TRANSCRIPT SEVEN JACQUES DERRIDA, PETER EISENMAN, JEFFREY KIPNIS NEW YORK, OCTOBER 27, 1987

PE This evening should not be too easy a situation for you. We should try to have a little discomfort here. We will all talk about architecture and what was right and wrong about the project. Poor Jacques is here also having to face this discomforting sit­uation of architecture students trying to deal with a philosopher and vice versa. One of the interesting issues is that archi­tects do not really deal with theory today. In fact, they downgradp theory because they think that philosophers take care of those issues for them. In fact, the ideas behind those discourse!» f /always buttressed by philosophy. What is interesting about our work together is that this is probably not the case. Th% <lof us experienced na anxiety in working togeth­er.The last time, we were in Jacques' territory in Paris and I had to speak, Jacques forme 1,- 3 «t I call a "cordon sanitaire" against my detractors in Paris. I should say also that many of our detractors, both mine and his, are in Paris, because I know that he has very few on this side of the ocean. So I do not feel the same obligation tonight to sit next to him on the platform, which he did with me. Instead, I will sit in the front row and hope that you will be very generous and also very responsive to the fact that it is a wonderful experience to ,j him come to Cooper Union and be with architects. I think maybe that it is one of the first times that he as been in an architectural school. JD The very first time. JD It is really the first time. It is some­thing very humiliating for me to be in front of architects and fx \y to speak on architecture, which I won't. Probably you will realize that what I am going to do is avoid the subject. But 1/ :>./, ould take a long time. So initially I was supposed to have had written guestions from you beforehand, but in fact these questions just reached mk :r So I am discovering this set of twenty questions and now, just reading them, I said to Peter, "they constitute the pro git y tpr a two-year seminar." So, what are we going to do. Should I follow one of these questions or are there other questions? JK I think one of the questions was about having worked with Peter and having been involved in a project, have your thoughts about architecture changed? JD The first day I met Peter to work with him I made two preliminary statements: first that I was in foreign territory, architecture, speaking a foreign language, English, and that this would make my participation very uneasy, and probably improbable. And I was right. I made no progress in architecture. And my English has not improved. What was the question? JK More gener­ally what is the relationship between philosophy and anP e' ^ure? It starts off asking you if your philosophy changes? JD I will start with very brutal statements about my relations!« -j,■ /philosophy. First, if yr'1 ^ee me here as a philosopher who by chance has met architecture, is the first mistake. Because what I was doing before 3' .ting Peter Eisenman was not philos­ophy. Of course I have been trained as a philosopher. I am supposed to teach trie rectory of philosophy in my own institu­tions in France. But what I am trying to do is something that strictly speaking could not be called philosophy. What is called deconstruction is something that addresses philosophy but is not part of philosophy. It is a style in questioning philosophy, the origins of philosophy, the limits of philosophy, the axioms of philosophy. But it is not a philosophy, or it is not, strictly speaking, a philosophical discp-u/se. Nevertheless, my main interest was in philosophy and in relation to philosophy. What I have been doing until now watr. /ading philosopherr =>nd writers, literature and philosophy, and trying to form some kind of questions, which are called deconstructive questiorf jv that point of view I was thinking that architecture and philosophy were on the same side. So that if I am not a philosopn^, h deconstructing philosophy, I was not an architect either. Not only because I was not trained as an architect, but because I saw that architecture, as a Western tradition, was sharing the same premises, the same assumptions, the same axioms as, let us say, philosophy or metaphysics as a whole. And so decon­struction, I am going of course very quickly now, deconstruction, if such a thing exists and if it has a unity, which is for me problematic, if it has a unity it is at the same time deconstruction of philosophy, of the Western tradition of philosophy, and deconstruction of architecture, of what is called architecture. The notion of foundation, the notion of system, the hierarchy,

