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<nettime> Wim Nijenhuis: A Cloud of Dark Knowledge (thesis summary)
geert lovink on Thu, 20 Nov 2003 16:34:18 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Wim Nijenhuis: A Cloud of Dark Knowledge (thesis summary)

Dear Nettimers,

below you will find the English summary of the long awaited thesis of the
architecture critic and Virilio expert Wim Nijenhuis. The original text is
in Dutch, but at least there is this text to give you an idea about the
range of topics and ideas in this magnus opus. For those who read Dutch: I
will post the table of contents and how to order the book to nettime-nl.


PS. There are two texts by Wim Nijenhuis (in English) in the nettime-l

Dwelling in Cyberspace

Eating Brasil


A Cloud of Dark Knowledge
Writings about Urban Design and (the History of) Urbanism

Thesis by Wim Nijenhuis

In three relatively independent 'Books', this study explores the potential
of the Foucauldian 'genealogy' and 'aesthetics of existence', in relation
with the 'dromology' of Paul Virilio for the critical writing on current
affairs in urban design and the history of urbanism.

An Archaeological Invention (an essay)

The actual 'dispositive' of modern urbanism with its ethical code, its
emphasis on the normative dimension of the design, the importance of civic
survey and its focus on urban public space, is put in the light of its
provenance: the practice of urban management in the nineteenth century
city of Rotterdam, where politics of the population correlated with
politics of the street and where the civic engineer with his unique type
of knowledge emerged out of the military predecessor. It is shown that his
position relied on the formation of the street into an institution.

The provenances of the rational streetplan and the sense of order of
modern urbanism are searched for in the so-called 'Mauritsdiagram' in the
seventeenth century. This 'diagram' denotes a historical formation of
knowledge in which the classical 'mathesis' merged with neostoic
philosophy and military science. This amalgamation sheds a new light on
the thesis of regular urban history; that the grid like rational
streetplan originates from the tradition of the ideal city in the
renaissance. It turns out that the thesis of regular urban history relies
upon the continuity of formal characteristics in urbanism like the circle,
the square and the rectangle.

These confrontations are complicated with several reflections: on the
genealogy of Foucault, its origin in Nietzschean philosophy and its
implications for the writing of history; on the philosophy of Kant and its
implication for modern ethics and the structure of the modern subject; on
the importance of the neostoic philosophy regarding the constitution of
the modern subject and its discipline and the proposals of Foucault to
constitute our own subjectivity in 'practices of the self'.

BOOK I Chapter I
The engineer and the street

The Coolpolderplan, a grid-shaped city expansion plan, presented to the
municipal council of Rotterdam in 1858 is discussed As stated in its
explanatory notes, the plan aimed to improve public order and public
health, but its main concern was the traffic system and the performance of
the city as a space of trade and labour.

Urbanism in that time, it is argued, takes the street as its main locus of
intervention. Comparisons are made with proposals for Amsterdam at that
time and the ideas of Cerdá for Barcelona and Haussmann for Paris.
Following and enriching the thesis of Giedion in Space Time and
Architecture (1941) about the origins of modern urbanism and the
centrality of the street in the project of Haussmann, the relationship
between street and politics is investigated. Apparently the street in the
first half of the nineteenth century was not so much a public space where
'democratic' political actions took place, as an political object in the
sense that parties struggled for the power to shape its form and to
control its space.

The politics of the street between 1740 and 1850 is analysed as this
struggle for the legal authority. The main effect of this struggle has
been to cast a new light over existing situations. The street turns out to
be part of a gradual transformation from a feudal and particularistic view
to the instrumental and collective view of modernity. The public bodies,
not to forget the engineer, thus create the notion of 'public space', and
at the same time, they increase their scope to act within it.

The emergence of the engineer and his type of knowledge (concerning the
street) is seen as a historical event. In the light of Foucault's
thinking, it is argued that the change of meaning of the street should be
approached as the result of a micro-cellular transformation within a
social balance of powers in the Nietzschean meaning of the word. This
event can be made visible by an 'archaeology' that addresses differences
and that affirms a polygon of origins.

