Tommi Hilsee

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Like every wounded child I just wanted to turn back time and be in that paradise again, in that moment of remembered rapture where I felt loved, where I felt a sense of belonging. ... I was still mourning-- clinging to the broken heart of girlhood, to broken connections. ... We can never go back. I know that now. We can go forward. ... love returns us to the promise of everlasting life."

~ Bell Hooks, All About Love 13

Tower of Love

For my masters thesis project at TU Delft (within the ExploreLab chair) I'm building a tower of love— incrementally, slowly, attentively, ecstatically, quietly and boisterously— with friends— between now (now) and April (2020) (when I will present the project at whatever stage it happens to be in (but the building continues beyond of course)).

introduction: [ Dec. 4, 2019 ]

. . . . Love
. . . . Joy
. . . . Thinking Through Making
. . . . How

[post-working-thinking]: [ Jan. 23, 2020 ]

. . . . 'Thinking Ahead'
. . . . Lines That Extend and Good Encounters
. . . . . . 'Commons'
. . . . "What's The Function?"
. . . . "It's Fucking Yours"


Before you think I mean love merely in the romantic sense I should clarify that I don't just mean pleasure and passions (but I also mean that), or the deepness of unshielded intimacy with another (which I also certainly mean), but I'm more after a love akin to friendship. But not merely passive friendship too typical of this neoliberalized world where interests are commodities we download and gatherings occur in singular moments, "a banal affair of private preferences".1 I'm a bit more interested in duration and the ability to stay.

But I also don't mean couple love, or love of the same (identitarian love, fascist, racist love), or love in order to become the same (also identitarian love, added with the banishing of multiplicities, like being forced into formless gloops in order to take on the form of the other half of a man (not that this doesn't reproduce in queer/other relations), so that only then you can belong, and be loved... and meld-away your own 'singularity' or identity). These are what Negri & Hardt were calling corrupt loves2— following Ahmed3, and loads of other thinkers.

The kind of love I mean is more of a longer, wider and more expansive political love, built on friendship. The kinds of friendships that entangle ourselves in each others lives, through processes of building[making] lasting, growing, joyfully[transformative], collective wellbeing.

Let's read Spinoza: :p “It is of the first importance for [persons] to establish close relationships and to bind themselves together with such ties as may most effectively unite them into one body."4 But what makes Spinoza cool is that what he means by the potential for friendship to coalesce many interests into "one" is not to be merging into the same. Spinoza was into finding the formation of a new (rational) state based on "harmony" and a "common mind" which allowed, encouraged even, the composition of singularities into something larger then the individual. These singularities interact, engage and communicate their needs and desires (like Arendt's idea of politics, a bit5) in order to construct/become the 'multitude'. Negri & Hardt take this and promote this encounter/experimentation as the key force to combat these corrupted loves of unification— or that love itself is the production/composing of new singularities (the common)— which is not something that passively happens, but something that is actively constructed.2 Which is cool. (Love is an "event in that it marks a rupture with what exists and the creation of the new.")2

While Spinoza was a bit not opposed to forming a state based on fear (atleast in the beginning), he was certainly not with this Hobbesian, Machiavellian 'Social Contract', "better to be feared then loved" stuff. Spinoza thought this kind of harmony is untrustworthy and leads to hatred. For him friendship and love are an alternative, and his notion is radical in that it takes the interests of others as the interests of ones own. (Subjects share affections of pain and joy, beyond ones personal desires.) This 'state of love' "cultivates citizens who are disturbed by the misfortunes and injuries of others and even look for ways to prevent them in the first place",6 because by doing so they are also caring for themselves. One cares for the community, and the community will inturn care for them, to increase their health, to give them life— not out of self-interest or moralistic altruism, but because the communities, worlds and relations in which we are a part are what give us life. We receive the world as a gift, and we should correspond with it,7 by engaging(caring[to engage is to care]) with life and the relations in which we are entangled. (And engaging takes on some risk, some sacrifice, some discomfort in going toward each other, in the many forms we engage and exist.) ...For Spinoza "increasing own advantage"8 is not this liberalized appropriation of the individual, but always contains a horizon of a future, always emerging, collective greater good, which could be called hope.


An integral part of love, as I'm talking about an active love, which is itself about constructing, is joy. And by joy I also don't mean a static pleasure or happiness. It's a bit like Spinoza's concept in which he defines joy as "an affect by which the body's power of acting is increased or aided."8 Joy in this sense is also active, it constitutes a transformation in increasing our capacities. He links this directly with love: "Love is joy, accompanied by the idea of an external cause."8 He spends some time explaining 'external cause' (in his geometrical precision), but I got a bit lost. But for me the 'external cause' is our relations with others, and our needs and desires. Which is to say that when we come into contact with others in order to make something which increases our joint capacity to make (and think, and feel) more things, we are acting joy and constructing love. (Or rather it is love.) Which is always aimed upwards, creating evermore (collectively) powerful bodies and minds. Joy is something which extends and grows, persists and entangles.

Deviating for a moment... there is something about slowness, in constructing or otherwise, that makes us shift our attention, our aim and our orientation. In the sense that we've already begun building (the tower, or something else philosophical, whatever you want to place here), we are not rushing to begin 'the real work', and we aren't rushing to arrive at a predetermined fixed endpoint. And when we move like that we attend to the shifting reasons as to why we are building this, and in what ways we build it, and to our bodies, and the bodies of our friends (and the need for rest), and the emotions of the moment. In which a shift from productive, efficient modes of construction (dominant within economies of building and economies of knowledge— the unrelenting compelling speed of capital) to modes of being in the act, in presence of things/worlds/relations (enjoy the cold and the darkness! Carry the beams one at a time back and forth! Makes 8 trips instead of 4!), in which the value is oriented towards constructing wellbeing. We don't build to exploit and to conclude, but to endure and grow, to inhabit, and to increase our joint wellbeing, our joint power and our joint capacity to think, feel and make more things, together. (But I'm not a purist, I don't mean to inscribe a single physical speed, fast intensities can also be slow...)

Reflecting with a friend just yesterday at the Doe-Het-Zelf Werkplaats, we were finding that our modes of building when coming into contact with others to problem-solve in the act (better called making things) were not only in the physical building of bikes, or the building of (shared) knowledge, or even the building of relations, but in the constructing/sharing/participating in emotions. Unlike a typical bike shop the joy and frustration of things working or not working is a shared experience that everyone jointly engages in. And this could be related with how Spinoza termed things which are good as those which "render [the body] capable of affecting external bodies in a great many ways... [and] render the body capable of being affected in a great many ways..."8 In this way the capacity to feel and be affected by others and to affect others is integral to the project of love and friendship. For Spinoza affections are what increase or diminish the body's power of acting— with joy being the affection which is principally good, for it causes increases in power. Taking attention to the slowness of our participation in the life-world around us, feeling with it, allows us to be open to being affected, and towards being active in constructing love through joy.

Furthermore, these modes of making things/knowledge/relations/emotions (with the slash being not a divider or an either-or but something that bridges, links, and almost implies oneness, mutate-ability, living in the space between...), can together be called a construction of wellbeing— through acts of making which increase capacities to make, think, connect and feel— or rather: an architecture of love— acts of making love (pun intended).

Thinking through Making

By now maybe you have realized that this is not an architectural project which is concerned with proposing a building plan, or even a method of building which could serve as a model for future buildings (with some usual implication of universality). No, I'm not even concerned with what a building should be, or what it should contain, I'm not interested in knowing the answers to those as some sort of fixed response. I'm interested in how we make things, together, in the flux of changing things. Which is not easy, because there are a lot of things that get in the way of our ability to make serious things together, and stay in those difficult processes. (There's a lot of Haraway9 and Ingold10 influences in this whole thing by the way.) Thats why I think we should stay in the specificity of things— in that the building of this tower is merely a story of some specific things that some specific people engaged in and made in some specific place at some specific time. And it's nothing more than that— but we share with you the story, and the tower, as a gift which you can also engage with. Maybe you'll enjoy it, and maybe you want to join us, because we will still be building, down there, out there, with the people who don't mind (actually live for) the mud and the darkness. (That part is not a metaphor, it's very dark at night and very muddy, and you get to know the moon cycles :P)

A principal component that runs through all of this talk of love, friendship, joy and affections is the act of making. Of course I'm quite into making things, this is an architectural thesis by the way, and I'm also quite into thinking (and feeling and relating), which I'm trying to draw connections between (not just me of course). The architectural component is the one which is pulling making out of the soup and moving through that as primary strategy, a medium, in the project of love, and affection. Through making things together we become closer, more entangled, bond— we increase our power and capacity to make more things, to know more things (sharing, exchanging, gifting), to think more (together and between each other)— forming new multiplicities— to experience the pain of sadness and frustration, the euphoria of overcoming adversity, the adventure of new experiences and emotions and so on.

