…examples from Piranesi’s work that demonstrate assimilation or metabolism or both. For example, the life and death analysis is related to the creation/destruction of metabolism. Moreover, the notion of purge relates to assimilation in the extreme. And the notion of contiguous elements as ruins/generative elements is exactly the metabolic process. …the Il Campo Marzio… …represents pure assimilation, i.e., the absorption of all the (historical) data pertaining to the Campo Marzio.
…the evolution of Piranesi’s plan formations in the Ichnographia signify an ongoing assimilating/metabolic process.
…the notion that Piranesi was perhaps giving the Campo Marzio a “face-lift,” a second chance where the “faults” have been eliminated and the dormant potential fulfilled. This is very much the metabolic process, especially when you remember Piranesi was working on ruins.
Campo Marzio bibliography & my own reenactment process
Not surprisingly, I already see the proposed annotated bibliography as producing a narrative text about itself and especially about the record of my own research process -- actually a record of how the research process and my ultimate Campo Marzio narrative grew, changed, and developed along the way. What will be of overall interest is that nearly all the texts contributed major pieces of the puzzle, that while it could be looked at as a grand collage, the final picture is nonetheless a strongly cohesive unit of data that points ostenibly to the fact that Piranesi knew virtually all there is to know about the ancient Roman Campo Marzio, and, moreover, the Ichnographia is the metabolic catharsis of Piranesi’s almost unfathomable assimilation of knowledge attained throughout the decade or so immediately prior to the drawing of the Ichnographia and the ultimate publication of Il Campo Marzio. Last night I thought of how Piranesi’s first mode of operation was assimilation of the data--this lead to years of more and more intense osmosis with the material as well--and finally the abundant assimilation and osmosis sparked a whole new metabolic catharsis which manifested itself as Il Campo Marzio.
In seeing the bibliography as a whole, I also began to see how I too was/am assimilating vast amounts of knowledge and history, and, furthermore, since I think about or actually work on some aspect of the Campo Marzio practically everyday, I too am now experiencing the effects of continual osmosis. Hence, I am myself now on the verge of a metabolic catharsis.
Life and Death (Eros & Thanatos) in the Ichnographia
After searching my Timepiece notes for something on metabolism, I (re)found Freud’s quotations from Civilization and its Discontents which names eros and thanatos (the life and death instincts) as the basic operations of life. The whole notion is great for my idea of a metabolic imagination and it didn’t take me long to make the connection to the Life and Death axes of the Campo Marzio. Oddly enough, it came as a revelation for me to see these cross axes as a manifestation of the metabolic process. Nonetheless, this connection is exactly what ties the two axes story together -- this connection provides the ultimate outline and full meaning of Piranesi’s design which is now undisputedly metabolic.
Of course, this story reinforces the metabolic imagination theory as well, and suddenly I have a connetion to the TPH, the BIA, and to the actual history of Berlin (and here Speer’s plan is incredibly poignant!).
I will develop this whole analysis (story) in gallery 1999, starting with a link from the Freud quotation. I will include everything--life, death, sex, Rossi, Nero/St. Peter’s, the Triumphal Way back and forth, City of God (new life), inside-outside, Tafuri wrong, cardo & decumanus, inversion, (schizophrenia)
Re: irrational architecture
B., like other 20th century "architectural scholars", comes very close to the point (of origin) with regard to contemporary architecture's relationship with the rational and the irrational. The vital, albeit still largely missing, ingredient of this analysis/phenomenon, however, is the creative-destructive nature of the metabolic (imagination). To reinforce my "theories" here, I offer the following quotation, along with some further analysis/explanation.
From: Manfredo Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia - Design and Capitalist Development (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1976), pp. 15-16:
"Rationalism would seem thus to reveal its own irrationality. In the attempt to absorb all its own contradictions, architectural "reasoning" applies the technique of shock to its very foundations. Individual architectural fragments push one against the other, each indifferent to jolts, while as an accumulation they demonstrate the uselessness of the inventive effort expended on their formal definition.
The archeological mask of Piranesi's Campo Marzio fools no one: this is an experimental design and the city, therefore, remains an unknown. Nor is the act of designing capable of defining new constants of order. This colossal piece of bricolage conveys nothing but a self-evident truth: irrational and rational are no longer to be mutually exclusive. Piranesi did not possess the means for translating the dynamic interrelationships of this contradiction into form. He had, therefore, to limit himself to enunciating emphatically that the great new problem was that of the equilibrium of opposites, which in the city find its appointed place: failure to resolve this problem would mean the destruction of the very concept of architecture."
Tafuri must here be taken to task because he comes extremely close to the truth about Piranesi and his large plan of the Campo Marzio, but he then falls fatally short of seeing the truth. Tafuri is absolutely wrong when he states, "Piranesi did not possess the means for translating the dynamic interrelationships of this contradiction into form." In truth, Piranesi worked very hard to "translate" the opposite yet necessarily linked notions of life and death (rational and irrational) within his great plan, and I have substantially documented Piranesi's (metabolic operations) in "Eros et Thanatos Ichnographia Campi Martii". Stated briefly, Eros names the life instinct and Thanatos names the death instinct, and Piranesi carefully delineates (between 1758-1762) both these "instincts" within the ancient city of Rome.
It is becoming more and more clear to me that any discussion of the rational and the irrational (in design and capitalism) tends to lead toward confusions unless they acceptingly incorporate the over riding creative-destructive nature of the metabolic (imagination).