The revolutionary charge of utopia

In architecture, critical activity has always been connected with the concept of utopia; utopia is not an alternative model: it puts forward unresolved problems (not ‘problem solving’ but ‘problem finding’). We could say that the original motive of utopia is hope. Utopia is the true preparation for projecting, as play is preparation of life. The revolutionary charge of utopia, the hope which is at its foundation and the criticism which is its direct consequence, bring back its dignity as a rational, ordering activity.

  • SUPERSTUDIO, The Continuous Monument: An Architectural Model for Total Urbanization, 1969.

Let’s talk about utopias again. Rest in peace, Cristiano Toraldo di Francia

Wherever God erects a house of prayer / the Devil always builds a chapel there; / And ’t will be found, upon examination, / the latter has the largest congregation.

– Daniel Defoe, “The True-Born Englishman,” 1701

Everyone we meet along the way

Whoever we are, we’re always moving along our own routes, finding ourselves in foreign lands, reaching beyond the curtains of our own experience; everyone we meet along the way remains in our memory, their every word and every touch.

-Serhiy Zhadan, Voroshilovgrad

Today I learned about the Hayflick Limit: the number of times a human cell can undergo mitosis before its genetic telomeres disappear, causing the cell population to cease reproducing. Critically, cancer cells are able to extend their telomeres , reproducing forever.

History is the vast store of human conciousness adrift in the gulf of time, the present living in the past and the past living in the present…what survives the wreck of time is the force of imagination and the power of expression.

Lewis Lapham, The Art of Editing No. 4, the Paris Review, Issue 229

You weren’t educated, you were trained.

Alejandro Zambra, Multiple Choice (it’s a beautiful, fascinating, heartbreaking little book BTW)

Not Another Way of Saying Things

Using in one tongue the word for a thing in the other makes the attributes of both reasound: if you say Give me fire when they say Give me a light, what is not to learn about fire, light and the act of giving? It’s not another way of saying things: these are new things.

Yuri Herrera, Signs Preceding the End of the World

Don’t take any guff from these swine

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

(Profanity redacted)

And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made, and the sign flashed out its warning in the words that it was forming, and the sign said: “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls and whispered in the sound of silence.”

Paul Simon

Today I learned about…The McGurk Effect, a perceptual phenomenon that demonstrates an interaction between hearing and vision in speech perception.

The clearest and most creative thoughts

The clearest and most creative thoughts are those that occur during one of three states: the first is at the onset of sorrow, the second in bed just before falling asleep, and the third in the latrine. The last involves the breakdown of concentrated matters exhaled by the bowels and the intestines and this breakdown and exhalation taking place in the lower part has the effect of breaking down, at the same time and place, whatever may have coagulated in the higher folds of the brain. Some of this matter then departs in a downward direction while some of the images formed by the brain rise, like steam rising from the earth to thicken into a raincloud.

Ahmad Fāris al-Shidyāq, Leg over Leg, Volume Three.

What War of the Worlds Did

All unwittingly Mr Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre of the Air have made one of the most fascinating and important demonstrations of all time. They have proved that a few effective voices, accompanied by sound effects, can so convince masses of people of a totally unreasonable, completely fantastic proposition as to create nationwide panic…They have cast a brilliant and cruel light upon the failure of popular education….They have shown up the incredible stupidity, lack of nerve and ignorance of thousands…If people can be frightened out of their wits by mythical men from Mars, they can be frightened into fanaticism by the fears of Reds, or convinced that America is in the hands of 60 families, or aroused to revenge against any minority, or terrorised into subservience to leadership because of any imaginable menace.

Dorothy Thompson, New York Herald Tribune, 1938, an excellent read, really.

via What War of the World Did, also an excellent read, and from which I have taken the title of this post.

Today I learned about…Jerrie Cobb, a female pilot and obvious badass who unofficially underwent the same physical testing as the Mercury astronauts at the time, placing in the top 2% of all astronaut candidates, but was never considered for flight.

This nonsense of earning a living

We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

Buckminster Fuller, A New Lifestyle, New York Magazine, 1970.

(via kottke)

Lafourche Cajun Vernacular

“Traînasse,” from “traîner,” to drag or haul, is a marsh word that typically refers to a pirogue portage or trail, but in this case my neighbor used it to describe the drainage swale we dug, and it seems appropriate. A little path. Words are so great.