Reflection of Culture

Broaden Max's perspective of history and culture at [email protected].

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Maybe magic and meaning have the same beginning. Unexplained gaps, deletions and slips are the things of magic. Maybe meaning too begins here. Or at least the force of narrative.

Look at the pretty buildings!

Architecture is our society's most important form of art. The play between buildings is the future; it's tomorrow's discourse.

At least that's what it seems like to the materialist.

But what gels society? What kinds of things bond people together? Can someone explain the reasons why man can't be a strict individualist?

But what exactly does that count for? My friends who really enjoyed themselves overseas dwell on adventures where they pair with foreign lovers. Their interaction with the culture is a purely physical relation.

I once thought that architecture was the future of art. I believed that the unique combination of aesthetics and practice in architecture would prevent its audience from dismissing the gesture as frivolous. I assumed that in the sphere of architecture, one could truly exercise an aesthetic praxis. Because of the emphasis on practical elements in architecture, one could not relegate experiments to the dustbin of frivolity. Unlike culture jamming, situationism or other such happenings, architecture is an art that finds roots in an established tradition and practice. While its presence is immediate in terms of a facade and perhaps a doorway, its effects are implicit in terms of organizing human experience.

But that was a fleeting opinion.

My architecture friend says that he can't stand architecture presentations and critiques. He says his classmates who come in and talk describe that people will relish in the light or be calmed by the concrete stream in their proposed buildings. He says architecture theorists are full of themselves when they say that buildings shape human relationships. He is sick of these theorists who propose that their work has these immediate effects on human relations. They theorize about the transformation of slums into model urban utopias where buildings, walls and social spaces reform the way the less fortunate interact. My friend calls these plans in practice "Crime in Glass Buildings."

But doesn't architecture dictate the experience of the city? Architecture constructs how the city works and how people move. This is how cities demonstrate their markings of modernity and progress. A city imbues its citizenship with civic pride with such fantastic adornments.

But then again, this doesn't work without stories. Without tales of heroism, a city suffers from the absence of civic duty. It is necessary for sculpture to be reinforced by a tradition and culture. Otherwise, it stands for little more than the stone out of which it is carved.

So now I'm fascinated with cities. I'm obsessed with collecting city experiences, cataloging public spheres: libraries, parks, city halls and monuments. Or maybe I'm just a tourist.

In a recent conversation, I was told that all European cities are exactly alike and can become boring after a two-day visit. Instead of the traditional European metropolis tour, he recommends India, the Vatican and Euro Disney.

I'm overwhelmed by history. I'm completely smitten by the power of the past coming alive. I want to participate in this monumental social force. I want to contribute to this tradition of stone and mortar. Thankfully, I'm still on vacation.


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