Our Theory, the most important part of the CATTt, is drawn from Jean Baudrillard’s Fatal Strategies. Baudrillard, like this project, is concerned with how to act and react in a cultural moment when familiar knowledge systems have lost their efficacy.
Baudrillard’s instruction is to look for the fractal repetition of patterns and principles. The point is to induce an epiphany, a recognition of the order of the universe. In finding repetition across levels, we should be able to locate the agency we have lost in our mechanical prostheses which have become unconscious processes whose reality is expressed only in the moment of breakdown, the accident.
An important detail of Baudrillard’s work is that ‘fatal’ primarily refers to predestination rather than mortality (though in brinksmanship and formal self-referentiality, these two seem intimately—even fatally—related). Thus, an important part of Baudrillard’s instruction is to find the detail that initiated the technology, an initial accident.
Pruitt-Igoe’s initiating accident was the decay of the slums in St. Louis. The course of urban renewal meant to eliminate the decrepit buildings and replace them with Pruitt-Igoe, a super-condensed urban living center. You can take people out of the slums, but you can’t always take the slum out of people; an improvement of material conditions won’t necessarily improve social conditions, and Pruitt-Igoe simply rearranged, condensed, intensified the social problems.