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Lyssa



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PostSubject: Architecture as a Cult   Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:40 am

Nikos Salingaros: Architecture as a Cult

"2. Defining a cult.

A system may be identified as a dangerous cult if it has the following characteristics, combining aims with techniques:

1. It aims to destroy
2. It isolates its members from the world
3. It claims special knowledge and morality
4. It demands strict obedience
5. It applies brainwashing
6. It replaces one's world view
7. It has an auto-referential philosophy
8. It creates its own language, incomprehensible to outsiders

I will show here that contemporary architecture satisfies these criteria.

3. Architecture and cults.

Few people today connect architecture with religion. And yet, up until about the last two centuries, architecture could not be distinguished from religion. Today, architecture has broken away from religion in forming its own cult. Architecture competes with religion because it promises transcendent pursuits to its practitioners. It offers mystical enchantment, with insights left to be discovered purely by the power of creativity, and thus an opportunity for any initiate. The architect sees a chance for transcendental expression beyond the utilitarian uses of a building.

From this, it is not surprising that architecture misused the workings of religion to further itself.

The Bauhaus and Taliesin -- two "compounds" upon which contemporary architectural education is based -- followed a cult structure.
It is irrelevant whether the spiritual groups mentioned above represented beneficial, benign, or harmful cults. Cult methods were applied to make architecture into a new cult, and an extremely dangerous one because of its virulence and destructive aims. A key aspect of modernism was an absolute belief in the necessity of eliminating all pre-modernist architecture.

The point where architecture turned into a cult can be identified with the abandonment of traditional building culture. Like science, architecture has a vast store of practical knowledge and technical skills that one needs to master before making original contributions. By throwing all of that away, the modernists could offer instant gratification to those who joined the cult. They attracted followers using the myth of the creative genius. Instead of learning and absorbing a core body of knowledge, they trained for allegiance to the architectural cult.

4. Brainwashing.

Cult indoctrination begins by tearing down a person's confidence and self-esteem; i.e., one's emotional equilibrium as established via the childhood development of one's intuition and senses. Tactics for achieving this include mental and physical humiliation to discredit what are already automatic and natural responses. After one's major point of internal stability and referential attachment to a world view is effaced, that candidate is open to any kind of indoctrination.

For several decades, architectural novices have been conditioned by the message that sensual gratification from ornament and architectural forms, surfaces, and colors is a criminal act. It is asserted that such sources of pleasure are fit only for primitive peoples and social degenerates. Indeed, a cultivated non-response to sensually emotive architectural elements is supposed to characterize the intellectually advanced individual. As a psychological and physiological reaction to those forbidden elements is normal, however, this message induces feelings of guilt and worthlessness, as required to break down a student's spirit. Self-esteem is then rebuilt using the modernist repertoire of alien, hostile forms and surfaces -- and, from then on, only the cult's reality is considered valid.

One of the slogans of the Bauhaus was "starting from zero". Its aim was a radical restructuring of human consciousness. Every incoming student was subjected to intense psychological conditioning designed to cleanse every preconception regarding architecture, so as to re-wire the student's neuronal circuits.

The studio method of architectural training lends itself perfectly as a technique for cult indoctrination. A student's project is judged -- without having a basis of proven logical criteria -- as to how far it resembles currently fashionable buildings. The student's grade is entirely up to the whim of the teacher. It is no wonder then that, despite the widely-pronounced aims of limitless creativity, all students' projects tend to look the same and to conform to stylistic dogma. Students who don't adopt the cult's beliefs are eliminated before they can get their degrees, so they never join the architectural profession.

5. The cult of Deconstructivism.

In a devastating hoax, the two physicists Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont have exposed some of the most prominent French deconstructivist philosophers as charlatans.

Charlatans are not protected in the scientific world. The society of their peers would expel them from positions where they could continue to do harm. Science needs to protect its foundation more than its individual members, something that will not occur in a power-driven discipline that lacks a scientific basis. In the architectural arena, deconstructivists are unassailable because the discipline is based largely on cult beliefs. Those who use deconstructivist philosophy to justify their bizarre constructions are now at the top of their profession.

