The idea of limit, particularly limit of disciplines, gives an impression that thinking about limits is thinking about the ‘external envelope’ of the discipline. Seen this way, it appears that thinking of limit is thinking about disciplines as physical forms. Forms which have a profile, contour, shape, boundary -bubbles, spheres, frame, mesh, network, assemblage,- etc. It might be wise to consider disciplines as objects, but perhaps not as ‘physical’ objects.
The question of boundary has been a very crucial one for philosophy across the world. Where does an object begin, where does it end? Where do “I” begin, where do I end? Where does the world begin, where does it end? Over a short conversation on the idea of continuum, with one of the leading landscape and ecological thinkers, based out of the States, we quickly reached a point where we were pondering, where does the atmosphere of earth truly end? Questions like these, although may sound trivial, but can give existential shivers at times. Although the conversation was interrupted at this point, it has remained with me for the last few years now. Hidden in this idea, and in the theoretical works of the said academician, was the idea that everything in the world is either “rarefication” or “densification” of atoms. This is what the early materialists -from Greece and also from India- thought to be the case on how forms in the world are produced. So boundaries in this case are only a special condition of arrangement of atoms, we may be only seeing illusions of forms created by the swarm of atoms.
Moreover, this also offers the conception that forms are not real, but matter is (atoms). All forms are produced from matter. This way, a profile, a shape, a boundary is given to matter (scooped out or cut out, from matter). Seen this way, disciplines as produced by human activity, can be seen as forms. And from this perspective, the idea of ‘transgression’ makes sense. It is akin to proving that ‘we can know an object is brittle, only after a bullet pierces right through it, while shattering it into uncountable shards and dust. It is similar to Deleuze’s example of sugar dissolving into water. By the time we know what sugar is, it is already dissolved in water.
So form is matter stamped and yet unbound (as it is part of the infinite pool of atoms).
Another way to think about boundaries is offered by OOO (and its lineage). Things are deeper than their appearances. Which means, each is already is something, but it may not be identical with its appearance to humans only -a bat, an amoeba, a virus, a bird, a fish, a surveillance camera, a barcode scanner, can all perceive the same object in very different ways, yet never exchausting the various qualities of the object and the real depths of the objects. Which means, what OOO and materialists agree is that our perception of things are limited, and perhaps illusionary -where they differ is on the stand of what lies underneath, beneath, beyond, the object.
However, if the profile of the object is merely sensual to the perceiver, then the object is something that is deeper than its infinite appearance and perceived qualities (sensual qualities). Which means, the real “limits” of disciplines is in their depths, their essence and / or their real qualities, not in the outer profile.
Architecture theory is often considered as a an object with a “limit” which the best of the pilots have to reach, only to push the boundary a little further -as Sanford Kwinter wrote about Koolhaas. Or it is often considered as an object that needs to be transgressed -as Neil Leach wrote about engaging with other disciplines. Or, it is assumed that this boundary is a false boundary as it is merely a socio-historical construct. But if we assume for a moment, that this “thing” called architectural theory is indeed a thing (not a physical thing), then perhaps should we not be concerned with the depths of this thing?
Boundaries are tricky and difficult, and so are depths.