Ornament and crime (beyond Adolf Loos)


I (BMcC) continue to be enlightened (i.e.: for the darkness of my social surround of origin to be illuminated and to see things that are good) by Professor Walter G. Andrews book: "The Age of Beloveds". Louis Kahn wrote:

"The city is the place of availabilities. It is the place where a small boy, as he walks through it, may see something that will tell him what he wants to do his whole life."

This is beautiful as far as it goes. Anything less is less than fully human(e). Nobody should have to do anything they do not desire to do. Been there. Done that. Every person should earn their daily bread doing activity that enriches their soul and gives them joy and which also contributes to the preservation and further enrichment of their shared social living. Win-win. Unless I have it wrong, the correct latin is: Laborare orare sit. Let working be praying (not preying, as in exploitation of wage labor to extract surplus value)! No ifs ands or buts. Period.

And I think there is also notquestion that architectural ornamentation: decorating sheds, is criminal. Ornamentation in that sense is perpetrated by people who are either criminals or degenerates who have not yet committed their crime(s). Item: Robert Venturi, AIA. If something is bad it should look like what it is: bad. Buildings should not be objectivations of smiling faces that tell lies. Again, No ifs ands or buts. Period.

But Andrews points out that something is still missing from this taxonomy. Curiously enough, the title of a Hollywood film may nail it: "Imitation of life" (1959): Life without love is an imitation of life. Of course, that could refer to 💗cutsey💗 little asexually nude putti💗 dancing on the head of a pin with Valentine 💗hearts💗 floating in the empty space immediately above and/or within their blubber veneered (aka: "💗pudgy 💗") skull bones, and Oochy💗, Coochy💗 Coo💗! swooning perma-virgin auntie Lillian Lorenz Dildo having problems with clitoral constipation💗, but that's not what I'm getting at.

What is missing from Kahn's description of a city, where he rightly does not connect urbanity with population density which can just as well be implemented in an interment camp, is that the built world needs a different kind of ornamentation: to be inhabited by persons who are beloveds, who bring vital energy to the in the end inanimate bricks and mortar, Anderson windows and Subzero refrigerators, Eames chairs and Danese wall calendars and even the living potted plants and house cats and dogs: living breathing erotically enchanting persons.

The problem is not that the prigs made Hester Prynne wear a scarlet "A" on her sweater; maybe she attended a college whose name begins with the letter "A" and their school colors, like Harvard's, are red and white and she got a letter for playing varsity Volleyball. The real problem is that somebody let the prigs buy a truckload of WiteOut, and they have been busy whiting out all traces of life in the human lifeworld (Lebenswelt), like the ancient Egypteans defaced Akhenaten's images after he was dead, ever since.

Know, prude, that paradise were loved the less
Without its glorious visions of loveliness
Let there be no trace of dwelling places
Unadorned by loved ones' lovely faces
How well it may be fashioned matters not
Such a house will still have gone to rot
And anywhere that winsome beauties be
Is beautiful to us, oh Latifi

[No wonder I hated poetry in school where I was assigned to find the hidden meaning, i.e.: an underlying stratum of sediment, like orthodox Freudian interpretation of a dream, and, on the other hand, I liked Assember Language computer programming because what you code is what you get -- the surface is the depth -- and you really do get something that does something not just lumpen. Here's a poem that speaks to me, not E.E. Cummins Diesel Engine cutsie horizontal and vertical text spacing which was supposed to awe us kids who had to write essays in Puritanical format, or The Charge of the Zippo Lighter Brigade → no, that would have been kind of "cool": it was just E.E. Cummings and The Charge of The Light Brigade. Where's the beef? My beef with them is that there was none.]

However, even here,I would deviate from simple conformity to the text. The text goes on to celebrate bejeweled adornments whereas I would have Miesean bodies in a Miesean building. Moderately fitting t-shirts and jeans would be my ideal., or, if somebody else takes the stuff to the dry cleaners, even 1970's corporate business attire. Cats and dogs are naturally outfitted, although the dogs,since they have to go out to go to the toilet, need flea and tick collars. And, of course, some ornameentation is ironically enough, subtractive, such as haircuts and shaving body hair. All ornament is crime, including not just costume jewelry but also shaves and haircuts.  

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BMcC signature seal stamp. Modelled on 18th century messenger's letter box in collection of Suntory Museum, Tokyo. Japanese write poems and prayers on slips of paper which they tie into knots like this shape although with longer legs. Prayers are often tied to branches of trees which can look like they are covered with snow. "Symbol of a symbol, image of an image, emerging from the destiny that is sinking into darkness...." (H. Broch, "The Sleepwalkers", p.648) Always remember. Add value. (This image created not later than 21 May 2003)Invenit et fecit

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2022-04-15 12:49:38