From my own personal experiences it has always been through making that I have felt most alive, and when that gets mixed with others, my gosh what a feeling. The feeling is so intense its dangerous! When we move through making together, in the act (not predetermined, but emerging out of our engagements— the plan is 'delayed'12) we can feel with the world(it's tools, technologies[knowledge],11 artifacts) around us (and its present-pasts) in order to construct the new. Not only is that when we can build, but it is what allows us to build! When we build in such ways we put into motion those things (the knowing how the build) that we have accumulated through our engagements with each other and nature/the world around us(old-knowledge, 'technical knowledge', and so on)— we can put some posts in the ground and be able to stand on them with the weight of our (collective) body! And then we can do so many more things!


This is undoubtedly a private project— but one that is open. It is initiated by me— it doesn't come from an already formed collective, and it has no fixed values towards its direction. (Other than the values in which I animate it with in the current moments in which I am there with it (and those values will shift, even in myself)). The collective forms through the continual renegotiation of myself interacting with the thing(tower), and with the others that join me with the thing(tower), and the values continually re-emerge through our engagement there in the act. The collective occurs at that moment of (genuine) engagement— and thus the collective is never fixed. Maybe thats bs, I don't know...

But I do want to question the prevailing notions, (mostly in activism, but also more broadly), that projects need to be open, accessible, democratic and based on consensus. Hardly ever does this occur, or is even possible or perhaps even desirable. Most if not all projects emerge from a small group of friends or people that share already declared/known affinities or sets of values— which is fine. I think that's how things happen. But we should be honest about that, and be weary to impose notions of adhering to universal morals— or being definitive that there is a correct way to think, act and build (that somehow you've figured it out). It can get maoist, fascist and moralist quickly... and I'm not so interested in that. I'm more interested in experimentation and responding to each other with attention and care. (Projects and spaces have different scales and levels of public encounter as well— the tower is not a library or a werkplaats, but it could become one, or some people might break off and make something like that.)

To summarize what's going to happen, well, I don't know yet. One part is simple, I'll continue to invite my friends to join me in moments at the tower. Some moments are intense with action, others are slow with pancakes and chats. Some people have ideas and want to make some things and I'll help them make some of those things. Some people just want to watch, and are curious, or want to hang out. Some people want some small tasks to begin engaging, alongside an openness to the things and ideas that haven't yet come. And many things in between. And it's a bit of a dance like that, and we figure it out a bit as we go— thinking through making and experimentation. But the idea is that it's not just my tower— it's open to a life beyond also. And I'm inviting you, specifically inviting you, because I want to make things together and hang out, and make more things which afford us the ability to hang out in so many more ways— like being up above the lake between fabrics and griendhout we weaved together ourselves, playing a game of cards or something, why not.

I can't describe to you the recipe for engagement, as each situation is different, and this project is not about stipulating how that will be, but is about being open to how it could possibly go and being prepared. The description of the tower will not be speculative but will be documentative. I will share the stories of all the various engagements, through written diary entries of each day, drawings (architectural and otherwise), photographs, transcribed discussions, and maybe some more things that we haven't thought of yet. I will continually populate this website with those things as I think of the best way to present them, and when I'm not too exhausted from gathering things and making things. :) See you soon :)

December 4, 2019

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

1. Carla Bergman and Nick Montgomery, Joyful Militancy: Building Thriving Resistance in Toxic Times. AK Press, 2017.

2. Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Commonwealth. Harvard University Press, 2009.

3. Sara Ahmed, In the Name of Love. Borderlands e-Journal, Vol. 2 Num. 3, 2003.

4. Baruch Spinoza, Political Treatise. Hackett Publishing, 2005. (1670)

5. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press, 1998. (1958)

6. Antonio Negri, Subversive Spinoza. Manchester University Press, 2004.

7. Tim Ingold, The Life of Lines. Routledge, 2015.

8. Baruch Spinoza, The Ethics. Penguin, 1996. (1677)

9. Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press, 2016.

10. Tim Ingold, Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture. Routledge, 2013.

11. Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus. Stanford Press, 1998. (1994)

12. Alberto Altés Arlandis, Delaying the Image: Towards an Aesthetics of Encounter. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 2015.

