Message - Re: classical/traditional vs. modernist

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Posted by  Manuel Oliveros on November 11, 2002 at 09:58:56:

In Reply to:  classical/traditional vs. modernist posted by Stephen on November 08, 2002 at 15:41:24:

I am sorry to have to be a bit hard in the answer for one that seems enlightened enough to place such question, and in so educate manner.

First, I would dissociate what the modern stance is, and then modernism as a fashion or excuse to place oneself at some position of empowerment. In the first sense modernism from Le Corbusier and akin architects took a very valid preeminence, in that if was more than anything the landing of reason in the field of architecture. Reason is very well landed there, and shoul nevermore take flight.

Other thing is that classicism, or older architectures in general, have no value of themselves and that may not teach something to every architect of today. Rare it would be being the precedent of the buildings and methods we use today. However these architectures were born to reality in social structures we are fond to assume have been superseded by the tenets of our present modern (for not saying western) civilizations. Even such thing is assumption, and I am quite tempted to stay thinking as Voltaire civilization being the perfection of barbary ... individuals stay I would say as defenseless or maybe even more in democratical societies than were in old ages, giving consideration to the relative empowerments.

Now, you ask, I paraphrase, why is it that architects seem so debased as to be a bunch of conflicting people vying for preeminence of their egos and seemingly without clear idea of their function being a service (more) to society?

My short answer needs be you get what you pay for. To be clear, I myself have made every effort to be a proficient designer and director of construction of buildings, and what I experience is an abnormal level of personal distress caused by the giant corruption allowed for any current society I know of, and of course the one I live in. Said simply, Stephen, societies are corrupt to the bones, and only or at least mostly those wanting to bribe and mistreat other humans are having economically the upper hand in commissions and contracts. This is what I see anwyhere, these being maybe more than half of humankind.

In this fight for survival ambient it is not surprising that the less moral individuals think there's no reason to put restrain to their own misdemeanors, for as they truly see, everybody else that has some business success is doing this ... and this is not being limited to individuals or families by themselves, but nation againsta nation and so on. Hobbes couldn't be more pleased by our present packs of wolves.

Now, this imperfect society, and even the succeeding architects in the described stance may still produce valid architecture. The societies of the past were patently cruel as well in maybe even gorish ways, and still one can't but be impressed by the realizations achieved under the leadership of such tyrants, even if only illustrated enough as to permit or appreciate the presence of some illustrious individuals in their environs.

Then, about the fights between architects themselves, and others, all is part of the same current and standing paradigm. When in the mind of the middle class you embed the idea of that triumph is only to have money, you can't expect them be all altruists. The magnificent taxation enjoyed by present day governments may be a requirement for further social organization, but is truyly giving way to the lowest instincts of appropriation. The mechanics of managing wills by the award of contracts (and in a country like Spain this can be 60% of the running money) is well described as established practice by the ancient Roman Senate. So people fight in indecent even if invisible ways to get a share of the tart, for elsewhere is hunger and cold. That some of the confliciting interests happen to be of other professions I see as incidental (except that development has meant the architect be enforced to tolerate the presence of others feeding in what rraditionally was their dish) and is only part of the scheme above where any excuse is used to practical effect before any eyes fond to be convinced this way or thought to be so.

Further than that, in places like Spain, all people but the upper classe have severe problems of lodgement (affording it be it in rent or purchase). This is neither conducive to any good architecture, because the everpresent exacting economies tend to produce standard ordinancist buildings that if better than nothing are well under the best.

If you want, I could summarize my answer in that the imperfections you see in architects are maybe lesser -or at least no bigger- than those of many others that have a say in how better reorganize society for the commonwealth of all. And I bet that whatever the professional group you point me to to convince me otherwise, I will find in them the same or akin imperfections once the appropriate set of circumnstaces are accounted for. Otherwise said, the way architects practice their profession is not of their own making, but of social origin. If society is not ready to appreciate more the architectural services, it will stay getting substandard architectures.

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