Can the "SYMPTOM RETURN AS THE CURE?"
The Direct and culpable cause of Brexit has been the total failure, for some seventy years, of the Establishment to perform their basic function.
A "SERIOUSNESS", aka. A 'HIGH' CULTURE.
This Function to provide what only a Leadership can, which is to reify what is serious in a form that is capable of being peaceably used and enjoyed by persons of ordinary culture - those that I prefer to term "The Generality", rather than "The People". The mutinies of the 'Brexit' and 'Trump' fractions against a very long-standing governing ethos are the latest evidences of this failure. That it began so long ago is attested by Neal Acherson, who wrote in the ‘Observer that when he was up at Cambridge, in the 1950s, the idea was that if calm and reason reigned (colour grey), wars and famines could be planned-out of History”. Then, at the end of his essay he wrote: "when I came down from Cambridge I felt the presence of something out of sight, over my shoulder, which later turned out to be Pop".
DOES THE ISLAND ESTABLISHMENT EVEN KNOW THE ILLNESS?"
Cambridge, and indeed Oxbridge and indeed the whole Country-House, Post-Imperial, Precast-concrete Uni BA-MA-PhD British Establishment has remained, ever since those pathetic 1950s, dull, grey and useless to Identity Politics in our highly mediated age (of "Koolhaasian Eurotrash"). The Generality has had to live-out their lives with the trivialities of Pop. Can one wonder when they bite-back? The Establishment should, at this point, bring the Generality to heel, at the very least to prevent them damaging themselves. But this useless Establishment has no shots in its locker. It has been rabbiting-on about markets and computers and do-it-yourself, for so long that it has no idea, no idea at all how to govern through the easiest, cheapest and simplest medium of all - the urban lifespace! All these clever lawyers and accountants and politicians making money in "property" without the slightest idea of how to use it as an "ontic constitution".
THE "INTERESTING" RUINS OF BRITANNIA.
'Brexit' will destroy swathes of what remains of the island industries. It will eventually cripple the City of London, the basic ecomomic motor of the entire island. It will thin-out the 'education' industries to those students that merely want to improve their skill in the global lingo -rather than, in the past, some interest in Britain's culture. Europe's soul is, of course pretty well dead, and has been ever since the demise of her Cameralist cultures. But at least they can interpret (as it were 'from the life'), the culture that Britain has imported from "Efvropi "for centuries.
JUST ANOTHER LOAD OF RUBBISH.
Brexit may feel, to some, like the departure of the Romans in the 5C. But Britain has been defended, since the loss of London's Empire in the 1940s, by NATO, which means the USA. Continental Europe likewise. Without NATO the EU can not even defend itself. Neither is the culture of the EU, in any sense, comparable to that of Rome. It took an entire Millenium for Britain to reach a civil culture comparable to that of Roman Britain. The EU has not yet recovered from its 19C and 20C history of decadence and barbarism. Its "Messengers of Modernity" who have flooded the 'Design Culture' of London, have imported only the purest "trash" - to use the accurate description of their most prominent salesperson. Brexit is no loss on the front of the Media in which I work. Post-Imperial Britain has been defenceless for seventy years. Brexit just opens Britain even wider to invasion by the 'dumping' of Globally-sourced culture-trash. Will Brexit animate the island Establishment to some sort of defence? Or even, as strategists always advise to "attack"? In which case what is the strategy of the Brexiteers?
It is no good now making feeble promises (like "Forty Garden Villages"), and passing new laws - or repealing old ones. The Lion of popular opinion has tasted the blood of its Tamer. Real, dramatic, large-scale public and physical action is now required - not more text and electronic media 'virtuality'. Some quick demolitions would help - and then a programme to change the 'appearance' of the Eurotrash. I suggest a policy towards the end of this Essay. In the past such a rebellion would have been punished by throwing a country, with its "angry young men", into a war. This ancient remedy to unrest is no longer available. What can supplant it except a War of the Arts of Peace?
The discouraging thing about the USA is that some Americans may think that their problems can rather easily be solved. The US still has a sense of its enormous power and capability. The main error over there is the word "Again" in "Make America Great Again". History is like a river. Every drop presses its neighbours to flow on. There is no "going back" - except perhaps in Las Vegas or the endless Museums that now beset this ageing New World. Nevertheless, there does seem to be something about "the Past" which is now being missed.
DAWNING DOOM AND GLOOM..
In Britain, contrariwise, there is a dawning certainty that these 'problems' can not be so readily 'solved'. Our Prime Minister recently set out for to India, Britain's one-time Imperial "jewel in the crown", and soon to be the most populous nation on earth. The Hon. Teresa May was accompanied by "33 top Businessmen". The object was to replace with new Asiatic trade that which would be lost by the erection of European tariffs consequent to the Brexit. The mission returned with the certain knowledge that this was not going to happen. India, like the rest of Asia, no longer needed the good old 1950's "British Rubbish" exported to the "Commonwealth". Our Chancellor has told the nation that we must therefore borrow further billions so that we may invest them in our ruined and profitless economy and emerge, in 2021, as rich as we used to be. One may be forgiven if others believe that, in 2021, an unchanged Britain will merely be even more indebted than we already are.
CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?.
If anything illustrates the poverty of Britain, it is having to borrow money from someone else to spend on OURSELVES. In the good old days before WWII we were lent money by the entire globe to invest in the OTHER COUNTRIES of our Empire. This was because with imperial preference to profit from the British Hull shipment of the Products which the Empire's Mercantilism ensured could ONLY be manufactured on these 'Home Islands', Britain could guarantee that the biggest navy in the world would enforce prompt payments of its far-flung Dividends. Now these islands must go, cap in hand, to our oil-rich ex-imperial independencies to ask if THEY would like to invest in US, as if WE were the unskilled, low-wage natives to be exploited. How are the mighty fallen.
