The poetics of architecture: a house of culture for the Khomani San
Auret, Hendrik Andries
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The Poetics of Architecture serves as a theoretical basis in an attempt to understand and interpret the poetic qualities of san life in a contemporary investigation of an ancient culture- a society oscillating between formal (scientific/modern) and informal (traditional) knowledge- thought and feeling. The most comprehensive effort to preserve the cultures and traditions of the San resulted from a remarkable tale revolving around two families: on the one hand there lived a German immigrant and Philologist, Doctor Wilhelm Bleek, his wife Jemima and their four daughters, and Jemima’s unmarried sister, Lucy Lloyd. On the other hand were an extended family of /Xam San from the North Western Cape (Skotnes 1996: 93). The Bleek and Lloyd archive is a 13,000 page record documenting this relationship. The organization of this archive will serve as base for the ordering and structure of this thesis. The Bleek and Lloyd records seem to maintain a linear progression with a /Xamtext in the right hand column and an English translation on the left. The stories and the method to measure the timeframe of their occurrence were, however, not linear. To accommodate this, a parallel text was used on the left hand page. The story was hereby made multi-dimensional and the process of reading was made an active and mobile process (ibid: 23). In this sense the depth and richness of the world surrounding the stories was revealed. This method will serve as instrument to uncover the many hidden strands of thought that run through this text on a parallel plane. San thoughts and ideas (narratives), illustrations, related subjects, poems or precedents accompany the main text as a thread- tying together and uniting a wealth of ideas and resources. Another method used to “unconceal” the deep-rooted nature of these ideas is found within an analogy with the bow. The bow has been a constant companion in the pursuit to relate architectural investigations with San ideas. It is a touchstone that closely follows John Ruskin’s (Selections from the writings of John Ruskin: 384-385) ideas regarding poetics of the first order: a place of fiery subjective passion accompanied by a steady, logical mind that can unwaveringly convey the rational truth. The bow oscillates between these poles. The bow is held in place by the string. The string constantly struggles against the forces of the branch. When the string is broken, tension fades and all is lost within the complacency and cold, unfeeling gaze of the poet of the second order (no light or heat). The bow-in constant tension- is a call towards the poetic. The string can not remain broken...