imaginary cities

imaginary cities.png

by Darran Anderson




the men of a million lies, or how we imagine the world


deceptions of memory..

1926 – marco polo.. prison..  cellmate was a writer and good listener to his tales of voyages in the mysterious orient.. originally written as guide for budding merchants.. descriptions of world.. fascinating.. scarcely believable..


beyond their narrow confines, the world was more extraordinary than his skeptic could imagine. raised in the seemingly impossible floating city of venice, a maze of canals and alley s build on stilts in a lagoon, marco polo had no such limitations. imaginary cities posed no threat to a man who was born in one

venice dreaming/swimming and playing marco polo

when a book leave he protective custody of its creator, it is rightly at the mercy of its readers but also, if prominent enough, at the hands of those who have not read it…. before printing press.. polo’s tales spread largely thru word of mouth.. with cumulate error compounded by jealousies and speculations..

to accuse polo of inventing fiction is to assume that perception and memory are not partially fictional to begin with

chris market: ‘i will have spent my life trying to understand the function of remembering.. which is not the opposite of forgetting, but rather its lining. we do not remember. we rewrite memory much as history is rewritten’..t

fragments of the real are retained, though they evolve with time to fit the wisdom or fallacy of hindsight and are juxtaposed w memories of dreams and thoughts and memories of memories.. we are unreliable narrator even to ourselves…


it would be foolish to deny the value of lying. marco polo was always destined to be accused because it’s what the audience was prepared for.

when faced with the blank space on the map, we turn to the fantastical..t


faced w vast swathes of land that revealed the extent of their ignorance,

the powerful in europe sought to fictitiously colonise areas they could not reach. it was an attempt at control and reassurance.. t

centuries before installing favourable dictators in client states, they did so w imaginary characters, one of who would be name-checked by polo.

1165.. jonhannes .. self announced ‘lord of lords’ it boasted of a kingdom to ‘surpass all under heaven’ which ‘extends beyond india.. towards the sunrise over the wastes, and it trends toward deserted babylon near the tower of babel..

imagining a world where we oscillate between idiosyncratic jargon (individual and tribe ish) and a sort of toki pona ness.. tower of babel (p 3?) ness

indigenous: originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native..  thinking.. occurring naturally in each soul..


if the inhabitants are not sufficiently awed or cowed into obedience, there is a prototype telescreen at hand: ‘before our palace stands a mirror.. guarded day and night by 2000 men,. we look therein and behold all that is taking place in every province and region subject to our scepter’ such was the attraction of this innovation that it aided the rise of what became know as ‘speculum literature’, the surveillance and indexing of every aspect of life.

to survey was to master ..t

sounds like hlb.. but would be coming from the people as a trail.. (matters who is surveying what/ survey self.. am i doing what matters..) to facil curiosity/imagination/whimsy.. not mandated from above as control..

at its most attractive, this desire to explore and to chart evolved in the fashion of wunderkammer or ‘cabinets of curiosities’


the original intention of cabinets of curiosities was not simply to showcase oddities but to propagandise the vastness and diversity fo the colonial realm and reinforce was also subconsciously an admission of he insecurity of the ruler in question.

to chart and to collect is to attempt to control and to control is to doubt and fear.. t

the objects displayed in wunderkammers came w a smuggled form of revenge. where they stood apart from or in opposition to conventional thinking, questions inevitably arose.


where these threaten the carefully assembled hierarchies of the court/heavens, they were damned as heresies, but investigations/collections went on in private…enquiring minds, rather than vainglorious emperors, began assembling their own wunderkammers and thru their studies they began to notice not just the diff’s .. but the similarities…magic gave way to science, alchemy to chemistry, divine design to natural selection. the world could no longer be contained in cabinets

yeah.. if it ever could.. ginorm small ness.. weinberger too big law.. so hlb.. ness.. not to contain.. but to better connect ..rather.. uncover interconnectedess..


cities where the enlightenment flourished were portrayed by reactionaries as places of sinister black magic. edinburgh became known for body-snatchers and split personalities, as if warning that this is where free enquiry leads..t

learning in an age where it was the light to theocratic darkness, was to be feared and reviled because it threaten vested interests..

like now.. otherwise.. we’d be free .. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]

steam propulsion and the telegraph soon meant info could no longer be contained as it once was in fiefdoms, either regal or papal..


authenticity is in the eye of the beholder and it inevitably shifts and evolves according to perspective.

