My essay ‘The New Phantasmagoria: Transcoding the Violence of Financial Capitalism’ is being published in The Missed Encounter of Radical Philosophy with Architecture, edited by Nadir Lahiji (Bloomsbury, April 2014).

Here’s a section of the original abstract for my contribution:

If radical thought has thus far largely missed the kind of encounter with architecture that it has had with music—especially as exemplified in its critical engagement with the music of Wagner—then this may be because the work of theory has, until recently, been so inextricably bound up with that of architecture as to render the distance required for such an encounter impossible to achieve.

Since the late 60s architecture has drawn successive manifestations of theory—from semiotics, to postmodernity, through deconstruction and arriving at Deleuzism—into its own discursive frame. Each of these bodies of theory imbued architectural culture with a certain level of radicalism in its appearance, or at least lent it the authority to consider itself in some way ‘progressive’. Of late, however, with its explicit denunciations of criticality, and its turns toward the de-politicised and ‘materialist’ ontologies of figures such as Manuel De Landa, Bruno Latour and Niklas Luhmann, architecture has sought to extricate itself absolutely from the politics of radical philosophy and to reframe its discipline as one informed by and following the very laws of nature.

With this latest turn, architecture’s orientation converges upon a set of organisational models—emergence, self-organisation, complexity, autopoiesis, swarming, etc—that have themselves now been dispersed rhizomatically across the entire social field. The overall effect of this convergence has been to lend contemporary capitalism the appearance of something like a mirror of nature; a reflection in which the miraculating powers of finance capital and the productivity of its distributed networks appear morphologically indistinguishable from those of life itself.



From the publishers:

The Missed Encounter of Radical Philosophy with Architecture brings together a respected team of philosophers and architecture scholars to ask what impact architecture has over today’s culture and society. For three decades critical philosophy has been in discourse with architecture. Yet following the recent radical turn in contemporary philosophy, architecture’s role in contemporary culture is rarely addressed. In turn, the architecture discourse in academia has remained ignorant of recent developments in radical philosophy. Providing the first platform for a debate between critics, architects and radical philosophers, this unique collection unties these two schools of thought. Contributors reason for or against the claim of the “missed encounter” between architecture and radical philosophy. They discuss why our prominent critical philosophers devote stimulating writings to the ideological impact of arts on the contemporary culture – music, literature, cinema, opera, theatre – without attempting a similar comprehensive analysis of architecture. By critically evaluating recent philosophy in relation to contemporary architecture, The Missed Encounter of Radical Philosophy with Architecturepresents a thorough understanding of the new relationship between architecture and radical philosophy.
Table of contents:
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: Philosophy and Architecture: Encounters and Missed Encounters, Idols and Idolatries
1. The Forgotten Political Art par excellence?: Architecture, Design and the Social Sculpting of the Body Politic, Gabriel Rockhill
2. Architecture and the Politics of Aesthetics: Autonomy, Heteronomy and the Philosophy of Art, David Cunningham
3. We Are Already Dwelling: Hegel and the Transcendence of Place, Todd McGowan
4. Kant, Modernity and the Absent Public, Mark Jarzombek 
5. The New Phantasmagoria: Transcoding the Violence of Financial Capitalism, Douglas Spencer
6. Imitating Critique, or the Problematic Legacy of the Venice School, Andrew Leach
7. Gentri-Fiction and our (E)States of Reality: On the Fatigued Images of Architecture and the Exhaustion of the Image of Thought, Hélène Frichot
8. Radical Infrastructure? A New Realism and Materialism in Philosophy and Architecture,Joel McKim
9. Casa Come Me: Rocks, Ruins and Shells in Kracauer and Chatwin, Graeme Gilloch
10. Habit, Distraction, Absorption: Reconsidering Walter Benjamin and the Relation of Architecture to Film, Richard Charles Strong
11. Hetero-Architecture: The Style of ‘Whatever’ in Art, Architecture and Fashion, Rex Butler
12. Architecture and Antiphilosophy, Nadir Lahiji
Architecture’s Theoretical Death: A Conversation with Slovenian Philosopher Mladen Dolar
“This volume questions the long tradition of complacent relationships between architecture and philosophy. It criticises the direct application of philosophy to architectural discourse and the misappropriation of philosophical concepts in architecture. Written by critical philosophers and theorists, the book challenges contemporary architects to think and work differently.” –  Doina Petrescu, Professor of Architecture and Design Activism, University of Sheffield, UK,

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