The Coolpolderplan (1858) in Rotterdam is considered in its
operationality. With their plans, the engineers have influenced the social
balance of powers by means of text and image. In accordance with the
philosophy of Foucault (and Deleuze) the assumption of the mutual
representation of text and image is abandoned in favour of the view that
they work towards the same end simultaneously (in this case towards the
power of truth). It appears that the proposals formed a 'dispositive'
composed of heterogeneous elements in the sense that the textual part was
of a different origin than the representation in image.

The question as to what it is that controls, or wished to control, this
constellation is answered by outlining the process. It turns out that the
engineers did not understand the city as a form. They saw it as a process
of dwelling and destruction in which they wanted to maintain a certain
shape. Therefore, they tried to influence a given state of the social
balance of powers, a state that threatened to destroy the shape of the
city as it had come to existence in the course of history.

In the light of Kant's moral philosophy it is argued that the plan finally
was controlled by the subjectivity of the designer, that in its turn was
controlled by its faculties: the remembrance, the conscience and the
self-discipline. The aim of the plan was to strive for a consensus that it
would need to function. In this sense, the plan turns out to be an
aesthetical-norm idea that was meant to influence a given social field.

BOOK I  Chapter II
The Mauritsdiagram

Where does the formal aspect of this specific aesthetical-norm idea come
from? The neo-classical, orthogonal town plan, its notion of order
included, traces back to Dutch seventeenth- century town planning. Simon
Stevin's treatise Vande Oirdeningh der Steden (1599) concerning a
rectangular shaped ideal city is discussed. His plan, however, proved not
to be based on instrumental thoughts concerning economics and aesthetics,
as was the case in the nineteenth century, but on theories about order as
the right interpretation of a cosmic truth (the infinity of God) and about
creating the legibility of a form by means of an immanent structure, that
consists of mathematically calculated divisions. Therefore, it is argued,
the plan also does not belong to the renaissance way of gaining knowledge
through resemblance. Exactly this characterises the greater part of the
treatises about ideal cities, as is stated by regular urban history. In
contrary, it turned out to belong to the classical way of gaining
knowledge through 'mathesis', that not only informed the thought of Simon
Stevin, but also that of the philosopher René Descartes. The main
difference with the renaissance way is the shift from the formal
resemblance, as is the case in the scheme of the micro- and the
macrocosms, and the centrality of the human body to the proportional
division and mathematical equation that finally were based on measured and
calculable forms of difference and identity.

The unbridgeable gap between epistemological spaces is the main argument
why the rectangular form of Simon Stevin's ideal city cannot be absorbed
in any kind of 'tradition' or historical series. The very structurering of
phenomena in series is discussed as central to the way the science of art
history codes reality. The unifying construction of series is compared to
the 'archaeology of knowledge' and its search for differences. 'Art
history' turns out to be an invention of the nineteenth century. As it
descends from art history, the history of urbanism did not originate from
its object - the problematic nature of the metropolis in the nineteenth
century -, but from a cultural rupture in metaphysics and aesthetics.
Cultural politics in the beginning of the nineteenth century turns out to
be inspired by 'history' in the meaning of historicism. The engineer that
designed the Coolpolderplan in 1858 proved to be one of the main
protagonists of this. In the centre of his considerations about aesthetics
and ethics the theories of Winckelmann and Kant are found.

The unification of the two similar city plans in one series is obstructed
by the fact that the rectangular and orthogonal shape of the plan from
1858 stands in the Time of History, and the ideal city of Stevin stands in
the Space of the Mathesis.

A much more dominant relationship than the series of the ideal city, has
been found between Stevin's rectangular grid plans and the philosophy of
Justus Lipsius (1600) that represents the Neo-Stoic tradition and its
values of the imperturbability of the subject and (self) discipline. The
main ethical work of Lipsius, De Constantia (1584), is extensively quoted
and analysed. It reconciliates Seneca's fate with Christian free will.

Lipsius' interpretation of Seneca is compared with the interpretation of
Foucault that puts more emphasis on Seneca's technique of the self-made
subjectivity. He radicalised this technique into the 'aesthetics of
existence' and the stylisation of the self. These thoughts of Foucault
trace back to the second Nietzschean wave in France that started with
Georges Bataille and Pierre Klossowski between 1937 and 1969. The
neo-Nietzschean quest for vitality is discussed in its consequence for
critical writing. Among others, concepts like Vital Ascetics, Hyper- or
Hypocritique, Self Transformation and Transitorily Subjectivity are
developed in the field of tension between the Stoic technique of the self
and the Kantian subject with its ethics of responsibility.

