piranesi

1997

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1997.08.28
Redrawing History
I started to put together the material for Redrawing History 1.1.0, and while the results so far are agreeable, it was nonetheless a slow and scattered day. I am having great difficulty in grasping and tackling all the work involved. This is not a project that I can just glide through. I also find that I am not yet able to be spontaneous with the presentation of the material.
I am thinking of combining all the various data that I have and make use of all of it. It will all be connected by hyperlinks, and I should also make full use of other html elements such as marques, image maps, moving images, etc. I should also try to be as inventive as possible with new imagery as well, like transparancy overlays and also play with background imagery.
1. scan the popular photo of Kahn sitting in his office and overlay it with the Ichnographia.
2. collect and scan whatever Intergraph linear paterns I can find within my v-80 collection.
3. do yellow tracings of the various M/G plans (perhaps scan the plans and then print them out at the same relative scale before I trace them).
4. see if it is feasible to do a scale comparison between the Kahn plans and some appropriate plans from the Campo Marzio.
5. scan the small Fasolo diagrams for Oppositions.
6. scan the Piranesi linear patterns from Oppositions.
7. scan appropriate material from my 2nd year bank design.
8. try to articulate my idea of plans as text.
I'm still not sure how to illustrate the advantages of CAD capabilities when it comes to redrawing the Campo Marzio, but I still think it is still an important part of the initial story. On the other hand, I am no longer sure if it is important to retrace the development of the plan itself. After just thinking it over, I decided that I should include the "growth" of the plan after I make initial reference to Collingwood's ideas. That way I can relate how I took hints from Fasolo and Tafuri, and ultimately came to my first breakthrough when the Bustum Hadriani and the Horti Neroniani were completely drawn. This means that I have to retrive the early Campo Marzio map databases, and I can compare the drawings (captured images) to Piranesi's own developmental maps of the Campo Marzio. This all works very nicely because I too was sometimes using textual references to aim me in the right direction, and my own chronology of the map creation is like a whole new "historical" chronology of the Campo Marzio (many years/centuries removed).


