quantification


Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust, etc. If you want to enjoy art, you must be an artistically cultivated person; if you want to exercise influence over other people, you must be a person with a stimulating and encouraging effect on other people. Every one of your relations to man and to nature must be a specific expression, corresponding to the object of your will, of your real individual life. If you love without evoking love in return — that is, if your loving as loving does not produce reciprocal love; if through a living expression of yourself as a loving person, you do not make yourself a loved person, then your love is impotent — a misfortune.

– Karl Marx. “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844″. The Marx and Engels Reader. Robert Tucker (ed.) New York: Norton, 1978. p. 105.

…Frank Loyd Wright['s] design for Broadacre City … was based both on his wholesome appreciation of the hygienic and domestic values of rural life, and his Jeffersonian contempt for the many-sided corporate and institutional life of the city. In the name of the first, he was ready to shrink the acreage of productive soils and break down the special human values of the rural landscape, with the functional divisions of meadow, pasture, and woodland, of cultivated land and wild land, in order to give every house and family a subsistence garden; and he was no less ready to break down the natural coagulations of life in villages and country towns, in a new fashion that made every social activity call for long distance transportation and therefore the incessant use of the motor car….The high price of such remote lots automatically turns the farmer into a real-estate speculator, and results, as in California, in the slaughter of orchards, vineyards, and market gardens that once gave both health and delight–to say nothing of fresh food–to the nearby urban communities.

… the anti-city combines two contradictory and almost irreconcilable aspects of modern civilization: an expanding economy that calls for the constant employment of the machine (motor car, radio, television, telephone, automated factory, and assembly line) to secure both both full production and a minimal counterfeit of normal social life; and as a necessary offset to these demands, an effort to escape from the over-regulated routines, the impoverished personal choices, the monotonous prospects of this regime by daily withdrawal to a private rural asylum, where bureaucratic compulsions give way to exurban relaxation and permissiveness, in a purely family environment as much unlike the metropolis as possible. Thus the anti-city produces an illusory image of freedom at the very moment all the screws of organization are being tightened….

Because the anti-city is by nature fragmentary, any part can be built by anybody anywhere at any time. This is the ideal formula for promoting total urban disintegration.

Not the least factor in this development, certainly in America, is the persistent residue of the curious pioneer belief in space and mobility as a panacea for the ills of social life…. [which] is the current doctrine of space for space’s sake…. This has become the “space age” with a vengeance: in architecture space has become a substitute for urbane design….

No secondary modes of intercourse, neither the printed page, the telephone, nor television, can take the place of that direct face-to-face intercourse whose occasions the city, when it remains close to the human scale, multiplies. Without an urban container deliberately planned for such intercourse, the dominant economic and technical pressures of our time tend to form a multitude of over-specialized, non-cooperating, and non-communicating enclaves, whose spatial remoteness and social segregation favor the totalitarian automatism of our time….

Though the isolated institutional parts might be as hyper-productive as those computers whose data is already too abundant to be assembled and interpreted, the cultural creativity that fosters further human development is bound to drop, within a generation or two, toward zero.

– Lewis Mumford, “The Megalopolis as Anti-City” [c.1962-3]. In Jeanne M. Davern (ed.). Lewis Mumford. Architecture as a Home for Man: Essays for Architectural Record. New York: Architectural Record Books, 1975, pp. 121-128.

… whenever thought for a time runs along an accepted groove—there is an opportunity for the machine …

– Vannevar Bush. “As We May Think.” Atlantic Monthly (1945).  (Last accessed June 10, 2009.)

Writing has never been capitalism’s thing. Capitalism is profoundly illiterate…. Writing typically plays the role of an archaism in capitalism, the Gutenberg press being the element that confers on the archaism a current function. But the capitalist use of language is different in nature; it is realized or becomes concrete within the field of immanence peculiar to capitalism itself, with the appearance of the technical means of expression that correspond to the generalized decoding of flows, instead of still referring in a direct or indirect form to despotic overcoding.

This seems to us to be the significance of McLuhan’s analyses: to have shown what a language of decoded flows is, as opposed to a signifier that strangles and overcodes the flows. In the first place, for nonsignifying language anything will do: whether it be phonic, graphic, gestural, etc., no flow is privileged in this language, which remains indifferent to its substance or its support, inasmuch as the latter is an amorphous continuum. The electric flow can be considered as the realization of such a flow that is indeterminate as such. But a substance is said to be formed when a flow enters into a relatioship with another flow, such that the first defines a content and the second, an expression.

