Thursday, 17 January 2013


Like building, marking goes on and on, and it seems to take inexorably longer the closer you get to the bottom of the pile. And with dissertations, you long for all authors to consider calling a spade a spade, or at least justify it's consideration as a shovel in pert, neat, terms. There are some concerns that demand the contrite, such as Walter Gropius was good in bed, that offers massive illumination in one short phrase, or that Aldo Rossi was a bad driver (Rossi suffered two car accidents, leading us to all kinds of speculation, but we know the first changed his view on architecture- the city, like his body, was fractured- and the second killed him). There is much to the bleeding obvious, such as, if you'd spent four years 1914-18 covered in shit in a trench, you'd want to paint everything white, and if you'd spent WW2 being rained on by bombs you'd immediately want everything built of solid concrete. It's really not that hard, but you would not imagine the contortions some people go through to say over twelve thousand mind numbing words what can be said in one simple sentence.
Right now of course, it's easy to see, for instance, that the High St is dead and computers killed it. It's easy to see that life is now crying at home and shopping on line, and that anything else just 'pops up', like mime festivals or now you see it now you don't Latvian cuisine. Popping up means of course that it soon pops down, hence the crying bit. However, you try building a pop-up old peoples home. Dear dear dear, education education education, a rose is a rose is a rose, which of course it isn't by the time you've said that, it's something else, and of course it's often what's left out, like in reggae or Richards riffs that's important.
I discovered today that Sigfried Giedion, that most accomplished scholar, in his monograph of Gropius published in 1954, omits sex bomb Alma Mahler, his first wife, entirely from his story (there is only the tiniest, most perfunctory mention slipped in at the back). It's like she didn't exist, she is abstracted out. How curious. There's plenty about his wonderful genes, about his heritage, even going back to the effect on Germany of the thirty years war! Spooky. It's like 'Vot! Zerr vill be nose emotions!!' What does that say about the image of a great architect?

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