Lecture date: 2009-03-06
In recent years a strong vein of architectural melancholy has prompted a series of speculations concerning the loss of architecture, the loss of place, the loss of material artefacts – as if culture were dominated by the phenomenon of loss and the need to remember what is being lost. This lecture series opposes the contemporary elevation of mourning and insists upon the productive role of destruction.
This lecture series concerns the destruction of cities and urban objects. It is not a material history of such destruction, but rather an investigation of why the city is central to the issue of destructiveness. It concentrates upon the stories and fantasies of such destruction and the reasoning about their causes. A sequence of case histories leads to an investigation of the issue of destruction in modernity. Behind the optimism of the Enlightenment has fallen the shadow of a distinctly modern relation to destruction, one which defines a contemporary melancholy. The series concludes by opposing such melancholy as well as by guarding against any optimism.