it need not be a judgement to state that artists are thieves, or as guadi more eloquently put it ‘man does not create, he discovers’..

culture is an echo chamber and even the most original of thinkers are prone, consciously or subconsciously, to kleptomania.. this is not a problem except to the pedantic (meticulous.. precise.. perfectionist), the insecure and the territorial. it is simply a question of absorption..t


it was into such milieu of mistruths and wild speculations that polo’s tales were borne. he was accordingly laughed at and mocked, except by those who knew that empires follow explorers, those who dreamed of storming those oriental cities, imaginary or otherwise..


the sleep of reason breeds monster, goya wisely put it, and the view from ‘civilisation’ towards the colonies often had a nightmarish aspect, both in infinitesimal detail.. and claustrophobic constriction.. this says much more about the viewer than the viewed, the insatiable need of the disordered mind to impose total order.


the traditional place to find utopia was via the pretence of newly-discovered islands. the earth is now surveyed by orbiting satellites but was once, not long ago, largely uncharted. the ignorance, and the possibilities therein, was vast.. a child – and most children are architects – dreams of building a new like the swiss family robinson. this blissful isolated reverie is shattered by the horror of discovering footprints on  an otherwise deserted island

umberto eco pointed out.. the fascination was not so much w imaginary islands as with lost ones.. chimes with the devastatingly sweet melancholy we often feel towards the past.; tangibly close yet perpetually out of reach.. the price of the future is that you leave the past, never to return. the utopias we encounter on these imaginary island cities are thus ones that could have been; maps of forfeited pasts, just as much as potential futures


life is good in utopia. private ownership id is limited to 6 hrs a day and 8 hrs sleep is encourage. war and lawyers are forbidden. no one starves or works like a beast.. everyone will have what they need


yet.. all is not what it appears.. potential tyranny.. citizens wear comfortable clothes but they are essentially unchanging uniforms.. syphogrants are employed to monitor how people spend their leisure time. idleness is disapproved of as are foolish ad mischievous games. leaving appointed cities will result in punishment, up to being forced into slavery. there are no taverns, no ale houses, nor any other occasions of corrupting each other, or of getting into corners, or forming themselves into parties; all men live in full view..


they make him president for his sins..


our maps can tell us stories of political machinations and subterfuge; all those straight lines and right angles cutting across tribal lands, mountain ranges, rivers, drafted by autocrats and bureaucrats in drawing rooms, decisions which haunt us to this day..t

given how much id is tied in w nationalism, it is worthwhile but troubling to consider how borders have shifted and countries have been born and have died..t


mapping is an impossible task. everything is continually changing and any such map will appear true only for a brief window of time and space… a history then of ever-changing cities, whether real or unreal, must also be a history of the imagination. melville had a point when he wrote, ‘it is not down in any map; true places never are’ but likewise imaginary places are never entirely unrealised. we can find them all around us..


the tower

‘nothing has really happened,’ wrote virginia woolf, ‘until it has been recorded.’ this is true only t a point, for the soil contains secrets and what is true now may one day vanish from record.

we may not be able to defeat death but we can hope temporarily to elude the second death, the one that erases evidence that we ever really existed to begin with. this urge is one of the fundamental drives of art. it is, in part, why we build.


it is a city rethought as interplanetary space, but what can live in a vacuum


‘a hundred profound solitudes make up the city of venice,’ nietzsche wrote .. ‘that is its magic. a symbol for future mankind’

just as w the prison narratives of polo and maistre, physical imprisonment doesn not completely restrain

‘modern tech’ ballard wrote, ‘offers and endless field day to any deviant strains in our personalities.. marooned.. on a traffic island, we can tyrannise ourselves, test our strengths and weaknesses, perhaps come to terms with aspects of our characters to which we have always closed our eyes’

though we might dream of places impossibly exotic, dreaming is always a process of looking inwards..


karl marx had predicted how arcadian communes, opting out of wider society, could easily fall prey to despotism. in the communist manifesto, he warned against such ‘reactionary sects that sill dream of experimental realisation of their social utopias, of founding isolated ‘phlansteres’ of establishing ‘home colonies’ or setting up a ‘little icaria’  – ie: jim jones.. suicide/murder of 900


whilst simultaneously predicting the course of gentrification, marx had also foreseen that there was a new faith coming, borrowing many of the old traits whilst ostensibly opposing them; he had not foreseen that the would be, for a time, its god.



