Mark Purcell

I am an urbanist, geographer, political theorist, and faculty member in the Department of Urban Design & Planning at the University of Washington.  My work examines the theory, practice, and potential of radical democracy in the city.  My primary blog home is pathtothepossible.

In The Urban Revolution Henri Lefebvre insists the purpose of radical critique is to “open a path to the possible, to explore and delineate a landscape that is not merely part of the ‘real,’ the accomplished, occupied by existing social, political, and economic forces.”  For Lefebvre the “real” was the existing capitalist city, and the possible was what he called “urban society.” Urban society is a virtual object that is both a horizon toward which we must move and also something that is always already here, present in our everyday lives, even if it is inchoate, emerging, and difficult to see.

For me this virtual object, this possible toward which radical critique must cut a path, is democracy.  Not liberal democracy and its elections, parties, and governing institutions.  But real democracy, democracy at the bone, democracy as a way of life, a social life in which people become active, reappropriate their own proper power, and undertake the ongoing project of managing the conditions of their existence.  Democracy on the horizon.  A path to the possible.

In addition to Lefebvre, I am also a big fan/student of the work of, among others: Aristotle, Gramsci, Nietzsche, Deleuze & Guattari, Foucault, Ranciere, Laclau & Mouffe, Hardt & Negri, Castoriadis, Italo Calvino, and David Foster Wallace.  And don’t even get me started on Mark Rothko.

One more thing: I am pretty sure the starlings hold the key to our future.

Made on Firefox 18 in Ubuntu 12.10 through Cinnamon 1.6

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