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2005.08.05 15:17
Brideshead Revisited
Virtual traveling is likely the closest I'll ever come to Castle Howard from now on.
As to the Mausoleum by Hawksmoor, here's what Smith writes beginning the "Acknowledgements": "I first became interested in the history of Castle Howard when, as an undergraduate, I wrote a dissertation on eighteenth-century mausolea: the mausoleum at Castle Howard was much the most significant, as well as the best documented." The final chapter of The Building of Castle Howard is entitle "The Mausoleum".
Returning to the notion of Vanbrugh as (Restoration/Baroque) playwright, and the way that Vanbrugh's personality is described by contemporaries, I was reminded of the main character of Greenaway's The Draughtsman's Contract.
I haven't read any of Vanbrugh's plays yet, but I might start with The Country House.
I forgot to mention this before--the Castle Howard-Ichnographia Campus Martius connection may also be found in some of Piranesi's individual plans within the large plan. For example, the Porticus Gratiani, Valentiniani et Theodosii somehow reminds me of the plan of Castle--the plans are not what you would call 'alike', but they both strive for maximum effect through minimum means.
Just for fun, did you know that when an image of Boullée is shown in Grennaway's The Belly of an Architect, the image shown is actually that of Piranesi?!


2005.08.09 14:58
"How Did This Happen Revisited"
"This is in line with traditional sociological accounts of the formation of taste, which are inclined to stress the desire for status, either in terms of imitation within a social group, of emulation of a superior social group, or differentiation from one below, as the most powerful motivating force in culture.
The problem with this type of cultural analysis is that it relies on a reading of subconscious motivation. Few individuals are so brazen as to admit, even to themselves, that they buy art or even build great architecture out of a straightforward desire to provide visible bulwarks to their social or political positions."
--The Building of Castle Howard


2005.08.25 12:29
AMO asks for your response
Please, AMO, you'll have to do a lot better than that. Maybe devote an issue to false facades, or maybe an issue on Castle Howard, you know, made to look big on the outside, but really small inside. If you're interested in the issue of the architect and/as statesman/woman that make a difference, look into the whole career of Thomas Jefferson. Keep in mind he owned lots of slaves too.

2005.12.07
Re: reenactment
First of all, thanks for sending a wonderful letter. I've now read it twice and it's a great compact story, and full of lots of stuff I didn't know before. I find it interesting that Wren's Library at Trinity College may already be a reenactment of Michelangelo's Laurentian Library, and you, in turn, appear to be reenacting Wren reenacting Michelangelo at King's College. I'm now at the point where I see reenactment as a way of learning, and, like you say, "in new and surprising ways." Now, you're also 'reenacting' Gibbs' vocabulary, so the whole exercise manifests a conceptually tight 'history' lesson project.
A long time ago, I wrote that Beethoven's composing of a symphony is the enactment and thus every performance of the symphony, including the first performance, is a reenactment of Beethoven's composition. In this sense, your redesign of the Fellows' Building reenacts Henry VI's 'Will', in that you are 'performing' the composition of his will. (I think it is easiest to grasp this way of seeing reenactment if one sees Henry's 'Will' as the "original.")
Something in the back of my mind is telling me that I have seen somewhere (in a book) another built reenactment of Michelangelo's Laurentian Library, and I can't think of what that might be right now. If I do remember I'll definitely let you know. Are you aware that a Michelangelo's design of the Laurentian Library also included a triangular 'rare book room', at the end of the long gallery, which was not executed? Perhaps your design could 'complete' both Henry's and Michelangelo's 'Will'.
From what you've told me in the letter, you've come to understand reenactment (in design) as something that you were doing already for quite some time although you never thought of your design activity as specifically "reenactment." This is exactly how I came to understand reenactment--in 1989 I started to redrawn (using CAD software) Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius, and then in 1997 I read about reenactment in Collingwood's The Idea of History, and soon after that I realized I was reenacting Piranesi, and then soon after that I realized Piranesi was reenacting ancient Rome in the Ichnographia. I think in both our examples it is clear that reenactment is not mere copying, rather it is an intricate and even dense learning experience. Just now I'm wondering if Henry's 'Will', i.e., the text of the 'Will' itself, is anywhere manifest within you design?
I did finish watching Brideshead Revisited two weekends ago, and it would be great if you and I could discuss (and watch together) it all in person--I'm sure that would be lots and lots of fun. It's too much to bring up everything here, but I'll relate what I thought this time when I heard Cordelia's (sp?) remark to Charles that Sebastian (and his 'suffering') is indeed truly "holy." Up till now I always saw Cordelia as the innocent sage who saw so much for exactly what it is, but now I don't see her 'perception' of Sebastian as altogether right. Instead, I see it too as part of the mist or light cloud of (dis)illusionment that hovers amongst the whole family, especially with regard to the (Catholic) spiritual. Suffering and Holiness do go hand in hand as far as Christ('s Crucifixion) is concerned, but Sebastian never really accepted that suffering is indeed what he would have to do (if he was ever to resurrect himself?). No doubt Sebastian continually suffered, but he had just succumb to suffering rather than really accept the challenge of suffering. (Gosh, I didn't expect to be writing that kind of stuff this morning!) I just did a thesaurus check of succumb in Microsoft WORD and thus I now see Sebastian Flyte (sp?) the Capitulator as opposed to Sebastian Flyte the Holy!
This past Sunday I successfully bid on a 36 page color (guide?) booklet on Castle Howard (1973 vintage) at eBay, and the post may deliver it by week's end. I'm actually excited. You know it is because of your starting the Brideshead Revisited thread/discussion at archinect that I now see the rendering of Castle Howard in Vitruvius Britannicus as (what I believe to be) the true inspiration of Piranesi's architectural design sense especially as represented in his Il Campo Marzio (of which the Ichnographia is just a part). A comparison of the aerial view of Castle Howard (and of Blenheim) in Vitruvius Britannicus (1715-1725) with the aerial views within Il Campo Marzio (1762) are very similar, both in viewpoint and in the 'style' of architecture portrayed. I have yet to see any direct reference that Piranesi ever saw Vitruvius Britannicus, but Piranesi's close personal relationship with Robert Adam in Rome very much puts it (Piranesi's seeing the Vitruvius Britannicus) well within the realm of possibility. Plus, the Ichnographia is dedicated to Adam, which may well indicate a dedication to the "imagination" of British architecture overall. (I think I already related this overall idea at archinect and subsequently at quondam, but I want to thank you personally for setting my mind on this path to begin with.)