imagine though that it was possible to sweep away the jungle.. or go further and imagine that the architect’s page is blank after all, an impossible tabula rasa. what would we build given the chance to place our footprints in a field of unspoilt snow? utopia of course. why not. everyone who builds builds a fragment of utopia even if just a garden shed, even if unintended, even if outwardly malevolent. utopias are indeed dystopias but the real secret is that all dystopias are utopias, for some inhabitants at least.

thinking.. no utopia unless it’s all of us..

we were condemned .. it seems .. to build.. and so they kept coming together in greater numbers into one place.. to construct shelters

it was our upright view of the horizons that determined it. we were damned to improve and despoil the panoramas; lines and vectors, prospects of elevation and sanctuary but also envy, insults, dominance, and submission. most of all, it contained pride.. architects were the new prometheans..


when our common ancestors ventured out and built on the plains, they began to master their surroundings, to extend dominion rather that to use space solely as a retreat..the age of ego truly began..t

even when they build temples.. esp when they built temples.. architects were celebrating themselves..


ruins have a remarkable capacity for reinvention

.. all in order to show things that are perpetually true. the real become unreal and the unreal becomes real. might we imagine a derelict tower of babel in pieces serving as a hideout for bandits, an aviary for wild bird, a playground for inquisitive children, a half-believed mirage, or a refuge for travellers in a desert ‘full of dragons and great serpents, and .. diverse venomous beasts all about..’


in the days when only churches and castles were permitted to intrude in to the heavens, the tower of babel rose repeatedly in the work of artists.


the tower of babel was a multidimensional convergence of space and time, as all cities are


(william) blake was a utopian prophet in an age of priests and, until he was safely dead and able to be exploited, they painted him as a madman..t


‘instead of blaming their inability to control and organize the new world that was being created w the help of the machine, they blamed the machines themselves.’ – saint exupery


those who offered a future were those who accepted the inevitability of cities. there was alway the allure of escape but this was still somewhat defined by th proximity of the urban.. thoreau’s retreat at walden pond was a stone’s throw from concord.. chris mccandless: ‘no longer to be poisoned by civilisation he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild’ – he wrote in bus where he starved to death 20 miles from the george park highway.. anyone who has hike thru rainforest/tundra knows nature is not benevolent. w/o conscience/ mercy. there is no more /less soul i a machine tha ni na pastoral scene.. it lies solely w the watcher

chris mccandless


those who live in the midst of nature look w scorn on the city dwellers and the fatalistic siege mentality they brought with them

holmgren indigenous law


it would however be a false dichotomy to see the towers of commerce and the towers of faith as opposites given their overlapping dominion over man (there is commerce in faith and faith in commerce)


from the right angle, the real becomes unreal..escher.. god’s eye view.. ..

daumier: ‘ there is a frightful disease prevalent in ‘the states’ contagious entirely beyond the skill of the best physicians. it is altitudimania and its victims, who rarely die of it, but can never be entirely cured, spend half their lives climbing steps’.. babel, for better and worse, offered us an opp to gaze back down upon ourselves..

perhaps idio-jargon (tower of babel) from self-talk as data can do that for us

keep us from climbing ness..


towers meant that empty cubits of sky could become real estate..t


they (tallest bldgs in world) are collectively the perfect setting for slick spy thrillers and adverts for glossy authoritarianism


in some cases.. the links between nature an d architect’s imaginings are more convincing than others.. ie: lloyd wright’s mile high skyscraper or bofil’s walden 7 to termite mounds..


lloyd wright wished to build but harboured a disdain for actual cities (comparing them to a ‘cross-section of a fibrous tumor’)..t


a place that has everything risks not having the one thing it surely needs – escape.

gray play law


the inclusion of village-style lobbies is an admission that such structures intrinsically alienate..a sense of community must be placed there artificially..


cities .. floating/flying.. in the air


as time passes, we absorb traumatic events thru careful editing and symbolic narratives, to the point of self-deception