Stevin himself contributed to the ethical discussion of his time with his
book Vita Politica (1590). It clearly shows his effort to conform his
thought to the demands of the 'mathesis' and how he strives to overcome
the uncertainties of the renaissance mode of knowledge. In an attempt to
exclude the renaissance indifference towards simulation, Stevin promotes
the modern figure and language of the expert.  This figure still rules the
scientific discourse, the moral issues of urbanism and the history of
urbanism. Here the concept of the hypermodern dilettant is introduced. He
compensates the exactitude of the isolated facts of the expert with
combinatorial fantasy.

In the Netherlands, the Neo-Stoic philosophy and its doctrine of (self)
discipline became the basis for the famous army reforms by the Nassaus. In
the practice of warfare and siege, this discipline became a technique that
focussed more and more on the human body. It generated rules and exercises
to get control over its very movements. In the army the image of the self
disciplined citizen changed into that of the disciplined man-machine,
first to produce order, finally to produce functional escalation in the
army and finally in civil society. In relation to the social construction
of order, the military camp developed in a scientific way. It became the
example where social order and spatial order merged and influenced each
other. This is why the ideal city of Stevin in times of peace is like the
military camp of Prince Maurits of Oranje Nassau in times of war.

These elements merged in the 'Duytse Mathematicque' (1600) the first Dutch
school for engineers where Simon Stevin developed his ideal town model.

The knowledge of the order and the camp found its application in the
practice of urbanism. In the seventeenth century all urbanism focused on
the city frontier. The shape of the rampart often determined the shape of
the town expansion plan. A rectangular street plan had to be reconciled to
an often-circular fortification plan. The reason for town expansion was
often economic: an attempt to bring potentially valuable land within the
town walls and make them a source of revenue by levying taxes on them. The
rectangularity was motivated by the wish to maximise the number of houses
to be built. Seventeenth-century town expansion plans of Leyden, Amsterdam
and Harlem are briefly discussed.

Salomon de Bray's involvement in the town expansion plan of Haarlem in
1661 appeared to differ from the pragmatic solutions and the mathematical
based theories descending from Stevin because he attempted to apply an
aesthetic theory. In spite of the rupture of Stevin, these proposals once
again seemed to be based on the doctrine of proportional representation in
which formal similarity played an important role, because the model to be
represented was the Temple of Salomon. The seventeenth century fashion to
imitate the Temple of Salomon in town planning is discussed as a
Protestant attempt to anticipate the coming of New Jerusalem. The attempt
was rarely successful, but it adds to our insight into seventeenth-century

Wealth, mathesis and representation turn out to be the main topics of
seventeenth-century town planning. The seventeenth -century grid plans are
compared to those of the nineteenth. In the seventeenth century dimension
and order prove to be the signs of truth and beauty. Seventeenth-century
thinking was governed by the classical epistèmè of mathesis and the
consciousness that the sign (i.e. the representation) was dissociated from
the thing. It could represent a thing, and at the same time, it could
evoke the idea of the thing. Beside this, the sign was recognized as
material and could as such be experienced and studied. We recognise all
this from our personal experiences with maps. The meaning of aesthetical
thinking in the classical time was not given by history, nor by geography
but by the way, it related to the infinity, the absolute form and holiness
of God. Everything on earth was nothing but pure restriction that reached
out to the infinity by means of mathematical series and spatial

Prophetic Interventions

The writings of BOOK II underline the notion that in our culture
intuitions and evidences about the reality of the city and the territory
are influenced by the media and the techniques of real time. They offer
new experiences to the urban population and we may expect that greater
parts of our culture will identify with them, thus creating a process that
will involve urbanism, architecture and the writing of history and
critique. The issue at steak is the reflexivity. Unjustified
representations of reality are combined with expectations and (non)
activities that will influence the perception of reality. Up to now this
cycle of reflexivity finds its apogee in the distortions the real city is
subjected to by the visual media and the real time representation. The
media has improved the transparency of the representation beyond
probability and real time will complete the absolute transparency with
absolute simultaneity. Mind and emotion are entangled in this process and
new types of expectation and (non) activity will arise. Perhaps the media
representations will finally break down in face of their natural
boundaries, but the Prophetic Interventions do not want to wait for this
to happen. Averse from every appeal to verification by reality, they grasp
the chance offered by the situation to launch strategic and senseless
theses about the actual state of urban reality that all converge in the
attempt to discourage actual trends and that are therefore prophetic.