13. Bell Hooks, All About Love. Harper Collins, 2000.

and some others that are in my mind...
Gilles Deleuze, Spinoza: Practical Philosophy
Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
Marcel Mauss, The Gift
Brian Massumi, The Autonomy of Affect
Erin Manning, The Politics of Touch
Édouard Glissant, The Poetics of Relations
Penny Brickle, Life and Death of the Longhouse
Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study
Daniel W. Smith, Deleuze and the Question of Desire: Toward an Immanent Theory of Ethics
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality
Manuel DeLanda, A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History
Manuel DeLanda, Assemblage Theory
Alberto Altés, Ana Jara, Lucinda Correia, The Power of Experiment
John Dewey, Art as Experience
Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things
Miguel Ros Montaner, Situated Collective Utopias
Paul Hajian, The Essence of Splace
Jan Wampler, Open Notes for Young Architects

and yet there are many thinkers and friends, and discussions with friends, whose influence is all over the text in ways that are hard to differentiate because their ideas and words are too entangled with other ideas and words as to be able to draw a line between them. I will in some time soon make a 'shadow copy' of the text scribbled over with all the lines of origin to the thoughts (as many as I can recall, because it sounds fun).

Now that the building of the tower is more actively underway I thought it would be a nice time to think about what's been happening and what we've been doing. And to expand upon this 'how', since now that 'how' is being enacted and developed. And now there is enough things to make some observations and say some things about them. ... These writings are developed through continual dialogue with the friends who have been building, gathering and conceiving of the tower the past few months.

The conversations of which are an intentional act, in which gathering, planning, building, talking, writing, drawing, searching, talking, gathering, planning, building, occur in a continuous cycle. And intentional in that it's very important to work through friendship and attending to each other, and I've wanted to establish this deliberately-- so-that we can move together towards the things we care about-- because we want to know what each others thoughts, observations and reflections are-- and because constructing friendship and love is at the core of the project.

[post-working-thinking 1/4]

’Thinking Ahead’

To set out a very very rough outlined beginning of how the process has been so far, you could begin by saying that the way we, and I, have been working is to balance between ‘planning’ things out and not determining things. Which, contrary to what the common idea of what improvisation is, requires a lot of preparation and consideration of many things. Much more consideration actually then if you had blueprints which figured everything out in advance and forced an implementation of them. (Besides that that never goes smoothly anyway…)

It's to be thinking of how things might possibly go, in all these different directions, and being prepared to respond to each of those, so that the directions can be kept open even as you move in them. And then the generosity is to share that thinking of how-things-might/could-go and invite someone in to the paths of the planning, so they can enter with you and figure it out together. It's like saying: "ok, so the idea was to do this for these reasons. These are the tools, this is how they work, this is the material we have, this is how long it might take, these are the things to consider and their consequences, and so on. And so now you can decide with me what we want to do, based on what we can do, and how we could do it." And many more things, the amount and relevancy of what's shared just going off what feels right...

And to be engaged in that moment, and to attend to what thinking and ideas, and actions and love, has already been placed into the thing thats in front of you, and the logistics behind bringing these things together, by the various people that have put something into it— is also an act of care, love and generosity. (Jointly engaging/responding/attending-to.) It's to be curious to want to know what those things have been, and why people were doing that. And to be able to respond— to see what's there, and to then share more ideas, actions, and time, in a way which extends the things that are happening, and gives them more power and capacity to affect the next encounter— that is just completely generous.

All of which is pretty obvious and not unfamiliar to anyone, and thats kind of the point. But its a dance... which is not all the times perfect... but the idea is that this sharing disrupts the privileging of knowledge: "I have given you the knowledge I have, so now you know just as much as I do, and you can make decisions." Which seeks to destabilize this hoarding of knowledge and ownership which produces the expert or the owner, who retains expertise/ownership as a power position.