[oz and radium in women workers et al – no limit to what can be achieved in aid of killing each other – 177]


the alchemical cities

the egyptian hieroglyph for city also means ‘mother’. this was a rare admission that cities were founded according to nurturing environs..t

in most cases, the heroism of mythic individuals was enshrined in foundation myths, often to justify dynastic rulers. yet this is a view that jars with the intrinsically social nature of cities:  vitruvius insightfully described and assembly of early humans around a fire initially caused by lightning. he speculated that while learning to keep the fire going humans learned to speak. this event literally disclosed a clearing in the forest: a political and public space whose main quality was to be a place for individuals to participate in political and cosmic order larger than themselves. vitruvius recognised this to be the most original quality of architecture and the making of cities…


to those weak w superstition, parochialism or power, the city was cast as a means of shrouding man’s nakedness and shame. it was built to confine more than expand. yet even these miserable wretches had pride, and sought to justify the building of settlements by divine preordination.

the claim that god instructed them to settle was used to convince nomads that the city was not entirely an unnatural concept. it was also used to justify the invasion of and building on the lands of others..t


no city, these stories confirm, is natural or inevitable. they are the results of lives and decisions and that which has been imagined into existence can be reimagined..t

a nother way

in the city.. as the day.. power to the imagination




the abiding desire for no place


in the future there will be not only flux but pointlessness, frivolity, inefficiencies, all these things that make us human by accident and which we rail against daily..t


what may save us is, in orwell’s words, a dedication to ‘common decency’ , and the perpetual knowledge that it need not be like this..


this is a future life of leisure and farmyard robots, granted by the freeing of hours from rudimentary tasks. it is a utopia of time; the ability to waste time as we choose by being freed from the wasted time of obligations..

leisure.. gaiman luxury law.. obligations

today we have never had more labour saving devices of convenience and yet the blissful life is suspiciously fleeting and illusive..

begs we try a nother way.. has to be all of us.. leaping to freedom..


the city is a memory theatre

there are a multitude of cities hiding under the white lie of a single name and they articulate themselves in secret significances, unwritten memory maps, daily orbits…


even the great wandering novels of loners.. are intrinsically concerned w the multiplicity of the city and the characters’ alienation from it, searching as they are, in taunted solipsism, for the connections they see fleetingly all around them..

let’s try connecting us..hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day.


we are atoms, yet there is hope in what occurs when atoms link together

our walls may be oppressive but they protect us from the horrors of proximity..

how to hide and still be out there.. the walls of rp ness et al


towns are biological phenom.. they have hearts/organs indispensable to their special functions.. these organs can go wrong and endanger the entirety.. ‘as the avenues and streets of  a city are nothing less that its arteries and veins’ hugh ferriss wrote in the metropolis of tomorrow, ‘we may well ask what dr would venture to promise bodily health if he knew that the blood circulation was steadily growing more congested..


the buildings we inhabit become part of who we are. they are the settings for experiences and absences. they are wound into our conceptions of privacy, safety, comfort or lack thereof.


‘i am the product of long corridors’ cs lewis wrote ’empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. also, of endless books’

rooms are invariably cabinets of curiosity, mimetic armouries, sometimes sacred, sometimes dreaded…


tim benton: an ‘artistic’ approach, not overly concerned with planning criteria such as circulation or land value’.. all the senses..


‘architecture is the great book of humanity’ victor hugo wrote ‘when the memory of the first races felt itself overloaded, when the mass of reminiscences of the human race became so heavy and so confused that speech naked and flying, ran the risk of losing them on the way, men transcribed them on the soil  in a manner which was at once the most visible, most durable, and most natural. .. in the 15th cent everything changes.

human thought discovers a *mode of perpetuating itself,..t

.. architeture is dethroned. gutenberg’s letters of lead are about to supersede..the invention of printing is the greatest event in history. it is the mother of revolution.. the mode o f expression of humanity which is totally renewed. assuredly, it is a construction which increases and piles up in endless spirals; **there is also confusion of tongues, incessant activity, indefatigable labour, eager competitions of all humanity, refuge promised to intelligence, a new flood against an overflow of barbarians. it is the second tower of babel of the human race.’ ***we are taking part in this building right now as you read these words

actually.. ***on to tower of babel part 3.. no..?.. where web/mech allows for **idio jargon as *mode


remembering the future


‘the house shelters daydreaming’ gaston bachelard wrote ‘the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace’. of all the utopias, the most practical is that of maintaining your won sanctuary against outside encroachments.

batra hide in public law

the mocking of fuller was particularly unfair as his developments, while superficially eccentric, were logical and indeed already existed..


hysteria has always been the fear; the idea that confinement with our fellow humans and ourselves, w/o the pressure valve of possible escape, would inevitably lead to madness..

gray play law


the author is clear about what the problem is: ‘freedom is the ability to live dangerously, inefficiently’


no prophet is ever totally vindicated and, though affluenza is said to afflict only a privileged few, the ‘society of enforced leisure’ and boredom that asimov predicted (w people rebelling by working) remains conspicuously absent..

earn a living ness


yet it also point out how much a product of our early environment we are and indeed how much of our identities is artificially created to begin with

identity ness


the unreal thru repetition becomes real, just as the read does.