1997.08.30
Collingwood texts
The following quotes are from: R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
p. 282:
How, or on what conditions, can the historian know the past? In considering this question, the first point to notice is that the past is never a given fact which he can apprehend empirically by perception. Ex Hypothesi, the historian is not an eyewitness of the facts he desires to know. Nor does the historian fancy that he is; he knows quite well that his only possible knowledge of the past is mediate or inferential or indirect, never empirical. The second point is that this mediation cannot be effected by testimony. The historian does not know the past by simply believing a witness who saw the events in question and has left his evidence on record. That kind of mediation would give at most not knowledge but belief, and very ill-founded and improbable belief. And the historian, once more, knows very well that this is not the way in which he proceeds; he is aware that what he does to his so-called authorities is not to believe them but to criticize them. If then the historian has no direct or empirical knowledge of them, what kind of knowledge has he: in other words, what must the historian do in order that he may know them?
p. 282-3:
In a general way, the meaning of the conception is easily understood. When a man thinks historically, he has before him certain documents or relics of the past. His business is to discover what the past was which has left these relics behind it. For example, the relics are certain written words; and in that case he has to discover what the person who wrote those words meant by them. This means discovering the thought (in the widest sense of that word: we shall look into its preciser meaning in sec. 5) which he expressed by them. To discover what his thought was, the historian must think it again for himself.
** I could paraphrase this entire paragraph in terms of drawings versus written words. **
p. 283:
Suppose, for example, he is reading the Theodosian Code, and has before him a certain edict of an emperor. Merely reading the words and being able to translate them does not amount to knowing their historical significance. In order to do that he must envision the situation with which the emperor was trying to deal, and he must envision it as that emperor envisioned it. Then he must see for himself, just as if the emperor's situation was his own, how such a situation might be dealt with; he must see the possible alternatives, and the reasons for choosing one rather than another; and thus he must go through the process which the emperor went through in deciding on this particular course. Thus he is re-enacting in his own mind the experience of the emperor; and only in so far as he does this has he any historical knowledge, as distinct from a merely philosophical knowledge, of the meaning of the edict.
** This explains my process once I started to "read" the plan (after I achieved a critical mass of drawing). Moreover, it describes what I'm doing now in terms of "archeological" research. **
p: 283: (the steps of the reŽnactment process)
Or again, suppose he is reading a passage of an ancient philosopher. Once more, he must know the language in a philosophical sense and be able to construe; but by doing that he has not yet understood the passage as an historian of philosophy must understand it. In order to do that, he must see what the philosophical problem was, of which his author is here stating his solution. He must think that problem out for himself, see what possible solutions of it might be offered, and see why this particular philosopher chose that solution instead of another. This means re-thinking for himself the thought of his author, and nothing short of that will make him the historian of that author's philosophy.
p. 283:
Such as objector might begin by saying that the whole conception is ambiguous. It implies either too little or too much. To re-enact an experience or re-think a thought, he might argue, may mean either of two things. Either it means enacting an experience or performing an act of thought resembling the first, or it means enacting an experience or performing an act of thought literally identical with the first. But no one experience can be literally identical with another, therefore presumably the relation intended is one of resemblance only. But in that case the doctrine that we know the past by re-enacting it is only a version of the familiar and discredited copy-theory of knowledge, which vainly professes to explain how a thing (in this case an experience or act of thought) is known by saying that the knower has a copy of it in his mind. And in the second place, suppose it granted that an experience could be identically repeated, the result would only be an immediate identity between the historian and the person he was trying to understand, so far as that experience was concerned. The object (in this case the past) would be simply incorporated in the subject (in this case the present, the historian's own thought); and instead of answering the question how the past is known we should be maintaining that the past is not known, but only the present. And, it may be asked, has not Croce himself admitted this with his doctrine of the contemporaneity of history?
** I could paraphrase this whole paragraph to explain my personal experience in the redrawing process. It also relates to the subtitle of my proposed book. I should become familiar with Croce. **
p. 289:
We now pass to the second objection. It will be said: "Has not this argument proved too much? It has shown that an act of thought can be not only performed at an instant but sustained over a lapse of time; not only sustained, but revived; not only revived in the experience of the same mind but (on pain of solipsism) re-enacted in another's. But this does not prove the possibility of history. For that, we must be able not only to re-enact another's thought but also to know that the thought we are enacting is his. But so far as we re-enact it, it becomes our own; it is merely as our own as we perform it and are aware of it in the performance; it has become subjective, but for that very reason it has ceased to be objective; become present and ceased to be past. This indeed is just what Oakeshott has explicitly maintained in his doctrine that the historian only arranges sub specie praeteritorum what is in reality his own present experience, and what Croce in effect admits when he says that all history is contemporary history.
** It will be helpful to bring up this second argument in relation to my own "reŽnactment." It also relate to the new presence of the Campo Marzio due to my redrawing of the Ichnographia in an entirely new medium. **
p. 300:
To disengage ourselves from these two complementary errors, we must attack the false dilemma from which they both spring. That dilemma rests on the disjunction that thought is either pure immediacy, in which case it is inextricably involved in the flow of consciousness, or pure mediation, in which case it is utterly detached from that flow. Actually it is both immediacy and mediation. Every act of thought, as it actually happens, happens in a context out of which it arises and in which it lives, like any other experience, as an organic part of the thinker's life. Its relations with its context are not those of an item in a collection, but those of a special function in the total activity of an organism. So far, not only is the doctrine of the so-called idealist correct, but even that of the pragmatists who have developed that side of it to an extreme. But an act of thought, in addition to actually happening, is capable of sustaining itself and being revived or repeated without loss of its identity. So far, those who have opposed the 'idealists' are in the right, when they maintain that what we think is not altered by alterations of the context in which we think it. But it cannot repeat itself in vacuo, as the disembodied ghost of a past experience. However often it happens, it must always happen in some context, and the new context must be just as appropriate to it as the old. Thus, the mere fact that someone has expressed his thoughts in writing, and that we possess his works, does not enable us to understand his thoughts. In order that we may be able to do so, we must come to the reading of them prepared with an experience sufficiently like his own to make those thoughts organic to it.

