Architecture has long had deep roots in the imagination. Creating fantastical structures, magnificent dwellings, and phantom cities , painters have always been drawn to erecting a dream architecture of the improbable and often psychologically revealing buildings.
Certainly, architecture and psychoanalysis are unusual bedfellows. A seemingly “odd couple” whose ostensible artificial juxtaposition may be anchored in some profound affinities. Freud’s psychoanalysis is filled, like a giant warehouse, with many architectural elements found in dreams; from churches, to chateaus, from courts and stairs to gates and balconies. Almost everything except the houseboat and mobile home. Freud established that symptons, within his reasoning, are constructions, a protective armament, that are crystallizations of dreams; later Jung would delve into the construction of archetypes. The fable of the three little pigs and their housing woes can be interpreted in terms of this construction.
There has always been a connection between architecture and the human condition, and in terms of art, imaginary architecture has always been a key ingredient of allegory. In the Consummation of Empire by Thomas Cole, he made the prescient connection that linked architecture to the human condition. It was painted in the 1830′s, as part of a five act drama and represents man’s passage from barbarism to civilization and then inevitable ruin. No post civilization and no turning back. Cole’s selection in favor of the classical style over romanticism reflected America’s identification, seemingly absurd, with ancient Greece. Cole, a romanticist did not share in the unbounded optimism of most of his co-citizens: the later scenes predict a fall of Biblical proportions, likely a message aimed at what Cole saw as Yankee enterprisers.
Elsewhere in his writing, Jung recalls a vivid dream in which Liverpool appeared to him. “I found myself in a dirty, sooty city. It was night, and winter, and dark, and raining. … I had the feeling that we were coming up from the harbour, and that the real city was actually up above, on the cliffs. We climbed up there. When we reached the plateau, we found a broad square, dimly illuminated by street lights, into which many streets converged. The various quarters of the city were arranged radially around the square. In the centre was a round pool, and in the middle of it a small island. While everything round about was obscured by rain, fog, smoke and dimly-lit darkness, the little island blazed with sunlight….
On it stood a single tree- a Magnolia- in a shower of reddish blossoms. It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and was at the same time the source of the light. My companions commented on the abominable weather, and obviously did not see the tree. They spoke of another Swiss who was living in Liverpool and expressed surprise that he should have settled here. I was carried away by the beauty of the flowering tree and the sunlit island, and thought ‘I know very well why he has settled here’. Then I awoke.” …Tellingly, Jung had never visited Liverpool – “the pool of life” – before this dream. Read More: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2010/06/cities-of-imagination.html a
Non-adaptivity to human needs, which helps in memetic propagation, is rooted in modernist ideology. The philosophical origins of modernism in Germany of the 1920s reveal a parallel between modernism and totalitarianism . The German art historian Wilhelm Pinder (a supporter of Hitler) and his student Nikolaus Pevsner (an architectural historian who was one of the strongest promoters of modernism as a guide for social and political ideals) argued that great architecture is the product of the Volk, during periods when ideology triumphs. Adolf Hitler, Josef Goebbels, Walter Gropius, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe all shared the conviction that architecture was an expression of the central spirit of an epoch, and thus justified idealism, absolutism, and arrogance . In this view of the world, the individual is insignificant, and the needs of the human user are thus of little consequence . Philip Johnson complained of the futility of trying to discuss the aesthetics of modernism with Walter Gropius: “Talking to Gropius was a dead end because he would still mouth the Giedionesque platitudes of social discipline and revolution” . Read More:http://www.math.utsa.edu/ftp/salingar.old/Darwinian.html a
Aisling Campbell: If architecture concerns itself with space and construction, how can it say something about psychoanalysis which deconstructs and concerns itself with something that has no place and no ontology? It seems to me that architecture also concerns itself with time –the creation of permanent constructions, history, and memories – if that is so, how can it address the atemporal unconscious? To many people, the notion of architecture includes a reverence for the old, for old buildings. The aesthetic value of old buildings is tied up partly in a nostalgia for the past. There is a sense – both in nostalgia for the old, and in the nostalgic perspective on the subject, that it allows one to be master in one’s own (old) house….
…Nostalgia is of course grounded in the ego psychology school of thought which reversed Freud’s most crucial discovery, that it was not trauma that was the basis of hysterical symptoms, but rather phantasy – that trauma depended on language. So, nostalgia harkens back to the past but fails to recognise the role of phantasy in its own creation. The Freudian/ Lacanian view, by contrast, points up the phantastical basis of nostalgic memory, the operation of nachtraglichkeit, of afterwardness which distorts memories…. Read More: http://sydney.edu.au/sup/journals/haecceity/pdfs/4/Aisling_Campbell_introduction_final.pdf a