Linguistic Surface: The City is the Locus of the Multitude

McEwan, Cameron orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0683-1708 (2018) Linguistic Surface: The City is the Locus of the Multitude. Lo Squaderno (48). pp. 13-16. ISSN 1973-9141

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The aim of this essay is to develop the notion of “linguistic surface” as a way to interpret the city as locus of the multitude: a place where the city produces and reproduces itself as a shared and collective surface of conflict turned into coexistence, of the real and the imaginary condensed and inhabited by thinking, creating linguistic subjects. Three surfaces are discussed: the city surface, the surface of thought, the linguistic surface that joins city and thought, interpenetrating, constructing and constituting the other. I will draw on what the architect Aldo Rossi called the city as an “historical text” and link Rossi’s notion of collective memory (memory ordered by language, syntax and association) with the description of the contemporary city as “modelled on language” put forward by the political theorist Paolo Virno. A close-reading of the city as locus of the multitude can help resituate the agency of architecture toward a new, collective, political and productive possibility.

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