Monday, March 31, 2008

Diptych #9, Food #10, Architecture #27

On devient cuisinier mais on naît rôtisseur.

Brillat-Savarin, Aphorism No. XV

On devient ingénieur, mais on naît architecte.

Auguste Perret, Aphorism No. I

Friday, March 28, 2008

Apocalypse #13, Death #5, Time #14

The result would inevitably be a state of universal rest and death, if the universe were finite and left to obey existing laws. But it is impossible to conceive a limit to the extent of matter in the universe; and therefore science points rather to an endless progress, through an endless space, of action involving the transformation of potential energy into palpable motion and hence into heat, than to a single finite mechanism, running down like a clock, and stopping for ever.

William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) “On the Age of the Sun’s Heat" (1862)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Time #13

The future is but the obsolete in reverse.

Vladimir Nabokov

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Architecture #26, Apocalype #12

Frank Lloyd Wright, Plan for Greater Baghdad
"Dedicated to Sumeria, Isin, Larsa, and Babylon" (1958)

Plans for Crescent Opera later adapted by Talisien Associates as Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1962-1964)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Christianity #8, Death #3

There now hangs that sacred Body upon the Crosse, rebaptized in his owne teares and sweat and embalmed in his owne blood alive. There are those bowells of compassion, which are so conspicuous, so manifested, as that you may see them through his wounds. There those glorious eyes grew faint in their light: so as the Sun ashamed to survive them, departed with his light too. And then that Sonne of God, who was never from us, and yet had now come a new way unto us in assuming our nature, delivers that soule (which was never out of his Fathers hands) by a new way, a voluntary emission of it into his Fathers hands; For though to this God our Lord, belong’d these issues of death, so that considered in his owne contract, he must necessarily die, yet at no breach or battery, which they had made upon his sacred Body, issued his soule, but emisit, hee gave up the Ghost, and as God breathed a soule into the first Adam, so this second Adam breathed his soule into God, into the hands of God. There wee leave you in that blessed dependancy, to hang upon him that hangs upon the Crosse, there bath in his teares, there suck at his woundes, and lie downe in peace in his grave, till hee vouchsafe you a resurrection, and an ascension into that Kingdome, which hee hath purchas’d for you, with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood.

John Donne, conclusion of Death’s Duel
Or, A Consolation to the Soule, Against the Dying Life, and Living Death of the Body

Delivered in a Sermon at White-Hall, before the Kings Majesty, in the beginning of Lent, 1630, Being his last Sermon, and called by Majesties household The Doctors Owne Funerall Sermon

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In Memoriam #9

Arthur C. Clarke


I see no reason to apologize for science fiction, whether intended for juvenile or adult readers. Stories of fantastic adventures in real or imaginary worlds have always been popular among all age groups and all periods of time: the explorers of peculiar planets at the edge of the Galaxy are direct descendents of Odysseus and Sinbad. Science fiction is therefore no new invention—a by-product of the atomic age.

“Sinbad in Space” (1952)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

History #10, Architecture #25

But my quarrel does not lie with this isolated article by Collins. Coming directly after my return from the [Society of Architectural Historians] Baltimore Convention, it intensified a sense of dismay and protest that had accumulated during the sessions of the historians. They have succeeded in perverting the meaning of "scholarship" to a point where it indicates the exact opposite of its original function. This function was to rise by intense studies and creative contemplation to an all-inclusive knowledge of a particular field of human endeavor. What we got in Baltimore, with the exception of papers read by Horn and Millon, were minute details—proven or conjectural—bearing no relationship whatsoever to the building as a body-space-structure-context totality. It might be perfectly all right for the art iconographers to hold an International Conference to decide in how many cases the Virgin carries the Christ Child on her left biceps, and in how many cases on the right; or why one putti in an inhabited frieze swings its little foot upward while the other does it downward. Architecture is a matrix of life and not a piece of carrion to be dissected into narrower and narrower strips of dead tissue. A recent reviewer in the London Times Book Section spoke contemptuously of American scholarship as "the battle of the typewriters" which I would modify into an endurance test of "Sitzfleisch" (posterior muscle strength).

It is the tragedy of architectural historians that they try to compensate for a rampant inferiority complex vis-a-vis the older "science" of fine arts theory by aping its method, ignorant of the fact that architectural history developed and must bejudged by totally different methods and standards.

Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, letter to Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, in response to Peter Collins' December 1962 article, "The Origins of Graph Paper as an Influence on Architectural Design" (February 3, 1962)

[postscript: "Footnotes on request"]

Word of the Day #24


Cinema #34, Love, #20, Annals of Advertising #5

Trailer for Leave Her to Heaven
d: John M. Stahl cinematographer: Leon Shamroy (1945)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Scenes from a Life #17, Architecture #24, Art #14

The New York Herald-Tribune documents Philip Johnson and Alan Blackburn's exit from the Museum of Modern Art
(excerpted from December 18, 1934 article)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Archaeology of the Political Advertisement #3, Dead Presidents#36, D is for Daguerreotype #3

Franklin Pierce (photograph, 1851)

He comes before the people of the United States at a remarkable era in the history of this country and of the world. The two great parties of the nation appear--at least to an observer somewhat removed from both--to have nearly merged into one another; for they preserve the attitude of political antagonism rather through the effect of their old organizations, than because any great and radical principles are at present in dispute between them. The measures advocated by the one party, and resisted by the other, through a long series of years, have now ceased to be the pivots on which the election turns. The prominent statesmen, so long identified with those measures, will henceforth relinquish their controlling influence over public affairs. Both parties, it may likewise be said, are united in one common purpose--that of preserving our sacred Union, as the immovable basis from which the destinies, not of America alone, but of mankind at large, may be carried upward and consummated. And thus men stand together, in unwonted quiet and harmony, awaiting the new movement in advance which all these tokens indicate.

It remains for the citizens of this great country to decide, within the next few weeks, whether they will retard the steps of human progress by placing at its head an illustrious soldier, indeed, a patriot and one indelibly stamped into the history of the past, but who has already done his work, and has not in him the spirit of the present or of the coming time,--or whether they will put their trust in a new man, whom a life of energy and various activity has tested, but not worn out, and advance with him into the auspicious epoch upon which we are about to enter.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Life of Franklin Pierce (1852)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Time #11, WCW #6, History #9

If history could be that which annihilated all memory of past things from our minds it would be a useful tyranny.

But since it lives in us practically day by day we should fear it. But if it is, as it may be, a tyranny over the souls of the dead—and so the imaginations of the living—where lies our greatest well of inspiration, our greatest hope of freedom (since the future is totally blank, if not black) we should guard it doubly from the interlopers.

Williams Carlos Williams, “The Virtue of History” in The American Grain (1925)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Dead Presidents #35, D is for Daguerreotype #2

James Buchanan, pictured as Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania. (1844)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Animal Kingdom #11, Architecture #34, Age of Print #5

From Rudiments of Architecture and Building, edited by John Bullock (1865)
Illustration to Book III, Chapter IV, "Imitation of Nature and Models"

Book Titles Without Context #4, Dead Presidents #34, The Animal Kingdom #10

Turkey and the United States: How They Travel a Common Road to Ruin, Addressed by Way of Warning to President Hayes

Henry Carey Baird (1877)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Auden #17, Christianity #7, Food #9, Love #19

It is no accident that the central rite of the Christian religion, its symbol for agape, love untainted by selfish desire or self-projection, should be the act of eating bread and drinking wine. For such a symbol, a sexual rite would never do. In the first place, since it presupposes two different sexes, it divides as well as unites; in the second, it is not intrinsically selfish enough. Though it is necessary to the survival of the race, the sexual act is not necessary to the survival of the individual so that, even at its crudest, it contains an element of giving. Eating, on the other hand is a pure act of taking. Only the absolutely necessary and absolutely self-regarding can stand as a symbol for its opposite, the absolutely voluntary and self-forgetful. From watching the way in which a person eats, one can learn a great deal about the way in which he loves himself and, consequently, about the way he will probably love or hate his neighbor. The behavior towards others of the gobbler will be different from that of the pecker, of the person who eats his titbit first from the person who leaves his to the last.

“The Kitchen of Life,” introduction to M.F.K. Fisher’s The Art of Eating (1963)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Art #13

L'art, c'est ce qui rend la vie plus intéressante que l'art.

Robert Filliou

History #8, Apocalypse #11

The Nineteenth Century and After

Though the great song return no more
There's keen delight in what we have:
The rattle of pebbles on the shore
Under the receding wave.

William Butler Yeats (1933)