Lacan's project of subjectivity requires supplemental "ethnographies" (Vico)

the metalepsis project


The Metalepsis Project aims to construct a notational basis for "boundary language," critical theory speculation combining architecture, films, paintings, texts, and other examples from popular culture into a single graphical calculus …



The metalepsis project develops Gérard Genette’s system of diegesis and mimesis alongside the Lacanian–Freudian concept of cathexis (“investment”). From Žižek and others comes the idea that cathexis involves key deployments of the spatial-temporal field. The symbolic continuum cathexis mandates breaks down, and the inventories fueled by the fantasy structure of the fetish give way to the collapse of the fantasy structure.​


Metalepsis workshops use visual examples from painting, architecture, literature, and film to parse this break in cathexis and play out the role of the (death) drive and its operational logic of gaps and delays. The workshop aims to establish a shorthand notation based on the frame, and an activation device based on the ancient zairja, astrological “computers” using combinatorial and stochastic interference to "purify" an "acousmatic reformulation." From Lacan, the idea of the extimate points to the critical role of the inside frame, which is at the same time the gap between reversed predication.


Lacan's legacy is immense, and its potential relevance for critical theory, particularly in architecture and the arts, challenges any system. No response can pretend to authority or claim to amend or confirm Lacan's radical stance. But, it may be possible to advance productive and provocative experiments where action is critical and crucial. In this spirit, the metalepsis workshop gives itself to its participants, in hopes that the "discipline of the clinic" may offer resistance to academic ideology.


Workshops extend the "Boundary Language Project," begun in 1998 through support from the Vernon F. Shogren Foundation and continued through grants from University at Buffalo's Reyner Banham Fellowship and LSU's Nadine Carter Russell Fellowship. The Metalepsis Graduate Theory Seminar at Virginia Tech's Washington Alexandria Architecture Center (WAAC) contributed many themes and strategies. The metalepsis workshop has been hosted at the University of Pennsylvania, Cleveland Urban Institute, Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, Carleton University, Yale, LSU, SUNY Buffalo, and the ŽižekStudies Conference, Cincinnati, April 2014.