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Cultural TechniquesGrids, Filters, Doors, and Other Articulations of the Real$
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Bernhard Siegert

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823263752

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823263752.001.0001

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Door Logic, or, the Materiality of the Symbolic

Door Logic, or, the Materiality of the Symbolic

From Cultural Techniques to Cybernetic Machines

(p.192) 10 Door Logic, or, the Materiality of the Symbolic
Cultural Techniques

Bernhard Siegert

, Geoffrey Winthrop-Young
Fordham University Press

Doors are architectural media that function as cultural techniques because they operate the primordial difference of architecture—that between inside and outside—and at the same time reflect this difference and thereby establish a system comprised of opening and closing operations. Taking Adorno’s lamentation that one does not know how to close a door anymore and Musil’s statement that doors are a thing of the past as points of departure, the chapter highlights epochs of the symbolic order as it is media historically connected to the history of the door. As confirmed by ethnography and historians of antiquity the door has always been linked to the law – be it the law of the city, divine or paternal law – an idea that culminates in Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” and in Jacques Lacan’s notion that the door is the symbol par excellence. In the Merode altar by Robert Campin (1425) thus the meaning of the door that processes the distinction between the sacred and the profane is transferred to the real unfolding of the triptych. The revolving doors and the automatic sliding doors of the twentieth century are no material implementations of the symbolic order anymore but thermodynamic and governmental machines that prefigure cybernetic machines in which the distinction between inside and outside as been replaced by the distinction between on and off.

Keywords:   Doors, Inside and Outside, Architecture, Symbolic Order, Law, The Sacred, Merode Altar, Revolving Door, Cybernetics

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