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Not less than three
On the contemporary urban environment 1
JÁUREGUI, Jorge Mário 2
VIDAL, Eduardo 3

Sporting activites building, Favela-Bairro, Fubá-Campinho

In conversations about "Ulysses", James Joyce says that if one day, by any chance, Dublin should disappear, the city could be rebuilt through the reading of his work.

Sigmund Freud sees in the stratifications of Rome a similar work to that of the human mind in which the architectonic elements of different times and historical significations live side by side in a whirlwind, despite of the coherence, and creating new relations of senses. Thus, the Eternal city is a metaphor about what cannot be destroyed in the desire of the human being that lives in the unconscious. Then, cities may be seen as written lines sustained only by the traces of the projects and drawings, walls and monuments, writings, legends and graffitts. So layers of writings and series of letters, just like covered writings, remain in "oblivion", awaiting for the reader in latency. And, through the reading, a new dimension of the interpretation of drawing lines, overlaps and folds arises as a specific task related to the "rest", constituted by the urban accumulation to be considered as the heritage of the fragments of various overlapped urbanities.

Jorge Luis Borges uses a metaphor to describe the mythic foundation of his city. In "Palermo de Buenos Aires", he writes: "Fortunately, the abundant style of real is not the only one, there is also the one of memory whose essence is not about the ramification of the facts but about the lasting existence of isolate lines and further on, recovering this almost motionless prehistory would be like ceaselessly elaborating a feature of infinitive processes."4 --- In another occasion, in one of his poems, he writes that each house is a candlestick in which the life of men burns as isolate candles. This brings up an association about the function of the bars in a city like Rosário, in Argentina; these spaces make a certain ritual possible, they are like altars where lives are consumed, this way, it is not about the usefulness of the space but about the desire, about the exposure of the projects of life, that imply the possibility of being something in the future. These places, with their always visible and guessable cores constitute dug spaces where the public and the private mingle and the erasure of the limits between them is a distinguished factor. Places where one can meet other people, where people can share these knowledge and their experiences while they slowly drink some cups of coffee that are a social and cultural patrimony where the value of exchanging prevails over the value of using.

Therefore, after analyzing the tension between the objective reality and the spoken reality, we may conclude that the city is, first of all, a cultural product but it is also a producer of culture.

The inhabitant of the city gets used to the signals through which he walks and wanders. Sometimes a look from the outside is necessary, an allien look that faces the strangeness of the difference and makes what has always surrounded us, emerge. The look that rediscovers the city in every instant, founds it once again. The city deweller is not a contemplator of the constant "devír" of the city, for, inhabiting a city implies in being called to decipher it, to learn to read it, to interpret it, urged to place the part of his desire.

Through Ítalo Calvino we think of the "written city". "in this mute scenario made of rocks there lacks the most characteristic element, still visually, from the Latin culture: the scripture. The city of Rome was a written city."5--- Written city that preserves and offers to the reader, drawings and letters carved on the "concrete". Written city as the writing of the language itself, in a space-time materialization, in a permanent state of whirlwind.

Let us take now as a reference the proposal of the biennial of Venice: "More Ethics, Less Aesthetics." That sounds as a sort of challenge in the sense of meditating about the consequences of our deeds in the core of contemporary culture. We accept the provocation and, starting from this point, we are going to make some considerations.

We add another question to the debate regarding that brings about a tying capable of working as a triggering factor of different associations and new perspectives. Politics relates to some dimensions referred to the materiality of the object - urbanism connected to the statute of the architectonic "body"- and its articulations firstly with the socius , and on the other hand, with the self biographic and secrets aspects of the act of projecting. As a result, there are not less than three dimensions implied in this act.