FAST-TALKING URBANITE INTO BUMBLING MALL-RAT.
The best thing, therefore, about Brexit is the dawn of the possibile certainty that these islands have been strangely mis-governed for the last seventy years, that is to say since Britain lost the Empire that gave us our previous wealth and status. This loss was seen as a blessed and marvellous release, a reward claimed by the Post-WW II Welfare Labour Administration for enduring Churchill's six years of war fought to save, save what? Oh, of course, that dreadful Empire! The Attlee Administration and its many, many supporters took it as the signal to destroy all of the life-space capital built up by Britain's three centuries of Imperial wealth. It is notable, in addition, that this destructive impulse was supported by every dimension of class and education. It was not even resisted by what remained of any Political Opposition. Everyone, during the 1950s and even more in the 1960s, was cheering-on the suicidal drive to turn the quick-thinking, fast-talking, most urbanised population in Europe, capable of learning and inventing anything, into a slow-thinking, slow speaking pseudo-Yankee Consumerdom of parochial, "Little Englander" sub-urban, bungalow-bumbling mall-rats incapable, today, of competing intellectually on the World Stage.
AFTER SEVENTY YEARS ON 'HAPTIC DRIVE' CAN THE "BRITANNIA" BE TURNED?
It is now a race against time as to whether we navigate a successful course out of this disaster, or whether we fail - getting deeper and deeper into the mire. Seventy years of mis-government is a very long time. No one would be surprised if a young man, hearing this, was to simply bale out. But at 82, I am too old and tired to 'start again' - as so many Brits have in the past. We are the globe's escapees. How else did we colonise so much of it? Besides so much of the globe has copied our Anglo-American errors that one is hard put to imagine where to go!
"A RUIN GIVES RISE TO THOUGHT". (Misquoting Paul Ricoeur).
No, I shall stay here where I have been for the last seventy years, right in the middle of London. London is not Britain, or if it is then Britain is London, as it had been for the 350 years of the Empire. Either way, London will see me out and it suits my new role as a 'Theorist'. I am too old to build, so now I Philosophise. Besides I only propose what I have already 'proved' by building - which is tiresome because to an Architect to build a proposition is to 'prove' it. But the even more tiresome aspect is that the entire and total resistance to my propositions do not come from the Publics for whom my propositions were built (the Public loves them deeply), but from my own Profession. In my professional sphere, that of the human lifespace, or 'infrastructure' as the Savants like to denigrate it, the seventy years of misgovernment can be conclusively documented with unassailable proofs. The Profession of Architecture, as presently constituted, led and informed, is the one of the most obdurate, arrogant, uninventive and deliberately illiterate impediment to Britain's escape from the prison of post-imperial idiocy that its august leaders have built.
9,000 YEARS IS TOO LONG TO WAIT FOR A USEFUL THEORISATION.
Back in the 1940's and on-and-off ever since, the Bauhaus Method was used to turn our young spirits towards the 'Architecture Autre' of the fraudulent city-wrecking genius of Corbusier. This was, perhaps inadvertently, but certainly successfully, supported by the repeated failures by the 20C savants to decipher their Medium, that of Architecture (as found), which had been already exercised for 9,000 years.
MY PROFESSION'S CONTEMPT FOR 'PUBLIC OPINION'.
A perfect example of this obdurate incapability amounting to a deliberate cult of failure and obstruction was the award of the Queen's Gold Medal, in 2015, to the late Dame Zaha Hadid - an architect whose spectacular contempt for her Public Clients I have personally endured. How could she not be the Heroine of a Profession that, when canvassed by their Professional Body (the R.I.B.A.), rated "Return Business" as 10 out of 10 and "Public Opinion" as entirely bottom of the list.
THE DELIBERATE TRIVIALISATION OF ALL 'MONUMENTALITY'.
Another manifest evidence, which daily bruises the patriotic sentiments of millions, is the customary T.V. view of the Palace of Westminster that is now backed-up by the stupid ferris wheel promoted and designed by the prominent husband and wife Architectural couple who have just trivialised the skyline of Brighton with a stratospheric stick up-and-down which slides another of their infantile "rides to nowhere".
'DITCHING' ALL THE TIME-EXPIRED "ARCHITECTURES OF PROTEST".
If there is one cultural phenomenon from which Britain would do well to 'Exit' it would be every sort of Architecture invented in Continental Europe over the past two centuries. Some good things might be lost (one is allowed to cheat a little). But, on the whole, Continental Architecture since the mid 18C fell, during the 19C and 20C, to new lows of tasteless uninventiveness. Unfortunately, however, all of these 'Continental' curiosities have been taught, practised and so absorbed into the bloodstream of the Island that they are now the very flesh and blood of the British lifespace - or "infrastructure" - and certainly of its 'best' and most admired Architects and Architectural Academies.
THE ABSENCE OF ANY ALTERNATIVE.
It will not be easy to re-form. One major impediment is that there has always appeared to NO ALTERNATIVE to this urbanistically destructive, intellectually stultifying lifespace-design culture. Attempts to combat it by Critics have all failed. An outlying bastion has fallen here, a tower there. But the whole huge 'investment' not only remains secure. It grows bigger and bigger every day, assimilating and dumbing-down cultures previously free from its paralysing spell.
