"Capitalist production has unified space, breaking down the boundaries between one society and the next. This unification is at the same time an extensive and intensive process of banalization. Just as the accumulation of commodities mass-produced for the abstract space of the market shattered all regional and legal barriers and all the Medieval guild restrictions that maintained the quality of craft production, it also undermined the autonomy and quality of places. The homogenizing power is the heavy artillery that has battered down all the walls of China."
- Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, 1967
The irony is that the system that eroded provincialism is the system that provincialism's greatest defenders are now (and have been since at least Reagan) championing to resurrect some imagined form of isolation, traditional culture, and racial homogenization. Because the system they're using to achieve their ends is designed to do the opposite, it will never work. Boosters of a retreat to localism will end up even more the brunt of capitalism's cruel joke. The other irony, from the other side of the political spectrum, is that many who purport to resist capitalism joy in reproducing the concept of, as well as real manifestations of, local, territorially-defined culture, i.e. the Romantic "patchwork." This is visible more than anywhere in elite food consumption culture, where distinction comes from an authenticity that is almost always tethered to landscape. Enough already, terroir. You can't be multicultural at home, then align your own cultural status to a practice everywhere else that reinforces the provincialism that horrifies you most.
The following passage is from:
Beck, John. 2001. "Without Form and Void: The American desert as trope and terrain." Nepantla: Views from South 2 (1):63-83.
"These days, mention of the American desert is equally likely to prompt speculation about crashed spacecraft, secret scientific experiments, government cover-ups, occult Indian ceremonies, and drug smuggling and other varieties of organized criminal activity. The stories have changed, but the perceived otherworldliness of the arid zone has remained. The trope of the desert as without form and void enables the proliferation of all other tropes; the desert becomes the place of infinite metaphorical multiplicity."
The desert's perceived emptiness is what makes it ideologically malleable.
"Before the wind ever has a chance to enter a desert settlement, it should be lifted high above the community by some barrier at the settlement's boundaries.
To lift wind in the desert sufficiently, the barriers must be as high as most of the tallest buildings in the settlement it protects, generally about two stories."
- Kelly, Kathleen, and R.T. Schnadelbach. 1976. Landscaping the Saudi Arabian Desert. Philadelphia: Delancy Press.
Architecture Without Architects is the name of a well-known book written in 1964 by Bernard Rudofsky. The book was originally a museum catalog based on a 1964 exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, the purpose of which was to study "non-formal, non-classified" architecture. As such, it's about the anonymous, the generic, the vernacular, the spontaneous, the indigenous, and the rural.
What happens when people just build without official or commercial intentions?