Creative Writing

How might Pallasma’s ideas about how “[a]rchitecture [. . .] expresses and relates man’s [sic] being in the world” (284) help you reread Ahmed’s attempts to understand and accept the forces that shape her experience?

Question: How might Pallasma’s ideas about how “architecture [. . .] expresses and relates man’s [sic] being in the world” (284) help you reread Ahmed’s attempts to understand and accept the forces that shape her experience?


Leila Ahmed, an Egyptian finds herself in a great dilemma when she is made to read the Arabic language in class but fails to do so in a perfect manner. The teacher is therefore frustrating her, with an assumption of being an Arab. Basically, Ahmed talks about the nature of the treatment that the Egyptians of her time got from the Arab nationalists. She narrates how they were forced into accepting and living with the ideologies of the Arab nationalists, which actually they knew so little about. The aim of this essay therefore is to investigate the way in which Pallasma ideology about architecture help understand Ahmed responses to the forces that she encountered during her time.

Leila is faced with a situation that splits her into two worlds, one, she tries to maintain herself as an Egyptian, but on the contrary, she wants to pretend to be an Arab.  This was the time of the Arab revolution where everything was Arab, ranging from the songs sang on the radio to the talk that people had. Leila therefore found herself in a situation that made her act strangely, since she did not want to reveal herself as an Egyptian. On the other hand, she feared disclosing her true self to her friends for the fear of prejudice. She often found herself guilty especially in moments when she lied to her friends. She lives in an environment where people of her nature, the Egyptians are accused as being insufficient of the Arabic ways; such accusations make her develop very poor attitudes towards the people she lives with.

Pallasma’s ideas tend to explain such behavior. We will therefore analyze Ahmed’s behavior in the context of Pallasma’s ideas on how architecture can express and relate a man in his environment (Ahmed 3). The political interest of the Arabs made them act and treat the Egyptians very ruthlessly.

According to pallasma’s idea on multi sensory experience, she describes the experience of architecture to be multi sensory. She argues that men perceive in a universal way within their entire being. This implies that once a person grasps a concept, the concept become part of his body mind and everything in his being (Pallasmaa and Peter 13). Ahmed’s situation is tactical, she tries to adapt to her new environment created by the Arab revolution but she finds it very difficult. Ahmed is affected by her perception of the manner in which Egyptians were treated. She had a mindset of discrimination, which eventually formed part of her. The sensory interactional her body parts and the environment had already been established and had developed the mind of suffering. The sense of touch in human relates to all the major body parts. The eyes, the mind, the ears, and feelings all have a sense of touch. Therefore, touch is considered the unconscious part of the vision. She explains that even the eyes touch and perceive. It has a hidden tactic that influences the quality of the object perceived, and mediates between messages that show acceptance or rejection. Therefore, Ahmed was affected by the multi sensory experience and she therefore acted the way she did.

Pallasma’s ideas on matter and time also affect Ahmed’s reactions. Modern sensory and consciousness has developed greatly into a sense of vision. Architecture plays a major role in mediating between people and time.  Architecture helps provide domicile to people perhaps troubled by such circumstances. Time however allows the various abstractions to take people into a new world of ideas thus strengthening the experience of time. The architecture of the modern era tends to evoke an air of agelessness on youths. The concepts of perfection seek to detach the architectural objects away from reality of time. Ahmed could therefore allow for the healing of time to help her through.

The language of matter is another aspect of pallasma’s ideas on architecture. This describes people to normally appear very sensitive in regard to messages presented by matter. During Ahmed’s time, every communication was about Arabs, such causes certain level of distress and discomfort hence making it difficult to adapt to the environment. The Egyptians were regarded lowly. Ahmed even goes ahead to narrate a time when the Egyptians were not accorded opportunities to engage themselves in various constructive activities.

Another possible problem that could have contributed to Ahmed’s situation was material imaginations. According to this, matters normally evoke unconscious emotions and images, the plight of Egyptians at that time therefore evoked various feelings and reactions on Ahmed. She expressed her deep hatred towards the Arabs. At one instance while hanging out with her friends, she developed a feeling that she was a betrayer all because of the existing imaginations. Her thoughts made her feel that she could not be a good friend to these other  people, this  factor made her feel lonely and very controversial.

Consequently, the architecture of the experiential situation accurately applies in Ahmed’s case. Being in such experiential situation can elicit a series of reaction towards oppressors. For instance Ahmed could not withstand the treatment hat her people got. One such moment was during a conference in Paris, an Egyptian requested permission to ask a question. He was denied the chance based on being an Egyptian, and was told that the conference only belonged to the Arabs.

Presence of fragile architecture also affected Ahmed. Culture has been known to greatly inspire dominion and leadership. This aspect is normally vulnerable to influences such as that of western architecture. In Ahmed’s context, there is the foreign element, where they had gone to listen to the inspirational stories from an author. This element analyses interaction that existed between these conflicting groups. The Versailles conference where the British called upon the Arab leaders to talk about the issues of that time was also great significance in this regard. The fragility of architecture in this case is the ability of disowning one culture for another. The effects of this have normally been that, as much as an individual may wish to impress by showing an excellent image, the fragile effects on this result into a great disappointment for the image cannot sustain for long. The same is exactly the image that Ahmed acquired when in the company of friends and then lost it again when image and feelings broke down.

In conclusion, the situation in which Leila Ahmed is faced with having a close relationship with the Pallasma’s ideas regarding architecture. The application of the ideas can help one understand his/her environment. Having such an understanding is normally the beginning of making great advancements. Major concepts in Pallasma’s ideological theories closely relate to the injustices that the Arabs did to the Egyptians during the Arab revolution.

Works Cited

Ahmed, Leila. Women and gender in Islam: historical roots of a modern debate. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. Print.

Pallasmaa, Juhani, and Peter B. MacKeith. Archipelago: essays on architecture : for Juhani Pallasmaa. Helsinki: Rakennustieto, 2006. Print.