There is something dangerously wrong with a society that ignores the exposure of intellectual impostors. If part of a system is pathological, this puts the entire system at risk. Systemic connections will eventually infect the rest of the system (in this case, society as a whole), and thus destroy it. Our civilization appears to be so complacent with its recent technological progress that it does not recognize threats to its very existence. We are distracted by technological toys and are not applying our scientific knowledge to keep our society in healthy working order. More traditional cultures are aware that something is dreadfully wrong, but they don't know how to react in a constructive manner.

Architecture schools are training graduates who are indoctrinated into deconstructivist philosophy, yet are unable to design a simple building fit for human sensibilities. Deconstructivist buildings, moreover, have been shown to remove life from the environment. Life here is defined in mathematical terms as a measurable degree of organized complexity that is characteristic of biological forms. None of this is even remotely perceived by either practicing architects, or students who would become architects, because the discipline has become entirely self-referential. There is no contact with outside reality, which is arrogantly stated to be the deconstructivist's principal aim.

The deconstructivist agenda is to destroy the logical foundations of knowledge and reasoning, in a way that would make it impossible to reconstruct it afterwards. For deconstructivist architects, there is no more utopia, only nihilism.

6. Architectural cult symbols.

As psychological conditioning is used to reformat the minds of architecture students with an "approved" set of images, this indoctrination develops negative associations for "disapproved" images of traditional buildings. A remarkably effective propaganda campaign has successfully linked traditional architecture with all the ills of history. To many, a Classical building now stands for something evil, and a building in local vernacular style as a serious impediment to progress. Just as experimental animals and human prisoners-of-war are conditioned to react automatically to a particular stimulus, architects have been conditioned to feel a physical revulsion for new buildings in traditional styles. They have been brainwashed by the cult to identify the cult's "enemy" without reflection.

Modernism's cult symbol is an empty rectangle, with the concept of emptiness expressed by its interior being just as important as the sharp rectangular edges. Since modernist dogma strictly forbids ornament on the human range of scales 1cm - 2m, there exist no true modernist symbols on those scales to which human beings can connect. The imposition of modernism's alien aesthetic is achieved by creating a void. Its symbol is precisely the absence of symbols. The mental image of "pure" form erases living structure from our world.

Theo van Doesburg (of De Stijl and the Bauhaus) is credited with saying that: "The square is to us as the cross was to the early Christians". Here we encounter a philosophical shift of levels, from visual symbols to an abstract ideal. The modernists worshipped the unattainable abstraction of geometrical purity, and this displaced all visual and architectural symbols of the past. This indicates the transference of values from traditional symbols and rules (which could express religion) to an abstract ideal (which therefore competes with religion).

Deconstructivism is an offspring of modernism that retained many of its parent's cult symbols; for example their sharp edges and high-tech surfaces. Seeking novelty from within a severely limiting style, deconstructivist architects abandoned early modernism's horizontally-aligned rectangular geometry to create broken straight lines, diagonals, and curves. Modernism's ideological aim of eliminating the copying of historical forms and symbols was achieved via severe geometrical abstraction. The only possible direction to move from empty abstraction -- without returning to the ordered complexity of traditional architecture -- is to destroy forms altogether. Because modernism as a thought system denies organized complexity, it could only evolve into disorganized complexity.

Architectural cult symbols act like viruses to infect the built environment. They have even parasitized established religions, with the consequence that postwar religious buildings are spreading the cult's ideology rather than their clients' spiritual values."
http://www.intbau.org/archive/essay3.htm

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:41 am

Robert Adam: Hidden Modernism in the World of Audit

"Welcome to the World of Audit. In this world, every judgement that affects anyone - and what judgements don't - must be backed up with expert advice: the audit. This is a world where fairness, equality and discrimination are defined by experts, sometimes singly but more usually - for greater safety - in groups. Nothing is sacred. Quality, beauty and excellence must be pinned down with measurement and survey. In the World of Audit, no one dare make a judgement based on taste, preference or ideology.

Or do they?

The World of Audit has taken over our industry. It has, for example, led to the creation and proliferation of safety engineers. Life is intrinsically dangerous and there is no end to how it can be made safer. So building inspectors, health and safety inspectors, highway engineers and others have an unlimited future in ever finer reductions of risk. Once an audit says that something might be safer, there is no escape. No one dare overrule such a statement, however puerile, lest the one case in five million happens in this building, on that site or on this road. To the safety engineer, enormous odds do not mean that something is very unlikely to happen but that it will happen - albeit not very frequently.

