6. Events: The Turning Point

Part of what puzzles me about our current approaches to text is summarized in the emphasis on event in Tschumi's work. Without event, Tschumi argues, architecture lacks importance and meaning:

there [is] no architecture without event, no architecture without action, without activities, without functions (p. 255).

The combination of hetergenous events in spaces is where not only meaning is made, but where meanings are brought together, changed, affected, disputed, and made multiple; it is where hidden repressions are surfaced, where violences are perpetrated but also where healing is done.

If we skip ahead to the figure titled "Biddy Mason's Place," Edward Soja reproduces the work of Donna Graves to "[recreate] Biddy Mason's symbolic Place in the history and geography of Los Angeles" (Soja, p. 188). In Graves' reconstruction of Mason's place, she recounts and makes real again the historyh of Biddy Mason, a nineteenth-century slave who who became an influential and powerful figure in the creation of early LA culture. Grandma Mason, as Soja recounts it in his postmodern geography, Thirdspace, worked as a "midwife, nurse, educator, nurturer, and entrepreneur, a forceful figure engraining an an assertive Black presence in Los Angeles" (Soja, p. 190).

Or consider the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, a place-event that calls on particants to complete its spaces and dynamics with their own particular responses as they witness (in roughly the religious sense) the carved names and dates in the reflective mirror of the memorial).

The turning point, then, the event in but not necessarily about texts, is what postmodern architecture can help us think about. We look at texts, we think about them, we talk about them, we write new ones--but we are only rarely in texts with each other, making meaning, taking action, working both within and without the text as a postmodern space. Here is the third exception, one I promised to get back to and one that I said I was more optimistic about, the growing use and development of MOOs in writing classes. But in order to move past our initial fascination with such spaces, we need to make them common. There is much promising work going on this area, and its initial marginalization is giving way to reluctant acceptance. And in MOOs and in our thinking about them I see us working toward a postmodern architecture of text, even if we don't yet consider it that way.

Plan for Biddy Mason's Place Event (by Graves, from Soja Thirdspace)

Vietnam Veteran's Memorial (from Isenstadt)


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