Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why I Disagree With Akkach's Method

“Focusing on the specificity of the religious experience, the study accentuates the interpretive distance between the modern subject and the pre-modern object. This study engages tradition in a different way to that of the perennialists and art historians. It foregrounds the distinct spatial sensibility of the pre-modern in order to highlight the implicit discontinuity and disjunction between the retrospective (historical readings) and the projective (design theories) representations of difference.” Samer Akkach sees the conditions of modernity introducing a theoretical distance between the symbol and its referents that has irreversibly altered its efficacy. His criticism of perennialist thought finds expression in overlooking the fact that constructing layers of theoretical intermediaries between myth and architecture and between an object and its referents is a modern necessity. “Our ability to talk about tradition as a worldview with its own logic that is distinct from an objective world and from our subjective experience of this world, is the result of a new modern condition."

I am not convinced that a theoretical intermediary is necessary for us to understand the past. While the pre-modern context allowed for an intuitive understanding of the symbols that belong to it, it does not follow that the pre-modern context must be theoretically re-constructed. It is possible to understand sacred architecture without knowledge of the pre-modern context, given the nature of sacred. The nature of sacred is within ontology, and as such the act of ontological creation circumvents the need for a theoretical re-construction.

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