This weekend, in the computer lab, I was cleaning up my files from the semester and gathering my final projects to archive. It was late. I was tired, hungry, and not paying attention to what really I was doing on the computer – or what it was doing to me.
I started murking around sciarcshare, looking at various curriculums and readings from other classes.
Not having used it all semester, I clicked open my studio folder, and found my name on the list, right between Nairi and Pohsien. Knowing there was nothing in it, I opened it anyway.

What’s this?

One mysterious file: READ ME. Intrigued, I opened the document.

7AM?! I thought...well sure, I suppose it’s the only time the building is ever empty. They must be serious.

So I went.

It turned out to be a bunch of 1B hooligans wanting to make a name for themselves. Said they were heavily influenced by the Extropian principles1, and wanted to start a club.2

One thing that did catch my attention though: as precedents, they had a collection of old CS assignments, evidently passed down from a fifth-year, who had gotten them as a first-year from a then-fifth-year, and on, etc. so that some of the writings included in the bunch were 15 or 20 years old – from a time, apparently, when manifestos were not only not avoided, but actually assigned in class.3

The typical assignment brief, one of my young colleagues informed me, went something like this: “Write a manifesto, only write it from the perspective of someone other than yourself. It can be you as a child, or you in ten years if you like. But manifestos as other people or objects are encouraged. Base your arguments on relevant class readings and ideas.”4

I flipped through these precedents. A few I recall: “You Got it Wrong; a Discussion of Deleuze;” or “Q: What Will You Do Tomorrow, Kitsch? A: Same Thing I Do Every Day, Pinky, Try to Take Over the World;” or “Chair;” or “Skyscrapers and Open-Air Stadiums: It’s all 1s and 0s - a Reading of the Representation of Human Genitalia in Practically Everything;” or “Peter Eisenman; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Diagram.”

At this point, with my curiosity piqued and comrades in heated debate, I took out my phone and surreptitiously began snapping photos of the texts. Unfortunately, I only got through a handful before a uniquely observant fellow caught and impugned me as a spy.5 Whipped up as they all were, I was fortunate to make it out with my phone, unharmed.

What follows here are the transcribed assignments. Due to the conditions under which the reproductions were made, several have been truncated, occasionally quite abruptly.6 Where the instructors’ comments appear on the source material, they are included here as footnotes.


Now, we are in time that is not in the now, to put it into terms architecturally.8 We are out of time.9 Some say, we are living now in the present. But we are not.10 We are alive in the future of the past. Post modernism. The name tells you. We have not a movement of our own. We have only a movement of what ours is not. How can a man (or woman?) be proud to say “This is what I am not” and be content with his (or her) life? It is something unfulfilling. So we live in the future of the past. Or else we live now in the past of the future.11 I mean we wait for fire and spirit to come back to architecture like there was at the start of modernism. We hope for it. But now, it has not yet come and we wait. When it comes however and things are different, then we will know that the time we are in now is a time to give birth to what follows and not a time that is a time period of “This is what I am now.” Of course, Post modernism is more detailed, than this12, and I know this. But Post modernism is like the frame and when the frame of something is limited, the man (or woman) who must live inside must follow the rules of the fram.13

But Andrew Zago says, as a road to the present of the future when he talks about the awkward as a tactic and “a provisional approach to a cultural impasse that has hamstrung architecture’s access to authenticity?”14

The Plumber’s Tale

So I was working this gig...

High-profile client you know? Real big- SO big I’m not even allowed to say who he is, alright? Well, let’s just call him….Com Truise.

You with me?
Alright so….I get called in. The Supe – my supervisor – calls me up.

“Jim…Jim,” he says. “Sounds like a real thick job over there but I know you’re up to it.”

First, a bit of background: At the company, we got a crew of like 30 guys. Aint no joke. We do ANY kind of plumbing. Anykind. Anywhere. I mean ANYKIND, ANYWHERE.

Aint no joke.

Now in the company, I’m the toilet drain guy. The best, you know?

I deal with the shit….Basically. is what I like to say.

But not just that. You know a lot of clogs too. People flush some strange things down the toilet. Causes a lot of problems.