The idea that the judgements of audit are not based on opinion and ideology is ridiculous. Levels of acceptable risk are an ideology. Every safety audit is only an opinion on the assessment of risk (more or less based on evidence). Claims of objectivity in audit are a smoke screen to avoid criticism, the lawyer at the enquiry or, worst of all, the judge in court.
So what hope have we for aesthetic judgement in the World of Audit?"

http://www.intbau.org/archive/essay1.htm

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:24 pm

Nice...the Architecture as a Cult one especially.

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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:54 am

The second one echoes N.'s attitude [JW, 1] that Pain and 'evil' contribute/can contribute as much to the preservation of the species and this is not something to be avoided. Its the pain-bringers who have preserved and elevated mankind. The Audit mentality only works and does things from the p.o.v. of preservation of the species by over-insisting on its "safety". That kind of thinking weakens our capacity to face and want pain.

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Sun Mar 18, 2012 4:28 pm

Lyssa wrote:
The second one echoes N.'s attitude [JW, 1] that Pain and 'evil' contribute/can contribute as much to the preservation of the species and this is not something to be avoided. Its the pain-bringers who have preserved and elevated mankind. The Audit mentality only works and does things from the p.o.v. of preservation of the species by over-insisting on its "safety". That kind of thinking weakens our capacity to face and want pain.
Yes, one comment: not everything is Nietzsche.
People knew about these things before this man published them and made them marketable to generations of youngsters disillusioned with their civilization.

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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:45 am

Satyr wrote:
Yes, one comment: not everything is Nietzsche.
People knew about these things before this man published them and made them marketable to generations of youngsters disillusioned with their civilization.

N. recovered what many people had already said and knew before him and for that, I will recover N. wherever and anywhere I can. The discipline of Reciprocity is part of my individuality.
Secondly N. was/is one of the best cultural physicians, and when I study or analyze culture, here in the area of archt., I see no irrelevance in taking his name. There is nothing wrong in using the best devoted to the study of decadent symptoms. I am studying a disease, and I will always have a doctor on call.

For you and anyone else who may find the quoting of N. intolerable, I can also analyze Adam's point from a Vedic perspective; the Bhagavad Gita for example states freed from the delusion of opposites of pain and pleasure, is the one who,
"with equal calm
Taking what may befall, by grief unmoved,
Unmoved by joy, unenvyingly; the same
In good and evil fortunes.." [4]

Present day archt. practice as shown by this audit mode clearly still is overruled by a pleasure/pain principle, it fears pain and uncertainty, constituting yet another field of modern decadence and sickliness.

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:49 am

I don't find quoting "intolerable" but an easy out.
If used effectively and in conjunction with personal insights it is useful.

As I said Nietzsche is for most a conduit, a nexus, a reference point which, like a magnifying lens, brings into focus something at a distance.
His greatest contribution was,a s you say, a physician of modernity.

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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:57 am

Ok.

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Sun May 27, 2012 12:07 pm

Lyssa wrote:
Robert Adam: Hidden Modernism in the World of Audit
http://www.intbau.org/archive/essay1.htm


Accounting and the Making of Homo Liberalis
Caroline Lambert, Eric Pezet

Abstract

"This paper investigates the practices whereby the subject, in an organisational context, carries out systematic practices of self-discipline and becomes a calculative self. In particular, we explore the techniques of conduct developed by management accountants in a French carmaker, which adheres to a neoliberal environment. We show how these management accountants become calculative selves by building the very measurement of their own performance. The organisation thereby emerges as the cauldron in which a Homo liberalis is forged. Homo liberalis is the individual capable of constructing for him/her the political self-discipline establishing his/her relationship with the social world on the basis of measurable performance. The management accountants studied in this article prefigure the Homo liberalis in the self-discipline they develop to act in compliance with the organisation’s goals."

