In his article "Jenck's 'Enigmatic Signifier' and Cathartic Narrative" Emmanuel Rubio takes Charles Jencks's definition of the "enigmatic signifier" as a point of departure. For Jencks, the post-modern "iconic building" should present a "redundancy of popular signs and metaphors" that allows for multiple interpretations. But these numerous metaphorical references could also be inserted in a less simultaneous network to construct a narrative sequence. As one of these sequences, the "cathartic narrative," which is particularly adapted to the troubled era of post-modernity, is defined as a narrative that brings back, in a symbolic way, memories and experiences of past suffering, before it gets through the ordeals of the community and gives actual relief. The Selfridges department store in Birmingham analyzed by Jencks offers a good example of this process. By reading the story of Birmingham's difficult modernization through its architecture, the "cathartic narrative" is able to propose another pattern for modern and postmodern monumentality.
"Jenck's "Enigmatic Signifier" and Cathartic Narrative."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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