A toothless mammal highly prized by the surrealists. The ant it eats exists in a complex social organization with agricultural abilities, sublime engineering skills, dumb tenaciousness and imperious, brutal tendencies. For its highways and “wars” alone the ant has gained a fatuous, unflattering comparisons with the human race. In this anthropomorphic slippage we are suddenly allowed to wonder: what beast might an ant imagine as the harbinger of its apocalypse? Could the end of the world resemble an elongated, furry snout and long, sticky tongue?
In due course all architecture is nomadic. If stating the obvious then this must be doubled by adding that this statement can only be underlined by being undermined. Soil liquefaction, concrete temporality; an earthquake makes buildings of the most unlikely materials.
Yet in its extremity disaster tends to disguise a set of persistent mechanisms. The grim familiarity of tent cities might imply a somewhere more stable, a city of stone and steel and certainty. But the surface of this planet is fluid. Wind erosion, flood, human whimsy, demographic spasms and shifts will – like earthquakes – tend to make buildings disappear, reappear, and like earthquakes these processes may seem very fast but are mostly unnoticed. A tent that has been slowed down is a castle.
Nomadic architecture + anteater = armadillo
The stating of the obvious via a pendant’s passion for paradox and hoping that one will be able, within these tiny spaces, to open up by contradiction a claim on some portion of a reality. To imagine, against all the evidence, even evidence clearly doctored, that imagination will hold its own and be accounted as an equal to fact. To write a glossary is to suggest that a fact is a tent that imagines itself as a castle.
Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.3 No.3 1999
A definition of a maze
is a calling to amaze, splendid design, architecture of wonder.
Secular labyrinths functioning through trickery and bluff; the maze is false starts and dead corners.
In the dull protocol of problem solving the maze will seek to absolve a body of its darkness and confusion.
The night implied by the ordeal of choosing just a single path and following it into its bowels, into its end; that one would be propelled beyond a merely personal fate. This is the labyrinth.
Or, one could say, if the labyrinth is of the umbilical cord connecting its walker to primeval mystery – which might nonetheless strangle – then the maze has the patriarchal certitude of a caesarean. A bloody imposition.
The maze is topiary denied its surrealism, horticulture as pure technology.
To emerge from out a maze is to receive due congratulation. A rat will have its pleasure centres electrically stimulated; will get to sup at some sugared water.
To follow the line of a labyrinth in and to then emerge again, even in the most prosaic of settings this has about it a frightening whiff of rebirth.
Go to Hampton Court, explore its maze. There is joy be to observe how the whimsy of royalty is being worn away by the dull, fractious democracy of tourism. This is mere resentment however; no change, no cause for celebration.
The city is built as a maze, not a labyrinth, and here is your definition of the contemporary maze: Trickery, bluff, dead ends. The flailing gesture of institutions kept alive by invested interest and for mere convenience.
We look not for the erosion of tourists but the considered steps of pilgrims, the orgiastic rush of a mystery dance. We are sure that the labyrinth is lying close by, only a step or two away from one’s daily repetitions.
Did you know that you take, within ten or twenty, the same number of paces every single day of the week?
It is a little odd to see a series of events, a set of relationships, a barely collected set of works being re-inserted into the cultural life of a whatever cultural life there is – albeit in a most small manner.
Odd, yet inevitable I presume. Clothes I have not yet thrown away are apparently returning fashionable. No, one really must not take any notice of such no sense none sense nonsense.
There they are, Inventory, a collaborative project. The journal was, and is. Inventory: finding, losing, collecting.
My intention is to revisit my own contributions. To make new versions – perhaps new – available in the charcoal pit which is Grilled Fish.
About Inventory? These are some bare scrapings gleaned from an internet which, when we started, was barely there at all. Perhaps we would never have made a journal if it was possible to make a website? No, we would print, most certainly. Our conversations had circled the possibility for so long.