THE THING ABOUT SCHUMACHER  -  Wednesday December 7th, 2011

Patrik defends his position.

On reflection, no one at Schumacher’s Debating Fundamentals symposium actually admitted having read his tome. Brett Steele (above) opened by apologising for just that, brushing over the fact to say “Patrik’s been looking for an excuse for several years to hold a seven-hour lecture at the AA — if he could he would run one for seven-days. That he has the strength, energy, intellect, and belief to do that explains a lot about how this 450 page book came to be.” There was a silence as the whole room contemplated this great hard-backed white beast proximate to the lectern.

Steele continued “I really want to talk about it’s bookishness, how booky it is… I wanted to just explain about reading the book. Of course I couldn’t possibly read it in the way most readers would try to … but in a kind of way that a paranoid critical analysis might offer a form of insight, by reading it in what a lot of people would say is the wrong way.” Presumably, of course, he means not reading it but looking at the pictures. The large red post-its testified to his intent: the book, he said, could be summarised by the location of its seven images. There was one around page 150, then the rest all at the back. Heavy-going. They were all Zaha Hadid projects, which is why Steele argued the book was really more of a biography. Probably very true. Steele later explained that after spending 8 hours in a room with the book he still didn’t understand the title, but realised he didn’t have to because fortunately Patrik did.

As for some of the other speakers, Alejandro Zaera-Polo simply performed a parametric analysis of the pdf (he hadn’t even seen the book) to determine the frequency of particular terms. From this he inferred certain values the book professed. Rightly, or wrongly, we will never know as no one has read it to check his conclusions. Zaha closed the symposium, and introduced herself by saying “I’m only here to allow Patrik to ask me questions and then answer them himself, because that’s obviously the purpose of this discourse.” They’ve got an odd relationship they have.

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