jos of representation, the relation of place to the very conception of place, of dwelling, of the culture in which archi- ^ ,,, rooted, all these were supposed to be questioned by deconstruction. Deconstruction is not only a way of ques- , o,' asking questions, because the question of the question is also a theme for deconstruction. But at least this place U|^fo'"Ti or deconstruct. And first of all the very word deconstruction has something architectural in itself. What is decon- )n? is it simply the way of dismantling a building? In that case the architectonic building of Western philosophy, of ... .oam language, Western culture, etc. So that once you have restructured, destroyed, or dismantled the layers of these ;o-aoa and the organization of these buildings, then finally you discover what would be the foundations. The earth, the ,aooa of the foundations of this building. No! that isej||pt!y the scheme of what has to be deconstructed. That is the ges- . ah'ch would try to disclose the naked ground ofVHnding. Once you have deconstructed you would finally encounter . aic- or disclose what is         jnd of the building. ■WWnis metaphor, that I would call a foundational metaphor, is archi-

—aii/ai Is precisely what i:                   ioned. The opposition between the depth and the surface, the grounding and the ground-

. J. etc. So it is the architecrural metaphor which is very powerful in philosophy. And not only in the form of the differences •• [he ground and the surface but also in the forms of the differences of the arche, that is the beginning principle and what : derives from. Arche, in Plato's article on philosophy, is the search for the premises. These principles are also a scheme a~,at I use to try to question, to deconstruct. So, the deconstruction of phi^^phy should be at the same time the decon- stiucuon of the architectural metaphor, which is at the core of philosophy 'and of the architectural tradition which is philo- t,oph,cal through and through. The subordination of archi|Mfltte to philosophical goals, to religious goals, to political goals, and the political goals are also philosophical goals. All t'^HBiings together are put in question. So that I was inclined to think that architecture wouldn't ^HHne in deconstructing. iTnthe contrary, I have, too, of course I have no architectural con­fidence which goes without savilMBlit I think that in principle architecture wouldn't resist deconstruction. And that it should even be the main target of deconstruction. Those were my assumptions at a certain moment. Then one day, I have to tell a story, one day, everything in my life starts with phone calls, and one day Bernard Tschumi called me. And he told me, well you know some architects are interested in what you are doing and would you be interested in working on a project with my friend Peter Eisenman, a famous architect. I was, of course, very surprised and because I was surprised, because I felt myself totally unable to do such a thing, I said yes. And I met Tschumi and he gave me texts by Peter and others. On read­ing those texts, I mean the discursive texts because I was ai^HHLil am unable to read architectural texts, drawings. I am totally blind when I look at those iexJg-|Mt I am not totally b11clBMri I look at discursive texts. The articles and the theoret­ical texts of Peter and others. So I slVHLreading those texts and my first feeling was that of course there were some analo­gies between what some of these te.lPPiometiiTies were saying and what I was saying. But I was not convinced. They were just using words and the code which is not architectural, and they are just using philosophical, theoretical tools borrowed from deconstructive texts and trying to say something which is not, strictly speaking, deconstructive. And about something which I did not know if it was architectural or not. But I started reading, writing, discussing, etc. And what I finally began to understand is that what they were doing, or what Peter is doing, not only is properly traditional. deconstructive, but shows that if deconstruction means something or is at work soinewhere. th^Ldt does not consist in semantic analysis, discur­sive statements but does something, and I always repeat that derJBHBption is not negative, it is affirmative, it does some­thing, it affirms something. If deconstruction affirms something, is JPPPk and leaves a trace, it does so through that form of architecture. But perhaps the traditional architecture is not right anymore. Perhaps once you have interrupted something in the tradition of architecture having to do with philosophy or theology, perhaps what you do is not architecture anymore. But let us leave the question of the name aside. And why should it be so? Because in that case not only the philosophical assumptions of architecture are deconstructed in that case the value of origin, teleology, archaeology, foundational struc­ture, hierarchy, anthropocentrism, human scale, not only those philosophical or religious assumptions are deconstructed as such, that is as discursive structures, but they are, or they should be, or they are in the process of being deconstructed in the form of real resistances. That is those assumptions, those philosophical premises are not only discourses in books or philosophical teachings or in the library or in what we usually call texts, in the trivial sense of the word. They are embodied in politics, in economics, in what we call culture, in institutions which resist a deconstructive architecture. So if you want to build something that escapes those metaphysical assumptions, if you want to criticize or destroy discursively by speech or writing those assumptions, you will have to overcome the resistances that are embodied in those structures we call