Some Photos From The University Of Washington’s ‘Red Square’ & Past Brutalist Links

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Gothic light and a sculpture entited ‘Broken Obelisk’

Via Mick Hartley via the BBC-‘The Brutalist Divide: Concrete Monsters Or Concrete Icons

Earthlings were visited, many times this past century, by beings from the planet Utopia. Little is known about these curious creatures, but they were advanced, and went about vigorously erecting structures across our planetary surface.

What were they trying to tell us?

Concrete, as a material, was used, presumably because it was so common and functioned as our ‘lingua franca’ (so hard to use well). Shapes were decided upon that might please and delight us (flowers, blocks, dodecahedrons), but also shapes that could disconsole, consigning some souls to work and live in an eternal present, possible futures winking upon the horizon.

Dear Reader, rumor has it these beings whispered in Esperanto, but only into the ears of those most ready to receive such comprehensive knowledge and advanced understanding; humans beings closer to knowledge of Universal Shapes and Human Destinies.

Personally, I like to think some of these humans being reside at the BBC.


The Architect As Totalitarian:

‘At the exhibition, I fell to talking with two elegantly coiffed ladies of the kind who spend their afternoons in exhibitions. “Marvelous, don’t you think?” one said to me, to which I replied: “Monstrous.” Both opened their eyes wide, as if I had denied Allah’s existence in Mecca. If most architects revered Le Corbusier, who were we laymen, the mere human backdrop to his buildings, who know nothing of the problems of building construction, to criticize him? Warming to my theme, I spoke of the horrors of Le Corbusier’s favorite material, reinforced concrete, which does not age gracefully but instead crumbles, stains, and decays. A single one of his buildings, or one inspired by him, could ruin the harmony of an entire townscape, I insisted. A Corbusian building is incompatible with anything except itself.’

I noticed a mini-brutalist revival there for a minute.

[Readers of this blog will know that the idea there exists comprehensive knowledge of ‘reason’, or the idea that political science will arrive at solutions to all previous political problems, or the idea that modern doctrines can provide ‘systemic’ blueprints for either buildings or political systems are all ideas viewed very skeptically here.]

You’ve got to be careful where you go looking for what’s good, true and beautiful.

As for Boston City Hall, it was built in ’69 and aims to be open, accessible, and [to] connect with Boston’s past:

Confusing inside!

As posted, a podcast on raw concrete in NYC here.

Brutalist architecture flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, having descended from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century. The term originates from the French word for “raw”, as Le Corbusier described his choice of material béton brut, meaning raw concrete in French.’

Some buildings mentioned: 375 Pearl Street is being worked on. The ‘Krull‘ Long Lines building is not for use.

Well, at least it isn’t Buzludzha, The Communist Spaceship plopped down as though from a world of Pure Ideology, Nature properly subdued:

Repost-Just One More Brutalist Link Or Two

Via Mick Hartley via the BBC-‘The Brutalist Divide: Concrete Monsters Or Concrete Icons

Earthlings were visited, many times this past century, by beings from the planet Utopia. Little is known about these curious creatures, but they were advanced, and went about vigorously erecting structures across our planetary surface.

What were they trying to tell us?

Concrete, as a material, was used, presumably because it was so common and functioned as our ‘lingua franca’ (so hard to use well). Shapes were decided upon that might please and delight us (flowers, blocks, dodecahedrons), but also shapes that could disconsole, consigning some souls to work and live in an eternal present, possible futures winking upon the horizon.

Dear Reader, rumor has it these beings whispered in Esperanto, but only into the ears of those most ready to receive such comprehensive knowledge and advanced understanding; humans beings closer to knowledge of Universal Shapes and Human Destinies.

Personally, I like to think some of these humans being reside at the BBC.


The Architect As Totalitarian:

‘At the exhibition, I fell to talking with two elegantly coiffed ladies of the kind who spend their afternoons in exhibitions. “Marvelous, don’t you think?” one said to me, to which I replied: “Monstrous.” Both opened their eyes wide, as if I had denied Allah’s existence in Mecca. If most architects revered Le Corbusier, who were we laymen, the mere human backdrop to his buildings, who know nothing of the problems of building construction, to criticize him? Warming to my theme, I spoke of the horrors of Le Corbusier’s favorite material, reinforced concrete, which does not age gracefully but instead crumbles, stains, and decays. A single one of his buildings, or one inspired by him, could ruin the harmony of an entire townscape, I insisted. A Corbusian building is incompatible with anything except itself.’