BOOK II  Chapter 1
The image of the city and the planning process

The contributions of the humanistic movement in Dutch architecture in the
1970s, that made a rupture with technocratic modernism in urban planning,
are enumerated. Some of the theoretical backgrounds to design principles
concerning the image of the city and its social, psychological and
political effects are discussed. Special attention is given to the
importance of the mental image. A brief description is made of its role
within the strategy to attach the population to a place, as was the case
within the city reconstructions in Groningen and Rotterdam.

The dispersing and disengaging effects of traffic and the media thwarted
this strategy. The humanistic trend was opposed by the so-called
autobiographic architecture of Aldo Rossi, introduced in Holland by
Umberto Barbieri, Joost Meeuwissen and Jo Coenen. Rem Koolhaas is quoted
in as far that he argues for the abandonment of town planning and its
attempts at control over urban space and social construction.

(Or. Lecture at the University of São Paulo in 1988. The text is published
in Brazil as: 'Produção e dissolução da imagem da cidade', in: Progeto
151, (1992))

BOOK II Chapter 2
Cities' frontiers and their disappearance

With Walter Benjamin's thesis on the history of philosophy in mind, an
actual problem is historicized. The current nostalgia for city frontiers
and the melancholy caused by the loss of urban form is placed within the
context of the historical conflict between the fixed and the movable.
There has always been a precarious balance between the (stable) form of a
city and the encroaching power of traffic and flow. It is argued that
currently the social values of safety and increase in wealth are
guaranteed by means of techniques and mentalities, which are antagonistic
to the ideals of security of form and place. Inevitable they will
transform the city and the world into a global object. The fear and the
will to fix form it arouses, are seen as aspects of a paranoia inspired by
a compulsion for self-preservation. This compulsion finds its origin in a
view of the world, which is controlled by a fixed, i.e. conceptual
discourse. We should leave this structure of discourse behind us.

(Or. Public Lecture, Jan van Eyck Academy at Maestricht in 1990. It has
been published as: Gevers, I. (ed.), De Grens/the borderline, Amsterdam:
De Balie i.c.w. the Jan van Eyck Academy at Maestricht 1990 and as: 'City
frontiers and their disappearance', in resp. Assemblage 16 ( 1991) and
under the same title in : 'The Periphery' Archi­­tectural Design Profile
no. 108 (1994))

BOOK II Chapter 3
An architecture of solidity

An elaboration is made of the thesis that architecture should pay
attention to the alien: the world of flow, traffic, and electronic
communication. This does not imply that the traditional Euclidian
foundations of architecture and urban design should be abandoned. It is
argued that architecture and urban design should develop a heterological
body of knowledge, which does not allow for any kind of internal
reconciliation. Two kinds of architecture are presented.

Very briefly, the architecture of the media is compared to that of the
Baroque. This is in line with the Italian post-modern fashion to present
the Baroque as a style of distortion, which could make a significant
contribution to the value of imagery in our time. It is stated that the
architecture of the media is the baroque architecture of today because its
distortion of forms and systems of orientation is superior to all
architecture that has to rely on fixed forms.

On the other hand, there is also the architecture of measure and
territory. Not in the tradition of Heidegger and Norberg-Schulz but in the
tradition of the seventeenth-century French military architect Vauban and
his project of the determination of the territory of France. The ground is
seen as a tectonic relief that might provide information for a connection
with architecture.

