The problem of alterations can be related to an ancient paradox called the ship of Theseus. The paradox, presented through various parables by such philosophers as Plutarch, Heraclitus (notorious for his fixation on the perpetual transformations of the universe), and Hobbes, goes something like this: The ship of Theseus, which had thirty oars and a great many other timber components, was repaired and altered over time, its planks replaced, until finally not one part of its original material remained. Having been so altered from its original state, the philosophers ask, can it still be identified as the same ship? What is at stake here is less the question of whether the ship will still work—and evidently it will, as with each new alteration we can assume newly available technologies have also been invested—but an ontological question. What the philosophers are anxious to ascertain is whether the continuation of some focal, identifiable being, some given subject or object, can be determined. Is this still the actual ship of Theseus or not? As it turns out the paradox itself has been subject to serial alterations over time using different objects as examples, such as socks, and carriages, and axes. The issue, again and again, concerns identity: Is this thing that I handle, sail, wear, inhabit, the same thing it was before it underwent so many alterations? The preoccupations that attend this paradox remain within what can be called a hylomorphic frame of reference and its associated politics. Its principal question, which privileges the ontological priority of being (over becoming), and remains entranced by the auratic myth of some original source of meaning, is not actually very interesting. This paper aims to displace some of those preoccupations.[i] With the issue of architectural alterations in mind, I will present an argument for how to engage with vibrant material assemblages and their co-productive relation with ecologies of affect.
[i] Deleuze and Guattari explain that the hylomorphic model, which they associate with what they call Royal science, implies a ”form that organises matter and a matter prepared for the form.” They extend their critique of hylomorphism further to describe a politics of the relations of power between ”governors and the governed”, suggesting that the multitude are merely so much matter to be molded by the powerful. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia  (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 369.
Copenhagen: Danish Architectural Press, 2011 , 2013. Vol. 3, no 2, 40-46 p.
material assemblages, critical real estate theory, ecologies of affect, property bubble