I noticed a mini-brutalist revival there for a minute.

[Readers of this blog will know that the idea there exists comprehensive knowledge of ‘reason’, or the idea that political science will arrive at solutions to all previous political problems, or the idea that modern doctrines can provide ‘systemic’ blueprints for either buildings or political systems are all ideas viewed very skeptically here.]

You’ve got to be careful where you go looking for what’s good, true and beautiful.

As for Boston City Hall, it was built in ’69 and aims to be open, accessible, and [to] connect with Boston’s past:

Confusing inside!

As posted, a podcast on raw concrete in NYC here.

Brutalist architecture flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, having descended from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century. The term originates from the French word for “raw”, as Le Corbusier described his choice of material béton brut, meaning raw concrete in French.’

Some buildings mentioned: 375 Pearl Street is being worked on. The ‘Krull‘ Long Lines building is not for use.

Well, at least it isn’t Buzludzha, The Communist Spaceship plopped down as though from a world of Pure Ideology, Nature properly subdued:

Appeasement Won’t Do-Via A Reader, ‘Michael Ignatieff Interview With Isaiah Berlin’

Thanks: Includes anecdotes involving Virginia Woolf, Ludwig Wittgenstein and logical positivism, John Maynard Keynes, and a funny one with Winston Churchill; talk about being near the center of 20th-century intellectual life…

On this site, see: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”…

Repost-Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-‘Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

The radical and rationalist project, anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism: Repost-From Michael Totten At World Affairs: “Noam Chomsky: The Last Totalitarian”

Somewhere from the old aristocratic Russia softly speaks a keen mind in beautiful, strange English: Michael Dirda At The Washington Post Reviews ‘Nabokov in America’

How might this relate to the Heglian/post-Marxist project via ‘The End Of History’: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Via Youtube-‘Week 2 Leo Strauss-The Three Waves Of Modernity’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Once Great Havana’

Full piece here (Link may not last)

Totten, in this blog’s opinion, is at his best discovering new places as a travel writer/journalist.  Some pictures included:

‘I’ve seen cities in the Middle East pulverized by war. I’ve seen cities elsewhere in Latin America stricken with unspeakable squalor and poverty. But nowhere else have I seen such a formerly grandiose city brought as low as Havana. The restored part of town—artifice though it may be—shows all too vividly what the whole thing once looked like.’

Havana wasn’t just another 3rd-world and/or typical Carribbean capital, it was a Spanish-style city of genuine character, class and wealth, showing American/English influences as well.

Now, unfortunately, as Totten explains, it’s the capital of a rotting, totalitarian police state, with its citizens still forced to live under a maximum salary of $20. Even if one had $20, there’s nearly nothing to buy, as many stores have only a few items on the shelves.  Cubans are still forced to live this way.

An anecdote:

‘He told me about what happened at his sister’s elementary school a few years after Castro took over.

“Do you want ice cream and dulces (sweets),” his sister’s teacher, a staunch Fidelista, asked the class.

“Yes!” the kids said.

“Okay, then,” she said. “Put your hands together, bow your heads, and pray to God that he brings you ice cream and dulces.”

Nothing happened, of course. God did not did not provide the children with ice cream or dulces.

 “Now,” the teacher said. “Put your hands together and pray to Fidel that the Revolution gives you ice cream and sweets.”

The kids closed their eyes and bowed their heads. They prayed to Fidel Castro. And when the kids raised their heads and opened their eyes, ice cream and dulces had miraculously appeared on the teacher’s desk’

Look at where that gotten them.

Some ideas on what’s next for Cuba here, at Law At The End Of The Day, from someone with roots.  More here.

