A Quantum City

What if Nature were not collective but distributive?

If it were abounding out of a kind of vibrant stasis?

Can there be something like City Spirit within the abundant yet insufficient element of Urban Reason?

How could we articulate the idea of a city where – after the modern realization of generic infrastructural urbanity – oikos, the mastership and the maintenance of a domus (Herrschaft) were in proportion again with the increasingly global scale at which polis plays today, the political wielding of powers (das Walten, in der Gewalt haben)?

We like to think of the Quantum City as such a model to-be-articulated. We conceive of it is a follower to the Dynamic or Balanced City of modern times, an indirectly to the Mechanical or Cosmic City of the medieval ages.

Unlike the Mechanical or the Dynamical City of modernity, which were functionally-operative either within a Cosmic Order or within Balanced States of Nations or Federations, we are, for a few decades already, starting to experience an inversion in terms of urban activity schemes. Neither is the Quantum City‘s activity caused in any particular way, nor is it directed at something in particular. It is active more like inert matter, which is – somewhat disturbingly – peculiarly „animate“ if considered on the quantum level of its electrons, protons, and the smaller levels of magnitudes respectively. Similarly, the Quantum City is „animate“ beneath the manifest forms of the urban conducts in a similarly pulsatile manner. Unlike the Mechanical or the Dynamic City, the Quantum City is operative, in this pulsatory manner, before and independent of the functional definition of the various operations in this state of potential operativity in any particular way. This is why the Quantum City is, different from the Mechanical and the Dynamic City, not strictly rational. This does not mean that things happen without reason, that the Quantum City were the City beyond History, where Time wields all the powers violently. The constitutions of the Quantum City can be articulated and formulated within an element of abundant yet insufficient reason. The peculiar “units” that are articulated, in setting up the constitution of a Quantum City, are quantums of cityness. These units cannot be taken as units of measure or magnitudes anymore (as in the Geometrical/Cosmic City), they can also not be accounted for as ordinal units (multitudes) which organize the cardinal indexes to magnitudes (as in the Dynamical/Balanced City). The idea we would like to explore is to regard quantums of cityness as units of an irreducible double-articulation: quantums that are made up of „wave“ and „point“, of „pre-specific genericity“ and „instance of a doped identity“. Let us assume these units are to be – by conception – capable of contracting and conserving possibilities by articulating the consistencies at work in and within what structures globalized urban lives on any level: infra, media and superstructure. Let us further assume, philosophically, this quantum-elementarity of cityness as the complementary dimension to existentiality, and call it that of the insistential. Quantification of things that exist, and quantization of invariances insisting within things that exist.

Within a Quantum City. A Psycho-Political Essay, and an Introduction (Lecture held at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore in September 2012):

Urbanity and the Abundance of Clean Energy. (Lecture held by Ludger Hovestadt at the academia Engelberg in September 2012):

The idea with A Quantum City is that just like in physics, where the quantum level of things can be treated abstractly, by symbolic algebra, we can learn to consider the quantum level of generic urbanity. We must assume thereby, as we know from physics, that the reason at the quantum level is literally abundant, yet insufficient for providing stable grounds – in other, more familiar words, it is probabilistic. Unlike within the geometric-mechanical, or the arithmetic-dynamical scope, where every thing is thought to have its place, its position, its rôle within the larger whole – the Cosmic Order, or the Natural Balance – we can assume that on the quantum level of things, there „is“, potentially, more than can „fit“, actually. Exactly because there is more electrons than can fit, the electrons can jump from one compound to another and thereby constitute the diversity and the transformability of the chemical elements; with the physical elements (the nuclei), we are currently learning to understand an inversion of this dynamics – not in terms of compounding, but in terms of splitting and stringing. It seems radical perhaps, yet not exaggerated, to say that dynamics, on the quantum level, is abounding out of a strange kind of vibrant stasis.

Drawing the architectonic consequences from this would mean affirming that we may do well to consider an elementarity of reason which is, somewhat paradoxically, abundant, and hence necessary and insufficient by principle.

We would like to consider what if, just like it is assumed for the constitution of todays physics, also the constitution of tomorrows cities ought to be regarded as algebraically symbolic. This is not to postulate any sort of ultimately „true“ fabric for constitutions. But as we know from science, the kinds of questions we can ask about our subject alter categorically if we make the step from measured magnitudes to the probabilistic distributions that condition our acts of measuring. While the Mechanical City depends upon the Axioms of a State, and the laws that are decided thereby, the Quantum City‘s citizens would have to learn to understand their city in terms of the symbolic Laws of Conservation and the capacities of the symbolizable symmetries which are articulated and formulated in the legal constitutions of the city. Articulated according to the possibilities derived from constellations in the symbolic Laws of Conservation rather than the Cosmic Order or the Axioms of a State, the Quantum City is neither caused, nor unconditioned, nor absolute in its condition. It domesticates the infrastructural level of modern, generic urbanity. There are no Capitals among different articulations of the Quantum Cities‘ symbolic constitutions. They all compete collectively with the strivings of generic urbanity for an entropic imperial status. Complimentarily they differentiate and cultivate in various ways, and according to various legal and commercial articles, the artificially maintained homogeneity of abundant but insufficient reason which is proper to the elementary conditions provided by generic urbanity. While the Dynamical or Mechanical City – just like the idea of an Imperial State of Global Commonwealth – need to define themselves in relation to the Absolute, Quantum Cities define themselves in competitive relations within the totality of what can be the object of rigorous thought, i.e., what can be demonstrated and negotiated on the basis of abundant but insufficient reason.

The notion of a totality of what can be the object of rigorous thought has been introduced by the early algebraists in the 19th century, especially by George Boole and Richard Dedekind. To think rigorously meant, for them, to treat as its object only that, which can be demonstrated by proof and made explicit in the forms and steps of inference thereby performed, as well as by explicitly stating the made assumptions on which the design of the proof depends. The algebraic architectonics thereby applied differs from strictly analytic forms of architectonics in that it is not troubled by the contingency on the level of the form of the proofs performed. Quite contrarily, as algebraists they take delight in the various forms that can be invented and brought to work as auxiliary structures to keep stable within different heights of abstraction; necessity and judgement are, for them, to be treated as strictly political terms.

cf also my posts:

Zugabe. Die Geburt des Komischen Oder Wie das Nichts seine Authentizität durch Einkleidung erlangt (Article 2014)

Exploring Architecture’s Inverse: Symbolic Solids. Architecture beyond Design (slides to a lecture at Columbia University in November 2014)

Die Empörung des Modells (slides to a lecture at Zurich University of the Arts 2014)

 From the Cosmic City to the Articulated City I – A Psycho-Political Essay (which gives the manuscript to the main part of my lecture posted above)

Articulating quantities – when things depend on whatever can be the case (which gives another lecture and manuscipt related , starting to explore my theme of a Philosophical Grammaticality of Artifacts.

The Integrity of Objects: Design, Information, and the Form of Actuality (an essay in  ADD METAPHYSICS, ed. by Jenna Sutela et.al. Aalto University Digital Design Laboratory, ADDLAB, 2013)

3 thoughts on “A Quantum City

  1. Pingback: What architectonic form would the Roman Capitol have if it were transformable today into a philosophical school? | monas & nomos

  2. Pingback: “Die Empörung des Modells // models, outraged“ – abstract for my paper at the Zhdk conference “David and Goliath – Models between art and architecture” | monas oikos nomos

  3. Pingback: The reciprocal double-articulation of »sustainability« and »environmentality« or The mode of »insisting existence« proper to the circular. | monas oikos nomos

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