PDP-Constellation, Modernity and the ‘other’

We focused on modernity and the ‘other’ in this session, the first issue we discussed was the fundamentals of order, evolution and balance. The relationship between order and evolution was something that I found interesting. ‘Order is a prerequisite of survival, therefore the impulse to produce orderly arrangements is inbred by evolution.’

Order amongst humanity was also an interesting topic. ‘Order is a necessary condition for anything the human mind is to understand.’ it could be said order is an embedded element of the human psyche.

While order and evolution work hand in hand balance is the element that always stays constant. ‘The state of balance is the only one in which the system remains at rest, and balance makes for order because it represents the simplest possible configuration of the system’s components.’ I found this aspect of the human psyche very interesting, particularly in relation to my current body of work. Is it a fair to say order is a form of authority.

Considering my research of the Stanley Milgram experiment it can be said order or rather authority is a fundamental element of human nature. Could it be that human nature craves order/authority? I believe so. Furthermore it could be said balance is a form of obedience, authority requires obedience to keep a steady balance.

Another interesting aspect of order and authority amongst society that the lecture touched upon was the Jeremy Bentham, panopticon design. Drawn below by Willey Reveley in 1791.


This is essentially a creation that prevents an inmate or society in the twenty first century to be viewed by authority without being able to view back. This was practiced with the ‘Bedlam’ Royal Hospital for the mentally ill. This idea of total control is something that interests me, or even baffles me to some degree. Outside of the lecture I researched this panopticon theory and became fascinated by the philosopher Michael Foucault.

His studies on discipline and punish particularly interested me. He suggested how there was a stark contrast between punishment of old and punishment within modern society. The difference between torturing and the numbing prison routine which he believed was a metaphor for society. It wasn’t that he condoned torture he just refused to endorse the prison system. Ultimately, prison reflects the workings of society, through panopticism, or rather the all seeing eye.

Another aspect of control and order that we looked at was haussmanisation, which was the renovation of Paris between 1853-1970. This transformation of Paris ultimately provided the hierarchy with a better construction for control. The design allowed the authorities to control elements of urban living such as crime. It enabled quick access for the armed forces. Furthermore it provided a more controllable environment.

For the perfect flaneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy … to be away from home; to see the world, to be at the
centre of the world, and yet to be hidden from the world.’
Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life, 1863

This phrase ‘hidden from the world’ is of particular interest to me, this suggestion of this city being cordoned off is surely prison-like. The prison for the criminals yet to commit a crime one could say.



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