Towards a theme-Apparently, memory is short.  Some people in America have taken-up romanticized notions of Communist revolution (no more Che shirts, please, even if done with ironic or iconic cool).  Unmistakably, from Moscow to Beijing to Pyongyang, the same totalitarian impulses are there, the same rigid State and party control, the same centrally planning, ruthless junta living according to very different rules from the “People.’

———–

North Korea has been frozen in time since 1948, when the first Kim was installed by the Soviets.  Since the Korean War, it’s grown into a cult of personality, headed by the divinely inspired, thoroughly repressive Kim dynasty and in its wake, a totalitarian State.  It is bizarro world, but still has a large military, with missiles pointed at Seoul, and virtually little else.  Like a sick dog on a rusty chain, it growls when it needs food.

Take a trip to the Hermit Kingdom:

—————-

What about value pluralism…positive and negative liberty?: The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-’Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

The End Of History? –Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

What set-off the Spanish-American war and a good run of yellow journalism?  The 1898 destruction of the Maine in Havana, which led to Cuban independence a few years later in 1902, until the revolution in 1959.

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

From The City Journal: ‘Understanding The Breivik Verdict’

Full piece here.

Interesting piece:

‘This political ideology is obviously not the personal invention of a single, crazy individual. It has deep roots in the extreme European Right that produced Nazism, fascism, and radical conservatism. It is the tradition of Counter-Enlightenment, which arose against nascent liberal democracy and rule of law in the eighteenth century and has held its place on the European Right ever since. Breivik’s dream is totalitarian: democracy should be severely restrained, political rights should be the privilege of certain citizens over others, theology should regain a central role in politics, and modernity itself should be rolled back.’

The pendulum is still swinging, apparently.  Hopefully we don’t back ourselves into such a situation. R.I.P to the victims.

Related On This Site:  Ross Douthat At The NY Times: “A Right-Wing Monster”

Is a more developed right what Europe needs?:  From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism…From The Middle East Quarterly Via A & L Daily: Europe’s Shifting Immigration Dynamic

From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”…A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’

How do you reasonably deal with relativism anyways?: From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn

From Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’From Darwinian Conservatism By Larry Arnhart: “Surfing Strauss’s Third Wave of Modernity”

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Dorothy Thompson At Harper’s Magazine-August 1941: ‘Who Goes Nazi?’

Full piece here.

Our author speculates who would go Nazi in a room full of people at a dinner party.  Continuing on a recent theme around here and in society more broadly:

‘Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people never go Nazi. They may be the gentle philosopher whose name is in the Blue Book, or Bill from City College to whom democracy gave a chance to design airplanes–you’ll never make Nazis out of them. But the frustrated and humiliated intellectual, the rich and scared speculator, the spoiled son, the labor tyrant, the fellow who has achieved success by smelling out the wind of success–they would all go Nazi in a crisis.’

Her powers of analysis could be useful…

Thanks to a reader for the link.

Related On This Site: He coined the term “true believer”:  Via Youtube: Eric Hoffer-’The Passionate State Of Mind’Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’

From The Wall Street Journal Via AL Daily: Buckminster Fuller’s World

Full article here.

Terry Teachout takes notice of the traveling exhibit:  Buckminster Fuller:  Starting With The Universe (at the Whitney in late June).  So was Fuller comparable to Frank Lloyd Wright?:

“…Fuller was a Wright-like figure, a high-octane utopian who believed in the life-enhancing potential of modern technology. The difference was that Fuller lacked Wright’s ruthless determination.”

Both have their followers and left some interesting work behind.  The discussion also reminds me of the explosion of science fiction this past century, and some of its darker mystic, utopian…and even religious (cultlike-this is alleged of course) tendencies that can make for good reading. 

This is one point Teachout wants to address when such ideas are pulled into the political realm:

“Was modernism totalitarian? That’s coming at it a bit high, but it’s true that more than a few top-tier modernists were also one-size-fits-all system-mongers who thought the world would be improved if it were rebuilt from top to bottom — so long as they got to draw up the plans.”

I first came across that argument here.  Do such visions have potentially harmful consequences in the political arena?

Perhaps, but in the meantime Fuller’s geodisic dome (platonic solids, ever-existing?) is still pretty interesting.

See Also On This Site:  Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?..Jonathan Meades On Le Corbusier At The New Statesman

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