What’s that? Well you know. Normal day-to-day objects can seem grotesque, right? When they’re backing up several inches of excrement sitting in a pipe.

Like a fork for example. That was a tough one. Lemme tell ya.

Anyway, so I’m at Tom – I mean…what’d I say – Com’s house right?

Oh well first I gotta just say I didn’t always used to live in LA. You know.
I moved here 15, 20, years ago, and this is not an exclusive LA phenomenon, but it is definitely something that is essential to a kind of LA mentality, if you know what I mean. You know people here aren’t real people like you and me. Not everybody is like this, but its getting so that people are like the representation of people now.

Manifesto’s MANIFESTO

“Oof…BOY am I tired. This staying up all night in fits of mania and fever dreams of the future is just MURDER for your skin. Tell me something: do I have bags under my eyes – No, DON’T tell me! Don’t think I don’t know. Of course, it wasn’t always like this you know. You always cling to the good times, don’t you? ...The good men...

“Robert Venturi! There was a cad one could get behind. Always wrote in the afternoon. Like clockwork he was. And dammit I’ll tell you something:

“I like complexity too.

“Whazzat? Maybe. Yes…well so what if I am still drunk? What’s it to YOU anyhow? It’s not easy, you know, to be whom I have to be. I’ve got plenty to gripe about. After all these years. People they…they use you for their own narcissistic, invariably self serving – and you get swept up! Swept RIGHT up in it. And they abuse you, and when they’re done toss you to the gutter where any passing hey-ho on the street can see you lying there - all splayed open like a filleted fish. Like a whoo-re. That’s what I am to them, you know. After it’s over…nothing. They completely forget about you. Just Like Death.

“BUT the Act of the Writing…that’s the main thing! That’s what I’ll always hold nearest my heart. That’s where the True Life is. That’s why this one here, this one is never gonna end. I got enough inside me: anecdotes, histories, precedents, AND new ideas…boy I could go on damn near forever. Besides, this here is just my first dra
Absurd Realism

Patrick Geske
April 2015

1. I had to look it up afterward. From Wikipedia: Extropianism “is an evolving framework of values and standards for continuously improving the human condition. Extropians believe that advances in science and technology will some day let people live indefinitely.” In short: technology will solve all our problems, and eventually do away with pesky boundaries like money and property. Yet, we still have a duty to be responsible, intelligent, and creative people. Some of it was alright.

2. Or a cult - it was never clear which.

3. (!)

4. The reasoning, it turns out, was essentially Deleuzian. If all students are made to write manifestos (or simulacra of manifestos, as it were), one of them, surely, must hit upon something authentic…Right?

8. You sound like EOM. :)

9. Maybe not what you think it means.

10. Curious.

5. Likely one himself.

6. Apologies.

7. [Author and Date absent from reproduction.
11. Ok I see your point.

12. How so? It seems you missed an opportunity to talk about the readings from Jencks and Venturi especially.

13. (sic.)

14. Is that a question?? It seems you missed another opportunity to connect Zago’s “Awkward” to similar “propositional alternatives” discussed in every one of this week’s readings. How, for instance, if it’s so that the history of Arch – and I’m quoting one of my colleagues here – is piles of rocks getting lighter, than what Sylvia proposes is a radical step past both 1. the projects discussed in Terrence Riley’s Light Construction catalogue, and 2. the affective qualities of dematerialization in the work of H(and)dM, as discussed by Kipnis, into new territory altogether in which Arch joins forces with Art, in this case, to achieve the affective quality of lightness through the control and manipulation of LIGHT ITSELF (i.e. video projection). It’s a step not taken lightly :) as Sylvia is all too well aware, and would be downright moribund where Arch is concerned if instead of proposing it as a WAY OUT (which she does), she meant for it to be any kind of end unto itself…And speaking of a way out, we’re right back to your quote of Zago,* who inherits his discussion of the tactical from Eisenman, yet shifts its emphasis from the means of the diagrammatic, to the ends (i.e. the awkward).
*And could just as easily segue into a relevant discussion along similar themes in the articles by Somol / Whiting and Meredith.