‘space in fact is liberty of movement’ (gualdie) while motion dos not exist w/o space and the passage of time. these are the essential components of urban life and for a long time they were ignored in favour of the traditional mood of the frozen moment.. (cartier bresson refined an art of finding these in the organised chaos of the city)

space and time ness


(on artists intro to speed and multi perspective view it brought).. ‘the world, the real is not an object, it is a process,’ claimed john cage… echoing el lissitzky’s earlier view that ‘every form is the frozen instantaneous picture of a process. thus a work is a stopping place on the road of becoming and not the fixed goal…this is crucial because, despite the protestations of many, this is how life works..

thinking photograph ness and (can’t think of artists name) photo ing in subway station


all cities are accumulation so of the pas and pasts dreams, a situation which could not be broached by the more egomaniacal of the artists. in the end, they hated cities because cities are not silent or monotone but rather of the voices of others.. (just after speaking of metropolis being noise and lamenting loss of silence.. yet cage .. and .. there is on silence.. and ability to see more clearly if fly above cities..)

cage.. silence.. all the voices.. ness


often the splendour had cancer at is core, with great riches concealing great crimes.. the world fairs of brussels were built on the theft from  and torment of belgium’s colonial subjects in the congo.. also exhibited ‘negro villages’, human zoos for visitors to gawk at uprooted african families..


world’s fairs marked the mutation of the citizen into voyeur and consumer.

the entertainment industry makes this easier by elevating the person to the level of the commodity.. thru the temporary buildings of the exhibitions, we had entered a brave new world. it resembled a crude counterfeit of ali baba’s cave, in the form of an endless maddening shopping mall. there would be no password to escape.

gray play law


we must factor into every paradise the desire to be left alone and to opt out. the lack of space to do so is, in itself, a nightmare. escape from the visions of others and even ourselves must be possible or it is no paradise..

gray play law

they (cities) might be designed for the enjoyment .. rather than the profit of a few.

those who put forward such a view are often lampooned as being infantile by those busy monetising space..t

the mantra that ‘it need not be like this‘ is once again a possible saving grace. the problem is not, as often claimed, that architects have monumental egos (this is no secret or sin) but that the projects are authoritarian


‘the house is an appliance for carrying with you,’ greene noted in relation to his living pod, ‘just as the city is a machine for plugging into’..t

thinking of dante and nomad ness


following archigram, ant farm’s inflatocookbok presented autonomous temporary housing in the style of underground comix of the time – ‘kids make your own bubble easy as 1-2-3’ these may look striking on paper but could we live happily in any of them? archigram were aware themselves of such doubts –

‘does ‘home’ remain valid when any atmosphere of living can be conjured at a moment’s notice – ..t

by the press of a switch’ – but they were just as aware that their works were partially thought-experiments to begin with. you begin with the desire to free the occupant and you might well end with the monastic cell.. you invent the plug in city and you also invent power manifesting in the hands of whoever controls the overarching scaffolding.  all city planning requires a continual rebalancing of powers between the individual, the elite and the collective..

why the elite..?.. thinking stigmergy et al.. ni re wire ness.. and home ness (we carry our homes w/in us which enable us to fly – cage)

‘architecture is content not shell’ – le corbusier..t


‘the metropolis strives to reach a mythical point’ rem koolhaas wrote, ‘where the world is completely fabricated by man, so that it absolutely coincides with his desires.’ all too often this comes down to the desires of a solitary man

it is one of the contradictions of late capitalism that we have vastly more technologies aiding and connecting us now and yet such suggestions seem to belong to a bygone socialist age, locked away from us. archigram demonstrated that the city might be refreshed by questioning that which is falsely taken as inevitable and unchangeable..

eudaimoniative surplus.. et al


a city with factories in which to think, a city in which to dream of cities..

city sketch up ness

might we dispense with the shell altogether when tech permit?

