Tag Archives: petrification

Architecture and Pain

We should perhaps conceive of pain as a field which, in the realm of existence, opens precisely onto that limit where a living being has no possibility of escape.

Isn’t something of this suggested to us by the insight of the poets in that myth of Daphne transformed into a tree under the pressure of a pain from which she cannot flee? Isn’t it true that the living being who has no possibility of escape suggests in its very form the presence of what one might call petrified pain? Doesn’t what we do in the realm of stone suggest this? To the extent that we don’t let it roll, but erect it, and make of it something fixed, isn’t there in architecture itself an actualization of pain? What happened during the period of the Baroque … would support this idea. Something was attempted then to make architecture itself aim at pleasure, to give it a form of liberation, which, in effect, made it blaze up so as to constitute a paradox in the history of masonry and of building. And that goal of pleasure gave us forms which, in a metaphorical language that in itself takes us a long way, we call “tortured.”

Jacques Lacan, Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60.