So if you want to call this person— or persons, who take it upon to be thinking ahead— the architect(s), the role is just that I think: to be generously thinking ahead and then sharing that thinking with everyone else. And the thinking is itself a generous and disciplined act which enables collective action. Which means constantly being aware and attentive to how things are going, how things might go, and so on (thinking of everything all at once). Safety, structure, do we have enough drills for everyone to keep working, relations, emotions, do we have the right amount of the right screws, legality, time/energy, maximizing the lengths to make most use out of them and less cuts, financing, logistics of moving things, etc. Which is not just at the building site, or in an office, but in this whole landscape of making things possible— done at the scale of intimacy and personal affection. "What can we do, and how could we do it?" "What would we need, what would we need to be prepared for?" To take this on— which means to take on more time and preparation and responsibility and personal involvement and emotions in relationships (which are not based on employment) than a traditionally planned building— is to extend yourself because you care about that thing. And to share that thinking as an invitation to act is an enabler. Because you want friends to engage, and you want to make it possible for them to do so and feel enabled to do more. The knowledge is open and permeable, so-that, we can be inside it together.

All of which is a shared responsibility, and many people contribute to that thinking-ahead in many ways, but it can also benefit from a deliberately taken bottom-lining. Because sometimes some things want someone to give in a lot of love to something, which can produce a chance for encounter and to respond to whats been put there— if the placing of it is done in this open way, refrained from extractive ownership. (In that it's the opposite of trying to extract things from people to produce something for yourself, but as a genuine gift that you create which enables people to want to do something for themselves, and you, and both of you together.) At least that's the attempt... But I really feel this is an integral aspect if any notion of architect is to be rescued from the neo-liberal modes of production in which the contemporary architect can't seem to separate themself from. *

January 23, 2020

* [Side-note] And I feel thankful and cared for in the ways in which mentors (and also friends) of mine have engaged with me in this way as well. Almost this similar "here you go" and walking away to let me figure it out— which is not in this 'walking-away' of dis-interest or avoidance. But in this letting of the moment of knowledge creation through experimentation to occur. (As well as backing away from ownership or directorship too— not micromanaging.) It's a well-equipped walking away, in which it was pre-meditated with care and engagement to want to know what's going on, what's the intention, how might I do it, what I should know about and consequences to consider, and them sharing their experiences (which are not presented as an instruction or something correct, but as reference points to help me understand why they are saying the things they are saying, and maybe as something I could also be aware of or even experiment with if I dare to see how something may or may not work out). (Which is also not done with hubris, but genuine, and aware of its limits.) Which is all perhaps also obvious and everyone knows these moments of care in knowledge sharing, and yet it's not so often seen as something which is feasible to do in the construction of a building.

Additionally I think it highlights the need to be honest about existing specific knowledges and exchanging those— not assuming an equality of knowledge, but finding opportunity within the field of varied experiences. (When those knowledges and experiences are exchanged as an enabler and not as a coercer. And I give attention to thinking about mentorships, because there is usually a gap of specific knowledge and experiences within those relationships, which can seemingly make it difficult for acting jointly— as they have a connotation, as also with architecture or professions based on 'expertise' to exploit that gap for power and control. Which I think doesn't have to be the case.) Because for me, it feels like my mentors, who feel closer to friends who care, are with me designing when I'm making things, even if they are not directly there. Even when it's not a precise transferal of my discussions with them, because those discussions tend to focus more on methods and possibilities then on the object. Which I would call generosity, and which only can come from a place of care. And when they also care about the thing that's being made, because they also want it to be part of their life, and they care about the outcome, it feels like they are also a part of the architecting of that thing— even merely through acts of sharing thinking. But of course it becomes deeper when they are also engaged in the making, while still retaining that attention to the differentials of knowledge and experience and acting so as to enable joint acting. Which perhaps leads into encounter and vulnerability...

[post-working thinking 2/4]

Lines that Extend and Good Encounters

Consequently, the things that constitute what I'd call a good encounter (of, in what Spinoza would call, an increase in your collective capacity to act, and which are deeply intertwined with the generosity, care and love of 'thinking ahead', and jointly engaging/responding to within/from that act, as in the above chapter) I think rely on genuine care and curiosity. In the sense that there is also not an extraction towards what someone encounters at the tower. (They are not coming as part of a transaction or to extract something which is for their own personal isolated gain. They don't come with suspicion or an attitude of judging whether the thing is worth their time and engagement— approaches which would in place of making something possible instead produce a nothingness, like in Never Ending Story, in which opportunity is simply stricken from existence.)

But instead they come openly, with unrestrained curiosity, desire-to-be, and a presence which knows nothing of how to assign a Value to their affections. They come because they simply want to know whats happening, and why. And they want to ask questions, because they care to know what made those people want to do this. They want to know what it is that they care and love for. Because they want to. Because they are curious if they'd get along and maybe find a way to join with them, and add to what they're doing. And to do such a thing, is such an act of extending yourself. I feel it to be so generous, caring and loving, and it's what allows for things to happen. And when it's like that, it's usually felt and responded to in kind by the subsequent encounter.