2005.12.11 10:19
Re: Michelangelo & Wren
What intrigues me about the Castle Howard as-built plan is the Long Gallery and the Chapel (which, by the way, is it a Roman Catholic chapel?), which do not show up in most of the history books I've seen the (Vanbrugh) plan in. What interests me is the resultant schizophrenic architecture. Looking more through the Castle Howard booklet last night, it became easier for me to locate all the various scenes of Brideshead Revisited.
Next year I'll devote some time to getting to know Vanbrugh, Hawksmoor and Wren architecture better. I'll then check out all the books you mention.
I did an Italian architecture study tour for 3 weeks in 1977. Michelangelo is probably the artist I hold in the highest regard. I did a lot of reading on Michelangelo in the early 1990s. Fascinating figure.
I've never been to England, and I'm sure I would love it. Alas, being a virtual tourist is the best I can do now.


2007.05.18 11:53
lost endings
Judith stops Quentin from harassing Edith. Edward Collins returns to Collinsport with a new governess, Rachel Drummond, for the children. Barnabas meets with Edith Collins; she is shocked and declares that he is the secret. Edward tries to get Edith to tell him the secret.
Joshua and Nathan investigate Suki's murder, they find Josette at the Old House. Millicent finds out that Suki was Nathan's wife. Bite marks are found on Josette's neck, and it is feared that Josette will die as written in the family history book.
Roger picks Victoria up to drive her home. She tells him about finding out that Burke's pen was missing and that it was the same pen that she found on the beach where Bill Malloy died. Roger doesn't want her to mention the pen again even though this could be used against Burke, Victoria is puzzled. Roger finds the road cut off by water from the storm, he is unable to start the car back up. Victoria and Roger find a small shack to get out of the storm. They then talk about the pen again, Victoria wants to go to the police, Roger gets very angry with her. Victoria is now really confused. The sheriff finds Roger and Victoria and helps them get home.
Barnabas plans the costume party. Victoria is very excited about the party, but Elizabeth still has some reservations. Victoria helps Barnabas pick the clothing that everyone will wear. One of the pieces of clothing is a little girl's dress which belonged to Sarah Collins. Later Sarah appears and finds her dress.
Ben figures out they're waiting for a helicopter, so he asks the island for a helicopter. Ben's helicopter comes to the rescue, and "our group" happily get on board. Surprise! Surprise!


2007.05.18 14:57
lost endings
I do remember the Dark Shadows remake. It followed the same exact storyline as the original. What was good about the original, however, was how convoluted the storyline got over time; ultimately an occult encyclopedia of sorts. The low production value of the original show also had its charm.
What I see in LOST is the same type of convoluted (complicated; intricately involved) storyline filled with clandestine, sort of encyclopedic clues. What seems somewhat unique to LOST though is its way of character development via real time portrayal and flashback. This operation manifests (at least) a double theater, which is a very fecund, indeed baroque, story-telling vehicle that is not often used.

2007.06.26 11:55
For the pleasure of sharing ideas, through the poetry of the printed word
I love being inspired, thus the new working title of my next book project is The Faux Failing Memory.
The interesting thing about the written word is that you can almost always tell when the author isn't being completely honest. At least I can.


2007.06.26 13:33
For the pleasure of sharing ideas, through the poetry of the printed word
Perhaps at first it's instinctual, and then, as one learns to trust one's instincts, it becomes a skill. That's at least the reader's part. The writer gives off clues within their style. Citing "failing memory" is often such a clue.
Quilian, you're not suggesting that people at archinect aren't always being completely honest are you?!? Such a prick would surely burst the (hot air?) balloon.


2007.06.26 14:29
For the pleasure of sharing ideas, through the poetry of the printed word
A plain old lie is for sure less honest than memory. Memories are mental reenactments, and, for sure, a reenactment can never be the original. Those are givens.
Yes, one can certainly tell an unwitting falsehood, and that's usually due to not knowing all pertinent information, or some such circumstance. Whereas to actually tell a lie means that indeed the liar does know the honest truth, but chooses not to express it. In which case the memory is indeed truthful, although the expression of the memory isn't truthful.
How exactly does one write selfishly? Is that like writing notes to oneself?


2007.06.26 21:28
For the pleasure of sharing ideas, through the poetry of the printed word
....since this thread is about architectural writing, it is worthwhile noting that Piranesi, within the Ichnographia Campi Martii, utilized plans, plan positionings and Latin labels to create a readable text. This is rare, if not unique, within the realm of architectural writing. You can read the full 'love and war' story here.
You may not have slept through roman architecture class. Perhaps your memory fails you more than you know.


2007.07.06 18:18
What was your path to Architecture like?
Saw my floor first plan circa 1960...

...and it's been a detective game ever since. There's even been a real murder mystery or two.

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