Ethics leaves aside the great values and ideals and refers to the responsibility of our acts. Ever since Aristotle, the actions of men are guided by ethical principles. The question returns to the subject "did your action obey the issue of your desire? Facing this issue, the act of projecting should be the answer pointing out that it is not about the subjectivity but about a desiring structure strictly articulated with the desire of the Other. Thus, there is nothing either personal or subjective in the answer of the desire but merely the duty of producing a transforming act that tells about the reasons that caused it. Yet we must still consider the paradox of the point of enigma and of not knowing in each act, but this fact does not exempt the subject of its responsibility. Although part of the subject's decisions are taken in a unconscious way, in the freudian sense of the term; it is in this point that emerges the desire and the subject is committed in the act. The answer is such that does not give up the desire in the name of the individual or collective, private or public demands and acomplishes what must be done, including in a trajectory, as says Alain Badiou.

In the twentieth century Aesthetics was profoundly affected. Traditionally considered as the dominium of the beautiful both in Philosophy and in Art, Aesthetics was all about the search for a harmonious image in which man projected his own ideal.

In different ways, the individual was hit in his supposed integrity during the century that is now finishing, having to recognize his radical division, not finding himself in any of the current discourses. This brings up the discussion about the content of the discourses. If the transcendental Aesthetics supported itself in the projection of a unified body, nowadays we are affected by the impossibility of detaching the bodies as surfaces where the pulsation of the desire and the sexuality is registered, in a partial and fragmental way.

The body of this Aesthetic is no longer the one of the machines and of the organs, it is made of the erogenous borders of the desire of the Other. We evocate the twisted images of the body produced by a painter like Francis Bacon that diverts the look to the process of continuous de-formation operated by an enjoyment (jouissance) excluded from the representation by an emptiness in the symbolic in which every sense carries a point of a persistent nonsense.

Consequently, if we understand Aesthetics as a way we feel things and a way we are affected by them, today the act of projecting has to contemplate the shout that resonates from the twist and from the contortions, from the flaws and from the residues of the human beings. It is a challenge to Aesthetics to undermine the habits and the sense of what is always common. The aesthetic dimension implies in a consistence, which is what "exists with", what keeps together, what makes ties between bodies. The pulsation of bodies occurs in the act of projection since the formulation of ideas and drafts - as the interaction between the interpretation of the structure of the place and the processing of the demands- until the transition into volumetric-spatial configurations with the formal distribution of the relationship interior-exterior and public-private. The challenge is to invent a new corporality that is intensely consistent to translate our Zeitgeist.

In the political dimension of the act, we want to highlight the necessity of keeping a criticism of the conditions and commandments of our time. What do we use in the art of leading our actions to reach a goal? Exactly a point of lacking that allows us to discuss the demands and the exigencies of the contemporary discourses. From this point on, and relating it to the field of architecture and to the urban, the question is how to configure the emptiness, according to the treatment of the borders. A topology is required that considers the surface of the projectif plane whose realization in the space of three dimensions is the Moebius strip, where the right and the reverse coincide in each point. This surface of a single border does not limit itself either in or out, as the ant of M. C. Escher shows when it does not stop wandering over it. What topology makes us think is the need to create certain points on the border that are like links that allow us to build complex figures where the opposition in-out, figure-back-ground is replaced by a condition of intense simultaneity.

To build this point as out of line excludes the predominance of the idea of a whole, leaves us alert and aware of the seduction by the proliferation of images. Renovating themselves permanently, these images present themselves as the last perfect and complete version, a version that comes to substitute all the anterior versions willing to make a new markless time and space. The reality shows a real-time "accelerated" face of the suppression of the physical distances and of the interconnection in wider networks. In the present world there are essential elements referring to the speed of information and transportation. These days, the city stands many simultaneous speeds and its experimentations demands of other instruments of composition with new fluxes and connections.

We are facing a new nature of time and space, and our perception is also made of speed. The sound, the light, and the succession of images and messages produce an intuition that works as a principle of speed. In this way, the cities, the contemporary metropolises, function as powerful machines that produce subjectivity. Nevertheless, there is no room for dazzlement, for reality resists rediscovering and when it is not considered it shows up again in its most violent forms of segregation and annihilation. Here, the real must be taken as a cut in this wild proliferation of signals that forces a memory, a scripture. The written city is such that registers the marks of the real, producing a difference, that is a place where one cannot give in, a place of engagement and responsibility, a place where commiting oneself means being "part of".

