In light of Paul's "it's "la plus ça change, la plus c'est la même chose"--or "here we go again," the Fall 2000 issue of October 97 is a special issue on The Independent Group (the Smithson's, Hamilton, and more). So far I've only read Mark Wigley's "The Architectural Cult of Synchronization". Here's the opening of the essay:
"There is much talk of memory loss in architecture today. The symptoms are clear. Bodies now last longer than the buildings they occupy. Buildings no longer hold memory. Their memorializing function has been displaced by images. Buildings are at best fragile images, props in heterogeneous publicity campaigns. Digital archives have taken over the role of storing memory from solid structures. Collective memory is diffused across an invisible electronic landscape rather than concentrated in singular monumental objects.
Perhaps. But it should not be forgotten that the point has been made for a very long time now. The current apostles of the new faithfully but unwittingly reproduce old arguments. Remarkably little is added to the discussions of the 1950s and 1960s. . ."
The other articles include:
Beatriz Colomina, "Friends of the Future: A Conversation with Peter Smithson"
Julian Meyers, "The Future Fetish"
Isabelle Moffat, '"A Horror of Abstract Thought": Postwar Britian and Hamilton's 1951 Growth And Form Exhibit'
William R. Kaizen, "Richard Hamilton's Tabular Image
I also have to mention that Robert Venturi wrote "Diversity, Relevance and Representation in Historicism, or Plus ça Change. . . plus A Plea for Pattern all over Architecture with a Postscript on my Mother's House" in Architectural Record, June 1982.
I also borrowed Hedrick's History and Silence, which was in the exact same stack area as the CIL. Seeing that Hedrick immediately writes about Piranesi in the book's Preface made the book doubly interesting to me (and if you've been to www.quondam.com you already know why). Yes it is a very good (and quite timely) book. Last night when I got around to reading chapter four at leisure (I skipped to chapter four, but already read the preface during dinner), I found myself understanding exactly what Hedrick was relating, namely that he was very close to describing reenactment. I quickly (and delightfully) found that the first footnote in chapter four references Collingwood and reenactment.
Here's an apropos quotation from History and Silence (page 91):
"The history of poltical repression of social and cultural memory in ancient Rome, of the so-called damnatio memoriae, has yet to be written. Even the traditional narrative descriptions of the preocesses by which the state attacked the memory of those deemed public enemies are out of date or incomplete. Vittinghoff's classic book is more than fifty years old and is far from exhaustive. A full account of the damnatio memoriae would be a major project for a mature and accomplished Roman historian."
When reading all that has just been sent to lt-antiq on damnatio memoriae, I sense exactly the project that Hedrick is calling for.
damnatio memoriae and palimpsest
In doing further (re)reading of material on Helena and other Neo-Flavians, in Drijvers Helena Augusta (1992) on p. 49 there is a 'reprint' of inscription CIL X 678. This is the same evidence of damnatio memoriae where we have examples of both the dm of Crispus and Fausta. While there are more extant examples of the dmof Crispus, this is the only extant example of Fausts' dm. As I mentioned the other day, I went to look at all the Crispus and Fausta dms within the CIL at Temple U's library. Since those books are enormous, I only photocopied CIL X 678. There a fair amount of Latin commentary that goes with the inscription, and some of the commentary is (as I found out last night) translated in Drijvers book.
Not only were the words FAUSTA and UXORI (wife) erased, but they were replaced with HELENAE and MATRI. Thus, not only do we have here an example of damnatio memoriae, but an example of palimpsest as well. Question: is it a fairly common occurrance within other examples of dm for there to be a palimpsest as well, or is this more part of 'rare' damnatio memoriae subset?
Since CIL X 678 is the only extant example of Fausta's dm, I wonder if it might also be of some significance that it is actually a dm plus palimpsest. For example, could it be that Fausta's 'erasure' from memory is integral with Helena's 'inscription' into memory. Of course, on the immediate level, this tight connection appears obvious, but I'm still looking for other aspects and explanations that may enhance the understanding here. To sharpen the focus, I'm aware that there are many examples of palimsests within inscriptions, so I'm more interested in examples where specific names/persons manifest a damnatio memoriae plus palimpsest combination.