And that mode of curiosity and care in engaging is an act of creating friendship I think. Genuine friendship— which seeks to know each other so that you can do things together which increases the capacity for each other to move towards the things they, and you, care about.

And we want to know why those things matter to each other. And then build through that curiosity to know each other and care for each other. It's that 'building through' that I'm meaning when I say 'moving towards' the things we care about. For me, it's an integral part. And it's made possible by taking an active interest in the lives of each other and the things that give them joy, and the things that disturb them. And what I'm saying is that maybe there is something you can do together which interacts with that, in the act of making, or in the thing itself that you do make, which enables the 'moving towards'.

"Why are they building this thing? What do they care about? Because I want to know, because I care about you, and because I care to know what things you care about. And I care to know why those things matter to you. Because I am curious, Because I am interested to know. Because I want to know. Because I care. And I ask because I care." And from that feeling of connection and desire to know each other, I want to find ways to engage so as to extend those things/ cares/ affections/ lines and give them more power (to affect you, and to affect me), and move us closer, in an accumulation of affections, to the things we care about. Maybe us gathering mulch gives each other companionship, and we talk while we do that, and then we can lay down next to each other in that mulch, which has soaked up the mud, and has made it possible to lie. Or maybe they love the joy of balancing on joists and having to figure out how to do that with another person, in the sunlight, in the air, with some songs playing, and maybe you like that too. And maybe once it's possible to climb on enough places it would be fun to throw a party, and invite more friends who we've been waiting for a chance to dance with, in some ways which are unique from the previous ways. And maybe it feels happy because you know that you can keep coming back, encountering and knowing each other, and making together, inhabiting and building off the things you did last time— accumulating affections and ever-more moving towards the shifting landscape of things you care about and desire.

All of which is made distinct in being different than a bad encounter, or what Alberto Altes would call maybe not an encounter at all, but illegitimate power.

But I also think there is space for an encounter which is not destructive but also not necessarily good, as perhaps it doesn't feel like you have been engaged with. Maybe the other person wasn't so responsive or curious to what you cared about, and you left feeling a bit meh, as if you didn't make something together, but maybe only separately. Maybe to call that a bad encounter is a bit harsh, so maybe I'd call that a not-as-good-as-it-could-be encounter. Which is one in which there was only partial care or curiosity— not sufficient enough to feel jointly present and alive— but also maybe wasn't so especially destructive.

Something which is destructive might verge more towards an assumption, or reckless uncaring towards what is there, who made those things, the reasons they made them and what they cared about, as well as the people that are yet to come. And perhaps this event prevented or harmed the ability for those other people to come and do something which might matter to them. It could be finishing lines, and making determined end points for a space which can't be reinterpreted or continued without great effort. But more importantly it's just sensed by a feeling of un-care, which I think we all know. You can just feel it. And the feeling I think matters. We've all had situations in which a know-it-all fucker came in and just ruined everything because they didn't care about what was there already, or what comes next, other then the moment of their indulgence. Most of us, (some more then others), also know what it feels to be the object of another persons fantasy, and being forcibly pushed to play a role in the fulfilling of such a thing. And it can also be a situation like that. And those things, you can just feel it. You just know when someone is treating you like that. And it just produces a nothingness (also like in the Never Ending Story), through acts of active destruction and/or neglect/un-caring/dis-respect, and/or abuse, in a place in which there could have been something nice.

A good encounter is the opposite. It is one in which the persons engaged care and are curious about all the things in front of them, and the people that put those things there and why they did so. And it's thinking about how they can continue those lines so the next persons in the next encounter can have even more things to respond to, to attend to, to feel with. And they encounter whats there by caring about those things and injecting their own cares. And maybe they will meet those other people too, but they can also meet through the tower itself. and it grows in that way, upwards (literally and in affections).

And this is what I'd call the type of engagement which produces an open architecture. In which I am talking also about unfinished lines, literally, but not limited to, physically unfinished lines. Literal lines which extend in the structure which allow for interpretation and re-interpretation, by their way of being unfixed and unfinished— gesturing at what more they could do. Lines which are not determining an endpoint but suggesting a path to follow or respond to, deviate from or feel with. Like the kinds of lines that we put in the foundation which already invited or helped enable you to conceive that inner corner as a place you could already imagine a plethora of ways to inhabit and build off of and so forth. It's about adding-to, being additive— with another beam in the other direction, or a cantilevered room, a platform— a beam sticking out to hang off of (with your body, your bag, a rope, a fabric).

