Oran, the capital of boredom

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In “The Minotaur, or The Stop in Oran” (1939), Albert Camus portrays the Algerian town as “the capital of boredom.” In the five sections of the chapter-The Street, The Desert of Oran, Sports, Monuments, and Ariadne’s Stone-the city is “besieged by innocence and beauty,” surrounded by a magnificent landscape that architecture decidedly ignores. The “very ugly constructions” diminish the presence of nature by turning their back to the ocean. Different from being a realm of latency, the city defines a space of waiting that inflicts stasis and absurdity. The built environment-flat and taut-is incapable of producing conditions of significance or attention, reducing past and future to “nothing.” For Camus, Oran is essentially modern, with inhabitants condemned to idleness and restlessness. On one hand, they are passive in their efforts to discover the unique qualities of where they live. On the other, they are active in responding to foreign models of living, behaving as if they would be in the United States. In between buildings and their occupants, the Minotaur reigns in a labyrinth of boredom-a pervasive state of ambiguity and ambivalence that exposes not only an involuntary deficit of meaning but also the paradoxes and contradictions of modernity. Through the analytical reading of the architectural and urban descriptions, this paper examines the spatial aspects of boredom as posed in “The Minotaur, or The Stop in Oran.” It follows the suggestion that the condition is a moment of pause and delay, located in between the experience of the individual and the built environment, resembling desynchronized dimensions.

Idioma originalInglés
Título de la publicación alojadaReading Architecture
Subtítulo de la publicación alojadaLiterary Imagination and Architectural Experience
EditorialTaylor and Francis
Número de páginas11
ISBN (versión digital)9781315402895
ISBN (versión impresa)9781138224261
EstadoPublicada - 1 ene. 2018


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