Saturday, December 3, 2011


I propose that in such interim time as remains for each S&M city, the many forces held simultaneously in tension make the city “instrumental.” And when I think of instrumentality, as a musician, what automatically springs to mind is my guitar... holding elements (strings) in tension, the tuning and relation of those elements creating something (music) beyond the content of the elements themselves.

Influential critical theorists Deleuze and Guattari seem to advocate such holding in tension as a desirable condition in and of itself, and I do happen to agree with that view. But regardless of personal opinions on the matter, it can be agreed that, at least in the case of a guitar, tension is required for instrumentality. That is, the holding in tension makes the instrument “instrumental” in creating. Similarly, I would suggest that a pervasive aspect of small to midsize cities is their “holding-in-tension,” and that this may be a key element of their instrumentality in creating what is to come in urbanism.

In this frame of mind, I note there are elements-held-in-tension (the strings of the instrumental city) in Caracas and other case study cities, vibrating in association with, and in response to, each another, in harmonic or discordant interference. From our case studies, there are elements that appear to be commonly drawn into in tension in S&M cities: race, infrastructure, organization, wellness...

With elements such as these held in tension, the forces at play in each element may be tweaked, tuned, to resonate more or less freely - to interact more harmonically or discordantly - in ongoing creation of urbanism. As a matter of fact, I suppose ongoing adjustment of the forces in tension is actually required in S&M cities, to prevent the potentially catastrophic outcome of an element-in-tension breaking... one force overwhelming the other... witness el Caracazo.

In Caracas, Urban Think Tank and Chavez are pursuing different means of adjusting the elements in tension. UTT seeks to tune the elements into sustainable equilibrium. Chavez seeks to simply diminish the magnitude of the tension between forces by carefully severing the binds between them. 

In the next entries, I ‘d like to address particular elements-in-tension in Caracas and other S&M cities, and then address proposed means of tuning that tension in creating the urbanism to come.

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