A manifesto is not an answer

October 2, 2013

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In society, there are no clear, uncontested solutions and no right or wrong that is independent of specific interests. The way we deal with this is through processing opinions, through intersecting different ideas of what the right decision is. The decisions usually concern structures on which we all are depending, and the tools are called talking, reading, debating and other forms of interactions with other perspectives than those brought by ourselves. An example of this is the physical environment and the broader debate of architecture and its manifestos.

 A manifesto is by etymology something that is clear or obvious. In a pluralistic, complicated world, this means a structure introduced by a person or group; a structure that makes this world understandable, ”clear”. It is in part where every creation that is a reaction or consequence of a situation begins (which must be more or less anything that is not random). Creating a structure to build on is a prerequisite for every decision, even if this structuring is made subconsciously. This structure – the manifesto – could take innumerable shapes, and it is obvious that each such structure must exclude another, since the author of a manifesto only is a part of the whole. At some point a decision has to be made, a power used, an order imposed. In other words, each manifest is at once what makes architecture possible, but also what excludes.

Just as there are no clear, objective answers in society, there are not to the smaller questions that make up the whole. It is easy to understand a manifesto as an utopian scheme which in itself is desirable, whether it addresses structures of space, thought or process. However, this would be to impose one structure over the others, which from a holistic perspective is a failure.

A manifesto must be understood as an argument – a clarification of a view, manifestus, and as such it is a tool, not an answer to any problem. It can only be valued when it is contested or defended, when its structure becomes worn and interfered with. For the complexity of our society, a society of diversity, there can be no whole solutions. Our life lies in the compromises.

/Johan Alvfors

Not refering to, but reacting to: Katherine Shonfield, ”Premature Gratification and Other Pleasures” in This is What we do: a muf manual

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2 Responses to “A manifesto is not an answer”


  1. Lena Palm: ever since we were born human kind has developer a highet sence of compassion and awareness. We have inheritage a collectiv mind, ex. we are afraid of snakes because og generations experiance. for human kind there are som basic rules for common scense, riht and wrong – at least concerning basic survivial. We need air to breath for our servivial, just like our spirit need other qualities.
    note: the manifest is not about goldtaps in bathrooms, no it is manifest because so much is wrong based on human and basic needs. we are slaves under economic rules. we kill, murder, poison, rape etc in the link of egos, money, mentaldirt, drugaddiction, etc. all living KNOW this is wrong but the ego is stronger because of fear to not be loved whitout possesions and power.
    The word “manifest” is a dynamic term, is an alarm clock of necessary time för a drastic change. Since it is an unusal word to use it is a very radical and strong term. if we use it to often the dynsmic scense will disapear anf loos its power. so when we claim MANIFEST it shows anger, humidiation and that is wrong! We avoid using the word manifesto because it is coloured of red politics and woman. what is rigt and ehat is wrong? teh human mind is utilized some tabun, not to kill and not to rape. Daily millions are raped in this squarrelwheel of inheritage from white mens structure.
    Let us talk further on. See you later alligator! hälsningar Lena Palm / Gbg

  2. Matilda Schuman Says:

    I find your comments very interesting. I agree with parts – the holistic view of things is of course essential to our complex society – and follow you thoughts, but at the same time I think that sometime we have to be specific and dare to focus on the special, smaller things. I have the experience that sometimes when you aim to do something that is the best solution in all ways possible you can image, you come up with something that is just only a compromise in itself. Just because our world is so complex. A manifesto can be a great starter, a seed that after all the work and compromises you have to go through during the process can bloom into something great.

    Let’s focus on the details, but let there be a rich diversity of focuses instead, that together and as a whole can handle the complexity.

    Matilda Schuman


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