(Or. 'Een architectuur van de soliditeit', in: Oase 21 (1988))

BOOK II Chapter 4
The passion for the hiatus

>From the days of the Hellenic civilisation, we have known a culture of
appearances. Myths and, at a later stage, philosophy were concerned with
appearances. Our present culture seems to be informed by a passion for
disappearances. It is shown that the power of cinematographic and virtual
images is enhanced by the technique of cutting in film that produces
'tricks ' and special effects. Cinematographic and virtual images derive
their 'magic' from the element left out: chunks of reality are
re-assembled by means of time-space gaps. Thus, the passion for the
cinematographic and the virtual actually is the passion for the hiatus,
for what has disappeared.

The passion for the hiatus (the empty 'in between' that has disappeared)
will ultimately become the passion for the disappearance of the self. The
common thesis that we build our self-consciousness by mirroring the image
of ourselves will have to be reversed. The person focused at the void of
the hiatus will not be present but absent. Along with this, a culture will
arise where the characteristics of the territory are no longer the base of
human experience. Time will also change: it will become trans-finite,
meaning that it will be able to carry changes in perspective and to
present conflicting representations of historic progress. Time then
becomes empty and indifferent, which is a precondition for our present
culture of commutation of values, theories and representations.

As the time factor is the core of the modern notion of process, an inquiry
into the possibilities of a politic of time becomes necessary. A
meditation is started upon post historical melancholy and the possibility
of Machines of Gravity. An answer is found in a new relationship between
apocalyptic thought, fantasy, the human body and the affirmation of the
relativity of perception. Perhaps time is nothing but a grammatical effect
that can be dealt with by a transhistorical discourse.

(Or. 'De passie van het hiaat', in: Oase 28 (1990))

BOOK II Chapter 5
The information mass and the omnipolis

The essay is a meditation upon reality, city and information. Reality,
that used to consist of mass and energy, recently extended with
information, now consists of information-energy that will transform the
human body into the last mass and the city into an omnipolis.

Under the influence of information, the social mass will be transformed in
a technological informed epidemic cloud. It will have lost its spatial
density in favour of interconnectivity and simultaneous action.

Electronic information is cybernetic energy that consolidates the human
body when it hits it. The experience of gravity helped us to define up and
down and informed our perspective view, the desire to overcome distances
that came along with it and finally historical time. Real time attempts to
erase this world and to eliminate the perspective. The absence of world,
distance and perspective will create the so-called spherical time that has
no direction whatsoever. The human body will come to rest in its final
site of impact. All utopias are bent and folded in into this last place to
long for. The proper body will be like the whole world and the centre of
it at the same time.

These developments will give rise to the omnipolis, that will become the
topological and interconnective 'home' of the global real time community.
The omnipolis will be reigned by spherical time and will be composed of
information mass, cybernetic energy and 'planet people'. Like a
radioactive cloud, it will destabilize the old territorial city and,
around the holy axis of glocalization, it will produce a whirlwind of
global migration.

(Or. 'Information Mass', in: 'Mass', Forum 38/04 (19­97))

BOOK II Chapter 6
The solidification

The apocalyptic metaphysical thesis about the solidification of a society
as the condition, in which there is no 'event' possible, is reconstructed
and put in the light of the real time technique.

Solidification is a catastrophe. It is produced by the technique to
represent the moment, as we know it from photography, cinematography and
television. These constitute a new type of reality that is characterized
by elastic time and repetition of the same: the desert form.

In the solidified society, there can be no event and therefore there can
be no meaningful 'dialectic' representation of the other, as was the case
with the critical movements in art and architecture in the second half of
the twentieth century. This impossibility is caused by the spherical time
that absorbs past and future. Spherical time is the product of
representation in real time. It brings about the reign of syncretism that
absorbs dialectical negation without any exchange of value.

The proposal is made to develop techno metaphysics by reshaping the
ancient techniques of Gnostic Apocalyptic writing. The search for
metaphysical truth should be abandoned in favour of the construction of
metaphysical fiction and the tendency towards a technological informed
absolute through fully transparent and simultaneous information, should be
contested by a fantasy dimension, that does not wish to 'overcome' a given
situation and that does not rely on 'creativity' (that still would be
historical and humanistic). It is also proposed to develop an
accidentology, an archaeo -technological inventiveness that focuses on the
technical means and their proper action. It is suggested that perhaps an
event is still possible, all be it an event in writing and therefore in

(Or. 'De stolling', in: Zeezucht 9 (1998))

Monographs and letters

This chapter presents two monographs about the 'dromology' of Paul Virilio
and three letters concerning critical writing about urbanism and the
history of urbanism.

