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The spirit of adhocism and brilliant selective editing


Steen, AP, The spirit of adhocism and brilliant selective editing, Proceedings of The 34th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, Canberra, 05-08 July 2017, Canberra, pp. 711-720. (2017) [Refereed Conference Paper]


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In "Urgency and Purpose," the first section of "The Spirit of Adhocism," the first chapter of Part One of *Adhocism: The Case for Improvisation* (1972), Charles Jencks includes an extended quotation from Claude Lévi-Strauss’s *The Savage Mind* (1966). The 116-word block, which provides a loose definition of the "bricoleur," begins with a three-point ellipsis, and includes two further threepoint ellipses. In his *New Society* article "Bricologues à la lanterne" (1976), Reyner Banham describes this quotation as "a brilliant piece of selective editing from which the original meaning has been totally mislaid." Viewed biographically, the interaction expresses a deteriorating interpersonal relationship between former doctoral student and supervisor. Viewed formally, however, Jencks’s quotation and Banham’s critique prompt questions about the rules and impacts of quotations within architectural discourse.

This paper will investigate the textual properties of Jencks’s quotation of Lévi-Strauss in the contexts of Banham’s evaluation of its functioning. It will involve two parts. The first part of the paper will interrogate the parameters Banham might have applied to conclude Jencks’s Lévi-Strauss quotation is a misrepresentation of the original text. It will scrutinise the editing that transformed Lévi-Strauss’s original piece of writing into Jencks’s fragment. The use of typographical ellipses in relation to excluded words and concepts will be of particular significance. The second part of the paper will reframe the apparent sarcasm within Banham’s assertion and probe how Jencks’s quotation might indeed be deemed "brilliant". It will consider how a quotation might function effectively despite failing to accurately relay its source. Metatextual aspects of the quotation will form the basis of this second part, which will highlight the significance of the discursive function of "The Spirit of Adhocism."

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:architectural discourse, Charles Jencks, adhocism
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural history, theory and criticism
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:Communication not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Steen, AP (Dr Andrew Steen)
ID Code:121762
Year Published:2017
Deposited By:Architecture and Design
Deposited On:2017-10-13
Last Modified:2022-08-24
Downloads:60 View Download Statistics

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