And a good encounter would be something of the attentiveness and care to keep those lines open by/through/while adding to them. An encounter which increases our capacity to act because it creates ever more abilities to interact with whats there in order to build more. And this act of engaging and encountering through love and care is what you could say (continually) produces a design, or simultaneously, an open(ended) architecture. Because, precisely because, it enables.*

January 23, 2020

* [side-note]. And the enabling is even a specific differentiation from affording. In that affording can often be used in a way which perhaps implies a 'what happens next', 'what possibilities are newly created', but enabling seems to shift that to the foreground, for me. It would be like if we built a chair, so that we could sit, so that we could stay longer, so that we can become closer in conversation, so that we can rest, so that we can build more chairs, so that we can invite more friends over. And I am very interested in this 'so that'. To afford something could be such that a chair is made, which allows for the possibility to sit, it affords such an action/inhabitation— which maybe can lead to more things. (I mean, to me that's how I interpret when people use afford quite often... but maybe I'm misinterpreting...) But enabling to me cuts to this 'so that' immediately and integrally. It is never merely to sit, as sitting being an end in of itself, but it's sitting as an enabler of the next thing, in an excessive accumulation. (Not that there is anything wrong with just sitting and being, but I'm particularly interested in growth. Not economic growth and needless destructive growth for the sake of growth, but growth of affections and the ability to move towards the things that move us.) I think we should make things which allow and enable the possibility for that growth. I deeply feel that.


At an earlier point in this project, or in my thinkings about architectures, I was calling these things the commons, or focusing on more normative ideals of 'the commune'. Which was more focused on the functions, forms, structures, and organization than on the modes of constructing those things, and the relationships which are also constructed through constructing those things. And the more I have been reflecting from my experiences in those kinds of places (free/autonomous spaces, squatted villages, mutual aid resource sharing whatevers, and intentional communities, or places where people live together communally growing their own food and so on), or in places I dream about, or read about, etc— the aspects which keep coming back to me, the things that really drive me towards these places or make me feel happy and give me hope and joy and a promise of a life worth living, or possible for living, the thing at the center which stirs up emotion— is love. Or the prospect of possible love. It's in the quality of those relationships, the sense and feeling of genuine care and friendship, and the ability to construct my life, continually, vulnerably, with others who care about me and who I am and want to do the same construction with me, specifically with me, because I am me. And that is the sort of place I want to build and be in. And from those modes it feels like anything is possible. But it also feels like, that is the thing. That is the very thing. It's the thing at the core of wanting to have your own home and food and be safe from violence and coercion. It's to be safe in love.

Maybe I'm such a desperate romantic it's on the edge of ludicrousness, but I don't care. If it scares you or offends you, then you can do what ever you want elsewhere, I really wouldn't mind at all.

Something I should eventually talk more about are the personal motivations for beginning this project. Because of course that's really quite at the center of it. It does matter a lot to me, and it is very emotional. In many ways it began as an excuse for me to get closer to my friends. ...

January 23, 2020

[post-working thinking 3/4]

"What's the Function?"

I’m asked a lot what the function of the tower is, and who is it for/what is it for. (Which is not a bad question).

In a too-short answer: it’s for the people who build it (who are not a fixed group of people, and building is not a limited definition), and its purpose is for the ways in which they use it. (Which are constantly emerging and shifting, along with the people.)

Every time someone goes there, they use it in some way. Even the people who come and steal the wood, haha. I mean, it's literally not even up to me if I wanted it to be. If we want to dance, we will make a platform. If we want to read books, we will make some things which enable us to do that. The path is not aimless, ideas are always put out to grow some things, but the directions are not fixed or determined. It's more about initiating starting points then conceiving end points. (But how those points might grow, and how they would/could grow, is part of this 'thinking ahead', of what to be prepared for).

