Peymanic paradigms

Peyman said lots of things. That’s what he did: put ideas out, put them in circulation. He did this via publications, websites, talks at conferences; via the quasi-governmental think tanks he was constantly invited to head up, or the interviews he’d give in the trade press. His ideas took the form of aphorisms: Location is irrelevant: what matters is not where something is, but rather where it leads… What are objects? Bundles of relations … Each of these nuggets was instantly memorable, eminently quotable. On urbanism: A city has no “character”; it is a schizoid headspace, filled with the cacophony of contradiction. On design: The end point to which it strives is a state in which the world is one hundred percent synthetic, made by man, for man, according to his desires … These aphorisms were his currency; he traded in them, converting them, via the Company, into tangible undertakings that had measurable outcomes, which in turn helped spawn more concepts and more aphorisms, always at a profit. The concepts were all generated in-house and collectively: that’s how his outfit worked. We’d come at briefs, and at the big ones in particular, from several angles, bringing all our intellectual disciplines to bear on them—the Company had people who’d trained as economists, philosophers, mathematicians, architects and who knows what else on its books—and, slapping the pertinent offerings of each of these down on the collective table (or up on the collective sheet of glass), formulate new concepts that Peyman, as the Company’s public face and poster-boy, would then launch into circulation. Seeing these in print, observing them being cited, appropriated, sampled, cross-bred, both by others and by Peyman himself, was like encountering an amalgam of our own minds, our own thoughts, returning to us on a feedback loop. Without Peyman, though, without the general—and generative—mechanism he had set in place and over which he constantly presided, we would never have come up with these thoughts in the first place: they were quite beyond us.

Thus Peyman, for us, was everything and nothing. Everything because he connected us, both individually and severally, our scattered, half-formed notions and intuitions, fields of research which would otherwise have lain fallow, found no bite and purchase on the present moment—he connected all these to a world of action and event, a world in which stuff might actually happen; connected us, that is, to our own age. And not just us: it worked the same way for the Company’s clients. That’s what they were buying into: connection and connectedness—to ideas, expertise, the universe of consequence, the age. It sometimes seemed as though the very concept of “the age” wouldn’t have been fully thinkable without Peyman; seemed that he invented, re-invented it with every passing utterance, or simply (with the overlay of continents and times and cultures stored up in his very genes, his mixed Persian, South American and European ancestry) by existing. He connected the age to itself, and, in so doing, called it into being. And, at the same time, he was nothing. Why? Because, in playing this role, he underwent a kind of reverse camouflage (some anthropologists do speak of such a thing). The concepts he helped generate and put in circulation were so perfectly tailored to the age on whose high seas they floated, their contours so perfectly aligned with those of the reality from which they were drawn and onto which they constantly remapped themselves, that you’d find yourself coming across some new phenomenon, some trend—in architecture or town planning or brand strategy or social policy, in Europe, the States, India, it didn’t matter what or where—and saying: Oh, Peyman came up with a term for this; or: That’s a Peyman thing. You’d find yourself saying this several times a week—that is, seeing tendencies Peyman had named or invented, Peymanic paradigms and inclinations, movements and precipitations, everywhere, till he appeared in everything; which is the same as disappearing.


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