The monographs meditate upon the problem that our cities and our urban
culture are overruled by the power of a technological process that is
largely governed by speed. On the one hand, the mobilisation of territory
and perception profits from the advantages of this, but technological
progress also takes its toll. In order to develop a critical
understanding, traditional categories of the architectural knowledge of
the city and the urban culture are discussed and new concepts are

The letters meditate upon concepts to be developed concerning the
description of urban realities, urbanism and historical facts, and upon
methods of writing like the technique of blending fragments, as well as
upon theories concerning the relationship between scriptural
representation and reality.

The dromological point of view

Paul Virilio's 'dromology' is introduced. Some of Virilio's principles
concerning the social significance of speed and its implications for the
perception of the form and status of the architectural object and the city
are discussed. The modern process is not governed by class struggle, but
by speed, which has become the new standard for the community. Over and
against the 'argument' of the Enlightenment, Virilio proposes an allusive
and cinematic writing, which in combination with the technique of
interdisciplinary composition is an attempt at making the 'text' work
according to the rules of our cinematographic culture. The city is seen as
the victim of a mobilisation, which has gained the upper hand and is
rushing along independently. Memory, too, is mobilised by the effects of
film and television. These effects will have a large impact on all
calculations concerning the effect of the architectural image. In
accordance with this he proposes new concepts like: dromocracy,
dromocratic city and inhabitable circulation.

(Or. 'Town-planning and the death revolt, the dromology of Paul Virilio'
(a selection from the first part up to 'technique and theology') in:
Archis 11 (1987))

The compulsion to sit down

The faster the information, the faster environments and signs rush past,
the more immobile the human body becomes. We read a book lying down or
sitting comfortably, we lounge in front of a television. The consumption
of signs requires passivity of the body. This puts pressure on some
central paradigms of architecture, in so far as architecture wants to be
sign and communication, and on the theories of the panoptical control. The
senso-motor mode of perception and the attendant circulation in the public
domain will change drastically. Moving in order to see and been seen while
moving are replaced by the comfort of sitting down in front of a screen.
This 'sitting down' has numerous consequences for politics, identity, the
social, the public domain, town planning, the monument and the panoptical
mechanisms of social control.

Why should the house of the future be transparent now that the media and
video monitoring systems provide us with the trans-appearance of the most
distant environments? Video techniques open up the possibility of a merger
between the house and the vehicle: the habitacle. It is argued that in the
near future time, space and matter will assume metaphysical
characteristics. The spectator's perception becomes ubiquitous, time
becomes intensified, i.e. it assumes the characteristics of eternity and
the human body will become as motionless as the mass of a planet.

(Or. 'Virilio and inert man. The changed meanings of time and space', in:
De Architekt (1991), 'The prominence of the seat', in: Mediamatic (1991))

Letter to Edward

In this letter some concepts are discussed like: panique as the source of
progress, realized utopia and a-topia as contestations of utopian thought,
humility of thought as successor of the omniscience of modernity. It is
proposed that openness be defined as withdrawal from the critical
time-space of the media and from the powers of a theoretical super ego.
Concerning the city and urbanism, concepts like global object and
theoretical hypocrisy are discussed, followed by a meditation on the
possibility of machines of gravity as a tool to produce identity and

Letter to Johannes

The letter reflects on scriptural modes of critical and historical
writing. Who actually is the author of a scripture? Is the subjective
intention capable of mastering the product? The figure of the double is
shown in the example of the shaman, who has the ability to change into
another identity and another reality. Given that there is a conflict
between the art of writing and the correct representation of object,
writing is like archaeological interpretation: a mixture of fact and
fiction. Poetic intelligence is meditated upon as a possible origin of the
metaphysics of history and as a suitable tool for a writing that again
respects the distance between sign and thing. Jünger is introduced as an
example because he reversed the origin of history to the end, proclaiming
the attractive power of a phantasmagoric time wall situated in the future.