http://rauli.cbs.dk/index.php/foucault-studies/article/view/3507/3828

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:22 pm

Quote :
"Among the symbols for the social failures of the twentieth century, the apartment-box is as appropriate as any. It captures the essence of atheistic socialism in a way that no monument of some cement man with bulging biceps and carrying a submachine gun can. It is a monument to man as a packageable commodity. It was the one thing that the Communist East and the consumerist West had in common. Both civilizations wanted to put people in boxes. The New Man was to work in a glass box during the day and then, in the evening, go home and live in a cement box at night." [E. Michael Jones, Living Machines: Bauhaus Architecture as Sexual Ideology]

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Mon Sep 16, 2013 11:41 am

Don DeLillo wrote:
"In a millennium or two, a seeming paradox of our civilisation will be best understood by those men versed in the methods of counter-archaeology. They will study us not by digging into the earth but by climbing vast dunes of industrial rubble and mutilated steel, seeking to reach the tops of our buildings. Here they'll chip lovingly at our spires, mansards, turrets, parapets, belfries, water tanks, flower pots, pigeon lofts and chimneys.

Scaling our masonry they will identify the encrustations of twentieth-century, art and culture, decade by decade, each layer simple enough to compare with the detritus at ground level - our shattered bank vaults, cash registers, safes, locks, electrified alarm systems and armoured vehicles. Back in their universities in the earth, the counter-archaeologists will sort their reasons for our demise, citing as prominent the fact that we stored our beauty in the air, for birds of prey to see, while placing at eye level nothing more edifying than hardware, machinery and the implements of torture."[Great Jones Street]

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:00 pm

Claudio Tolomei wrote:
"A ruined arch, a dismembered temple, a fallen theatre, a gateway thrown to the ground, are of far greater worth than any of the undamaged modern houses, tall palaces, broad streets, new places of worship and elegant gardens."

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:08 pm

The anxiety created by the Warped shapes and buildings of modern architecture:



Quote :
"Legrand’s synthetic description of the disease was as dramatic as it was unambiguous in characterizing its setting:

"The fear of spaces, ordinarily compatible with the most robust health, is frequently produced at the very moment when the neurotic leaves a street and arrives at a square, and it is marked by a sudden anxiety, an instantaneous beating of the heart. The patient, then prey to an indefinable emotion, finds himself isolated from the entire world at the sight of the void that is presented to him and frightens him immeasurably . . . he feels as if he is destroyed, does not dare to descend from the sidewalk to the roadway, makes no step either forward or backward, neither advances nor retreats, trembles in all his limbs, grows pale, shivers, blushes, is covered with sweat, grows more and more alarmed, can hardly stand up on his tottering legs, and remains unhappily convinced that he could never face this void, this deserted place, or cross the space that is before him. If one’s gaze were suddenly to be plunged into a deep gulf, if one were to imagine being suspended above a fiery crater, to be crossing the Niagara on a rigid cord or feel that one was rolling into a precipice, the resulting impression could be no more painful, more terrifying, than that provoked by the fear of spaces."

He concluded: “no fear without the void, no calm without the appearance of a semblance of protection.”

Worringer identified agoraphobia as the underlying cause of the ceaseless drive of art toward abstraction: “The urge to abstraction is the outcome of a great inner unrest inspired in man by the phenomena of the outside world. . . . We might describe this state as an immense spiritual dread of space.”

In the aftermath of what Worringer termed the “great shifting of emphasis in investigation from the objects of perception to perception itself ”— the Kantian revolution—it had become clear to psychologists, aestheticians, and art historians that the conditions of perception were far from fixed and arrayed in a priori categories but rather subject to infinite variability. The “dogma of the variability of the psychical categories,” in Worringer’s phrase, following the psychological theories of Fechner, Volkelt, and Lipps, immediately placed perception in a field conditioned by “the checkered, fateful adjustment of man to the outer world,” a field that was “ceaselessly shifting in man’s relation to the impressions crowding in upon him.”

Abstraction, for Worringer, far from being a new and modern form, was in fact the most ancient, born precisely out of anxiety and founded on no less than a primitive fear of nature and a concomitant desire “to divest the things of the external world of their caprice and obscurity,” to endow them with a regularity represented in geometric abstraction. Worringer cites “the fear of space [Raumsheu] which is clearly manifested in Egyptian architecture,” and compares what seems to him to be a generalized geistiger Raumscheu, or “spiritual dread of space,” to the modern malady of agoraphobia, or what he terms Platzangst.