politics, culture, economics, technology, etc., conscious or unconscious, certainties, etc. And since I have often been saying that deconstruction does not consist only in a discursive criticism that °hould transform institutions that have to do with political, economic, technical structures, then architecture, what we call Ј s f-cture, to the extent that it cannot build today without overcoming or transforming political, economic, technical structures, </ien the most effective! .?. instructive affirmation goes through architecture to that kind of architecture against another kind of architecture. So f 3 «iht is between two kinds of architecture. And what is at stake in architecture is, of course, not only metaphysics, religion in its discursive form, but also politics, the teaching institutions, the economy, the culture. The negotiations between an architect such as Peter and all the powers which prevent you from building, this negotiation is precisely the place where deconstruction as architecture, or as an architecture, could take place. It is not tljf.,/<j,ily place if you define architecture as a circumscribed activity. Of course, these fights, these political fights, do not take place in schools of architecture or even in the discussion of an architect and a sponsor, or a mayor of a city, or the president of a university r-v .y bank, but through many variations there is a general con­sultation between those political forces and what we call, inj| trict sense, architecture. In this sense it is one of its most visible places. That is what slowly I began to understand, to make more explicit in theЈ :Pss of working, if working is the word, with Peter Eisenman, working in a very passive and lazy way, which is mine. . « >h sacred language should not be conceptual in a certain sense of conceptuality. If by concept you mean a general meaning which is attached to, let us say, a word to mark a signifier so that you have the signifier and the signified and the signified is the meaning which has some generality, it is a concept. And the concept is not exactly the signifier, it is not the mark. In a sacred language you cannot distinguish anymore between the singular utterance or the liberality of the signifier and a general meaning which would remain the same in another language. The concept classically defined is semantic content which could be translated from one language to another while remaining the same. TheP e fept of table remains the same if I say 'table' or 'tisch' through a different signifier, through different words. In that cam. Jf / can distinguish a c^ which is its identity, ideal identity, generality. Table is a generality as distinguished from the signifier of the liberality3' word. And this structure, which dis­tinguishes between the signifier and the signified, implies some instrumentalizatiorf ohu ,e language. The signifier is an instru­ment through which, or with which, you say something which is the semantic content. And the sign is the slave of the mean­ing. The signifier is the instrument of the meaning. It is against these semiotic instrumental conceptions of the language that what can be called a sacred language is defined. In a sacred language the idiom does not leave any place for this distinc­tion between the signifier and signified. It is to that extent that it is sacred; you can reverse the direction of the process. You cannot, in a given languaf /distinguish betwef +he concept and the signifier, between the meaning and the signifier. The language begins to become sacred or to be ex,' <e jced as sacred when you cannot translate, poetry for instance, you cannot translate phrase or text when your relationship'L-what is not translatable is made sacred. 'What about architecture?' Architecture is untranslatable. We cannot omit the fact that the religious foundation of architecture is not simply an accident, or simply a feature among others. At the beginning, if there is such a thing, architecture was through and through sacred. Not only in the temples in which the God, the divinity, should be present, but everywhere. In the city, in the schools, in the houses, of course. The house was conceived in relation to the presence of some divinity, there was a place for the divinity in the house. The same with the graveyards, with the city, etc. Since in principle what would be the signifier in architecture,

it is the irreplaceable event of the walls, the stones, was not representative, was not supposed to be an imitation of some- it was not supposed to be the signifier of something. It was the real presence. To that extent architecture was or would , sacred; architecture, the experience of architecture was a sacred experience. Even if you are an atheist or you do not . /-.i.ove m God, the specific experience of such a place, such a building, would be from the experience of the sacredness in anthropotheological definition of architecture. Now you could oppose this dimension, this anthropotheological dimension, a secular definition of architecture. This is an architecture that would be simply anthropological with no reference to this opposition as an opposition. And the anti-place is defined by the anti-place of the God, the divinity. Nothing in this opposi- . on is really changed. What