||MAKING DYING ILLEGAL
by Arakawa, Madeline Gins
Making Dying Illegal is the latest installment of the ongoing Arakawa and Gins Reversible Destiny Project. By making the on-the-surface absurd proposal to legislate against dying, a strong political and satirical strategy is produced as a series of architectural principles that relate to Arakawa's buildings in Europe and Japan. Having read the book over many times in editing, we feel that MDI can become what the reader wants to make it. This flexible text smacks of Alice in Wonderland, Dada tract, and contemporary self-help political critique--a truly exciting text.
Arakawa and Gins' Making Dying Illegal is, like all great satire, a serious contribution to a serious problem--a--a problem that so far each of us has had to face for ourselveshim- or herself, namely that of stopping being. Who but this singular collaborative pair has risen to the occasion of addressing death as a misdemeanor, if not a felony, on the part of the one who has died? For the first time death is treated not as a certainty or a necessity, but as an option it should be illegal to exercise. The book joins, if it does not constitute, the exiguous library of thanatosophical masterpieces. Its aim, of course, is not literary. It is corollary to the authors' audacious imperative to take destiny in hand and reverse it.
- ARTHUR DANTO, philosopher, former President of the American Philosophical Association, Emeritus Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy, Columbia
Not since John Donne has anyone so humbled death as do Madeline Gins and Arakawa in Making Dying Illegal, a volume as pioneering as it is generous. Equal parts poetry, philosophy, legislation, blueprint, remedy, and demand, this book throws down the gauntlet and calls Dying what it really is--treason against the body.
- JOSHUA EDWARDS, publisher and co-editor of The Canary
Arakawa and Gins have once again escalated the struggle to reverse destiny, this time taking on the legal and governmental structures that which would be needed to for Making Dying Illegal. What if death were to be made illegal? For one, it would make those already tragic deaths in a terrorized world even more tragic. One of the secrets to Arakawa's and Gins' trajectory is that they engage our actions, particularly our embodied actions, to radically change our ethical perspectives. Beginning with the disorienting way of looking at paintings with eyes closed, standing on a ramp, on through the highly interactive housing architecture which that engages and changes perspectives, now into the wider social world, they produce the procedures which that radically reverse our ordinary embodiment, and it's taken for granted we are led farther and farther into a different destiny.
-DON IHDE, philosopher, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Stony Brook University
Arakawa and Gins reverse destiny by affirming life's possibilities indefinitely. In light of aging populations, their architectural procedures warrant, indeed demand, attention from policy-makers and practitioners throughout the globe. In an originary moment in the history of philosophy, the female and male voices come together in shared and mutually enlightening _expression. This opening is a landing site in which gender can be engaged super-constructively for the first time.
- TRISH GLAZEBROOK, eco-feminist and philosopher of science, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dalhousie University
Early in the 20th century, thinkers such as Bergson and Heidegger fundamentally questioned the assumption that time and its experience should be thought of in spatial terms, and especially in terms of Newtonian spatiality. But what of space itself? Is space correctly thought of in temporal terms? Bachelard suggests not, and the work of Arakawa and Gins presents this rejection in its most rigorous form. What would be the ne plus ultra of the experience of non-temporalized space? Thinking of space as a vessel of pure immortality. This is the core of Arakawa and Gins' challenge to us--one that is well worth taking up.
- FRED RUSH, Associate Professor Department of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
Making Dying Illegal is a provocative treatise for the 21st century that firmly places the subject in the present, obliging it to account for its surroundings. Gins and Arakawa deliver a usable meaning dependent on the body's interaction with the world; employing a set of evolving procedures, which they name architectural procedures, they accomplish through their radical interdisciplinarity what poets, artists, and philosophers have attempted for decades--a retooling of phenomenology. Making Dying Illegal forces Cartesian dualism to recede and diminish--taking with it into oblivion its metaphysical and teleological ramifications--the Grand Narrative; the subject-object divide; logical, objective signification; even Death itself.
- CHRISTINA MAKRIS, Doctoral Candidate, University of Sussex
Publication date: November 2006