"For even in the most favorable hypothesis, the biographers of the Historia Augusta are separated from the Antonines, their great models, by an instance of some hundred and twenty-five years. Of course this is not the first time an ancient historian found himself so far, or even much further, from the figures he was seeking to portray. But the ancient world in the time of Plutarch, say, was still homogeneous enough for the Greek biographer to produce, at nearly a hundred and fifty years' distance, an image of Caesar carved in virtually the same substance as Caesar. At the period when the Historia Augusta was compiled, on the contrary, the world was so altered as to render the great Antonines' way of life and of thought virtually impenetrable to biographers already on the road leading to the Byzantine Empire. A little closer in time, but more exotic, more rapidly distorted by popular superstition, the rulers of the Syrian dynasty vanish even more utterly beneath a forest of legends. Thereafter, chances of error due to remoteness in time gradually diminish with the emperors who devour one another during the rest of the third century, but models and painters alike sink into that magma of confusion, violence, and mendacity characteristic of all periods of crisis. From one end of the Historia Augusta to the other, everything sounds as if a small group of today's men of letters, more or less well informed but mediocre, and often no more than ordinarily conscientious, were to tell us first the history of Napoleon or of Louis XVIII by means of authentic documents seasoned with prefabricated anecdotes, anachronistically tinged by the passions of our own day and age, and then, shifting to figures and events of more recent vintage, were to offer about Jaurès, Hitler, Pétain, or De Gaulle a mass of worthless gossip mingled with some useful informations, an avalanche of literature from Propaganda Bureaus and sensational revelations from the gossip columns."
Marguerite Yourcenar, "Faces of History in the Historia Augusta."
This passage seems useful in terms of thinking about a novel whose scenes and complications occur within the realm of labyrinthine architectural history, or is it within the realm of architecturally labyrinthine history?
Take a look at Le Corbusier's Palais des Congrès à Strasbourg (1964), and then look at OMA's Hotel at Agadir, the Library at Jussieu, the Educatorium, and then MVRDV's VPRO--a trail of design reenactments. Maas worked on the OMA projects. Right now it looks like the novel begins at the Hotel of the Palais des Congrès. All the architects are registered there for the "Turning the Labyrinth Inside-Out" conference. None of them is confident, however, that the 'Buildings Present Themselves' portion will proceed without a variety of embarassing technical glitches.
"Evelyn Waugh once suggested that the term "architectural" was preferable to "creative" for describing writers because "what makes a writer, as distinct from a clever and cultured man who can write, is an added energy and breadth of vision which enables him to conceive and complete a structure.""
Inversely then, does a work of architecture comprise, or is a work of architecture capable of comprising the characteristics of a novel? I suppose that question right there sums up the rudiments of the investigation itself.
"The contrasting movements, outwards and inward, are easier to detect because of the external structure, but in themselves they are formal rather than structural principles of order because they work upward from specific characters and events. In this loose sense, form is inductive, working from the particular to the general, while structure is deductive, starting with a generalization or a pattern and fitting details into it.
In practice, form and structure are not mutually exclusive. . . .By creating unstable and progressive oppositions, he [Waugh] establishes a pattern in which characters compliment, contradict, and qualify one another, and he creates a form in which the process of incorporating experience and reconciling then and now, there and here, is more important than any mere succession of events.
Of course novelists can impose structure only upon material that they have formulated or are in the process of formulating. Decisions about structure, form, development, style, character, plot, and point of view take place in rapid succession if not simultaneously; each choice precludes or influences a number of other choices; and no decision can be final until the whole structure is complete."
--Robert Murray Davis
Read earlier: "...locale and history have simultaneous real and fabled coordinates, anchored both in actuality and in the archetypes of innocence and experience, paradise gained and lost... ...the reader enters a fictive world with its own unique operating principles, in which past and future conjoin to form a continual present in which the extraordinary meet the commonplace to defamiliarize and release an aura of strangeness and wonder... ...traditional oppositions--realism and fantasy, fact and illusion, history and myth, reason and irrationality--coming together in a complex of significance."
...through a series of juxtaposed vignettes constituting... "a kind of mosaic, or better, a revolving stage that presents a multitude of scenes and characters which, taken together convey a sense of life of a given milieu and by extension give the tone of contemporary life generally."
"I have, I am aware, told this story in a very rambling way so that it might be difficult for anyone to find their path through what may be a sort of maze. . . . And, when one discusses an affair--a long, sad affair--one goes back, one goes forward. One remembers points that one has forgotten and one explains them all the more minutely since one recognizes that one has forgotten to mention them in their proper places and that one may have given by omitting them, a false impression. I console myself with thinking that this is a real story and that, after all, real stories are probably told best in the way a person telling a story would tell them. They will then seem most real."
Ford Maddox Ford, The Good Soldier, 1915.
...the latest edition of the Museum Trip series...
Why won't you design what we (the public) want?
Was just inspired to write a 'historical' novel where Schinkel uses the 'influence' of the Crown Prince to get to do the designs he, Schinkel, wants. The Crown Prince figures out Schinkel's stratagem and thus starts changing his mind like every week or so as to what style a project should be designed in, just to drive Schinkel a little crazy, but also to see just how clever Schinkel can be. Schinkel, in turn, figures out the Crown Prince's stratagem and hence the architecture just starts getting more and more weird. [Wolfhilde von Schlittenfahrt, the sexy, new intern in Schinkel's office quickly becomes aware of the dueling stratagems and immediately starts 'busting' in her own stratagems.] Add to that that both Schinkel and the Crown Prince are obsessed with the life and works of Heinrick von Kleist and participate in a secret Von Kleist Society where all forms of strangeness ensue. Working title: Kohlhaas wo bist du?
Read this earlier today:
At times, too, I've had the impression that I'd manage to feel quite at home in a life of vacuity. That the relatively painless boredom would enable me to go on making the usual gestures of life. Another big mistake. Prolonged boredom is not tenable as a position: sooner or later it is transformed into feelings that are acutely more painful, of true pain; this is precisely what's happening to me.
Maybe, I tell myself, this tour of the provinces is going to alter my ideas. Doubtless in a negative sense, but it's going to alter my ideas; at least there will be a change of direction, a shake-up."
That's how part one of Houellebecq's Whatever ends. I think it's a great passage, but I found myself laughing as I typed it here. I guess because it sounds so dark, but a sad, dull dark. Does it perhaps describe archinect/forum these days? I'm laughing again.
Modeling Ichnographia Quondam is taking a lot of time, and I'm promising myself that the model will actually be used.
Remember the ideas for filling up Independence Mall. It's always fun to act on ideas that occur to you while in the shower.
Text of pleasure: the text that contents, fills, grants euphoria; the text that comes from culture and does not break with it, is linked to a comfortable practice of reading. Text of bliss: the text that imposes a state of loss, the text that discomforts (perhaps to the point of a certain boredom), unsettles the reader's historical, cultural, psychological assumptions, the consistency of his tastes, values, memories, brings to a crisis his relation with language.
Now the subject who keeps the two texts in his field and in his hands the reins of pleasure and bliss is an anachronic subject, for he simultaneously and contradictorily participates in the profound hedonism of all culture (which permeates him quietly under cover of an art de vivre shared by the old books) and in the destruction of that culture: he enjoys the consistency of his selfhood (that is his pleasure) and seeks its loss (that is his bliss). He is a subject split twice over, doubly perverse.
Outline of the Pantheon chapter of Novel Architecturale