In the same way as “this physical dread of open places may be explained as a residue from a normal phase of man’s development, at which he was not yet able to trust entirely to visual impression as a means of becoming familiar with a space extended before him, but was still dependent upon the asurances of his sense of touch,” so the spiritual dread of open space was a throwback to a moment of “instinctive fear conditioned by man’s feeling of being lost in the universe.” He characterizes this feeling as “a kind of spiritual agoraphobia in the face of the motley disorder and caprice of the phenomenal world.”

The “sensation of fear [Angst],” Worringer concludes, was “the root of artistic creation.”

In the later Form in Gothic, Worringer repeated the thesis of “primitive fear” and elaborated it with respect to modern fantasies of a Rousseauesque “golden age.” “Man has conceived the history of his development as a slow pro- cess of estrangement between himself and the outer world, as a process of estrangement during which the original sense of unity and confidence gradually disappears”; the reverse, he argued, was in fact true. Rather than the “poetical conception” of primitive man, the historian should reconstruct the “true primeval” man by the elimination of sentiment, leaving a “monster” in the place of “the man of paradise.” This monster, helpless, incoherent, a mere “dumbfounded animal,” receives unreliable perceptual images of the world that are only gradually remodeled into conceptual images. The real development, then, was not from wholeness to estrangement, but rather from the feel- ing of strangeness to familiarity. The original “gloomy spirit of fear,” based on instinct, survives in the “deepest and most anguished insight.”

It is such fear, finally, that drives the search for absolutes, the rigid line, and abstraction. The capturing of shifting images on a plane surface frees objects “from their disquieting environment, from their forlorn condition in space”; such a surface resisted depth, the third dimension, which once more tended to plunge objects into the “boundless relativity” of space, and provided a security against the infinite. Whenever abstraction reemerges in art, it will be, Worringer held, a symptom of individual subjugation to “the crowd”: “crowd sensibility and abstract sensibility are . . . two words for the same thing.” Impersonal, the “expression of the undifferentiated crowd,” abstraction still marks the presence of agoraphobia and a relationship of fear to the outer world.

Now while Worringer’s observations were made, as Dora Vallier has recently pointed out, in strict isolation from cubist or expressionist experiments in abstract art, and while they seem, as Worringer himself claimed, to have been advanced without detailed knowledge of Georg Simmel’s own investigations into the “mental life” of modernity, his juxtaposition of agoraphobia and abstraction was nevertheless a calculated reversal of the turn-of-the-century wisdom that saw the spaces created by modern abstract geometry as a direct cause of agoraphobia, if not of the entire psychopathology of modern urban space.

Ernst Gombrich has transcribed some of the notes and drafts for this lecture, in which Warburg used, so to speak, his own mental illness to develop theories of ostensibly “primitive” but evidently autobiographical mental states:

"Primitive man is like a child in the dark. He is surrounded by a menac- ing chaos which constantly endangers his survival. The original state, therefore, is one of fear, of those “phobic reflexes” to which Tito Vignoli . . . attached such crucial importance for the genesis of myth and ultimately of science. Our mind is in a constant state of readiness to take up a defensive position against the real or imagined causes of the threat- ening impressions which assail us."

The phobic reflex which substitutes a known image, however men- acing, for the dread of the unknown cause has an important biological function: even the most fearful imaginary cause is less fearful than the dreadful unknown. . . . In this respect the phobic reaction prepares the ground for the mastery of the world through the act of naming and thence to the dominance of logical thought." [Vidler, Warped Space]

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:11 pm

Quote :
"The pathological symptom of Berührungsangst, the fear of getting into too close a contact with objects, is spread endemically in a mild degree nowadays. It grows out of a kind of hyperaesthetics, for which every live and immediate contact produces pain.

In the face of the crowded disorder of the modern metropolis, argued Simmel, the “sensitive and nervous modern person” required a degree of spatial isolation as a kind of prophylactic against psychological intrusion. If such a personal boundary were to be transgressed, a “pathological deformation” might be observed in the individual, who would present all the symptoms of what Simmel called “fear of touching,” or Berührungsangst. This fear of coming into too close a contact with objects was, he argued, “a consequence of hyperaesthesia, for which every direct and energetic contact causes pain.”