I also read last night in Pohlsander's Helena: Empress And Saint (1995) on p. 151: "The feast of the Invention of the Cross was previously observed in the West on 3 May but was suppressed by Pope John XXIII in 1960." Could this be considered one of the new forms of damnatio memoriae, or is it an example of purging history of what didn't happen? Is there a name for the act of purging history of what didn't happen?
I suggest anyone interested in damnatio memoriae (a specific type of censorship) read History and Silence, by Charles W. Hedrick, Jr. (2000). Here are some of the chapter titles: "Remembering to Forget"; "Silence, Truth and Death"; "Rehabilitating the Text"; and "Silence and Authority".
In "Remembering to Forget" one learns that damnatio memoriae actually did more to make people remember than it did to make them forget. Officially and literally, the memory was erased, however, the act of erasure itself, like the scar that it is, only reinforces the real reality that once was. Yes, erasures ironically are very full of meaning...
Quondam design-l lister Rick McBride sent me a link to yesterday's NYTIMES article "A Memorial Is Itself a Shaper of Memory" which muses on the future fate of the World Trade Center site. Rick wondered if the article might relate to reenactment and architecture. Here's how I responded:
While human memory itself is very likely the prototype of all reenactment, memorials themselves are not necessarily manifestations of reenactionary architecturalism. Keeping and displaying the ruins of the World Trade Center towers is not an act of reenactment. Rebuilding the towers, each up to the height of 9/11 impact, each with a gigantic staircase spiraling down, and each filled with a core of places of prayer and worship (with a mosque at each acme), would be reenactionary architecturism, especially for pilgrims that fly (via helicopters) to the tops and then walk all the way down.
...interpretation of the Ichnographia via The Art of Memory as exercised by the ancients. The Ichnographia as placement of memory, and memory as progenitor of reenactment.
The whole interpretation of the Ichnographia via The Art of Memory as exercised by the ancients. The Ichnographia as placement of memory and memory as progenitor of reenactment.
Piranesi Prison dates, etc.
I don't like having to do this (because it implies that some editor is not really doing their job), but it must be pointed out that Joseph Rykwert made (at least) one factual mistake within The Seduction of Place (2000). On page 150, Rykwert states:
"The attempt to provide a mimetic "condensation" of another place and time is not new. Centuries ago pilgrimages to remote and sacred places were replicated for those who could not afford to leave home. The fourteen [S]tations of the [C]ross, which you may find in any Roman Catholic church, are a miniaturized and atrophied version of the pilgrimage around holy places in Jerusalem."
The above is complete disinformation. The Stations of the Cross do not represent a "pilgrimage around holy places in Jerusalem." The Stations of the Cross are a ritual reenactment of what Christ experienced on the day of His crucifixion.
Interestingly, the example that Rykwert should have put forth is that of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, the church in Rome built within the Sessorian Palace, the imperial home of Helena Augusta, which today houses Christianity's most valuable relics (of the "Stations of the Cross"). Additionally, Santa Croce (which means Holy Cross) is built upon ground brought back by Helena from Golgotha, site of Christ's crucifixion. Santa Croce is indeed one of Rome's primal pilgrimage churches.
Re: TX2/Plato's Spelunking
Last week I started reading Yates' The Art of Memory. The first chapter describes how the ancient Romans "taught" memory (now known as mnemonics). Briefly, there was/is this whole operation of setting up something like a (house) "plan" in your mind and then placing what you want to remember in designated "rooms". After somewhat understanding the principle, it dawned on me that the Ichnographia Campus Martius is very much such a "memory plan". I freely admit that my present retention of data relative to ancient Rome is greatly aided (if not in fact generated) by my "hands-on" knowledge of Piranesi's plan. It seems that I was actually practicing (albeit unwittingly) a type of mnemonics as I was CAD redrawing the Ichnographia.
...wondering if there are other "memory places" being created out there.
Fire and Memory: On Architecture and Energy by Luis Fernandez-Galiano (MIT, 2000, translated from Spanish 1991) looks like it may be a "pre-text" to your work.
the other Agonalia -- 9 January
From Butler's Lives of the Saints:
SS. Julian and Basilissa, and Companions, Martyrs (A.D. 304?)
