Harmony and opposition

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Virginia Tech

Throughout history, art has succeeded in creating systems of meaning capable of constructing a coherent world image for its respective societies. This is especially true of so-called primitive works of art, which, in their coming into being, make use of a mythical mode of thinking that sees the world in terms of analogy, the identification or establishment of relations between concrete particulars of things otherwise considered unlike. Rather than assuming that contemporary culture has overcome this savage characteristic, this book is an investigation into the theoretical foundations and implications of analogical thought involved in acts of making and the design of architectural projects relevant to our time.

Of all disciplines concerned with production, perhaps architecture, in particular, finds itself amid the most complex set of various forces and constraints, all vying for preeminence - and formal expression. A corresponding architectural complexity is achieved, not in positivist fashion through direct, additive responses to this plurality of influences, but through the ordering of relations of opposition inherent in specific situations. These oppositions align with their built counterforms to produce a richly articulated structural framework. Yet, instead of grounding architectural decisions on an pposition of willful contradiction, this thesis seeks an inclusive architecture grounded in the mutual reciprocity of opposites or contraries. Analogies with structural linguistics and anthropology, Aristotle's theory of contrariety, and the literature of James Joyce are used to elucidate universal principles common to any productive art