‘space is nature’s way of preventing everything from happening in the same place’ – michael dear.

to understand space is to continually rethink it..t


we mistake architecture for the aforementioned shell, when it is really the space within.

nomadism was for millenia the condition of humanity and remains so for many cultures (the enkang huts of the cattle-grazing masai, for ie). there are many who have suggested a return to the lost advantages of a migratory  life, beyond the holiday season..

nomad ness


change threatens those who have a vested interest in the status quo or those who simply cherish security and familiarity above other considerations..

joseph reward law


if we see architecture as frozen music, as goethe claimed, we might see music as fluid architecture..


the inhabitants of cities change as inevitably as cities do. just as our cells are replaced (from taste-buds every 10 days to the heart every 20 yrs), the cells of eh city replicate, mutate and collapse.


the problem with replicating cells was whether they were healthy or not. cancer, after all, replicates..t

in isolated pockets, they dazzle. expanding over a city, they would seem an infestation..

cancer et al


the urge to reset and begin again still remains and occasionally rises when the horrors of existing society have sufficiently piled up..t

 a nother way ..  for (blank)’s sake


trotsky: ‘the wall between art and industry will come down.the great style of the future will be formative, not ornamental..’


they created a future what was not taken. most of the plans of the constructivists remained unbuilt and were sidelined with stalin’s rise to power


if they rejected the archaic folk-art of the rural, it was only in so much as a false series of binaries had been previously set up: ‘the machine has not divorced us from nature. we have discovered by means of it a new previously unsuspected nature’

eagle and condor ness..

architecture, design and art always begins as fiction, though we soon forget this..


though the temptation is to make all attempts at utopia an island, as kim il-sung and pol pot would brutally try, humans are social creatures and art is but a means of communication..

the past, however, caught up with them ‘those who found canvas and clay a constraint and went on to create structures’ el lisstizky wrote, ‘found themselves captives in the incantatory ring of an infinite number of bookish teachings, with which solidly established professors crammed them and, slowly but surely, bottled up the whole creative urge of their apprentices. and thus monsters grew up among us, walking encyclopaedias (sic) of bygone centuries.’


these monsters were the true figures of the new era of stalin. the artists were betrayed, if they refused to betray themselves, as the people were


utopia is just around the corner, ‘just you wait’ being the recurring double-edged catchphrase.

in the midst of the soviet experiments, the idea surfaced that not just a new type of city, but a new type of person might be created – homo urbanus. the ideal communist man was posited as a creature of immense productivity, like the mine stakhanov, or the ‘engineer of souls’ himself, joseph stalin.


capitalist tycoons like kellogg, cadbury a nd ford had all tried social engineering projects and largely failed. architects could not resist joining in


the turk

most cities hide their mechanics, tubes and sewers underground or within walls… so too cities hide their poor and unwanted (but not unneeded) from business and tourism, pushing slums out of the periphery or downwards into cavernous depths. anti-homeless grills are fixed to hot air vents, spikes to flat surfaces. with housing bubbles pricing out the young, the result is pristine cities in which those who run the city cannot afford to live there.

how to kill a city


is it also a highly sought after model, closer to the turk than utopia. slums remain not simply as a curse, but as a dumping ground.. an evil place desgned to siphone\ off the dangerous contagions of the city: sexuality, criminality, deviance, in a word, dfference (sic).


a city of a hundre million rooms: ‘ can you imagin eth enedless beauty of a coneption like this.. a city with its 36 000 buildings each a perfectly distinct and complete designe.. there would be in this city of 60 m sould, 15 000 miles of main avenues, every foot of which would be a continuous change of beauty…’

gillett recognised the danger of imposed uniformity and so he encourage each block to be articistically independent

sounds like iwan baan ness.. and zita cobb.. ness


controversially for a successful capitalist, gillette’s shops would have no prices:

‘no system can ever be a perfect system, and free from incentive for crime, until money and all representative value of material is swept from the face of the earth’

nice.. no measuring of transactions.. et al – from his book – the human drift

The Human Drift is a work of Utopian social planning, written by King Camp Gillette and first published in 1894. The book details Gillette’s theory that replacing competitive corporations with a single giant publicly owned trust (“the United Company”) would cure virtually all social ills.

Nothing approaching Gillette’s Metropolis has ever been attempted; but the Niagara Falls area was the site of one planned community, a model workers’ town named Echota (which means “town of refuge” in the Cherokee language). It was designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White in 1891 and built by the Niagara Falls Power Company.


the control of space and those within it is crucial to dystopias. the manual for tyranny is essentially a guide to the manipulation of architecture. it requires inclusion and exclusion, and the control of physical space. the extent varies dramatically, incorporating ghettos, prisons, dungeons, kettling, exile, prohibited areas, curfews, walls and gates but the intention is the same, to varying degrees..