Two cities are our reference, despite of the radical differences between them: Rio de Janeiro and Berlin. One distinctive line relates one to the other: both of them are fractured cities.

Rio, an anticlassical city "by nature" (or by the nature) does not obey a central scheme; in this place, new urban pieces emerge after each social, technological and economical transformation. The portuguese heritage, populated by African influences, does not present uniformity or continuity. More of a rizhomatous pattern than of a tree, in Rio, the distance between the luxury and the garbage is very small.

In the last decades, its contradictions have been deepening and have become explosive, demanding new concepts and sensibilities in the urban interventions. Nevertheless, the city of Rio resists the real pressures of wild capitalism, and among hills, lagoons and the ocean, its wavy borders have found in Oscar Niemeyer, Affonso Eduardo Reidy and others, a drawing line that unites artifice and nature.

The movie "Berlin-Cinema" by Samira Gloor-Fadel, presents a multi dimensional reading capable of articulating the architecture and the public space with the memory and the happening. In this movie, Win Wenders affirms that the cinema and the urban space are two registers that support the interrogation of the Other: what is it that they want? Here the blank space between two images is relevant. In between the images the space for the contemporary view of intense signification and singular beauty where the emptiness turns out to be a significant space is configured. This city parted by a wall, that is now invisible, is today the battle camp where different concepts of the urban fight against each other. Between those that try to establish illusionary lost urbanities and those who come exclusively as a manifestation of a triumphant capitalism, the city demands the production of a writing line sufficiently consistent to inscribe its history in a permanent "devir".

Returning to Rio, the interventions in the shantytowns reveal the preoccupation with the production of a connection, a bridge that ties, the formal and the informal, the hill and the lower land, creating the perspectives of articulating the urban again. The question asked by Rodolfo Machado about what differs the modern urbanism from the one that we practice now in our interventions in Rio, allowed us to think about the substantial differences between the two of them.

Modern urbanism started from the "tabula rasa", of the lack of consideration of the existent and from the idea that what is concrete (the project) would be the origin of new social relationships (Brasilia, Chandigarh, New Towns, etc). The project was the "cause".

Nowadays, inverting the process, we start from the reading of the structure of each local considered place in its physical (context) and social (established uses) and then we elaborates the assumptions of the project. Now the project is a interference. Through the project, the proposed interventions on the existent, considered as a collective construction, seek to reinforce the latent or exposed centralities, creating new agents of attraction. These centers of urbanities, seen as spaces of living together, contribute to the integration of the life of each community with its surroundings and with the city as a whole.

Under this perspective, urbanizing shantytowns is forcing the chaos until you can convert it into form, starting with the interpretations of the demands of the population intercepting with the architectonic and urbanistic conceptions.

But, what is an architectonic project beyond the drawing line and the style? Even though the projects configure one of its dimensions but they do not conclude the matter; a project is something launched to the future and it implies in accepting some challenges. What we call reality is about a group of signals, and a project is not only about an adaptation to reality, to the existent, it also brings out the possibility of interference, of re-reading, and of re-signification.

New articulations between Ethics, Politics and Aesthetics may contribute meaningfully to the search of a direction to the urban "devir", where the subject meets with the resonance in the super determinations and the three analyzed dimensions permanently tie up without imposing any hierarchy.

In this course, aesthetical paradigm has strong ethical-political implications because one who speaks about creation, speaks about responsibility of the creative instance regarding the created thing, in the influence of the state upon things, and about the fork that takes us to something beyond the preconceived scheme.

Public Library of Manguinhos


1 Published in "O Corpo da Psicanálise", Escola Letra Freudiana N. 27, Rio de Janeiro, 2000, p. 261 letrafreudiana@openlink.com.br

2 Architect-urbanist, collaborator of the Escola Letra Freudiana, Rio de Janeiro
3 Psychanalist, Escola Letra Freudiana.
4 Borges, J. L., "Palermo de Buenos Aires", In Obras Completas. Emecé Editores, Buenos Aires, 1974, p.105
5 Calvino, I, "La ciudad escrita: epígrafes y graffiti". In Colección de Arena, Ediciones Siruela, Madrid, 1998, p119


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