In my memory there's a room, about as large as the apartment of a young bachelor. At one end there's a small raised stage, with folding chairs set up in front of it. To the right there's a bank of windows, and the light coming through has a dingy yellow texture, as though the windows had been smeared with pulpy just-starting-to-rot fruits. About half the chairs are filled with people in Midwestern dress clothes, all browns and yellows and off-whites, thick synthetic fibers which give the room a dry musty feel. No one speaks. They all stare at the stage, where a man sits, his hands crossed over his lap, his head wired into position by cable covered in flesh-looking putty. The back of his skull is missing, with the hole where brain and skull should be filled with a thick brown beeswax. The same wax fills the man's nostrils and mouth, visible if one were to take one's fingers and pull the lips apart, look into the mouth through the gap made by three removed teeth. This process is used on a corpse in order to trap the soul inside the body after death. A close examination of the beeswax reveals the eggy black larvae of some unidentified insect, feeding on the beeswax and burrowing into the skull. A woman flanked on either side by two young children in white and light-green cotillion dresses come into the room and walk before the stage, looking at the man. Beneath the man's suit he wears a tin exoskeleton which allows his body to be held and locked into position. The woman and the fidgeting girls watch the man as the face collapses slightly, the skull being gnawed away by the larvae. Nothing moves. A wake where no one thinks to bury the body.

The man talks of the kind of science somebody who doesn't want to know science would know. A writer who is looking to use specific terminology for fictive effect, perhaps, or someone wishing to make suitable small-talk among technically-minded friends. The sort of people who arrange piles of rocks into different piles, without thinking, a force of habit, halving and quartering. Those people looking for a loophole in the laws of the universe.

It's a room used as of late as a mock-shift church, a small-denominational splinter faction, just shy of cultdom. The priests refuse to refer to themselves as such and seem to suggest that keeping pets was a sin against god. The priests sit in on all meetings, rented out for a "prayer offering" of twenty dollars a day. Groups rarely meet twice, as the presence of the priests tends to make people uncomfortable, particularly anyone doing the North Cedar Twelve-Step, which is what today's group looks to primarily consists of. Unfortunately, the man on stage has a bad case of faux-tech, which he's termed (according to the marker-scrawled posterboard out front) "biomorphic abstraction: achieving your happiness quota by productive management of your holistic soul-form through structural design". The man sits on a small raised stage, facing a handful of folding chairs filled with an overdressed and twitching audience.

"I know it may sound hokey to you, but give me just a moment and you'll see what I mean. All of us have hardships in our life...problems in our life...but what is the root cause of those problems? Is it money? Sure, money does lead to problems, but only because we are *attached* to it. So then, is it love? We all want to love and to be loved, but we tend to want it so much we push it away. So then, is it, evil? Is there evil in the world? I say yes, yes there is, but not the evil of the devil, not the evil of some supernatural force. I say evil is weakness. When we are unconfident, when we look to scapegoats, when we turn a blind eye to the problems of the world -- this is weakness, and this is evil. These things we've been talking about for the past few hours, these are all symptoms of a greater problem, and as we all know, trying to change the symptom doesn't get rid of the illness. The illness, when we get down to the core, is you. And you and you and you. You are the illness. And the answer to all your problems is simple. Stop. Being. Yourselves."

The speaker gives this entire speech from a chair, which is supposed to instill a sense of tranquility and casual bonhomie but only serves to reduce the attention the audience pays him. Such speeches are often given in the basements of churches due to the lack of windows, which significantly diminish the competition the speaker has to struggle against, including all-time blockbusters like "moderate afternoon traffic" and "leaves falling off tree". The only person in the audience who seems to be paying much attention is the priest, who is in a fit of consternation ever since that "no Satan" crack.

"I was once as you are now. I was once content to let the years pass. I was a architect then, and much as one is always an alcoholic, one is always an architect, though I thought if I were to change the words by which I defined my profession I could, perhaps, redefine myself. I began thinking of myself as a structural composer, working with experimental media in order to explore nontraditional means of disjunctive synthesis. I wanted to stop building things and start putting things that were already built together in new ways. The world was filled with things, we all felt at the time, and it seemed to follow an inner logic to start using the things we already had more efficiently, more thoroughly, rather than rushing out to put our names on the next disposable sui generis object. This is a difficult thing to do in architecture, which is why I wanted to do it; I was done with doing the easy things. Generally when an architect or designer talks in these terms, the intent is to find some preexisting structure and transform it into something new, which (it would just so happen) would fit in nicely with urban planners attempting to gentrify the neighborhood in question, bringing in money and shooing out the locals. I had no appetite for this. It is a method of destroying the natural process by which an area finds its own form in order to overlay an essentially arrogant notion of what the people who live and work there "need". Filthy lucre, certainly, I wanted no part of, but there was a deeper reasoning, as I still believed (though I never dared admit it) that the structure of the environments where people spent their time affected them in a very real and tangible way, more tangible than, say, psychology. Religion, in its favor, knew this instinctively, and went to great ends to control the structure of the areas where it was housed: churches, monasteries, temples. If I truly did believe this, then the question remained: what was it I wanted from people, for people? What was I trying to conduct, in the musical sense, the electrical sense?