A FULLY THEORISED ALTERNATIVE PROVED IN PRACTICE.
The attack of my "44 Lectures" proceeds in two ways. Firstly it offers a COMPLETELY THEORISED ALTERNATIVE which it took me 17 years (1998-2015), to 'script'.
I call it scripting because every idea elucidated in its 1000 pages of polychrome text (yes, every word is coloured), is also demonstrated iconically by its 3000 images. This alternative is also PROVEN PRACTICALLY, by having been built, with ordinary pounds, dollars and euros in perfectly 'normal' circumstances. This latter 'proving' took longer, as one might expect. It exceeded three decades. The 'proving' also, as used to be the case in Science before it became bewitched by mathematics, entirely PRECEDED the theorising. Duncan Hall, the final and complete 'practical proof' was completed in 1996. Being an Architect, I was foolish enough to believe that if a proposition managed to weave its way through the myriad of impediments and constraints that attach to a real building, that it would have thereby proved its "truth". Nothing could be further than the case. The more that my 'alternative proposition' was perceived as such, the more energy was devoted, entirely and solely by the Architectural Profession, to erasing even its buildings from the face of the Earth.
THE DESTRUCTION OF 'HARP HEATING'..
Even as I write, one of its most striking evidences: the Harp Heating Headquarters, of 1981-1984 is currently being demolished, at Swanley, South-West London, a few weeks before the Agents of Historic England planned to 'list' it as a building that should be legally protected. Harp was reviewed by the late Sir Richard MacCormack the Eminent Architect who was subsequently voted President of our Professional Body the RIBA. While being generally understanding and even complimentary, which is always gratifying to the hard-working Authorial team, MacCormack pointedly refused to award harp any "generic" status.
AN ENTIRELY 'GENERIC' TRANSFORMATION OF L'ARCHITECTURE AUTRE "TRASH".
This was strange because Harp was very manifestly "generic". It took a physically flimsy, Corbusier-inspired aniconic piece of Sixties "Age of trash" and covered it over in machine-bearing columns with flaming capitals. It was a visiting plumber who remarked how suited these capitals were to a gas-fired boiler company and commented "very Art Deco". What could I say but to recall Indra McEwen's book "Socrates' Ancestor" in which she traces the emergence of Metaphysics out of Physics, Theory out of Techne! None of the sophisticated Architectural Critics said anything as witty and the sanctimonious Cartoonist for my Trade Press just made fun of the whole project. I think his speciality was ramped entrances for disabled access: Worthy, but not worth an Architect'a six-year degree.
THE DAYS WHEN ARCHITECTS DID PRODUCTION DRAWINGS " (that is to say before Stuart Lipton expressly instructed that we were to only specify from catalogues).
All that JOA did in Harp was take a financially worthless box and add everything to it that it physically lacked. As we did this, we were also able, because in the 1980s an Architect still made (if the windows were wood, the walls brick and the stone white ballidon precast concrete), all the production drawings by hand. What this meant was that instead of having to accept the techno-babble culture of some over-capitalised, over-advertised, over-priced, mass-produced metal-bending curtain-wall catalogue-product (as specified by the top echelons of the Architectural Profession because they earned higher fees and did less draughting), the cultivated, literate, Architect could use what he had learned from his private library of 2,000 privately bought books and contribute to the only sane project around which was to MODERNISE ARCHITECTURE - AS AS IT HAS BEEN FOUND FOR 9,000 YEARS.
ADDING THE SINE QUA NON OF THE ARCHITECTURAL ORDER: THE ENTABLATURE.
Harp showed, thirty years ago, how every one of the pathetic flat-topped, flat-fronted boxes with which every British town and village has been defaced, since WW II, could be made both practical and beautiful with an additional, non-leaky pitched roof, a gutter big enough to walk down as one cleaned-it and a temperature-actuated fan to exhaust the warm air from computers, lights and summer afternoons. Harp further demonstrated how these simple practicalities could be turned to the task of overcoming the futile ambitions of an 'Architecture Autre' and used to further the modernisation (with a pediment as the Heap of History, and the fan as the "Light in the Darkness"), of the huge, but forbidden, powers of Architecture itself.
SLID OUT OF SIGHT....
Harp took these 1960's sheds into a mechanical and iconic universe light years ahead of the "Existenzminimum" prescribed by my suicidal Profession. But not only was Harp not granted its proper status but, when put in for the Financial Times Prize for Industrial Architecture, the only award valued by a young Architect, its photographs were deliberately hidden before the late Lord Gibson, the Committee's Chairman (who confirmed the fact to me), entered the room.
DITCHING EUROTRASH AND MAKING BRITAIN'S MARK.
The 'liberal', 'left-wing', progressive mass of the Architectural Profession, have interpreted the Brexit vote as a personal affront. They have all reacted with fear and dismay. The photos of their panic stricken faces in the online magazine Dezeen recall children caught being "naughty" (to use the favourite epithet of one of their ageing leaders). The male of the species can be identified by a mechanically-assisted baldness. Tonsorial hair, in these cases, signifies the advocacy of a "cultural superstructure". Its absence signs support for the "bottom-up", anti-elitist, political model. The male generally sports his underwear (normally a black sweatshirt, but white is even more demonstrably an undergarment), as an outer garment. This signs a distaste for any sumptuary law that marks social distinction. Everyone is equally capable of contributing to the "Age of Trash" whose epitome was the Venice Biennale of 2014.
"SNIFFIN'-OUT THE EUROTRASH..".
