The Anxiety of Relations: Risk in Heidegger's Experience with Language for Architecture and Philosophy

Stephen Loo
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This paper proceeds from a reading of the relation between language and being in Heidegger's 1958 lectures "The Nature of Language" with implications for the limits of philosophical production and architectural theory. Heidegger's call to "undergo an experience" with language is an engagement with what language communicates beyond the order of the signified. Such engagement requires suppositional thinking whereby the belief in closure between word and thing (being) is renounced, allowing the word to be heard as word in its materiality or 'fact.' What arises in this listening is ontologically indeterminate. Suppositional thinking risks philosophy's integrity as a modality of truth and reason. It challenges philosophy's role in architectural theory, even in the most basic possibility of translation. In architecture, Rem Koolhaas's theoretical productions such as the Harvard Project of the City, with its uncanny leitmotivs of "shopping" or "density", allow the reader to undergo an experience in which the correspondence between language and thinking possesses an essential uncertainty. The paper argues that Koolhaas' projects, with accompanying dialectics of image, hold in abeyance semantic determination, and allows language to 'self-present' itself. The projects are risky in their suppositional character; a risk that must be taken according to Heidegger, towards a greater potential of language revealing its essential nature to us, and landing thinking in a postmetaphysical experience with language. The 'hesitation' immanent in suppositional thinking following the ungroundedness of relation between word and thing constitutes a spatio-temporal – hence architectural – opening that marks the 'taking place' (taking/time-place/space) of the relation itself. Koolhaas's architectural theory work is 'philosophical' by virtue of its architectural immanence, and rehabilitates the relations that were put in question earlier between philosophy and architecture.

Keywords: Language, Suppositional Thinking, Relation, Philosophy, Architecture
Stream: Philosophy, Ethics, Consciousness
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Anxiety of Relations, The

Stephen Loo

Senior Lecturer and Program Director, Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Design, University of South Australia

Steve Loo is a Senior Lecturer and the Program Director of the Architecture Program. He teaches design and theory with specific foci on urban design, cross cultural studies and digital experimentation. Steve's general research interest is on the relationship between ontology and the production of theory. He has published on topics such as banality and the generic within an imperative for a new theory of subjectivity in capitalism; the relations between language, affect and life; image and the machinic as part of a biophilosophy of the contemporary subject, alternative ethico-aesthetic and ecological models for human action; and the indeterminacy of experimental digital thinking. He has also an interest in communities, consultation, and social justice. Steve is a practicing architect and Partner of architectural and interpretive practice Mulloway Studio; and strategic planning, urban design and learning research collaborative partnership Mulloway Fisher. His recent publications include "Choose Technology, Choose Economics: The Ethico-Aesthetic Obligation of the Arts and Humanities", in Innovation and Tradition: Arts, Humanities and the Knowledge Economy, Jane Kenway, Elizabeth Bullen and Simon Robb (eds.) (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2004, and "Koolhaas's 'Generic' and Indeterminate Melancholia" in Additions: 2002 Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand (Brisbane, October 2002)

Ref: H05P0615