Millions of years ago, people learned to cover themselves with animal skins and plant fiber cloths. The more they covered themselves, the greater their sense of shame was becoming, and the more ashamed they were, the more covering was called for. With time, clothes were modified and extended. Sometimes cover served as a kind of tent, later separating from the body entirely, growing in size and gaining more support structure, stability and decoration corresponding with the cast, social status and prestige of the residents. Architecture and fashion thus have become not only a way to protect against the elements of nature, but also a tool for forming social demarcation lines between people, for separation from the „other”, stigmatization of the so called “undesirable element”, as well as contractual separation of “enchanted” spaces reserved for sanctity: spaces within which a certain behavior is strictly enforced. Gradually the human life became divided into areas corresponding to its individual elements. The division between the “open” and “discretely veiled” life became apparent. Secret clubs of self-proclaimed chosen ones assigned themselves with the task of making decisions about the fate of the rest. Expressions such as „behind the closed doors”, “roof over one’s head, „homelessness” are not necessarily relating to architecture as such but more likely to social status and the character of inter-human relationships. The division between the ruling classes and their subjects and into various castes and social strata is a side effect of the developing architecture, or maybe vice versa: the shape of architecture is dictated by the development of our hierarchical thinking. The architecture is a scaffolding within which other elements of culture are now interwoven. Without walls there would’t be neither paintings as we know them now, nor the notion of acoustics. Cultural events are experienced in specially adapted rooms. Architecture insists that everything has to be in the right place and in the right time. Time and space weren’t split into so many tiny parts before we learned to plan and build our cities. This control over time and space is the main cause of the mental hiccups of modernity: claustrophobia, agoraphobia, the fear of being late and a wide variety of seemingly unfounded anxieties. Architecture and culture have shaped us but maybe also ruined us a little.
Is culture a fraud?
Although the importance of culture can’t be overstated, some side effects coming from functioning within its infrastructures can’t be avoided and just like lice on a powdered wig they become an integral part of our experience.
Culture squeezes the pictures into the frames and builds walls to hung them on – always at the eye level of an upright person of average height. Culture gives meaning to the concept of value which can be measured in the amount of energy devoted to creating an object or just reflected by the arbitrary consensus of the market. The market value of the work is confused with its universal value, if such even exists at all.
Culture tells us to color within the lines, creates timelines and indicates what’s already been done and what can’t be done yet. It provides tools bearing instructions of proper use not unlike exercise equipment in the gym. „Cultural” perception of time evokes a sense of “time shortage” and separates us from creation: „There is no time to create!” or „only the chosen ones and children under the age of six are allowed to do it!”
Culture is a mental simulation of reality not always consistent with the actual state of it. (See. “Waiting For An Error”)
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Defending the idea of a total lack of culture isn’t obviously a praise of using the bad words and spitting, or a call to a barbaric rejection of all our intellectual achievements. Rather, it is a call to imagine a world without walls, to break the right angles and straight lines of a cuboid and return to the unpredictability of irregular shapes. It is a call for temporary detachment from infrastructures of culture and for liberating time from the restraints of the clockwork. It is a momentary yet suspended in timelessness state of mind. It helps with the creation, but should not be reserved exclusively for the creators. After all, the reception is a creative act as well. In this momentary state of complete lack of culture, there is no doubt that any attempt to close the pure thoughts and feelings in the form of words, images and shapes comes as naturally as it does to a playing six year old who doesn’t care about the “satisfactory final result.”
Here the Culture knocks the keyboard out of my hands.
“Purely creative state of mind is impossible! By calling to abolish my concepts you are creating yet another concept!”, says the Culture. “Bold leap into the void without protective sheets stretched underneath is suicidal!”, the Culture adds.
I nod reluctantly and reboot my computer. It was turned on for way too long.