These time-expired floggers of the dead horse of Euro-radicalism should, indeed, be afraid - very afraid. The brain-dead "design" (they avoid the word "Architecture"), that they have been feeding the Public, and the endlessly recycled mortifications promoted by our trade Press and the Academies of Lifespace-Design should, if Brexit means anything at all, be swept back into the Channel (along with their authors?), over which, when safely lifeless (in the 1950s?), they entered the careful comedy of the Island Picturesque. The "Lion" is not going to change. He always wants blood. I admire his marvellous insatiability. He likes the "real thing":- lattice windows, chintz 3-Pieces, mediaeval stained glass, bierkeller-brown woodwork... Not for him a Tea-Room in white walls and spindly Eames chairs. Blood is sticky, appetising and red. These "Tamers" have been 'found-out'. They will have to change their tricks to something more effective. No good crying for the good old Beton-Brut, De-Stijl three-card trick.
ACTUALLY, THE 'LION' HAS GOOD TASTE - IN THE SENSE OF 'HUMAN' TASTES.
The Lion requires the respect that must be paid to every bearer of the 'human spirit' however poor or uneducated. The cleverest words of criticism, nevertheless are, I have found, to issue upon the breath of such immodestly lively persons! I find that the 'generality' enjoy a 'Modernised' Architecture of very large, polychromatically decorated columns bearing ample Entablatures which enclose huge, even more polychromed, symbolic graphics. One may even claim that the Lions of the Generality are 'charmed' by these attentions to their natural human appetites for meaning, power, wit, stability and ornament. It offends them deeply to be treated like growing vegetables, or animals inacapable of the mediations of image and text. The Corbusian idea of the house as a "machine á habiter" is an insult to ANY human being - even if did make Corbu the most (in)famous Architect of the 20C. With 'Brexit' the feeling arises that "payback time" has come. The lions are out of their cages and the whole rotten edifice of Balkan Modernism is shot.
SOME 'PREY' IS MARKING ITSELF OUT AND LEGGING-IT OFF THE RESERVATION.
It is now for the Tamer to make the first move. The Lion just waits for him, sniffing to see if this is some more "AA Crap". Did I say Autonomous Architecture? I meant the digital efflux that spews from Britain's most internationally-renowned Lifespace-design Academy: the Bedford Square Architectural Association. What will the Architectural Establishment do? President Brett Steele, head boy of this eminent Academy has already decided that Brexit is the signal to move to the UCLA School of the Arts in Los Angeles. His contribution, for the eleven years of his rule of Britain's most famous School, was to birth, like a DNA spiralling out of control, the endlessly prolix forms that digital means of production enable. Bombarded on all sides by the collapsing status of the Architectural Profession, the best that my old school could do for its highly-taxed students was to pump their force-fed imaginations up to a feverish high of unreason in the hope that the 'human spirit;, tired of BIM-generated Boxes, would turn to an 'Architect of Genius' for a dose of counter-formal, counter-functional silliness.
"WE LET OUR SERVANTS DO OUR 'LIVING' FOR US": GONCOURT BROTHERS.
L.A. is not London. Yet President Steele may still find a modest happiness. For L.A. is undoubtedly more fully digitised than anywhere else. This enormously mechanised 'mediation' (in the sense meant by McLuhan), has rendered it the most dysfunctional lifespace on earth. It is a place where it is so deeply unpleasant to live at all that human life will soon, like the Goncourt Brothers in 19C Paris, be conducted entirely by 'digitised' Avator-Servitors as their pale originals loaf-around inside the virtual worlds of their digi-printed bungalows. Not that we in London should avoid any responsibility for this Californian catastrophe. For it was assiduously promoted and forecast by the Sir Peter Cook and his Archigrammers of the 1960's along with their bicycling 'fakir' the late Reyner Banham.
TIME TO PUT OUT THE TRASH.
It is time now to sweep all of this deliberately pusillanimous "trash" away and cultivate ideas and techniques that can birth cities that create a genuinely self-governing, self-sustaining "re-publicanisation", in the sense of the 'goods' that can only result from legally sanctioned, fully-capitalised, clearly-explicable, generic Architectures. Architecture is, as was proposed in the 15C, the "indispensable medium of Civilisation" and the current 'revolt against the bureacrats' requires that the Generality be finally permitted to enjoy its fruits.
A MODEST PROPOSAL.
Any town or city that really means its "Brexit' could specify that EVERY building, INCLUDING existing ones, on pain of a fine increasing with time, should add, at the very least, an Entablature, and after that, an Order. Decoration and polychromy, all arguably symbolic, should be part of this formula to eradicate the "Worst of Europamerica". Harp shows how it can be done, as does the larger project for the Judge Business School in Cambridge, which now follows.
ATTACKERS AND DEFENDERS OF 'THE PUBLIC INTEREST'.
The Prize-winning Architects appointed by the proud iconic illiterates of the Cambridge University Estates Department are presently doing their best to damage, in particular, the Decorative parts of JOA's only large English project, the 1992-1995 Judge Business School of the eponymous University. They have been, for the moment, restrained by the Cambridge City Planning Department, who remember that the Judge was voted, by a majority of the Citizens of Cambridge larger than their entire votes for the other five competing buildings, Cambridge's "Building of the Decade". This approval was not extended by my Profession, who pointedly refused any of its 'serious' prizes - awarding it a booby one for "chutzpah".
THE FATE OF A "MADE MAN".