Simmel’s diagnosis was at once spatial and mental: the real cause of the neurosis was not, as West- phal and Sitte had implied, solely spatial. Rather, he argued, it was a product of the rapid oscillation between two characteristic moods of urban life: the overclose identification with things and too great distance from them. In both cases, as with the symptoms of agoraphobia, the question was spatial at root, the result of the open spaces of the city, those very large expanses in which the crowds of metropolis found their “impulsiveness and enthusiasm.”

This distance was necessarily reinforced by the very character of daily life itself. In The Philosophy of Money, Simmel wrote,

"For the jostling crowdedness and the motley disorder of metropolitan communication would simply be unbearable without such psychological distance. Since contemporary urban culture, with its commercial, professional and social intercourse, forces us to be physically close to an enormous number of people, sensitive and nervous modern people would sink completely into despair if the objectification of social relationships did not bring with it an inner boundary and reserve. The peculiar character of relationships, either openly or concealed in a thousand forms, places an invisible functional distance between people that is an interior protection and neutralization against the overcrowded proximity and friction of our cultural life."" [Vidler, Warped Space]

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:14 pm

This was an interesting observation - the modern hotel as an inverse-extension of the Church:


Quote :
[size=12]"Of these, the hotel lobby (Hotelhalle), seen by Kracauer as the paradigmatic space of the modern detective novel, and thus as epitomizing the conditions of modern life in their anonymity and fragmentation, was perhaps the most Simmelian in its formulation. Kracauer compared the modern hotel lobby to the traditional church; the one a shelter for the transient and disconnected, the other for the community of the faithful. Using Simmel’s categories of spatial description, Kracauer elaborated the distinction between what he termed erfüllter Raum, or the “inhabited space” of Verknüpfung, or “communion,” and the void or empty space of physics and the abstract sciences—what he characterized as the ratio of modern life. Shut out of the religiously bonded community, the modern urban dweller could rely only on spaces, like that of the hotel lobby, “that bear witness to his nonexistence.” Detached from everyday life, individual atoms with no connection save their absolute anonymity, the hotel guests were scattered like atoms in a void, confronted with “nothing” (vis-à-vis de rien); stranded in their armchairs, the guests could do little more than find a “disinterested pleasure in contemplating the world.”

In this way, “the civilization that tends toward rationalization loses itself in the elegant club chair,” in the ultimate space of indifference. Even the conventional silence of the setting parodied that of the church. Kracauer quoted Thomas Mann in Death in Venice: “In this room there reigned a religious silence which is one of the distinctive marks of grand hotels. The waiters serve with muffled steps. One hardly hears the noise of a cup or tea-pot, or a whispered word.” In Kracauer’s vision of spatial alienation,

"Rudiments of individuals slide in the nirvana of relaxation, faces are lost behind the newspaper, and the uninterrupted artificial light illumines only manikins. It is a coming and going of unknowns who are changed into empty forms by forgetting their passwords, and who parade, imperceptible, like Chinese shadows. If they had an interiority, it would have no windows."

Kracauer cited the detective novel by Sven Elvestad, Death Enters the Hotel: “One sees thus once again that a grand hotel is a world apart, and this world resembles the rest of the big world. The clients wander here in their light and carefree summer life, without suspecting what strange mysteries evolve among them.” Here, the “pseudo-individuals,” or guests, spread themselves like molecules in “a spatial desert without limits,” never destined to come together, even when compressed within the Grossstadt.
Their only link, Kracauer concluded, was indifferent enough: what he called, suggestively, the strategic grand routes of convention." [Vidler, Warped Space]

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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Lyssa



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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:18 pm

Vagabondage, Amnesia, Modern Cities.


Quote :
"Would it be the case that vagabondage leads to hysterical neurasthenia, or rather the reverse, that neurasthenia leads to vagabondage?" [Jean-Martin Charcot, Leçons du mardi]


"...the dandified figure of the stroller was complemented in Benjamin by another, more subversive image: that of the vagabond who alone, criminal and exiled, possessed the marginal vision that transgressed boundaries and turned them into thresholds, a way of looking that engendered what Benjamin called the “peddling [colportage] of space."

Referring to the many cases of “ambulatory automatism” examined by Charcot and his followers, Benjamin compared this perception to that of the vagabond amnesiac: “It is not the association of images that is here decisive, but their interpenetration. This fact should also be remembered in order to understand certain pathological phe- nomena: the sick man who wanders the city during the hours of night and for- gets the way back has perhaps felt the ascendency of this power.”

