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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Apparatus is borrowed from the latin Ad (to) + Parare (make ready). It refers to the work of preparing things and the collective items involved in the preparation process. Cognates of apparatus include prepare, preparation and in French, preparer. A similar term is machine though machine carries automatic and efficient connotations in contrast to the subtlety apparatus portrays.

In one sense, apparatus is an object. Apparatus is a term chiefly employed in the sciences. An eclectic assortment organs, glands and instruments fall into the category of apparatus. These such as the general laboratory equipment, Golgi Apparatus and Stardust Sample Collection Apparatus prepare materials for further use. Their processes are typically complicated and function for a highly specific and detailed purpose. Importantly, the shape of an apparatus is changeable: it may be improved without altering the nature of the apparatus itself. The specific tool is part of the apparatus’ evolving form.

In another sense, an apparatus is a system. All preparations, provisions or gear necessary to prepare any thing are component parts of the thing’s associated apparatus. The key to being or to being part of an apparatus is the ability to work toward a goal. Public Education, food distribution and medicine are all such examples. No system composed solely of non-living components can be considered an apparatus. In this sense, all apparatuses have a conceptual base in discourse and are therefore not entirely physical. Intention (conscious or unconscious), communication and (importantly) co-operation are necessary for the apparatus to function. Physical traits cannot fully describe the vehicle of an apparatus because an apparatus is an abstract process.
Though all apparatuses work toward a goal, the goal is variable and not necessarily shared by all members. For instance, the apparatus of Architecture is concerned with preparing livable space but must involve details like nails and hinges, geologic and meteorological surveys and is both enabled and restricted by the client. Furthermore, architects who are entirely involved in the apparatus have competing methods and ideas. Arrangement of spaces, building materials and paper for drawings among other things vary between places and over time. Architecture is a particularly complex apparatus and collects diverse players to work towards a varying goal, which inevitably creates internal friction. However the product, here buildings, is bettered by these safety and comfort details and fantastic innovations like concrete have been investigated due to budget. The clash of ideas is in a sense a continuous discourse and over time refines the function of the apparatus. The motivating discourse is changing and thus the goal of the apparatus is variable too.

Little, William, H. W. Fowler, and Jessie Coulson. Oxford English Dictionary. Edited by C. T.
     Onions. Third ed. The Shorter. London W., England: Oxford University Press, 1973.
Gwinn, Robert P., Peter B. Norton, and Philip W. Goetz. "Apparatus." In Bayeu, Ceanothus, 44-44. 15th ed.
     Vol. 1 of Brittanica. The New Encyclopedia Brittanica 2. Chicago, USA: The University of
     Chicago, 1988.

Skeat, Walter W. "Apparatus";”Prepare”. Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. London: 
     Oxford Claredon Press, 1888. 223. Print. FUN, merriment, sport (C.;

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