‘the rhythm of masses’ ilya golosov wrote, ‘that is where compositional innovation in architecture finds its start.’ it finds its end in dictatorial control, in the halting and manipulation of the masses, in authority that demands popular respect and fear, and yet is innately anti-social. this is the paradox that makes tyrannies so maddening, and ultimately so vulnerable..



a little boy witnesses his parent’s murders.. shocked int a vortex of vengeance and fantasy.. the imported stately elegance of wayne manor is the ego; the bat-cave beneath is the id.. whatever victories wayne achieves, he will always start again, in the most famous case of arrested development, as the boy suddenly alone in the alleyway.. he does all this in order to prevent what has already happened..


batman’s gotham city, it is often said, should be seen as the dark corrupt side to superman’s squeaky-clean metropolis.. yet it is arguable tha metropolis is more shrouded and gotham more naive, calling for redemption by signalling to a costumed vigilante billionaire..


metropolis is the way modern dystopias will come; bright and shiny in the daylight, full of promises, wireless and witless. the just city hides more secrets than the fallen city. peel back even the hegemonic figure of superman and a much more interesting figure emerges, an alien immigrant created as a subversion of the nazi perversion of the ubermensch by two new york jews, and oe minute away from being an all-soviet hero of communism


there aer times when darkness is stronger than light

they voyeurism only satisfies when it remains in fiction. the designer anton furst incorporate ferriss’s style and atmosphere in to his version of gotham for tim burton’s film adaptation. ‘we imagine what nyc might have become w/o a planning commission’ furst told time magazine in 1989, ‘ a city run by crime, with a a riot of architectural styles. an essay in ugliness. as if hell erupted thru the pavement and kept on going.’

years later, struggling with depression and addiction and waiting to be admitted to hospital, furst excused himself to friends, made his way to the top of an 8th floor building and stepped off, into the real unknown..


solitude may become a vice. privacy may be monetised into being a preserve of the rich and well-connected. we will realise the precious nobility of anonymity when it is gone (perhaps everyone will be private for 15 minutes, granted brief holidays to do as we pleased)

kind of like now..?

the victory of the thought police will be when behaviour is so self-regulating that no thought police are required. there is on e installed in every mind


inclusion or exclusion. eden or wilderness. life does not work in dichotomies, but authority does… the control of city space functions thru boundaries..  there are systems of gates and walls, sentries and passwords, ways of identifying and shunning the other.

binary ness and borders and label s.. et al


binaries are dangerous not just because they are reductive deceptions or destructive by nature, but because they are useful. they alienate you not only from ‘the other’ but, in the process, from yourself, leaving those who wholeheartedly believe in them vulnerable to cynics in power.


the terrifying thing is that dystopia, at some level, requires our acceptance


differences are transformed into divisions because this monopolises power. it happens in terms of gender, race, religion, sexuality and class. though there is latent stigma against the nouveau riche in certain quarters, if you acquire enough money identities are accepted and sings forgiven. the only real crime is the absence of money. due to the variety of ways wealth is accumulated, myths are required, not least the fabulous mirage of meritocracy… it finds expression in architecture as the great other that is the ghetto… it cannot be admitted that these are the consequence of systems that run on inequity or a failure to provide and maintain dignified social housing. instead these areas and their inhabitants must be the product of sin, of poor breeding, savagery. . not enough they must face odds stacked against them. this must be compounded not just with shame, derision and condescension but with blame; they had done this to themselves..

yet the city is defunct w/o them..


the solution to slums is not to solve poverty because their existence is necessitated by their various beneficiaries; it is sto control them, an desp to prevent any signs of radicalism emerging..


the night is the time of carnival, a time feared bu soem not simply becaseu of neurosis or insecuritieis of the flesh but also because it is a social leveller. the stritures of the day are suspended, the class system momentarily shaken off, or so the illusion appears until dawn….bakhtin wrote:’here, in teh town square, a special form of free and familiear contact reigned among peole who were ususally divided by teh barriers of caste, property, profession, and age’

it is the revolution realized, if only while the moon is out..