The easiest way to understand the lasting power and supremacy of the 20C 'Modernist' ethos of the Architectural Profession is to think of them a type of 'secret society like the famous Mafia. The long education of the Architect, which lasts a minimum of seven or eight years before the titular pendant is legally permitted, is required to cleanse the Student of any "innocent' amour concerning Architecture 'as found' from its 9,000-year history. Once so purged, admitted to the brotherhood and committed to the 'crime' of practice, the Modern Architect is like the Mafiosi after becoming a "Made Man". There is no 'turning back'. The Modernist dare not become an apostate. His peers must, in that event, seek to destroy his reputation, at least in so far as an Architect can practice. For to admit that 20C Modernism was a crime against civility, urbanity and all the 'Arts of Peace' that Architecture can mediate, and to admit that this was a crime descended merely from incompetence, European provinciality, illiteracy and lack of invention, not to mention an arrogant disregard (whether Socialistic or Capitalistic), for the Public would be to plunge the life-space industry into a sort of ontic chaos that must reach to the very summit of the Social Order.
THE MIDWIVES OF THE RIVER CAM.
This strong sense of being a beleagured band of "Midwives birthing a New World" from the banks of the River Cam exists as a lasting project , in both the University Estates Department as well as its Faculty of Architecture. They are united in their retro-Marxian promotion of L'Architecture Autre. I call them "Marxians" because England has been, on the whole, free of genuine Gulag-toting Marxists. "Marxian" suits the island proclivity for amiable pantomime. C.U.E.M.B.S. and their appointed Architects will do everything they can to destroy any slight hints of Architecture, as such. They regard the cultivation of the "paradigmatic medium of civilisation" as "idiosyncratic". Yet my firm of JOA built, during the decade of the Nineties, this Architecture of the "Sixth Order" in Britain, the Continent and the USA, using the same ancient and generic principles throughout. Perhaps needless to say with exactly the same 'political' geometry wherever it rose from the ground. It was loved to bits by the Public and hated with every fibre by my Professional Peers. With Brexit the 'Public' (if it can grow a head on its broad shoulders), now has its chance to decently bury, or merely messily dismember, the Modernist Mafia and build a merely "Modernised Architecture" in its place.
THE RULE OF 'SUFFICIENT CAUSE'.
But it was the response, in 1996, to Duncan Hall in Rice University Houston, Texas, that determined that I follow its construction with a 'theorisation'. It had taken my firm of JOA 22 years to develop all of the necessary techniques to fulfil what I conceived as the proper task of a Modern Architecture. This was merely to 'modernise' Architecture as-such - columns, entablatures, vaults, decorations and all. It was not to invent a completely novel "Architecture Autre". This latter project is easily shown to be the result of our lifespace-design industry's strange inability to produce a practically useful theorisation of Architecture itself - a medium some 9,000 years old. How long do we Practitioners have to wait for the Savants to get up steam? Once this theorisation is produced, a 'modernised' version becomes possible. L'Architecture Autre then fails by the rule of "Sufficient Cause". If a 'Modernised Architecture' performs all the tasks expected of our own time, as well as those executed during its previous 9,000 years of existence, then what need is there to continue the futile pursuit (already an history of 100 years of non-performance of anything at all 'cognate'), of an Architecture Autre?
AN ANATHEMA ISSUED BY THE DEAN OF ARCHITECTURE .
To my surprise, back in 1996, as Duncan Hall was being finished, the Rice Faculty of Architecture laid upon it a taboo, advising its undergraduates to avoid the danger of being seduced by its demonstration of a modernised Architecture rather than the futilities of "Contra-Formalist Counter-Functionalism", aka. "Deconstruction", pursued by their Professors! Neither was I allowed to perform the valedictory "show-and-tell" Lecture that it was customary to request of any Architect building on the beautiful Rice University Campus. I had to ask David Bass, a member of my staff, a Rome Scholar and more experienced Academic than I, to kindly perform in my stead. It was left to Malcolm Gillis, the newly-appointed President of Rice University, hearing of the infantile anathemas distributed by Lars Lerup, his Dean of Architecture, to arrange a public Lecture to the whole town and gown of Houston at which I was able to present what I (at least!), understood had been achieved. It was just one more of the many times that a JOA building has been lauded and prized by the Public and execrated by my Profession.
"SAPPING AND MINING FROM WITHIN".
The second line of attack, employed by the 44 Lectures, is to methodically examine and critique every part of the vast "Castle of AA" (L'Architecture Autre), so that it becomes patent that it has no persuasive foundations. This approach, which occupies much of the 1000 pages, has needed as much space and time as the theorisation of what can be built in its place. This critique, which is conventionally understood as the proper work of a Critic rather than an 'Artist', I saw as nevertheless necessary. The haptic Practitioner has one advantage, here, over the 'detached', and vastly better-read Critic. The Practitioner saps on the bastions of L'Architecture Autre from the INSIDE. The Practioner has had to 'build' all of its edifices himself, in order even to qualify, at any time during the past seventy years, as a Professional Architect at all. My five, no six, years of 'education' consisted of making design after design in the manner of every stupid paradigm of l'Architecture Autre. Until at the end of the six, twenty-seven years old and completely burnt out, I could do no more than propose, for my climacteric 'thesis', a design of giant roads and endlessly dull buildings. These toothpaste-squeezes of rentable floorspace were not dissimilar to the endless parallelogram-thoroughfares of 18C London (but without their gentle perfume of Classicism) or the "Garden of Ballistics" within whose floppy plots bloomed the bungaloid cultures of Suburbia. At which point, in spite of the fact that many of my undergraduate designs had been inscribed into the Archive of my Alma Mater, the Bedford Square Architectural Association, I was advised to leave Architecture entirely and "become a City-Planner".
