On the Bowerbird, The Difunta Correa and Some Architectures of Sense, An Interview with Alphonso Lingis

I interviewed American phenomenologist Alphonso Lingis for the EROS issue of landscape/architecture/political economy journal Scapegoat, that was co-edited by Christie Pearson and Nasrin Himada.  Lingis’ work has been of interest to me since the mid-1990s when I heard him speak at a Virtual Futures conference at Warwick in the UK.  Much of my current work on “the politics of vibration” involves a rethinking of Eros and its relation to subcultures in particular.

Lingis’ work consists largely in presenting a cross-species, even cosmopolitical phenomenology of what it means to seek to bind and be bound to other entities, in full awareness of our vulnerability and capacity for exploitation. In a series of books that begins with Excesses: Eros and Culture (1984) and Libido: The French Existential Theories (1986), continuing with the remarkable Abuses (1994) and Dangerous Emotions (2000), through to the recent Violence and Splendor (2011), Lingis documents the varieties of erotic experience, building on Plato’s “love of knowledge” (“philo-sophia”) and Freud’s meditations on the erotic drives and how they form “civilization and its discontents.” But Lingis goes much further, proposing, for example, the possibility of a civilization built around an unsublimated eros. He gives as historical evidence of this possibility the temples at Khajuraho in India. Yet his argument also relies on an intimate but rigorous analysis of his own erotic experiences.

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