According to their "acts" and the ancient martyrologies, Julian and Basilissa, though engaged in the married state, lived by mutual consent in perpetual chastity, sanctified themselves by the exercise of an ascetic life, and employed their revenues in relieving the poor and the sick. For this purpose they converted their house into a kind of hospital, in which, if we may credit their acts, they sometimes entertained a thousand indigent persons: Basilissa attended those of her sex; Julian, on his part, ministered to the men with such charity that he was later on confused with St Julian the Hospitaller. Egypt, where they lived, had then begun to abound with examples of persons who, either in the cities or in the deserts, devoted themselves to charity, penance and contemplation. Basilissa, after having endured severe persecution, died in peace; Julian survibed her many years, and received the crown of a glorius martyrdom, together with Celsus a youth, Antony a priest, Anastasius and Marcianilla, the mother of Celsus.
What purport to be the acts of these saints are mere romances abounding in contradictions. See the Acta Sanctorm for January 9. The historical existence of any such couple is more than doubtful. One of the versions of the legend of St Alexis (July 17) seems to be simply a transcription of the first paragraph of their long passio.
The first time I read the above was a couple of years ago, and I was purposefully looking to see if, like the Agonalia of 21 May, two saints are also celebrated on 9 January. It interested me that like 21 May, a man saint and a woman saint were again commemorated (if that is the right term). I was already wondering about the possible connection between the two faces of Janus and the subsequent Christian overlay of two (paired) saints relative to the two pagan feast days. I also wondered if Julian and Basilissa somehow symbolically represented Constantine and Helena.
When I recently learned that the word/name Basilissa can also mean Empress--S.I. Oost, Galla Placidia Augusta, p. 74--the case of Julian and Basilissa became even more curious as to a possible symbolic connection. And then I remembered (actually re-researched to make sure) that Julian the Apostate was married to Helena, Constantine's youngest daughter (who was surely named after Helena, Constantine's mother). Could the origins of Ss. Julian and Basilissa actually be some sort of Christian propaganda piece to 'fix' the memory of (the real) husband and wife Julian the Emperor and Helena the Empress/Basilissa?
Happy Agonalia for those that might still be celebrating!
Mount Pleasant (and a room of ill-repute)
One of the 88 Houses of Ill-Repute uploaded to day at Quondam is Mount Pleasant, a very fine Georgian Country Estate in what is today Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. In preparing this webpage I did a web search on Mount Pleasant to see if there were any interesting facts for inclusion with the Quondam presentation. As it happens, John McPherson, the first owner of Mount Pleasant (1760), was known for having only one arm, and that a one-armed ghost is sometimes seen at Mount Pleasant. I've been at Mount Pleasant a few times myself, obviously to take pictures recently (1998), but also as a student because we once had a project, a house for a scholar, whose site was just beyond Mount Pleasant's formal garden in the back. While the gardens are 'pleasant', I kind of remember that there was also something creepy about the place. If memory serves me correctly (and here I'm going back to Spring 1977), either I or someone else in the class saw a man in the gazebo which led from the garden to the project site, and then the man, who looked like a bum (and there often are bums that live in Fairmount Park), seemed to disappear, or at least he was very quickly gone. I'm now remembering that it was me that saw this man. I was alone doing 'site analysis', and when I noticed the man was gone, I went to see where he went, and there was no trace of the man. I can even kind of remember his face--he was looking right at me when I noticed him. And now if memory serves me correctly, I noticed that the gazebo was no longer there in 1998.
At the 'ghost' website there was also a story about a room within the Philadelphia Museum of Art. For those that do not know, the PMA has a quite impressive collection of period rooms, and apparently in one of the Elizabethan rooms a German woman/visitor was slapped in the face while no one else was in the room. She reported this the a security guard, and the 'slap' was verified by a security video tape. Although the video tape verification sounds dubious, as I don't remember seeing security cameras throughout the museum, the story in general somewhat coincides with another story about a specific Elizabethan room within the museum. In the book Triumph on Fairmount is the story that the founding director of the museum, Fiske Kimball, when he gave a tour of the period rooms, would refer to one of the Elizabethan rooms as "where Queen Elizabeth I was conceived"--apparently the walls of the room came from the house where King Henry VIII used to 'meet' Anne Boleyn.