A TRUE 'CHILD OF MODERNITY'.
So I have no hesitation, no hesitation at all, in my confidence that my painstaking undermining will bring the whole of L'Architecture Autre, crashing, tumbling and slumping down, ready for its alternative, a merely 'modernised' Architecture, to rise in its place in the way that a child of a living patrimony must be both novel, and true to its inheritance.
THE GLOBAL FATE OF THE BRITON: TO CARRY CAPITAL ABROAD TO ITS BEST USE.
For it is at this point that I can reveal the meaning of, in this particular case, the "Symptom returning as the Cure". You may recall my proposition that the Britons are the world's escapees, sailing away from their home to colonise the globe. What can they be sailing away from but THEMSELVES. "Hell", as Jean Paul Sartre observed: "is other people". Perhaps other countries would have done the same. But, being an island the British had more opportunities because being surrounded by this 30-kilometre salt-water moat (and that is at its narrowest), and having the happy accident of a decapitated Monarch, the Entire World decided to send its money over to London where it would be safe from the arbitrary sequestrations imposed by the Monarchs of Eurasia. So the Islanders not only had the sea to take them away from themselves (whenever they felt so inclined), but the money to make themselves comfortable wherever they ended-up. By this I mean, of course, the money lent to them by Foreigners to productively invest!
THE FATE OF BRITAIN: TO MASS-PRODUCE THE IMPERIAL SHIPS AND GOODS.
This marvellous formula eventually grew into the largest such 'investment portfolio' aka. The British Empire, anyone had ever seen. I have always admired the response, by a P.P.S to the Treasury, who exlaimed, when hearing of a WWII plan to bomb an Axis industrial installation "you can't do that! Its private property! Perhaps he even knew of the London Bank with whose loan the factory had been built! So much for another British investment! None of these imperial projects ever had to answer to anything more complex than double-entry book-keeping. The cities that grew up around this global industrial network were never arranged to effect any 'metaphysical' ambition. When the young Queen Victoria travelled to the northern cities of her kingdom she returned saying she had seen a Vision of Hell. Yet it was this sulphurous smoke, whose clouds reflected the red glow of innumerable furnaces, that was the Firmament, both physical and fiscal, of her Empire.
ESCAPING THE FURIOUS FORCE OF THE IMPERIAL MACHINERY.
The flight into the "country" which began with the 18C turnpikes, turned with the 19C railways into a flood of Britons seeking clean air. The suburbs began their rapid spread. Then the so-called town, and even city, was, half-way through the 20C, deliberately emptied of both living and working. Perhaps this endless policy of "decanting" urbanites to microscopic "country towns", had something to do with the fear of aerial bombing that reached its peak with Hiroshima. Over the last seventy years, the island's escapees had finally fulfilled their neo-rustic fate. Even today, there is never a moment when, somewhere on the T.V., there is not a programme illustrating some householder's "Escape to the Country". The 'Brexit' vote itself came from these suburban, 'country town', escapees rather than from the few remaining 'towns and cities' in which people both worked AND lived.
THE "HONG-KONG" MODEL FOR BREXIT.
So now the "War of the Arts of Peace" is truly joined. Those who have won the Brexit Vote over here, and one suspects, those who have voted Donald Trump into power, will cleave to the policy of allowing/encouraging the even more shambolic, laissez-faire, polluted and uninhabitable (Hong Kong Model), town and city-centres to act as the fiscal cash machines that will fund their political promises of economic revival. What remains of the possibility of a civilised life in these cities will be destroyed. The process has already begun in London, a city with a 19C domestic territory, inherited from her imperial wealth, which is so large (the largest tract of 'Classically'-Ordered houses on the planet), that it has not yet been ruined by the policies adopted by Britain after WWII. It remains mysterious as to how a low-tax regime will benefit the "old smokestack industry" territories that voted Trump to power. An urbanistic Laissez Faire will more likely ruin them completely. They will be deserted and then semi-repopulated by "escapee" holiday-home owners from the uninhabitable, but cash-rich 'Hong Kong' cities. Nothing will really change. It will stay the same as now - only more so.
THE "CURE", PART ONE: "CONSTANT CITY" CHURN = ENDLESS FISCAL REVENUES..
The alternative that I propose is to develop, as limited company ventures, several "Constant City" Quarters. Each of their many "Handy Square" City Blocks would also be corporations consisting of their approximately 100 resident households - each with its own "constitution". The ambition of these developments is to test the idea that if a city quarter has a certain sort of plan, (explored in "The 6th Order"), and its "isola-blocks" and "fluvial blocks" an equally particular sort of design, then this will encourage their periodical development, improvement and even re-building. This is because this particular design will not only IMPROVE with each re-investment, but that these improvements are to the benefit of their residential shareholders. This will be good for the fiscal revenues of the States in which these Constant Cities are built. For there is no more certain revenue for a state, even one with few natural resources, than the energetic, people-powered, renewal of its lifespace aka. infrastructure.
GROWING 'HAYSEEDS IN SUBURBIA.
This is, however, only one half of the "Return of the Symptom as the Cure". The fiscal revenues that I have described above could also be achieved by the constant reconstruction of the "Hong-Kong" city-centres to which the pseudo-rustic suburbanites commute each day. The barren suburbs, meanwhile, remained sunk in the endless torpor of the "peace that passeth understanding". So the Second half of "The Cure" relates to the cognitive animation of these suburbanised escapees from the 'ruined' central cities. I refer here especially to the children raised in these strange, fake-rustic, lifespaces. For they find themselves, as a general class, falling behind in the race of competition that will never abate, with immigrants from more urbanised, socially and culturally ambitous cultures.