Only a dreamlike state of sus- pension might enable the wanderer to cross between physical surroundings and their mental contents.

Viewed through these lenses, the urban street regained something of the original terror of the nomadic route. Where, Benjamin noted, the original track or road had always carried with it associations of the “terrors of wandering,” embedded in the mythical consciousness of the tribes, the street engendered a new form of terror, that of the boredom inspired by its “monotonous ribbon of asphalt.” Drawing these two terrors together, and still to be found buried in the subterranean ways of the modern city, was the figure of the labyrinth, site of endless wandering—the Métro.

This underground, which was for Benjamin in some way an equivalent to the unconscious of the city, was to be explored with all the techniques of the geographer.

Implicitly, through the accumulated citations of the Passagen-Werk, Benjamin traces a history of modern vision in which the rise of deeper and more public perspectives in the public realm was accomplished at the expense of individual interiority.

The ideology of transparency, the battle cry of modernism, was, as Benjamin recognized, the agent of a spatial dissolution to which only the flâneur was privy: “the sensation of the entirely new, of the absolutely modern, is a form of becoming as oneiric as the eternal return itself. The perception of space that corresponds to this conception of time is the transparency of the world of the flâneur.” [Vidler, Warped Space]

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:21 pm

Quote :
"Benjamin’s remark about distraction, usually joined to a discussion of his concept of the “loss of aura,” is generally understood to refer to the distracted state of mind of the urban dweller, jaded, bored, or swamped by the flood of visual and social stimuli of the modern city, along the lines of Georg Simmel’s reworking of nineteenth-century neurasthenic pathology applied to metropolis. Benjamin himself employs the concept more precisely, however, linking it to the opposition he is drawing between a traditional spectator of a work of art in a state of concentration, and a mass audience lacking concentration and thus “absorbing” the work of art. In the case of buildings, only a tourist will evince that “attentive concentration” characteristic of the art lover.

In this Benjamin would seem to be echoing his friend Siegfried Kracauer, whose influential essay of 1926 on Berlin’s “picture palaces” was titled “Cult of Distraction.”

The German Zerstreuung might mean, at one and the same time, distraction, diversion, amusement, diffusion, preoccupation, absentmindedness, scattering, dispersion, and so on. To take just one example of such differentiation: Kracauer clearly uses the word to delineate the “need for entertainment,” the “addiction to distraction” of the Berlin masses, seeking relief from the conditions of their workday lives; he is concerned to describe the movie houses of Berlin as palaces of distraction, optical fairylands, “shrines to the cultivation of pleasure.”

“As regards architecture, habit determines to a large extent even optical reception.” Through habit and use, the rapt attention of an individual observer of a work of art is dispersed, so to speak, in the custom of “noticing the object in an incidental [beiläufig, casual] fashion.” Distraction here, rather than an active search for over-the-top pleasures, represents an absentmindedness common to a subject in a state of habitual activity: in front of the film, even, “the public is an examiner but an absent-minded one [ein zerstreuter].” [Vidler, Warped Space]

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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PostSubject: Re: Architecture as a Cult   Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:26 pm

Quote :
"The momentary impact of baroque is powerful, but soon leaves us with a certain sense of desolation. It does not convey a state of present happiness, but a feeling of anticipation, of something yet to come, of dissatisfaction and restlessness rather than fulfillment. We have no sense of release, but rather of having been drawn into the tension of an emotional condition." [Heinrich Wölfflin, Renaissance und Barock, 1888]


For Wölfflin, student of the “psychology of architecture,” this was a pathological condition, reflected in the mental state of its artists: “all the most prominent baroque artists suffered from headaches,” he noted, citing Milizia on Bernini and Borromini, and “there were also cases of melancholia.”

Thus, for Wölfflin, the baroque (which he dated from the Council of Trent) pushed the limits of (classical, Renaissance) architecture to their po- tential destruction. An architecture of depth and obscurity had, in his view, replaced an architecture of surface and clarity. The baroque, according to Wölfflin, introduced “an entirely new feeling of space, tending toward infinity.” “Space,” he wrote, “which in the Renaissance was regularly lit and which can be represented only as tectonically closed, here [in the baroque] seems to be lost in the unlimited and undefined.” No longer faced with a clear, external form, “the gaze is led toward infinity.”