would change is a way ofjiy^ing, perhaps it would not be architecture anymore. A way of build- ...q that would give up, get rid of this anthropotheolocHHlimension. Which does not mean that it would become secular. So ;nat I would be interestec perhaps, not archite«Pi%r not building. I do not know, an experience of the place, which perhaps would not even bJHning or dwelling. Because dwelling, "wohnen," has to be also questioned as a definition of architecture. An experience of the place which would not be simply secular or sacred in this traditional sense, but which would not simply be opposed to the sacredness; it would be something else. Would that be called architecture? Would the experience of the place be called dwelling? I do not know. And it is this that I do not know that I mean. Of course my answer, needless of say, also refers to what Peter calls scaling. That is some break^jj| the human, but human meaning also anthro- po-theocentric dimension, with the human teleology of architecture. It has to do with the possible end of architecture. For years and years the same question has been asked abosophy. I was, for example, asked, "Do you believe in the end of philosophy?" And my answer was»no. There is no end «BBcisophy. There is a need to distinguish between end and clo­sure. Closure is not end. If I tn ;e this answer to arcnitecture I would say, no there is no end to architecture; it will go on. Traditional architecture hasfPPif' been so prolific, so powerful, so developing. In this sense no one could predate the end of architecture. But this does not mean that this architecture, which is developing more than ever, has not come to the experience which is our experience, the experience of some of us. The experience of a kind of limit, not a limit in the form of a frontier that you have reached so that you cannot go beyond, it is the exhaustion of a set of possibilities. The architecture cannot invent or create, could not add any new essential possibilities. So it is finished. But this is not the end. And what is not confined in this closure, and this closure is not a circle, it is more complex. For an experience of space, not architectur-

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a! opinion because those concepts are already problematic, tHH.se experiences of the space which is not confined in this enclosure has no name within the r^umae and has no proaraHM« cannot be institutionalized as such. It happens some­times in the schools of architecture, :imes in poetry, sometimes in politics, sometimes in science, sometimes in private life, sometimes in erotic experience,"fffln^times in any category you pick under the condition that this other experience of the space is open. Now, the fact that it is not necessarily in the schools of architecture that this new experience of space can necessarily occur, does not mean that the schools of architecture are just an institution among others. And I feel that per­haps it has a very privileged mission and responsibility. jk One of the questions situates itself in terms of your text on chora and though it specifically raises a question on chora, I think the theme that it raises is a n^jji general one. In chora you say that the cosmos is the sky, or Uranus, as a living, visible, and irivioij^iyg) God and that he ipliique and alone in his monog­amous race. The question goes on, "Does Plato employ chora in wttmieaus to replace the mythological figures and pre­vious cosmologies with a monogamous figure of Uranus." The q u elPlffTj e n e r a 11 z e s to a more important idea, that is, would you elaborate on the notion of chora as a narrative receptacle and then situate chora in the phallogocentric history of archi­tecture. The questions of the gender issues associated with chora and how they apply to architecture are very important. jd Let me state a protocol for my answer. I cannot answer such a question here and now. I will try to answer selectively. Since I assume that not everybody here has read Plato's Timeaus or is familiar with Jeff's question — the chora in Timeaus. In Plato's Timeaus at a certain point the question is, how was the cosmos shaped. And the description is this: the architect, demiurge, looks at or gazes at the paradigm and these eternal fixed models. He looks at them and while looking at them he inscribes the copies of the paradigm in what he calls the chora. So you have three: the models, the copies, and the place in which the copies are printed, inscribed, as types. And the chora is the place. Chora was a very common name in Greek. Sometimes it could mean the place where you were born, say the village or the city and so on. But in that case it did not mean such a specific or concrete place. It means the place, the unique place or interval or space, in which each copy had been inscribed forming the cosmos, the arrangement, the composition of the world. But the place is not the model and it is not the copy. The model is eternal beyond any time, beyond any becoming; it does not become. It is fixed and eternal. The copies are not eternal, they become; they are temporal. The chors.'s not eternal in the sense of the model. It is not temporal either. The chora is not homogenous to the paradigm and it is