Project

Building of Rooks: 'Mulholland Drive'
Essay on 'The Dead of Night'

Essay on 'Rear Window'
Essay: The Pym
Essay on 'The Five Obstructions' (Von Trier)
The Four Types of Encadrement
The Gap between the Frames
The Name
The Military Labyrinth
The Performative
Reverse Engineering
The Silent Middle: Heterology
Between the Two Deaths as Unconscious
The Unconscious of Place
The (Lacanian) Unconscious


Angel Wings

This essay was presented at Lehigh University in 2004. The official title was “The Voice in the Landscape and in the Wall." This title was in honor of Anthony Viscardi's sculptural-architectural works.

The Anxious Landscape

Written for the Symposium on the Terrain of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 2004.

Architecture and Its Doubles

This essay was based on an original presentation, “Architecture and Its Doubles: Iteration, the Fourth Wall, and Suture in the Impossible Topography of ‘Mulholland Drive’ and ‘North by Northwest’, Clemson, SC. This version has been revised, without references to several of the films reviewed in the original, for an anthology edited by Beshir Kenzari on Architecture and Violence: Reception and Reproduction. It's new title is The Topography of Fear: Architecture's Fourth Walls and Inside Frames.

"Normally, architecture is seen as dwelling in a Newtonian-green equilibrium whose ideally smooth spatial grid is bent by violent events such as wars, plagues, earthquakes. A second view holds that violence itself takes on specifically spatial forms, such as the dynamics of Panopticism described by Foucault. My third position proposes that architecture itself inscribes, at a precise center, elements that function as an “inside frame,” able to convert “privation” (natural limits of perception, subjectivity, etc.) into “prohibition” (ideology, moral mandates, political cause, artistic tension). This “obversion” is illustrated by two commonplace but opposite examples: (1) the wartime destruction of domestic spaces, where walls are ripped away to expose, painfully, the former intimacies of private family life; and (2) the cut-away sets of cinema that insert the audience into a “fourth wall” of media production. Either case inverts — through comedy as effectively as tragedy — rules of perceptual space and time, but the real violence of such flips is revealed by the discovery that the rupture was there “all the time,” a fragile fracture waiting to give way. Fear is not just the breakdown of homeliness; it is an uncanny return to a primal condition."

Aristotle's Causes

Each of the classic four Aristotelian causes involves a double structure dividing the interests of representation and the strategies of construction.

Aristotle's Causes, Part II

This is an incomplete extension of the Aristotelian four causes to the question of motive, expanded by the (Medieval) interpretive system known as the quadrigia.

Babel and Hitchcock

A series of essays addressed primary questions of language using the topology of Hitchcock films, mainly Rear Window. See also Babel and Rear Window: Architectural Models from New Media.