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Showing posts from July 1, 2018

the backwards angel !

Lately I have been thinking of perhaps the most famous passage in Walter Benjamin’s work, the 9 th section of his theses on history. “There is a picture by Klee entitled “Angelus Novus”. It shows an angel who looks like he is trying to escape something that he stares at. His eyes are wide open, his mouth too, and his wings are spread out. The angel is history must look like this. He has his face turned to the past. Where, to us, there is something like a chain of incidents, he sees a single catastrophe, the is untiringly piling up ruin on ruin, and throwing them at his feet. He would like to pause, to waken the dead and to conciliate the injured. But a storm blows out of paradise, that is caught in his wings and is so strong, that the angel can no longer close them. This storm drives him helplessly into the future, to which he has turned his back, as the ruins before him pile sky-high. That thing we call “progress” is this storm.” This is a beautiful passage, a gorgeousne

The royal Flabellifer

When Walter Gropius built a little house for himself in Lincoln, Massachusetts, he included a screened in porch to (as his friend, Siegfried Giedion, puts it) “catch eastern and western breezes during the hot and humid summers.” Gropius built his house in 1938. Giedion gave his lectures, Space, Time and Architecture, about the same year. Giedion later expanded his lectures into a book,which went into three editions – but even in the fifties edition, he mentions “air conditioning” only once, with a reference to a building by Le Corbusier that “attempts a very simplified type of airconditioning”, with a footnote referencing Frank Lloyd Wright’s claim to have built the first air conditioned office building in Buffalo, New York. The lack of concern for air conditioning is, in a sense, inscribed in the grandiose title of the book – Space and Time are monumental, while seasons, with their fits of hot and cold, are the very stuff of what Giedion might call “transient facts” – they are s