"I took a year of sabbatical time and bummed around Eastern Europe, thinking intently about sound. I was studying Cage, Satie, Tudor, Schoenberg. I was visiting churches by the dozens. I wanted to find a place where harmonic sound and structural grace found a common ground. My problem was that I was looking for the wrong things and did not know it. I was searching for a composed elegance, when what I truly was after was a natural structure derived not through intent but through use. I finally came across such a place in the most unexpected of places, at Kilvan's Block. I had found a place whose structure, pattern of layout, and material provoked a literal change in the way I thought about things. Were I in California, I'd say it changed my consciousness. Fortunately, we are not in California, where changes in consciousness tend to be drawn exclusively in pastels."

The priest laughs a bit under his breath; the talk of churches and minor newage-bashing sits well with him. The rest of the audience finally feels that the speaker is getting to an actual point, and pays the most attention they've mustered all afternoon.

"It didn't much look like a church, or perhaps it once did and years of other uses had transformed it. There's really no way of knowing now what parts of it were original and what parts of it were outgrowths, extensions, as the original blueprints no longer exist, thanks to a gaggle of order-following twits back in the First World War. Even in the span between then and the time I got there, in the mid-seventies, so much had changed. It had been used as a repository for grain, a hiding-place and then prison for local dissidents, a bakery, an orphanage, a greenhouse for drug-runners. Each time a new purpose was found for the building layouts were changed, walls built and knocked down, whole spaces reconfigured, until by the time I had made it there it felt as though the place had seen so much history to be outside history; no single event or purpose could hold it. The building stopped being a trap for memory-ghosts; it became a threshold, an area where definitions are sought, not applied. The maze of buildings and hallways merged with the catacombs, with the outer areas, with the rooftops. There were no set boundaries. This was a place where everything was up for grabs. I couldn't count on my surroundings to tell me who I was, how I fit in, what I was supposed to do. For a time, I thought it impossible to build such architecture: it had to build itself, over time. Being impossible, however, has never been a good reason not to try something, and I immediately returned to the States, to begin work on my first design after my professional crisis.

"My mention of psychology earlier was not a facetious one. My building took interest from the local property holder of a small school building planned for a city named Summerland Iowa, which came too early for mid-50s suburban planning boom and too late for New Deal government subsidies, and thus faded into local memory with nothing to show but a few abandoned buildings and some surprisingly impressive roadways for an area nobody ever visited, barring occasional hunters, funeral parties and the occasional lost trucker who took a wrong turn off I-80. He was more than glad to get the property off his hands, no good for farmland now and too far from anywhere to be good for development. This attention led to the interests of a small number of psychiatric professionals, who felt that my design for the schoolhouse renovation into a "biomorphic abstraction" of the Kilvan's Block complex would be ideal for an experimental mental health facility they were intending to build themselves, up in Wisconsin. Deals were made through an intermediary technologies company who intended to make use of the facility for pharmaceutical testing, and before I knew it I had enough financial backing to actually begin work. Less than two years later, my building was complete.

"Let me ask you people a question. Do buildings remember? Can they be said to have a memory? Is it that the building's inhabitants act as the nervous system of a building, directing flows of traffic and use, adjusting high and low-end use patterns in order to expand in certain advantageous ways? If we concur that we as inhabitants do not plan these things intentionally from a building's inception, and if we then agree that such patterns do tend to manifest over time, then how can we not say that such repeatable, predictable patterns are not bought about by a sentient, self-serving process, just as "intelligent" as a storm-cluster or a mineral vein in that, while not possessing a direct living form, they shape their own destinies in order to serve out what they feel suits them best? Can we say that anything which shows self-preserving traits has an intelligence? If so, buildings do not simply house us, they communicate with us, attempting to influence our actions to better assist in its longevity and productivity. To "biomorphically abstract" a building is to lift its essential traits and graft them onto a different area, observing their adaptation to their new environment. It is a process of conjoining two disparate elements into a cohesive, yet disjunctive, whole. It is the frission between these two forces which, I feel, give such buildings their sense of place and affect. It forms its own history, rather than accepts ours. As such, the study of how such a design affected its inhabitants proved fascinating enough to me that I elected to stay on after its inception as the Richter-Goldberg Complex.

"There are times that I suspect that this entire process, from my time in the Czech republic to this very day, has been a systematic effort to have me willfully institutionalized, that my notions of locus and flow played directly into the hands of those who would wish for my capture. It is possible that this is a notion given my by the building itself, whose motives are beyond my understanding, conductor or not. It is just as likely possible that my exposure to this place, to the people here, has disrupted my processes, just as it has disrupted the ever-common dichotomy between doctor and patient, jailer and jailed. Were you to enter this place, days would pass before you could tell the difference, and even then you would not be far off from the realization that your notions of order are not strictly accurate as much as an attempt to ward of the dislocating aspects of the building itself by attempting to instill a hierarchy without referent. The building wipes memory, wipes intent, disabilities habit and pattern. This is critical, as this is the only method by which we may escape the malignant efforts of the buildings which surround us, enclose us, program us with subliminal assignments. How much of modern illness comes from modern society? How much of what makes us sick comes from our immediate environment? And how can we look each other in the eye and pretend this isn't intentional?"

A bell rings, a small plastic timer like you'd find in a kitchen atop a pie-filled oven, and the man on the stage looks startled, as though he'd lost himself in thought and hasn't the time left to return to where he began. He takes one of the plastic seats in the audience and waits for the next person to step up to the stage, and the process is repeated, yet another time, only instead of staring out at the yellowing windows, the audience finds itself staring at the walls, and I made a hasty retreat to the local drinking establishment. I never saw the Architect again, and gladly.

the exit is hidden within the exit