What are the role of myth and legend in writing history? Legends want to
placate a public with true stories. Urban historiography often creates
evolutionary legends. Strong legends tend to make use of mythological

The two orientations of a text (towards the object and towards the reader)
can be granted by the construction of interweavings. The technique of
blending opposes the modern synthesis. Chinese blending techniques and the
bricolage of Claude Levi-Strauss are discussed.

To acknowledge the double genesis of the text supports its liberation from
the tyranny of the factual. Nevertheless fantasy contributes to reality.
How to write in a culture devoted to hyperreality? By affirming the
radical illusion of the world.

The secret partner in writing is recognized as the diabolical principle
that utters itself in mistakes and anomalies. This fact can be affirmed by
the theory of a complete that is additional and endless, as was the case
in mannerism. The principle is shown in the example of two mannerist

The problem of the centre within infinite interweavings is solved by
entangling the subject in the work. The endlessness of interweavings can
function as a model for our era, if we consider them as a series folding
in time and define them as delimited-limitations, following Gilles
Deleuze. Now there can be inventiveness in the repetition of the same, as
is proposed by Borges in his essay: Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote.

Interweavings find their correlative in ideas about architectural
composition. Composition opposes design and especially a type of design
that attempts at forming a style that should express its time.

Seen in this light many architects in Holland remain modern. They stick to
a kind of retro modernism that is shown to be nothing more than a
dissident idealism. They rely on the hypergenesis of a post-modern type of
creativity and have not been able to deal with their fear for post
historical oblivion. This dissident idealism is confronted with Gnostic
notions about the active and creative potential of matter and their joyful
strategy to submit their minds to it. This means that Kant should be left
behind; in as far he proclaims the superiority of the mind over matter.

Letter to Wim

The author qualifies himself as a guest who visits the dissertation at
hand. The shamanism mentioned in the previous letter turns out to be
submitted to tourism but at the same time it is still a remarkable
cultural phenomenon that exceeds its religious successors like
Christianity. The argument is made: there can be no true shaman without
drugs.  Hitler's Third Reich appealed to shamanism by its cross and its
desire to conquer Russia and Siberia.

The author criticizes the viewpoints of Ernst Jünger on history. Jünger
would have promoted the heroic soldier- worker and would have relied on a
doubtful astrology. Above all, however, he is depicted as a pessimist and
a melancholic. Jünger inspires the author to tell a magic story about the
Second World War, his father, a German pilot, strange encounters and
graveyards. Jünger is wrong, states the author, because we have no
mobilization. The planning Jünger promoted has been degraded to an
activity that provides measurable criteria that evolve with the
possibilities. It is more significant that technique has developed a
compelling language that puts everything under the sign of a global and
public entertaining spectacle.

Contrary to our western civilization shamans do not recognize the
distinction between matter and mind. They avow a non-duality and strive
for magical control over a mind they see as material power.

The concept of poetic intelligence as mentioned in the previous letter is
disputed with a broad view on creativity, defined as the space offered to
social potencies to express themselves.  In spite of their severity,
computer languages have caused a tremendous creativity because there was
no power to discipline them. A belief in unrestricted creativity however
is considered to be dangerous.

The end of history is meditated upon with the aid of personal experiences
in post communist Russia. The city of Samarkand is mentioned as the
forgotten origin of the Jewish- Christian culture, as refuge of the last
Manicheans and as the focus of many Shaman tales during the last 3
millennia. The Soviet utopia is considered to have been the profane
realization of the Orthodox Christian dream of the Holy Jerusalem.
Reflecting on the writer Bulgakov, it is argued that unbound creativity
always escapes the efforts to tame it.

Today the public is the referent. Attention is the new object of desire
and public figures are bound by the necessary attention of their public.
Shaman language can undo these subtle power effects. They never submitted
to any people and power, let be to the play of public and hero. They were
ultra-autonomous and that's why they attract us, post historians searching
for something incomprehensible in this world of growing consensus and the
endless repetition of what already has been.

The author confesses that in his writings he opposes Baudrillard and his
notion of hyperrealism and favours Merleau Ponty's method of
phenomenological description and dealing with shocking experiences in

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