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The spirit of adhocism and brilliant selective editing


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Steen, AP ORCID: 0000-0001-8483-4421 2017 , 'The spirit of adhocism and brilliant selective editing', paper presented at the The 34th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, Canberra, 05-08 July 2017, Canberra.

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In “Urgency and Purpose,” the first section of “The Spirit of Adhocism,” the firstchapter of Part One of *Adhocism: The Case for Improvisation* (1972), CharlesJencks includes an extended quotation from Claude Lévi-Strauss’s *TheSavage Mind* (1966). The 116-word block, which provides a loose definition ofthe “bricoleur,” begins with a three-point ellipsis, and includes two further threepointellipses. In his *New Society* article “Bricologues à la lanterne” (1976),Reyner Banham describes this quotation as “a brilliant piece of selective editingfrom which the original meaning has been totally mislaid.” Viewedbiographically, the interaction expresses a deteriorating interpersonalrelationship between former doctoral student and supervisor. Viewed formally,however, Jencks’s quotation and Banham’s critique prompt questions aboutthe 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 involvetwo parts. The first part of the paper will interrogate the parameters Banhammight have applied to conclude Jencks’s Lévi-Strauss quotation is amisrepresentation of the original text. It will scrutinise the editing thattransformed Lévi-Strauss’s original piece of writing into Jencks’s fragment. Theuse of typographical ellipses in relation to excluded words and concepts will beof particular significance. The second part of the paper will reframe theapparent sarcasm within Banham’s assertion and probe how Jencks’squotation might indeed be deemed “brilliant”. It will consider how a quotationmight 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 ofAdhocism.”

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors/Creators:Steen, AP
Keywords: architectural discourse, Charles Jencks, adhocism
Journal or Publication Title: Proceedings of The 34th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, Canberra
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Copyright 2017 the Author

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