lot’s wife being transformed into a pillar of salt for looking back at teh massacre. as sodo mis destroyed completley, she is turned into architecture and left there as a reminder, punished for the inquisitiveness and empathy that has taken us from teh caves to the cities.

there is much to learn from following the heroics of lot’s wife


‘if you shut your eyes to a frightening sight you end up being frightened. if you look at everything straight on, ther ei snothing to be afriad of’ – akira kurosawa’s brother..

it is fear we are afraid of and it makes slaves of us


disaster.. the answer has been morality.. simply becasue teh urge to contol and punish is too tempting. the earthquakes and teh seas rise becasue men have sex with men just as witches caused shipwrecks and jews posoned wells. the senselessness of mass destruction and death might make *the sober question the exsitence of a benevolent god, so distractions are in order, not with the pleasures of sex or libation but with more death

choice.. over robot.. that benevolent


the source of enless fiction and gleeful giuded tours, jac the ripper was not a decrepit coward preying on vulnerble women but a moralist obsession of a sick society. one of the problems in id ing him was tha thundreds of people wrote to the police and newsppaers claimign to be him, creatig a vast network of false leads..


to remain infinite an idea must never be realised


flotsam and jetsam


in dozens of posters, publications and sermons, it was asserted again and again that the atomic bomb was not just god’s gift to america, it was ‘the spirit of god’. few but the incurably credulous actually believed this but it proved valuable to tv preachers up to and including pres reagan…


not long before just and damned cities require rebuilding again

the end of the world will come eventually, until then the end of the world prophecy industry will remain a busy one.

every generation, once safely out of its youth, sees the end of days beginning in younger generations..


the reassuring thing is the barbarians are always here for we are they, endlessly rehearsing the end of the world, just as we have always done


survivors visit wreckage of our civilisation.. in mitchell’s the last american.. a setting which the writer cannot help recount in barbed satire: ‘historians are astounded that a nation of an hundred million beings should vanish from the earth like a mist, and leave so little behind. but to those familiar with their lives and character surprise is impossible. there was nothing to leave.the mehrikans possessed neither literature, art, nor music of their own. everything was borrowed.. they were a sharp, restless, quick-witted, greedy race, given body and soul to the gathering of riches. their chiefest passion was to buy and sell’


does th euniverse presve some form of memory when all the relevant material is obliterated? it is our role to bear witness, to defeat the second death (when you’re forgotten about completely) for as long as possible becasue we cannot halt the first?


endings have a tendency towards impermanence..t


the memories of what he’d seen and what he’d imagined never left marco polo. when *il millione, the man of a million lies, was lying on his deathbed, a priest approached him and offered him absolution if he admitted his falsehoods. ‘i did no ttell half of what i saw, for i knew i would not be believed’ he replied and he took these secrets with him…


Book of the Marvels of the World (French: Livre des Merveilles du Monde) or Description of the World (Devisement du Monde), in Italian Il Milione (The Million) or Oriente Poliano and in English commonly called The Travels of Marco Polo, is a 13th-century travelogue written down by Rustichello da Pisa from stories told by Marco Polo, describing Polo’s travels through Asia between 1276 and 1291, and his experiences at the court of Kublai Khan.

The book was written in Old French by romance writer Rustichello da Pisa, who worked from accounts which he had heard from Marco Polo when they were imprisoned together in Genoa. From the beginning, there has been incredulity over Polo’s sometimes fabulous stories, as well as a scholarly debate in recent times. Some have questioned whether Marco had actually travelled to China or was just repeating stories that he had heard from other travellers.

Economic historian Mark Elvin concludes that recent work “demonstrates by specific example the ultimately overwhelming probability of the broad authenticity” of Polo’s account, and that the book is, “in essence, authentic, and, when used with care, in broad terms to be trusted as a serious though obviously not always final, witness.

back to p 20

to accuse polo of inventing fiction is to assume that perception and memory are not partially fictional to begin with

chris market: ‘i will have spent my life trying to understand the function of remembering.. which is not the opposite of forgetting, but rather its lining. we do not remember. we rewrite memory much as history is rewritten’..t

fragments of the real are retained, though they evolve with time to fit the wisdom or fallacy of hindsight and are juxtaposed w memories of dreams and thoughts and memories of memories.. we are unreliable narrator even to ourselves…


Archigram’s ideas may have looked like an “LSD-tinged happening” but its experimental ideas were put into real-life practice in the decades that followed.                            

Original Tweet:


in the city.. as the day..


city ness

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way