Here, of course, the words are analogies to things we treat as real. Architecture and Society are hardly disputed as phenomena we humans have to deal with, but as a communicating species, we still can’t get around dealing with them in a way that escapes analogical representation. So, if we go back to Baudrillard and Barthes for a moment, we can understand their crisis, their loss of the real from semiotic disconnection. But now we can put things back into a useful view.
Castells brings postmodernity’s supposed loss of meaning back into the context of a real living system. Architecture in Society is the vehicle he uses to do it. Instead of attempting to solve the problem of disconnection by chastising the direction our society has taken, or bemoaning the capitalist destruction of the human value, he has actually embraced the representational dissociation that Harvey and the like were so worried about. He says “A place is a locale whose form, function and meaning are self-contained within the boundaries of physical contiguity”(423). By zooming out and providing as a central part of the definition of a physical area the function of a moving dynamic, the once static fragment of location has now gained real life. He has provided the old word “place” with a viality, or, more cogently, an ontology.
And that is ther reason so much of this resonates with Maturana. Now the place, like the broken automobile, has its own purpose. It is a purpose that is independent of its creators as well. In other words, Castells has taken the once flat and graph of the city and transformed into a new semiotically ennervated life form.