Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

Everywhere I worked on this book I benefited enormously from the knowledge and generosity of those who lived there. Most providentially at home, as has been the case for nearly a quarter of a century, my partner, Professor Kalman Bland, read and reread what I wrote, always with remarkable equanimity and new insight. Abroad...

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Introduction: Architectural Agency

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pp. xiii-xxvi

Places, like people, are usually more engaging and less dangerous the better we know them. Part of that understanding involves the recognition of their effects, their agency. “Agent” and “agency” are derived from the Latin verb agree, “to set in motion”; its present participle, agens, agentis, used as an adjective, means “effective...

Part I. Death

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1. Murder

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pp. 3-30

Though terrorism now invokes greater outrage, murder is still a serious allegation. In formal language “murder” is reserved as a descriptor of a criminal act with a human victim. In most U.S. states’ legal systems, murder comes in two degrees. First-degree murder is willful and premeditated. Felony homicide—a killing that...

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2. Spoils

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pp. 31-56

The Cloisters Museum in New York provides a scene for the investigation of crimes committed at a distance, revealing evidence of the venal destruction of monuments for the sake of money and status. The victims are the buildings, maimed or murdered for their parts. The culprits are traffickers in ancient works; their accomplices...

Part II. Disease

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3. Amnesia

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pp. 59-84

“True,” in common language, generally refers to that which corresponds to empirical experience with dependable consistency. A “lie” consciously contradicts the true. Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt usefully probes the word “bullshit” in relation to truth and falsehood through a consideration of the intentions of the...

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4. Urban Toxicity

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pp. 85-116

Arguably Jerusalem has a longer history of trauma than any other continuously inhabited city in the world. It has been subjected to chronic destruction. In 586 BCE, after King Zedekiah rebelled against the Babylonians, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. The city was starved and then destroyed. Zedekiah’s sons were...

Part III. Addiction

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5. Gambling

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pp. 119-150

We all have our habits, most of them bad. But few obsessive behaviors, even bad ones, are addictions. Addicts are those who compulsively repeat acts that they and those who know them understand as self-destructive. Beyond their chronic failure to resist the deleterious object of their desire, individuals suffering from addiction...

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6. Digital Play

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pp. 151-184

The Las Vegas casino suggests how a building, as a cue, may act as an agent in an addict’s compulsion. Architectural agency is more intense, however, when a space is not the cue that triggers an addictive impulse but is itself the substance of abuse. For those dependent on video games or immersive worlds, play is the addiction and...

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Conclusion: Buildings/Things, Bodies/Texts, History/Theory

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pp. 185-220

Although the agency of built forms has been neglected, the agency of things has attracted a good bit of critical attention—from Mauss and Heidegger to Gell and Brown. It might be assumed that the theorizations of things’ acts would provide useful paradigms for theorizing the operations of buildings. Certainly some of the...

Notes

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pp. 221-252

Bibliography

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pp. 253-282

Index

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pp. 283-293