Such a dissolution of space into incommensura- bility was explained from a psychological point of view that understood every object to be judged according to its relation to the body. Wölfflin had already es- poused such a view in his thesis, Prolegomena zu einer Psychologie der Architectur, two years before. Noting that “a historical psychology—or rather, a psychological history of art—should be able to measure with great accuracy the acceleration of linear movement,” Wölfflin spoke of what he called “the breathless haste of Arab decorative lines” and compared different arch styles to the impressions they give of slow or quick breathing. In the margins of his personal copy of the Psychologie, he wrote: “Baroque: irregular breathing.”

In the baroque, that is, the capacity of the human body to empathize with the building was stretched to deformity. Such a psychological interpretation was to influence that of Jacques Lacan, whose summation of the “baroque”—“the regulation of the soul by the scopic regulation of the body”—seems to extend Wölfflin’s critique.

If the baroque represented a breakdown of form, it was easy to associate its characteristics with the new nervous illnesses; the baroque in architecture and painting was after all filled with rifts, breaks, and openings representing the relations between the material and metaphysical worlds." [Vidler, Warped Space]



Quote :
"The essential thing that will be said here is that the release of aesthetic emotion is a special function of space.

ACTION OF THE WORK on its surroundings: vibrations, cries or shouts (such as the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens), arrows darting away like rays, as if springing from an explosion; the near or dis- tant site is shaken by them, touched, wounded dominated or caressed.

REACTION OF THE SETTING: the walls of the room, its dimensions, the public square . . . , the expanses or the slopes of the landscape even to the bare horizons of the plain or the sharp outlines of the moun- tains—the whole environment brings its weight to bear on the place where there is a work of art. . . . Then a boundless depth opens up, effaces the walls, drives away contingent presences, accomplishes the miracle of ineffable space.

In this sense, ineffable space was, for Le Corbusier, transcendent space. Its qualities were those of container and contained; he compared it to a sounding board, resonating and reverberating with the “plastic acoustics” set up by the natural and man-made objects that inhabited it. Objects, if possible freestanding, generated force fields, took possession of space, orchestrated it and made it sing or cry out with harmony or pain. Such space, Le Corbusier claimed in 1946, was a discovery of modernity—“the fourth dimension” that a number of artists had used to “magnify space” around 1910.

“The fourth dimension is the moment of limitless escape evoked by exceptionally just consonance of the plastic means employed.” And when correctly employed, this space had a strangely powerful effect on the very buildings that defined it and set it in motion: “In a complete and successful work there are hidden masses of implica- tions, a veritable world which reveals itself to those it may concern,” wrote Le Corbusier, adding, with a contempt worthy of Roark, “which means: to those who deserve it.” This feeling—like that described a few years earlier by Freud, who in a letter to Romain Rolland called it “oceanic”—was virtually religious in nature: “I am not conscious of the miracle of faith, but I often live that of ineffable space, the consummation of plastic emotions.”

In a virtual replay of the explosion that demolished the Parthenon, ineffable space dissolves walls and opens the inside to the outside, an outside now simply framed in order to testify to its visual existence, but open more or less panoramically around the entire building. Ineffable space would then be that dreamt and idealized, worked and realized experience that matched the heights of Periclean Greece.

This developed theory of space, articulated in the presence of the Acropolis in 1933, was sensed and intuited on his first visit to it in 1911. His travel journal of that early journey also evoked a certain fear, an awe, sometimes a confessed terror in his appreciation of spatial experience. Thus, beyond the appreciation of the Parthenon as a type form, a “product of selection” to be compared to the modern automobile, uneasy words surround his attempt to understand it and its site, words like “violence,” “terror,” “sacrifice.” The Parthenon is a “terrible machine,” it holds something “du brutal” “de l’intense.” In traditional aesthetic terms, that is, Le Corbusier is removing the object from the category of the beautiful and reestablishing it, along Nietzschaean lines, in its proper order of the terrifying sublime." [ib.]

_________________
"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

"You're a spiritual gangster.  I don't trust you.  Your claws are always out." [Reasonvemotion]
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