no© s,f()genous to the copy; it is there before everything. But this before does not have the structure of eternity as a paradigm, u-^-'/ieither that nor that. TL -lans that this place has no place in Plato's conventional dialectics, in Plato's philosophy as it is conventionally interpreftf Ј «''here is being, that is really being, that is the eidos, that is the model, and the copy is less being than paradigm. The there is what is called dialectics, which implies sort of participation with the copy, model and so on. But the chora is not irreducible to those Platonic schemes. That is why a character in Timeaus says that you cannot conceive of that chora intellectually, neither through the senses. It is as if you were dreaming this bastard strucjt,/1 It is bastard because it is as if it were at the same time looking like a par­adigm and at the same time looking like a copy. But it is not a mixture of a paradigm and a copy. It is neither one nor the other. So you cannot think of that. Just a dream and a dreamt ^jmething that is beyond philosophy, beyond the dialectics and the whole tradition that was inaugurated by Plato. BeyonJ| V"distinction between intelligible and sensible. So, the chora is space, spacing. But this spacing is not reducible to all the interpretations that havj ;n proposed after Plato's chora. Because of the paradox of these chora, philosophers in their traditions tried again an« > t> n to reduce the chora to some­thing familiar to them. Some of them said it is matter, substance, matter in which type is inscribed. And of course there are in Plato's Timeaus some metaphors which compare chora to the woman, to the mother, the nurse, or to the substance in which form is printed. But all these metaphors are discarded, are given up. They are not metaphors, which does not mean that they properly express what the true essence of chora is. Chora is not essence. The definition of essence is the essence of this chalkboard. Chora is no essence. It is beyond the opposition of essence and accident, beyond all the traditional oppo­sitions in philosophy. So, one philosopher said, "Well thf e" fatter in Aristotelian sense." Another said, "Well that is space and extension in Cartesian sense." Another said, "Well m j< /space as form." AncL"^' tried to reduce what was a scandal in philosophy, that is spacing which could not be defined in terms of philosophic^ 3 jsitions. What I tried to do is to write about this chora, about the interpretations of chora and about the strategy of Plato nfu.is text. Because the strategy of Plato in this text is a drama. It is a very complex textual scene. And when I was asked by Bernard Tschumi and Peter Eisenman to communicate with architects, I said I have nothing to say; I am totally incompetent, totally ignorant and what I am doing now regarding space, if space has something to do with architecture, that is I am writing this text and I pass this text to Peter. And finally something began to be written, I mean architecturally written. JK The phallogocentric issue of architecture? Do you have thoughts on that? ArЈi /ecture's exclusion.-^ women both in its history and in its verticality. JD If of course what I tried to demonstrate is true, that is, that philosophy f post dominant tradition is not only logocentric but phallogocentric, and if architecture is closely connected to or depeTiui, /' on philosophy it should, and I think it has, reproduced phallogo- centrism. There are many ways for demonstrating this. Is going beyond equality in improvising difficult? That is a question that I would like to ask, because I am totally uninformed about that. How does the feminist movement act in architecture today, in the teaching of architecture, in the profession. Is there a specific movement in women's studies related to archi­tecture? JK There is a very specific one and they have tried to categorically identify the systematic exclusion of both women in its history and figures of women in its discursive structure. And I believe this question in fact was trying to address whether

,a chora was in fact a systematic exclusion of GAIA in the hesiotic theogony of the Platonic discourse. The question was idressed even if in such trivial issues as the privilege of verticality or is there such a thing as a horizontal architecture or a neotacle. If these things would constitute something like another architectural discourse there is very much an organized rt to do this. jd First, even if you rely on chora just to rethink everything, chora is not architecture. Chora has nothing to ) with architecture. Chora is itself, but there is no 'itself' in chora. Chora is not something, that would be identical with itself. ;s not a being, not a character, not a person, it is nothing one could anthropologize or theologize. Chora is nothing, but not -..