Mimesis & Cie – The (un)walled man


  • Jean-Jacques Jungers Faculté d'architecture, d'ingénierie architecturale, d'urbanisme (Loci), Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain)




architecture, urbanism, psychoanalysis, philosophy, anthropology


From the Borromean knotting of concepts world, scene and obscene which represent the material, symbolic and mythological dimensions of our environment, the article explains the process of civilization at work in our societies. In our view, this process characterized itself by the obscene placing – to put behind the scene, in French mise obscène – of an important part of our environment. It is specific to the social animal that is the human being. When he stands on the scene, he always hides a part of his condition. The one he is ashamed because it places him in front of the ontological void that constitutes him.
The modern movement radicalized this process by elevating the obscene placing up to a principle. This principle constitutes, in our opinion, a denial of together : the complexity of the human being, the fragility of his environment and the specificity of his condition. However, it was the way, followed by the moderns, to hide themselves the ontological void which they were nevertheless constituted. As a result appears a new man, a man without condition which, surrounded by the comforting decor of the scene, has lost the consciousness of both, its constitutive frailty (body and environment) and the destructive nature of its own way of life. If one refers to scientific forecasts, he now runs blindly towards an imminent ecological drama that could end with nothing other than the inhabitability of his own planet.
This opens a double urgency: first, to identify and understand the devices at work in the process of obscene placing and subsequently, to reflect on how to change them. It being understood that human awareness would impact its behavior and, thus, would influence the catastrophic projections of our scientists.
According to our interpretation of the Lacanian definition of primitive architecture, it can be considered as one of those devices because it allows the man to isolate the obscene from the
scene (Jungers 2015). Hence, we hypothesize, to open what follows, that the plausibility of the mimesis is related to the mimetic power of architecture. Mimesis and mimetic would, therefore, be two sides of the same coin. Mimesis is ideational. It traditionally regulates the imitative arts in the way nature has to be represented. Mimetic is material. It allows some animals to survive in this nature by using, according to Roger Caillois, three strategies: intimidation, transvestism and camouflage.
To clarify the links between mimesis and mimetic, we will draw hereafter, the contours of this particular animal that is the man, at the same time, talking, symbolic and social animal. On the way we will approach the issues of mimesis and mimetic which will allow us to conclude by pointing three devices used by architecture to hide the obscene: the wall (hiding), the type
(meaning) and the parergon (sublimation). These three devices enable the human being not only to hide from himself the obscene, but more than that, to hide from himself that architecture which itself hides.




How to Cite

Jungers, J.-J. (2020). Mimesis & Cie – The (un)walled man. Acta Europeana Systemica, 5(1), 19–26. https://doi.org/10.14428/aes.v5i1.56933