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Saar Meganck on With Hannah Arendt to Paris
18 May, 2021
When I read Joke J. Hermsen’s essay ‘With Hannah Arendt to Paris’ I was amazed to realise that the philosophical framework I was taught until then only stretched between male thinkers. The bewilderment concerned the fact that this was the prevailing educational practice, but above all that I had never questioned it myself. Continuously opening up one’s own mind to the folds and notions of others is a fundamental goal of mine, both as an architect and as a person. This lack of ‘feminine thinking’ has turned out to be an incomprehensibly huge blind spot. It is with eagerness that I have since immersed myself in the opinions and questions of female philosophers. After all, as architects, we act in social contexts where the human condition is the quintessence in the broadest sense. It seems particularly interesting to me to investigate design paths and architectural thinking in which either the ‘specific feminine’ of Luce Irigaray, the equality thinking of Simone de Beauvoir, or the pluralism of Hannah Arendt are used as a guiding principle. Not as a contradictory tendency against male thinking and creating, but as an enrichment of the whole in order to arrive at a profound ‘widescreen’ vision. Research by design as a ‘dokei moi’ to uncover the values and shortcomings of the creator, the creation, and the user.
Seeming – the dokei moi [it-seems-to-me] – is the mode, perhaps the only possible one, in which an appearing world is acknowledged and perceived. To appear always means to seem to others, and this seeming varies according to the standpoint and the perspective of the spectators. In other words, every appearing thing acquires, by virtue of its appearingness, a kind of disguise that may indeed – but does not have to – hide or disfigure it. Seeming corresponds to the fact that every appearance, its identity notwithstanding, is perceived by a plurality of spectators.