-»thing in the sense of the void, it is not a void. That is absolutely clear in the Timeaus. It is not a void, but also it is not some- "]!ng. it is not a thing. So to that extent you cannot savUiji chora is architecture or a new space for achitecture. jk It seems io be that point at which they might meet. jd Yes, tafllb place is not enough to name the place to think of architecture. With the place you can dcwMflftt do many things thawPPriot architecture. Trying to build in the place or on the place it is not the only experience yoivHwiake with the space. So perhaps architecture, some architecture, corresponds to the desire for filling space. Perhaps architecture is the most powerful attempt just to forget space, forget chora. The most powerful for­getting of space — that is architecture. That is the first point. Then the second point would be in Plato's Timeaus of course the first metaphors, what is usually meant if it is called metaphor — I never call them metaphors. The first metaphors Plato uses are feminine. And his chora is compared to mother, nurse, to substar^Jj^rna11er, which is usually considered feminine as opposed to form, which is masculine. But these metaphors are not precisely confirmed or kept by Plato. These metaphors are a way of translating what we call figures, the woman, aflgflhn, and so on, and usually you say that the power lies in, and Piato says this, the father and therapies are the c h i I cl r e i    h o r a is the mother. But this approximation is not pertinent,

because the chora cannot be aaHBe with the paradigm — you have no couple. For it is an odd couple. So the chora is not a man or a woman. And you caijPPftse the chora as a banner for feminist movements nor, of course, against phallogocen- trism. Which does not mean that if a homogenous, undifferentiated, sexually neutralized element, perhaps there is, sudden­ly there is differentiation, it is different, it's the spacing, the interval. It's a difference with no opposition and perhaps it's some kind of sexual space with no opposition between man and woman. jk Tritogenous suggests an other to the man/woman dual­ity. jd I am very suspicious of it. Because sometimes it is a way of simply identifying, to redeem, differences — jd I walk past the ground for two reasons or for two different points of view. One is for "fundamental reasons." And if there is no ground to be touched in Philosophy and what I am questioning is preWHBrhe desire for the ground. So for that reason, of course I need the ground, but when I ask de^^Mructive questions I dpPPrely on any ground and I am not waiting for a ground — I do not want to touch ground, evenVHBal! terribly need grounds, which means that I miss the grounds. That is the reason why I have no hope, as you say, of tciiPmng the ground. The other point of view in terms of architecture a philosopher would rely on the architect, or follow the architect, to finally touch the ground. That is why I said it is too late for me because I know that I will not ever be an architect. My architectural competence will remain absolutely so modest, fragmented, timid, and far from the very act of drawing. Whatever my collaboration with an architect, be it building and really acting as an architect, I am sure if I work with Peter he will touch the ground, I will not. And I will not use him for miejjj) touch the ground. jk But you set out signposts. You set a path towards the ground. There are dimjions that you set fiflllxhitects in your work. Do you recognize your work as having formed a project for architecture? Bs is more difficult. Of course I have never acted as an architect, I have no architectural competence, no architectural clPPiii. Nevertheless, I have this feeling that when I write, when I build some texts, the law for me, the rule, has to do with the spacing of things. What interests me is not really the con­tent but some distribution in space. The way that I write is shaped. It has to do with rhythm of music on the one hand, but also with building, with architecture, with spacing. When I am interested in what I write, I am certain that it has not to do with the content, with the meaning or with the philosophical meaning, but with the way these objects are articulated in the way that the composition of my text corresponds to models that are not well received in the architectural association of philoso­phy. And so they are physical objects. And when I am attached to them it is as such. PE We have sat for one hour listeninp to you speak about what one might call ideas and one might then say they were in the realm of philosophic ideas. And yo-u expect us as human beings to have some competence to listen to this. And, indeed, I think that we probably have more com­petence than most times is given credit to people who are assumed to be architects. In fact, they are able to listen to yi words and form ideas and theorize, etc. What is interesting to me is that I also think that you as a philosopher have, as a human being like we are, an enormous capacity and competence to deal with architecture. Perhaps even more than we have with ideas because architecture, space, place, home, school are all dealing with those things that you have a competence in; you know whether you are at home in this space. You said you wanted to be in a small tight space tonight rather than a large space. When we started working together you immediately t <. ,/d talking about, what would the people do in this gar­den? Or how can there be a garden without grass? And what wilrjt, o.