If you’ve taken an architectural theory class, you’ve certainly read Foucault- and if you’re like me, at one point or another, you’ve been frustrated by the feeling that there was an unnecessary lack of clarity. Turns out, there was, and Foucault fessed up to it too:
Searle claims Foucault told him: “In France, you gotta have ten percent incomprehensible, otherwise people won’t think it’s deep–they won’t think you’re a profound thinker.”
While Pierre Bourdieu and I would seem to agree that 10% is a bit of an underestimate, I was gratified by this little expose. The thing is, I like things to be clear, and efficient. If you can say something in a paragraph, don’t spend five pages on it. And if you can’t put an idea into clear English (or, whatever language you may be speaking), than what’s the point? I’m not bashing complexity, or difficult ideas- I just think that most things can be laid out in clear way (with a bit of work). Isn’t the point to get your point across?
I’m often frustrated in this way by the writing of architectural theorists, and since graduate school it has dampened my enthusiasm for theory in general. I remember hearing Julie Bargmann from DIRT studio speak in undergrad, and found her clear and straightforward explanations of her work exhilarating, and not necessarily less intellectual than someone waxing poetic on the presence of absence- just a different kind of intellectual. I thought, and still do, that as long as you’re building things in the real world, this was they way to do it, to think about it, and to explain it.
If you’re not familiar with their work, I highly recommend it: