Sunday, January 30, 2011

Books of the Decade: Enduring Innocence

Keller Easterling, a professor of architecture at Yale, published Enduring Innocence in 2005. An interweaving collection of essays on the strange and astonishing built manifestations of late capitalism and neoliberal predicaments, Enduring Innocence introduces an entirely new vocabulary for the tragic and comic spaces that both hide and dominate, masquerade and overwhelm increasing landscapes of globalized commerce. Easterling calls these forms spatial products, and in less than 200 pages, employs a number of other excellent neologisms (indeed a whole new vocabulary for understanding the contemporary world), academic and philosophical references, and real-world examples as a sampling of the constructions of contemporary political-industrial-logistical regimes, and their agents and participants. With her amusing, enlightening prose and omniscient perspicacity, Easterling's volume shakes the reader awake from the celebrated dream of a harmonious, unified world to the casual violence of fractured, privatized, maximized landscapes. For more on Ms. Easterling, an extensive interview on Archinect is here.

"The greenhouse is a germ of agricultural urbanism that intensifies not only production but also labor and waste in agripoles the size of a city. No longer housed only when land or sunshine is sparse, as a structure within a field, greenhouses themselves are also propagated by the square mile in gigantic fields as a massive three-dimensional construction. An agricultural landscape is typically considered to be a cultivated form of exurban countryside, a self-cleansing counterbalancing organization of overlapping ecologies between animals, atmosphere, and vegetation. A landscape of greenhouses, however, is a continuous field of twelve-to-twenty foot structures. Since most greenhouse formations cultivate flowers, fruits, and vegetables for export, they are also international formations." -pp.39-40 (Chapter: El Ejido)

"While Ceuta & Melilla have sometimes been called autonomous communities, they are not colonies that will eventually contract for their independence...Both have been under Iberian control since the 15th century. While Spain claims that they have possessed these territories since before the establishment of Morocco, Morocco claims that this constitutes only a long occupation, not a property right. Fueling Spain's desire to remain in possession of these enclaves is the need to control illegal immigration...As the only two extracontinental European territories in Africa, Ceuta & Melilla are natural bridges to Europe." - p.60 (Contemplation: Seas)
"These automated devices, necessary for the seamless and increasingly efficient movement of goods, conflate the long-standing aspirations of cars, elevators, and rapid transit to achieve omnidirectional movement. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs), matured in the military, are now the devices of peacetime logistics, currently deployed in what the industry calls "materials handling." Throughout their history, these conveyance germs have been components of various futurologies with different political dispositions. While most of these future projections typically intone utopian scripts of frictionless passage and perfect responsiveness, most actually arrive with their own forms of friction, congestion, and failure" -p.100 (Chapter: Park)

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