</ict the people from fait ~ the holes? And you knc all the kinds of questions that one would not expect a philosopher, an ungrounded philosopfr f ask. Therefore, I think that you have to forget this idea of your lack of competence because I find it not honest that you have no competence. I am sup­posed to have competence because I listen to you, but when I start to draw you have no competence. That is unfair ar ■ think it is unwise because I think that you have enormous competence. It is also a dissimulation to say that you did not touch the ground. In fact you did touch the groun^ ,< t La Villette because you drew a very important piece. And it will be in the ground. JD I was in the plane at the time. I made this drawing between New York and Paris. PE We say we cannot talk to you because are not philosophers and you say I cannot tab \;-'Ou because you are not an architect. But that is not so because in fact you have more ideas about architecture \\jt >>< -»obably we have abojji philosophy. And you touched the ground more in our project than I did. In fact you brought me back to earth about out. jnct many times. It was you who touched the ground in our project. And in fact it was the final touch. So I do not undw ?,(•,, d in what sense you say this to these people because you have enormous competence, probably frighteningly so, and it is we who lack competence in architecture. JD Thank you, Peter. I will try to define more specifically what I mean by competence. Of course, if by compe­tence in architecture you mean what you just said speaking space, house, home, building, etc., then we all share such a competence. But there is a dissymmetry between us. That of course if you understand what I am saying because you are competent in the language, you speak a better English than me, you know the words, the rules of grammar, the spelling. So this is the competence that we share in language, and (P t />ivity, so we can write texts, and teach. Whereas what I could not do, is what I call technical competence. I am totalifi 'j,• /31e to do what would»?"^ analogous to grammar and syntax in architecture. I cannot draw. I cannot make the simplest calculations in terms of bjf f g something. I cannot draw in terms of architecture. So, perhaps I am competent in general problems of space, house, awning, and so on. PE But you can think Jacques. You may not think physically but you can draw. You see I do not think physically but I can write. I can think writing ideas which someone else could write for me, you could write for me. You can think drawing ideas which I would write for you. So therefore the physical manifestation of whether you can draw your ideas and I can write my ideas — the technical competence is not at issue, jp Mo this drawing obeys the rules, which are called the grammar, the syntax of architecture and I do not know that language /JE How can you be ^ o.bedient to the grammar and syntax of an architecture that you want to deconstruct and assume that you cannot do it? I e it I cannot even deconstruct architecture from that point of view. I cannot build a project. If you let me alone and say', wi,.f make a project for La Villette by yourself with your pen. I am sure that what I would have done is the poorest, the most academic drawing. JD It is difficult for me to reconstitute the context of these sentences. What I call "maintenant" in French, which is untranslatable, what I call "maintenant" does not mean now. Now as a new beginning, or as the recuperation of a forgotten origin. What I call "maintenant" plays with what gathers, so to speak, the disassociated parts of these new architectures. I mentioned all those negative words that Tschumi uses, disas- sociation, disruption, disarticulation, and so on. And my question is how can you build something, if building something . hi -n holds together, If there is not something which "maintient," maintains these associated parts. If this "maintenant" is not .. by the traditional values, axioms, that is God, man, telos, hierarchy, etc., what is it that maintains architecture? And ,,,.,[ makes this architecture an event? And the answer has to do with the signature, with the promise, with something which without founding architecture on those traditional foundations. But it is always difficult for me to reconstitute this text. jK ■ nat same text you make a remark that you cannot imagine an other architecture? If literature is the other to philoso- ,,hy q,- if what is excluded from philosophy can be found in literature. JD I have never said such a thing. JK But I was won- uvmo if there are not two kinds of texts that you find in the written texts literature, philosophy. There seems to be a synthe- ^ ^ |n architecture. And I was wondering if you have thou^its of what an other architecture might be. JD I would not think of it an iiectu re as a synthesis. JK In working with Peter, B|.i recognize the project you did together as architecture? JD That s a very difficult question.