Which is not this notion of open/free/anarchist/improvised politics of 'anything goes' in which to be free means you are opposed to plans, recipes, scores and so on, and people just show up and throw whatever together. (Which can also be ok at times, but can also be that to throw people into that when there was in fact thinking-before can be rude and dishonest.) Good musicians, dancers, cooks, don't just show up with nothing, they show up with loads of preparation, knowledge and experience. (Which I think should be shared when possible.) But that also doesn't mean you have to come with fixed plans that are coerced into action... And additionally maybe the tower doesn't fit into political narratives/functions— I'm asked by squattors: “Will people live there? How is it a resource? Will it have an ideological declaration?” Which are fine questions, but it gets at this odd thing of wanting a function while opposing order. (Not that I'm saying one or the other is bad or not...)

Something that looks messy and ‘open’/'anarchist' doesn’t mean that it is enacting open/anarchist relationships. And something that has been ‘ordered’ — or rather thought out and considered so that it remains upright and sustainable and able to be entered— might be enacting open relationships. And something 'functionless' might be enacting relationships of care and responsiveness, or it also might not be. And the same for something with a clear function. I think it depends how you do it, it's beyond the surface of appearances...

Which returns to ideas of discipline in openness, which Alberto has been really highlighting the value of; (non)instructive-instructions, and collectively self-imposed discipline as a means of being able to actually accomplish something which you want to accomplish. It's not about having a rigid set of fixed procedures, but rather an aim that allows flexibility in how it is arrived at. (We should make something which can hold weight, not shake laterally from wind or movements on or up to the structure, so that therefore it can actually be used. But how, specifically how, we accomplish that can be determined yet, by all of us in the act— but not without having already put some consideration into the possibilities for how we could accomplish that.) And if we make it level as well, that might make it easier for us to accomplish those things— but how level is dependent on how crucial we think it is, and based on our experience of how off-level it can be and still accomplish the things we want, which (in just one part) is a structure which allows us to climb onto it. -- Which is not about do-it-like-this instructions, but instructions and traditions which can help in precision, and which can be joined willingly.

These modes, whatever you want to call them, all counter prevailing ways of (normative) building methods, and it shows that it’s possible to build in this way. And I don’t think you need to set the function in order for it to function. (Which is different from not thinking about function at all, which is not what we are doing.) It doesn't need to be devoid of order in order for it to be open/free/democratic.

[post-working thinking 4/4]

"It's Fucking Yours"

And I'm saying to you all: "This thing is fucking yours. You found that wood, and you got that truck, and you carried those things on your shoulder through that mud, in that darkness, and you dug those holes in the ground, and you lent that drill and that bakfiets, and you had that idea about the sign and the fabrics, and you decided how those planks should be up there where people can stand, and you brought those books, and you put those fucking screws in there. You fucking did those things, and they wouldn't be here if you didnt. It's fucking yours. And you should decide what we do with it." (Of course continuing with good encounters.. which increases everyones joint ownership.. and not ones at the expense of the others..)

Really, all things considered, it's fucking amazing that you can go stand on that thing up in the air and it will support you. And you know what went into making that possible, what got us to this point. And that makes it even more amazing.

I've spent 200 euros on this whole thing. When the value of all the wood, screws, transport and tools is approaching thousands. And that's before you take into account the cost of acquiring land, and permits and insurance and so on. Not only that but the residents and the visitors to the park are literally cheering us on and saying how great it is and how much they want it to remain permanently. And with all things considered— all the things that we’ve had to figure out— that this thing stands, and is connected to the earth, is plumb, level (enough), and can hold the weight of multiple bodies, it's fucking amazing. You can go there and climb that thing and stand up there with your body and look out at that lake, and I just think that's fucking amazing. It’s just like, my god, we can fucking build anything we want. We can keep petitioning for the economy to be remapped, or we could also just go out and ignore those fuckers and do what we want.

But of course there is a lot of strategics in positioning of a project like this to be well received, and it's never completely secure. It matters that we can look like the right people, as students and so on, (and that I am the right type of foreigner), and can state association with the right institutions, and present a form and series of functions which would be well received within a park setting— "It's an open frame tower for watching birds, no one is living here, behind walls you cant see inside of, etc etc.' But if the thing is not merely its appearances, if the appearances appear in the ways in which it works for the people who would want to be suspicious to shut it down to not shut it down, if it can enact a type of anarchist, feminist, decolonized, queer relationship beneath what it looks like, then it can work and sustain as a place in which we can inhabit for the various things we would like to do. It's not naive of the racist and power oriented world in which we are in, on the contrary it's considering how to persist within that world. At least that's the attempt...