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    Living in Paranoia

    By stoicrise
    Oct 16, '06 1:26 AM EST

    The purpose of this post is purely to rant about my current ideas relating to my thesis. It has started to become a personal debate about a psychology term, with no clear path into it's manifestation in architecture / built form.

    The idea of paranoia, this fear created by our minds, has come up in my analysis of our present time. Bet it post 9//11 culture deemed by the administration, but paranoia and fear of the misinterpreted has plague the United States since its inception. We have become more fearful every decade since Eve let evil into our lives and banished us from paradise.

    How can this idea be manifested in architecture? How can this be resolved using architecture? Is it even an architectural problem? Can it go beyond the initial gut reaction that this project is going to turn into a bunker?

    Two ideas hit me trying to look at how paranoia effects and could be a driver for built form.

    1. Embassy (US Spaces Abroad)
    2. Land Border (Mexican/American Border)

    Two ideas, both again gut reactions to the idea of paranoia. Looking at precedents I can find only topics on bomb protecting, bollards, and CCTV security camera.

    Books have tackled the idea of paranoia, based mainly in the realm of urban space. “Fear & Space” and “5 Codes” attack the idea that paranoia has affected architecture with scars of Big Brother's control but not how architectural form has been affected by it.

    Could the answer be looking at the basis of morphogenetic design? Could the inputs that derive form from security, feeding the need to calm paranoia?

    What would that building look like?

    Or is the idea of built security just as inconsequential as plumbing and HVAC to modern architecture? A engineer involved in the design of the Freedom Tower stated that the architecture should be the last line of “defense”. Why does architecture have to be scared, can it not confront the problem spatial and formally?

    Today my efforts have been focused on the Tibetan and Chinese confrontation. Video today came out of a massacre by the People's Army killing off Tibetans, which was first reported as self-defense, but now has been determined to be different.

    The Chinese believe that Tibet is a part of China.
    Tibetans believe that the Chinese are forcibly occupying their country. Their current capital is now in exile located in the city of Dharamsala in India.

    With the upcoming 2008 Olympics, the Chinese need to fix this problem before all eyes are on the People's Republic.

    So, what would a Tibetan embassy look like in Beijing? But according to Eisenman, architecture cannot save the world so maybe this route may be in vein.

    So can architecture involving the psychology of paranoia is involved in three ways.

    Fight Against Paranoia
    Accept and encourage the creation of paranoia by built form.
    Feed off of fear/paranoia in an attempt to reduce.

    I hope someone made it through all this and has some ideas.

    Back to hunting for inspiration.


    • paranoia is a loaded word. i'd suggest first determining what YOU will mean by paranoia through a contrast with what you think is the opposite of paranoia: is it comfort? security? calm? obviously each of these suggest a different environment. if paranoia is the opposite of security that's probably different than paranoia as the opposite of comfort.

      will paranoia for you be a fear of a known potential enemy? or fear of unknown potentialities? those would suggest differing approaches.

      a little confused whether you're proposing a project that would allay paranoia or foster it. i hope not the latter.

      looks like you've already got some good brainstorming going on. good luck.

      Oct 16, 06 7:27 am  · 

      ya...sounds like a provocative project.

      I also think that you would have a hard time making an argument for an architecture that fostered or "encouraged" paranoia as a condition.

      Oct 16, 06 8:55 am  · 

      About paranoia, referring to 9/11, who do you feel is paranoid? Do you think american's are paranoid, and of what? are people really feeling paranoid still (shortly after 9/11 people were very paranoid...)?
      i ask you this because i think the media and government can use/create a state of "fear" and "paranoia" as a form of control on their own people.
      So you might have to define or broaden the meaning of paranoia...

      Also historically, since the development of the a-bomb there has been a change in the planning of the industries. From a centralized organization to a decentralized one within the past 50 years to minimize potential loss of manufacturing due to an abomb attack. So on an urban scale there have been changes, but as far as architecturally...

      Oct 16, 06 10:07 am  · 
      liberty bell

      The best quote I've heard on paranoia recently was from Pynchon: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, the answers don't matter.

      Not that this quote is helpful to your design process, but make sure you aren't asking the wrong questions.

      Oct 16, 06 10:19 am  · 

      glass floors trigger a sense of fear... maybe paranoia.

      Oct 16, 06 10:42 am  · 

      I was just reading Lacan on das ding, where he writes that paranoia is partly a distrust of reality, an inability to have faith that you will find the same reality there again when you turn around. It recalls Winnicott's writings on the need to be alone in the presence of a trusted other in order to form a secure attachment to reality.

      Just thinking.
      It seems that being alone in the presence of another is an architecturally mediated experience. Programming and framing such that groups are placed side by side but not in each others' way and not completely split. Maybe a voyeuristic relation.

      It might suggest an embassy where other groups can observe some portion of the American activity and thereby be less paranoid that Americans are all of us out to get them.

      But what does that say about television? How do you peacefully observe, learn and begin to believe in the reality of others without turning them into aesthetic objects? Do we still fear das ding for its power over us?

      Ok, one more tidbit... your thing here has gotten me thinking...

      Lacan says that 'thing' (das ding) as a word used to refer to a juridical proceeding... neat. And sort of reframes Latour's parliament of things, no?

      Anyway, neat project.

      Oh, and I love that Nirvana lyric:
      "Just because you're paranoid, don't mean they're not after you"

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