«*jg*< that certainly once ipPililt in La Villette, the other will call this architecture. Perhaps this v/iil be the sign of our failulHHe answer to your question is no, but it depends on conventions. If you use the word archi­tecture for the classical coreept of architecture, I would say I hope not. If, on the contrary, you call architecture what I said a moment ago that should be the most affirmative gesture, the most deconstructive and affirmative gesture, then I hope this will be architecture. Perhaps exemplary architecture. Of course, exemplary would lead us back at least to some architectur­al event. STUDENT I have a very simple guestion. From your description oft^Btjconsiruc11on of a text, I wonder whether you consider yourself a philosopher or a poet? JD If I say neither, this could be Understood either as pretentious or too modest. Sincerely what I try to write for me is not philosophy and aktgtkjt poetry. JK It does engage in a critique of philosophy. JD Not a critique. The concept of critique belongs to philosonHBrid I have the very deep respect for philosophical critiques, but deconstruction is not a critiJHHftis a deconstruction cnineidea of the critique. Of the decision made between opposed terms beyond the limit. DeconsMBPn is deconstruction of the idea of a critique. JK I understand but are you saying that you envision no insinuation, no implication for philosophy in deconstruction? No response in philosophy proper to its mar­gins9 JD No, no, I do not think that philosophy could be simply another field, or neutral; that philosophy could be indifferent to deconstruction. Deconstruction happens to philosophy. And philosophy is one of the most privileged partners for decon­struction. JK So in that sense it is a para-philosophical discourse. JD Yes, but we have to define what para means. It is para, but para to so many things. JK But not in the merely para-sense. It tends to reshape philosophical discourses. This sort of "laissez faire" relationship between the two that you are ou11inilBnsufficien11y violent. I mean it is quite a violent attack on philosophy, and makes demands orm^jfosophy to reformula^^^plf. JD If it is re, as you say, reformulates itself deeply enough perhaps you will not recognH|Iosophy anymore. That is what is happening or I hope it is happening. JK And in a similar sense and even in a sense tlWfxoncrete in both senses of the word, your work implies an architecture that we do not recognize as architecture. But not simply as a kind of occasional lament, but as an insinuation into all of architectural thought. JD Yes, at the moment I would say in a very dogmatic way, that the moment of nonrecognition is an essential moment everywhere. The moment when the architectural society does not recognize something, a project as architecture, or an architect as an architect. That is the critical moment when something happens. When architects recognize architects, or architectural objects as such, and legitimate them immediately, no thi^y iappens. What ha^Plns has to happen through the unidentifiable object. STUDENT If you will not touch the ground, isaHvork in architecture a collaboration, or an exchange, or do you have some other adjective? JD No. That is a good quesiPWhave no name for that. It is certainly not a collabo­ration. It is even less an exchange. How would you call it, Peter? PE An adhesion. JD It is a double parasitic laziness. STUDENT You use two syntaxes, so very literally you never solve, although you try not to touch any ground, you never actu­ally deconstruct, or destroy or neglect the traditional syntax. JD No, I work with the traditional syntax. Of course. I am not just floating. The question a moment ago was about some sort of final ground or absolutely safe ground. The does not mean I do not need any ground at all. On the contrary, I rely on many grounds. I rely on the French language, the English language,

I rely on the syntax, the grammar, the traditional philosophy, so many things. There are so many conventions that I rely on And I need them if I am to do something else or to disrupt something. I need to rely, to lean on something. And even before I had something to do with architecture and architects, of course architecture was there as an element and as a theme. There is here the author of the marvelous book on what I have to do with architecture before meeting any architect. And all the philosophers, everybody in his own way, has to face the problem of architecture, not as architecture in the strict sense, bir within the philosophical space. And I did so myself. Now the first part of your question had to do with the exclusion of writ­ing. If I did say such a thing, it was a mistake but a very presumable mistake. I was thinking of what I think the expeetatior is on the side of the people who commissioned us. Of course ,,o,annot do anything at La Villette. We cannot go first gc beyond the limits of the space they gave us. We have to build s<jf t ojing which is in stone and water, we cannot go higher than a certain limit, a set of constraints we cannot play with. A no*,, ,</q I said we should avc^ --"ting sentences I was prob ably thinking that this would be difficult to make acceptable. PE It would also be a cartoc^ «/ne relationship between ar architect and a philosopher. If I built a stone and you wrote on it. JD But it is not a principle just to avoid writing architecture When I speak of writing or texts usually I insist that I don't just refer to writing words on the page, for me building is the writ­ing of a text. Even if there are no apparent words in it, I call this writing, and I call this text.

 

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