So, is Anna Boleyn today a slap-happy ghost in Philadelphia? Or, is Henry VIII perhaps reenacting some rough sex? Or, is QEI demonstrating some pre-natal dislike of Germans? Or is all this a too weird wavelength???
Re: Sentimental Journey
Our planet's celestial cycle, literally, does reenact itself with each revolution around that star we call the sun. And yes, human procreation is often akin to reenactment. Yet, more than anything, it is human memory that manifests the primordial reenactment that we humans deal with consciously and unconsciously all the time. Our memories are nothing but reenactments.
How all this relates to the sensibility toward artistic creation, be it a new sensibility or an old one, is easily considered an open question. What would it mean if human imagination is actually a mental process that reenacts corporeal physiology, for example, an imagination that behaves like osmosis where an equilibrium is sought, or a metabolic imagination where creative and destructive forces act in tandem toward a manifestation. Would such thinking yield a truly new sensibility?
If the imagination indeed already does operate in a way that reenacts corporeal physiology, then it has been operating as such for as long as there have been humans. Could it be that the new sensibility that you say is coming turns out to be a better understanding of our own visceral sensibilities?
Re: Sentimental Journey
"So, could it be said that sentimentality (the derided type) would be an aspiration to or representation of another time, agenda, lifestyle, etc?" the answer seems to be that sentimentality is never necessarily the type of aspiration you describe, however, a sentimental reenactment is very likely an "aspiration to or representation of another time, agenda, lifestyle, etc." And here the "game" of degrees of separation becomes compounded. While pondering all this I took it to an extreme and came up with the idea of "The Stretch-Mark Paintings" where it is very probably just as possible to get at the truth by really working at stretching it, which demonstrates that opposite extremes lead to different but equally effective outcomes.
Now, thinking of the position of "ersatz", it could be said that where oral history is still memory/reenactment, written history is the substitute for oral history. Written history is, and has been for several millenia now, the primary modus operandi of (maintaining) culture, therefore (contemporary) culture already works mostly within the realm of a substitution.
Re: These Muschampian NYTimes
"The first thing that has to be accomplished by this design is to properly and in a beautiful and compelling way capture the significance of what happened at this place," thus says Rudolph Giuliani in his criticism of the latest architectural proposals for the site of the quondam World Trade Center. It seems simply evident that Giuliani desires a design that befits the historical significance of what happen at New York (specifically) 11 September 2001. Does this plainly mean that the latest proposals do not "capture the significance?" If so, then what do the latest proposals "capture?"
Are the latest proposals trying too hard to make their own "history?"
Perhaps anyone dealing with the future of the World Trade Center site show read Frances A. Yates' The Art of Memory.
Just over a year ago I read (at least) the first chapter of The Art of Memory, "Three Latin Sources for the Classical Art of Memory," which clearly describes the principles of the mnemonic. For example:
"It is not difficult to get hold of the general principles of the mnemonic. The first step was to imprint on the memory a series of loci or places. The commonest, though not the only, type of mnemonic place system used was the architectural type. The clearest description of the process is that given by Quintilian. In order to form a series of places in memory, he says, a building is to be remembered, as spacious and varied a one as possible... The images by which the speech is to be remembered are then placed in imagination on the places which have been memorized in the building. This done, as soon as the memory of the facts requires to be revived, all these places are visited in turn and the various deposits demanded of their custodians. We have to think of the ancient orator as moving in imagination through his memory building whilst he is making his speech, drawing from the memorized places the images he has placed on them."
When I first read the above and its accompanying text, it quickly dawned on me that Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius is indeed a mnemonic structure, one that imaginatively contains a broad, yet finely detailed, history/memory of Imperial Rome. I'll even go so far as to believe that Piranesi had in fact intentionally utilized the principles of mnemonic in delineating the great plan--this thinking, moreover, is only reinforced by mnemonic itself being a Roman rhetoric 'invention' in the first place.
Is it worth remembering that at their very end the lobbies of both World Trade Center Towers functioned as spontaneous fire stations with real firemen doing their job amidst terror? It's not something I'm going to forget.
What is memory if not humanity's first approximation of reenactment?