ONCE A MANDARIN ALWAYS A MANDARIN.
It is here that the contemporary British condition is most at risk. I argue, with more detail in "The 6th Order", that the very precipitate early-20C loss of the Empire, especially after WWII, was a catastrophe that was too large for the Island Establishment to assimilate. I argue that the very techniques which this Establishment had perfected to rule the Empire were used, 'faute de mieux', to rule Britain during the immediate Post-WWII years - even though under a nominally Socialist Administration. I quote as proof the CIA and Dean Atcheson, president Truman's Secretary of State. So, instead of instituting a radical reconsideration of the British circumstances, the fatal course, which I describe in Lecture three: "The End of Urbanity", was taken, with the circumstances we now face.
My own life allowed me an easy familiarity with these methods of imperial rule. For reasons which are arguable as those of simple survival, I found it logical to make that radical re-appraisal on my own. Being brought-up in Asia until the age of twelve, by parents both of whom were born off English soil, left me with no particularly 'visceral' umbilicus into the Island's Status Quo. Perhaps this enabled me to see, with greater clarity, that the loss of three centuries of mercantilist super-power status meant that, as they say when a business goes bust "everything had to go". The native islanders could retain an impression, with the new Queen and the Commonwealth, that things were much the same. My own family was entirely broken, No such illusion could be mine! My imperial patrimony had vanished in 1947.
THE "CURE" PART TWO.
This then, is where the "Symptom" finally arrives as "the Cure". The British can no longer entertain the idea that they can run away from themselves to colonise (now no longer),"primitive" people, mainly marooned on islands large and small. The British are obliged (especially after cutting themselves off from 600 million Europeans with 'Brexit'), to adopt other techniques. The North Americans, also, will have to learn how to escape from themselves, if escape they must, in ways that do not entail an entirely physicial displacement out of the place that they must really begin to call their "home" - and that for ever and a day. Almost all other cultures have had to cultivate techniques to this end. My life's work has been the study of as many of these as I could manage, within my own sphere of Decoration, Architecture and Urbanity. Yet my firm's attempts to employ my discoveries, here in my own "home market", have been far from easy. They were welcomed by some of my Firm's Clients. But these were mostly the non-British ones. The British Establishment remains (though they would deny this), resolutely "Imperial". My firm's modest strategies were even more fiercely resisted by my own Architectural Peers. This I found entirely stupid. For it would have been very much to their advantage, both personally and professionally, to have adopted them.
NOTHING FOR IT BUT METAPHYSICS.
So, as one might imagine, if the escape route is to be less than entirely physical, and if we are to escape from the catatonic lure of drugs, or just sheer inanimity, it must be 'Metaphysical'. This, however, is the very dimension most feared and hated by the Imperial Mandarin. It is, one might say, the least 'British' solution. But what could recommend it more to our broken and confused island condition?
So, with no time to be lost, let us get down to business - in the most un-British way we can, by beginning with Metaphysics.
For I did promise that reform would not be easy. There is much to learn! I begin with the most difficult part. This, in the medium of the human lifespace it is called 'decoration'. Decoration is the most cognisable dimension of the Architecture. It is the part of it that we humans can most easily "take back (into our) control" - to use a currently popular slogan!
"PULCHRITUDO SPLENDOR VERITATIS EST".
Hannah Arendt, in "the Life of the Mind, reported Heidegger as follows:
If the essence of Man consists in thinking the
truth of Being (N.B...now a being that has
withdrawn, that veils and hides itself), then
thinking must poetise on the riddle of being"
(am Ratzel des Seins dichten).
Hannah Arendt, 'Willing','The Life of the Mind.
The same author reported Plato as advising that:
"The meaning of Plato's dialectic is that it tends towards a vision, a disclosure;
that it prepares the original vision through the discourses...
The logos remains tied to vision.
If speech separates itself from the evidence given in intuition it degenerates into idle talk which prevents seeing.
Legein is rooted in seeing: horan".
Hannah Arendt, 'Thinking','The Life of the Mind.
"THE LIE THAT SHOWS THE TRUTH".
Thus the verbal discourse is not the final medium. Its function and purpose is to lead to, to elicit "horan", the vision.
What is this 'poeticisation' of the riddle of Being but the "splendor" in "pulchritudo splendor veritatis est": "Beauty is the Splendour of Truth".
"Splendor" means, precisely, shining
Art is the Lie that shows (Monstrare - the meaning of monstrous), the Truth,
Being is the 'Shining' of our Vision of the Truth.
Paul Ricoeur frequently advised that "the symbol leads to thought". Yet Diderot proposed that the quality of the most common symbols, such as those of the sun, or the sea, mountains, rivers and so on will always defy a full textual explication. Their capability to 'mean something' was inexhaustible.
"TRICORSO", THE RACE TO DECORUM VIA THE ICONOLECT.
From these and others one may draw the conclusion that what is meant is that thinking in words (the discourse) is only the way to the final ambition of "thinking the truth of being". One must entertain this 'thinking' in the medium of images. Yet the iconic medium is both too powerful as well as too prolix. Like a powerful horse, thinking with images requires some 'technique' if the spirited beast is to be trained to carry its burden to the desired destination. My neologism for this is the "Tricorso" - a three-horse chariot-race.
