The Act of Not Seeing

F.C. Gundlach, photography. Berlin Hilton, 1958

"..the fundamental meaning of symbols in which the earliest human beings customarily deposited their views of the nature of the world around them is purely physical and material. Symbolism, like language, sat in nature's lap." Johann Jakob Bachofen "Departure in dreams means dying." Freud, Introductory Lectures "Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not seems." Shakespeare Hamlet I think that the critical response to the premiere of the second season of HBO's True Detective reveals a lot about mass culture at the moment. Not just that they were negative, but were near unanimously violently negative and snarky. Now, many critics had watched the three episodes provided to … [Read more...]

Fugitive and Fleeting

Luigi Ghirri, photography.

"...the gesture of forgiveness expresses the sovereignty of the self, which, in its full autonomy, faces off against another self. In fact, when we begin to practice forgiveness, one of the first things that often surprises us is that others do not understand. "But how could you forgive that?" we often hear. At such moments we begin to see the difference in perspectives: those third parties view reproach from a point of view (i.e. that of a legitimate right we held and are now giving up) that has little or nothing to do with the nature of forgiveness." Manuel Cruz "An author's words are deeds." Sigmund Freud "The Vietnam War was for many a black and white war. People could not bear … [Read more...]

The Pink Wall

Jiro Yoshiharo

"Secularization is a nice technical word for this blankness. It means specialization and abstraction, social life driven by a calculus of large scale statistical chances, with everyone accepting or resenting a high level of risk; time and space turned into variables in that same calculus, both of them saturated by information and played with endlessly, monotonously on nets and screens..." T.J. Clark "Parametricism cannot become the long-term successor to Modernism because, like nearly all starchitecture, it ignores and exacerbates the urgent challenges of our time, such as the environmental crisis and the need to reintegrate ruptured urban fabric. Instead it is a perfect example of what … [Read more...]

Looking Down from Above

Idris Khan

"Of course, most people don’t really have to come to grips with pride and fear. But artists do, because as soon as they’re alone and solitary, they feel fear." Agnes Martin "At least since the Enlightenment, and in some cases before, modernity has signified a process of ‘bringing to light’. The dark spaces of superstition and prejudice must be made to quail before the light, just as the wolves must be made to stand back from fear of the fire. No secrets are to be left untold; transparency is all. If you take to hiding in a cave, your motives are no longer to be seen as an understandable defence against incursion; rather, you are choosing, unacceptably, to renounce the onslaught of … [Read more...]

Corrected Reality

Chapel of the Resurrection, Skogskyrkogården, Stockholm 1936. Sigurd Lewerentz architect.

"Belonging to or identifying oneself with a religious body in America today certainly does not mean that one thereby takes over the traditional Christian values of tolerance brotherhood, and equality. On the contrary, it appears that these values are more firmly held by people who do not affiliate with any religious group." The Authoritarian Personality (Adorno et al). "It seems that Lewerentz was at various times leading and directed by this melancholia, and all that is inherent in its meaning. This fact became most explicit at Lewerentz’s Resurrection Chapel at Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm. The pure starkness of the form is anchored in the studied geometry of the golden section, … [Read more...]

Missing

Olivio Barbieri, photography.

"If before the 1970s (roughly speaking) buildings were primarily regarded as (public) expenditure, after the 1970s buildings became mostly a means of revenue - which fact ironically only contributed to further downward pressure on construction budgets. Once discovered as a form of capital, there is no choice for buildings but to operate according to the logic of capital. In that sense there may ultimately be no such thing as Modern or Postmodern architecture, but simply architecture before and after its annexation by capital." Rainier de Graaf "Every generation must build its own city." Antonio Sant'Elia Futurist Manifesto "Everyday to battle the weight of increasing … [Read more...]

A Reverie on Southern California

Mexican retablo, 1935. "Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos". (Andreas Praefcke, photo).

"Men relate to each other, but they do not see each other." Max Horkheimer "Our unconscious has as little use now as it ever had for the idea of its own mortality." Sigmund Freud The notion of exile has shadowed much of 20th and 21st century history. The resonance of exile, though, is predicated on a genuine sense of home, of that place from which one is sent into exile. I was struck recently, as I sat in our cabin here in central west Norway, when I looked at two photographs of California. One was just a snapshot of Los Angeles, K-town, at twilight, and the other was just a real estate photo of a nice mid century house located out in the further reaches of the San … [Read more...]

Magical Thinking

James Casebere

"It was a civilization in which the invisible prevailed over the visible. Like few others, it was liable to be misunderstood. There is no point looking for help from historical events, since there is no trace of them. Only texts remain." Roberto Calasso On Vedic India "If there is one point of which we may be absolutely sure, it is that graphism did not begin with naive representations of reality but with abstraction." Andre Leroi-Gourhan "Concentration camps are a key to all these things. In the society we live in all work is like the work in the camps." Adorno "Originally, the position of man is like that of a dog you want to train. He would like to return to an earlier state … [Read more...]