Electric language does not go by way of the voice or writing; data processing does without them both … Michael Serres defines in this sense the correlation of the break and the flow in the signs of the new technical language machines, where production is narrowly determined by information …

– Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983: 240-241.

The Hagley Library Postcards of Motels and Roadside Attractions Collection includes the postcard “Greetings from California” circa 1941. On the back of the card are the words, “California’s famous orange industry produced forty-six million boxes of this golden fruit last year. The large Navel orange (seedless) is a native of California, and prized the world over for its fine flavor.

In the Hagley Postcards of Motels and Roadside Attractions Collection, there is a postcard of “America’s Tallest Radio Tower, 878 feet, Nashville, Tennessee. 323 Feet Higher Than the Washington Monument” circa 1940.

Deep in concentration he suddenly starts to sharpen a pencil stub, trying to turn its tip into a mere point: then silence sets in; afterwards the ohs and ahs rise again on the properties of some sort of world, of another one, not of ours; I observed, how he would pace boomingly back and forth, his shaggy head hung somehow bitterly and tartly, hanging down to the right and staring at the even shelves of brown bookspines from under his brow, as though he were doing an inspection of them; he always pressed to his breast his right hand with a pencil stub, throwing into the air his waving left hand and he stuck out two fingers against the background of chocolate-colored wallpaper; and suddenly he began to shine so gently with goodness, when the contours of a new calculation “ef, ex” arose before him; they had reported on it at the Sorbonne; the French mathematician Darboux had exchanged impressions about it with Papochka, and Chebyshev—had trembled.

I know that scorpions bred here—not malicious ones, but bookish ones; Papa once showed me a scorpion, having grabbed me as I was passing by; he pressed me up against the bookcase;  and opening an enormous and smelly folio: a volume of Lagrange, he placed it up under my nose; he showed me a little scorpion, rather satisfied with this event.

“Hee-hee… Hee-hee-hee!…” he passed sentence upon it, catching it on a page of Lagrange with his big index finger.

“Hee-hee”—and his face began to wrinkle up with wrinkles—humoristically, almost sarcastically, but goodspirited and joyfully:

“Ah you, look here: you know it’s crawling, the rascal is crawling!”

And having winked at me with his little Tatar eyes, he pronounced in a respectful whisper.

“Do you know, Kotenka, he eats microbes: a useful beast.”

“Yes!”

I make out the little scorpion on the page of Lagrange; it is—tiny, it crawls, it destroys microbes; a useful rascal! And Papa, having slammed shut the useful rascal, takes it away to the bookcase; and—there came the smell of antonovka (he used to buy these antonovka apples, and bestow on us gifts of antonovka at dinner).

– Andrei Bely. Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Christened Chinaman (1921), translation by Tom Beyer.

Progress.

A standard is necessary for order in human effort….

All great works of art are based on one or other of the great standards of the heart….

Civilizations advance. They pass through the age of the peasant, the soldier and the priest and attain what is rightly called culture. Culture is the flowering of the effort to select. Selection means rejection, pruning, cleansing; the clear and naked emergence of the essential….

… we [pass] from the elementary satisfactions (decoration) to the higher satisfactions (mathematics)….

it remains to use the motor-car as a challenge to our houses and our great buildings…

 

Decoration is of a sensorial and elementary order, as is colour, and is suited to simple races, peasants, and savages. Harmony and proportion incite the intellectual faculties and arrest the man of culture….

And beauty? This is an imponderable which cannot function except in the actual presence of its primordial bases: the reasonable satisfaction of the mind (utility, economy); after that, cubes, spheres, cylinders, cones, etc. (sensorial). Then … the imponderable, the relationships which create the imponderable: this is genius, inventive genius, plastic genius,  mathematical genius, this capacity for achieving order and unity by measurement and for organizing, in accordance with evident laws, all those things which excite and satisfy our visual senses to the fullest degree.

Then there arise those multifarious sensations, which evoke all that a highly cultivated man may have seen, felt and loved; which release, by means he cannot escape, vibrations he has already experienced in the drama of life: nature, men, the world.

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture [1923]. Frederick Etchells’ translation. New York: Dover, 1986, pp. 138-143.

the Beautiful: “that which gives us the greatest number of ideas in the shortest space of time”

– François Hemsterhuis, Lettre sur la sculpture (1769)

Nature, and nature’s laws, lay hid in night.

God said, “Let Newton be!” and all was light.

Alexander Pope, “Epitaph. Intended for Sir Isaac Newton, in Westminister Abbey” in J. Butt (ed.) The Poems of Alexander Pope (London: 1963), p. 808.

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