I never took much notice of the Philips Pavilion; Le Corbusier's tent gone wrong. However events; Zaha's floppy hat at the Serpentine, Jonathan Coe's novel Expo '58, Le Corbusier's Radio (see earlier post) and those L-C sketchbooks have transpired to send me back to the time when if it wasn't a hyperbolic paraboloid, it wasn't up to much, and gazing at the Electronic Poem the pavilion contained on YouTube the other day, well it just blew me away. I don't think Zaha's floppy hat is up to much for sure (I don't get it beyond that rather dubious comparison) but I did lie in bed worrying about the word 'tension' in relation to the Philips pavilion, world affairs of the time, all things atomic, that electronic poem, and Le Corbusier's much fabled quest for the reconciliation of opposites, not withstanding L-C's personal circumstances at the time, and he began to look like Homer.
Since at the time L-C was spending so much time in India, the struggle this building presented to the western world now seems obvious, like a child wretchedly entwined in his tent, and the poem presents, without a single smidgen of irony, somewhere near the end of eight minutes, his own unites as that real solution to where and how to live, amidst all the blips, bleeps and bangs and squawks of modern madness, deep within the curious phantasmagoria of the World Fair. A student of mine described the poem as nightmarish, and I think she is right. To present such a nightmare to 500 people at a time- and it was massively popular- in what he called a 'stomach' in 1958 much have been quite something, and we should note we have certainly been shy of doing such a thing since; instead we tend towards floppy hats, collapsed meringues, failed souffle!