the following is the abstract for a paper/presentation I’m submitting for this conference. Could be good?
“Intersections of Politics and Poetics” can be likened to the conflict between the collective and the individual. “Politics” – the structures of democratic, legitimate justice – are outgrowths of a collective society, whereas “Poetics” – the creative acts of individuals – are products of a single mind. This distinction is debatable, but is sharply delineated in the realm of architecture, a field where individual ambitions are constantly at odds with the laws and codes of society.
The Randian hero-architect must battle the restrictions of law to achieve his creative vision. The eventual, inevitable, triumph of the hero’s will over the laws of the collective is the essence of 20th century American individualism. The superiority of the individual will receive recognition, by force if necessary.
In the 20th century, codes in the United States gradually came to favor utility, safety, and security, and the opportunities for radically experimental work became increasingly rare. If a would-be hero refuses to acquiesce to the will of the collective, to design-by-committee, he must find new, subversive ways to put forth his ultimate creative vision. The growing realization that the systems of nature and society are deeply interconnected at all scales forces a re-framing of individuality. The übermensch is recognized as an obsolete, or even dangerous, ideal. Collective action through cooperation is the new paradigm.
As the necessities of sustainability come to further restrict creative expression in architecture, how will architects reconcile their own ambition with the ambition of society as a whole? Will global forces of overpopulation and resource scarcity force the ultimate, unavoidable, concession of individuality in favor of the survival of the collective, or are outstanding moments of individual triumph necessary beacons of hope for a future that seems increasingly bleak?