IDEAS | Entropy, Excess, Negentropy

Posted on 06/11/2011

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In some reading about entropic urbanism, I’ve encountered again the work of Peter Sloterdijk, a German philosopher and author of sphere theory which offers a form of spatial interpretation. There’s something here I might need to pay attention to and extrapolate together with an earlier interest in negentropy in relation to urban environments.

Jean Attali (links to PDF) references Sloterdijk’s theory of spheres noting that “the territory of the third globalisation no longer resembles the round, complete image of the globe, but rather the unstable, ‘amorphologic’ image of foam”. I’ve only read this work in its referencing and/or interpretation, always intending to come back to it. He evokes the metaphor of foam as a representation of the “unité d’habitation”, a stackable number of inhabitable cells rather than perpetuating the image of a universal house (Heidegger and Hegel) in order to find the world a place worthy of inhabiting: “Through the motif of the inhabited cell I can uphold the spherical imperative that applies to all forms of human life but does not presuppose cosmic totalization.”

There’s another relationship of energy in this equation that Céleste Olalquiaga (links to PDF, second essay) raises when she refers to Georges Bataille called ‘the accursed share,’ “that non-productive excess through which Bataille believed cultures channel their surplus energy. All creatures and societies, he claimed, generate more energy than they need, and it must be disposed of or oriented so that it doesn’t bog down or turn against the society that produced it.”

Entropy and negentropy (see my postscript to an earlier post) both imply transfers of energy, pointing to gaps, waste, loss, abandonment, emptiness, ruin and, indeed, temporality.

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Posted in: planning, process, theory