The optimism emanating from the opening quote, which I fundamentally share, confronts a grim landscape of universal cynicism, toxic capitalism and liberal, fake ethics. Those seem to be the reigning kings of the world we live in. Or in other words, shit-is-fucked-up-and-bullshit. The sentence, as found in the placards of some of the Occupy protesters, can be read in different ways. On the one hand,
one could see it as the epitome of modern cynicism, which Sloterdijk has famously described as “enlightened false consciousness”2 ; in this case, the informed consciousness that ‘shit is fucked up’, i.e. things are going quite bad and everything is out of control, we are not in control – no one is in control – and those in power are ‘bullshitting’ us while selling out to investors. There is no way out… we can’t do anything but continue expressing our cynical critique and turning our back on reality to focus on our own, already difficult, survival. On the other hand, the sentence could also be understood as the necessary denunciation of an unacceptable state of things, a loud cry that signals a profound disappointment and acts as the starting point of a search for justice, one that could thrust things towards what Simon Critchley has recently called an ethics of commitment and political resistance.3
It is certainly an active stance that I believe we should take, and one that avoids falling on the side of active nihilism: it is not about bringing this world down, destroying it and putting a new one in its place, but rather about transforming it radically from within. We have to imagine (and make become) another future, using the imaginative space of architecture, through the direct engagement in here-and-now situations. My suggestion is that sharing, displacing, caring might be important and necessary ingredients of such a demanding endeavour. In what follows below, I will try to sketch out what I mean by each of those verbs and the implications of such a performative approach for spatial practices.
Baunach, Germany: Spurbuchverlag , 2013. 272-283 p.