An Architecture, when it is allied to the media of ritual, such as music, can go one better here. For the image, or icon can, as Arendt also attributes to Plato: be "eaten" so as to become empathetically assimilated into our own, corporal 'Being'. An Architecture which dares to become again, as it always was, literate, that is packed solid with narrated meanings, can, if it employs an Architectural Order, or Ordine, hold steady in space the six planes of our worldly (cubic) being. These 'planes. or "picture planes", can be inscribed with narratives mediated by "iconolects" whose forms, colours and figures are packed solid with diverse, but orchestrated, meanings. This whole medium, in that it is both corporeal, iconic and textual is the only one that offers us the Platonic opportunity to "eat" Our "Shining Truths" and 'become' them. The pleasure of this marvellously 'ontic' repast is not in knowing the truth, but in feeling it enter one's own corporeal Being. This is the Ontic ambition of Heidegger's "poeticisation' and of Plato's "eating the horan".
TRAINING THE CLIENT RATHER THAN THE ARCHITECT.
I suppose that it will not surprise my reader to learn that I am not able to teach the means to this in the few paragraphs remaining to this jolly HTML of "Brexit Architecture". If you wish to travel further down this road, and be part of what it takes to turn around 70 years of political mismanagement, then you may like to read about my proposed Course of how to train not so much Architects, Decorators and Urbanists, but their Public and Private Clients. Architects today are even more iconically illiterate then before. They even take pride in passing their exams without even learning how to draw. Everything is achieved digitally. They have become skill-free slaves who are referred to, in the trade, as "Cad-Monkeys". CAD=computer-aided-draughtsmen). If a Client can draw and design iconolects and pragmalects, then designing the rooms of a building that is disciplined by an Architectural Order can be achieved using a computer programme. The Working Order variant of the 6th Order takes care of all the mechanical, electrical, internet and structural functions. The Architect, as the swooning genius of L'Architecture Autre is finished, kaput and for the Trash-can of History.
PROOF OF THE 70-YEAR IMPOSITION OF AN ILLITERATE ARCHITECTURE.
In the intellectually neglected field of lifespace-engineering, for long denigrated as "real estate development", the notionally right wing are proud of their ignorance of "Modern" (aka 20C), Architecture. The "Left", in contrast, treat everything prior to the (for them) mystic date of 1900 as without practical utility. The Left denominate the last 9,000 years as fit only for the term "Historic Architecture". The result is a lifespace with the cognitive charge of a Frankenstein with no hope of storms and certainly no lightning to animate his chewed-out corpse. The only relief to this inanimate dullness is that provided by the laboured metallic ear-piercings of High-Tech, the "pumping iron" of Brutalism and the Places des Poseurs that parade the Rubber-Limbed Rhetorics of Deconstruction. There is a deliberate avoidance of the question of how intellectual development relates to the cognitive charge of the lifespace. An Ontic infantilism has become our fate. An essay subtitled "An Actof Architectural Terrorism" is to be found on "The 6th Order". It describes how the ban on literacy in Architecture was imposed, and also the ban on using an 'Architectural Order'.
THE PROBLEM IS BIGGER THAN A MERELY FISCAL OR ECONOMIC BREXIT.
I bought this url. and "Brexit Design" and "Brexit City" because, like most others of my Profession I voted Remain. I felt immediately that the Brexit Vote would set in train a major disturbance to the Status Quo and that it was an opportunity to 'speak', if not, at 82 years old, to act.
THE 'CONTINENT' IS CONFUSED.
I voted Remain because I was quite confident of Britain's own position in the EU. It is true that our own, JOA, building in Houston is JOA's best while our building in Den Haag is arguably our worst. The Dutch Supervising Architects were lazy and careless and allowed the Belgian concrete subcontractor to supply the big arches badly cast and all the blue concrete, something of a JOA trademark, to use the vegetable dye Pthalocyanine Blue, instead of the Cobalt Blue by Bayer whose insolation test site was a mere 100 km. distant. The result was a building I could not allow to be published and whose Blue Photolithic Concrete is now, a mere ten years later, all a dull grey. The sophisticated Architectural Correspondent to the Dutch Press could only surmise that an Architect who tried to 'Modernise' Classicism must be "on drugs". Yet the Public and the Politicians of Den Haag, the "Haakenakkers", dubbed the building the "Candy-Box" and loved it so much that they built a 1:15 replica in "Madurodam". This is a miniature town that replicates all that is typical, memorable and remarkable in the Netherlands. It was very touching. At its opening I remarked, jokingly, that "this little model was better-made than the original". My joke was thought a piece of English self-deprecatory humour. Sadly it was not.
THAT "HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE" IS NO REASON FOR SELF-INJURY.
So even though I found the Continent of Europe to be populated by some lazy, careless, ignorant, arrogant cheats who ruined JOA's only building in Eurasia, and Houston to be populated by honest, straightforward and painstaking Texans, it is still no reason to damage Britain by an 'economic' Brexit. As Sartre remarked: "Hell is other People". The Brexit vote should be understood as 'deeper' than calculations about taxation. Europe has been ruined by Europeans. Nearly all countries, given popular power over their affairs, seem to ruin what they inherit. The Brexiteers should be careful and regard the image of Hong Kong with which the "blue column" opened this web site. Hong Kong is the only image and model of the British Future that the huntin', shootin', four-wheel-drive 'Alt Right' have been able, in their heroically post-imperial repudiation of urbane culture, to conceive. If you want another, then take my Course. The Age of Trash can be ended, but not without some effort.
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