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Trap Rooms Redux

by Geoff Manaugh ( last modified Jan 04, 2012 02:44 AM
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by Geoff Manaugh ( last modified Oct 27, 2010



[Image: An old asylum and its floorplan, courtesy of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, otherwise unrelated to the present post].

We recently looked at the phenomenon of trap rooms, but that same idea came to mind again while reading about an interestingly architectural anxiety.

Amongst the many illnesses pushed to the limit by schizophrenic judge Daniel Paul Schreber—a figure who should be familiar to all readers of Deleuze & Guattari—was a kind of architectural paranoia. That is, Judge Schreber suffered an "anxious concern," as Victoria Nelson explains in her book The Secret Life of Puppets, "about the physical layout of the clinics in which he was housed (whose floor plans he includes in the Memoirs) and his occasional conviction that he was in a room that 'does not tally with any one of the rooms known to me' in the asylum."

He was inside the building, sure—but he was inside something else, an architectural circumstance he could neither abstractly understand nor spatially fathom. Perhaps, we might say, it was a trap room: a space neither here nor there, off the plan entirely, part of the very structure it will remain forever outside of.




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