1997.08.30
Scully text
The following quotes are from: Vincent Scully, Jr., Louis I. Kahn (New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1962). pp. 37-38.
Not so in the studies between the laboratories; their problem demanded a more complicated sequence of Form and Design, and its solution was again characteristic of Kahn. Early shape used were pure derivations from the fanning pattern of the lower peristyle of Domitian's palace of the Palatine or from the "Teatro Marittimo" of Hadrian's Villa. It will be recalled that Wright had long before adapted the plan of the villa as a whole for his Florida Southern College of 1939, and had used shapes from or related to it in later projects, while Le Corbusier had supplemented his sculptural Hellenic impulses with a series of drawings of the Villa's spaces which culminated in his top-lit megara at Ronchamp. More directly, the shapes used by Kahn can be found not only in Choisy but also infinitely repeated in the composite photostat of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's map of Rome, drawn by his for his book on the Campus Martius, probably of 1762, which now hangs in front of Kahn's desk. Nervi, too, has used this curvilinear pattern in some of his ribbed slabs. Kahn had intended to support the studies on columns which arose from the associated gardens at the lower level to grasp them about at the thirds of their arcs; but a further stage of design intervened: the scientists could not see the sea from these shapes. Thus they were modified and the present simpler forms grew out of them.
Patterns from Rome and, most particularly, from Ancient Rome as imagined by Piranesi at the very beginning of the modern age, have played a part in the process at the Meeting House as well. (An early sketch had been traced by a draftsman, partly as a joke, from a plan of one of the units of Hadrian's Villa itself. "That's it," said Kahn.) The major fountain splashes within a colonnade partly untrabeated, a ruin. Rounded shapes, to be found again and again in the Piranesi plan, and contrasting with the austere court inside, now push out from the main mass, recalling the splendid follies of 18th-century gardens but mightier than they: Walls "that nothing lives behind," shielding the glazed spaces from glare. They are to be constructed of pure concrete, reinforced and calculated, like the squat piers of the laboratory, against earthquake tremor.


1997.09.05
Campo Marzio - the triumphal way
I just found an article in Ritual on the story/meaning of the Triumphal Way in ancient Rome. I am in the midst of reading it now, so I cannot make any final conclusion. I do now know, however, that the route that Piranesi deliniated starts at the altar of Mars and continues as it enters the city at the Porta Triumphant. This makes me have to reconsider the "profane to sacred" architectural promenade, although I will still mention it except as an inversion (Just now--1997.09.11--I realize that the realm of the profane and the sacred did invert itself in Rome with the conversion to Christianity from paganism. Perhaps Piranesi is making a very real commentary on the reversal in ancient Rome's history and its meaning as a city. I am especially thinking of how the temple of Janus sits at one of the ends (beginning?) of Piranesi's Triumphal Way, and this also gives ground to the backward/forward reversal notion. I think I have a full thesis here now.) Perhaps the whole notion of inversion becomes a/the dominant theme that I have to present overall. (We shall see.)
There are many references throughout the article to Rykwert's The Idea of a Town and this reinforces my need to read that book. I am glad to have found all this new information, and it will undoubtedly add to the credibility of what I ultimately write. I only hope I don't continue to find more data that needs to be considered because it seems that I am never going to achieve a sense of completion.

1997.09.07
Campo Marzio - the triumphal way
I will have to do another careful reading of the Plattus text, however, I think the strongest thing for me to come out of the essay is the story about the entrance procession of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V in 1536 (nine years after his tropps had sacked Rome in 1527). In this procession the route ended at the Vatican/St. Peter's. This very much brings to mind Piranesi's point of origin at the (new) Temple of Mars, which is very close to the actual sitting of St. Peter's. Again there may be a symbolic reversal in the route that Piranesi marks.
This story from the Renaissance also made me mindful of the fact that Nero's garden was already the site of Constantine's old St. Peter's basilica. Therefore, it may not be all that far-fetched to see Piranesi making symbolic reference to the ancient Roman reversal from paganism to Christianity. In this sence, the porticus Neroniani is closer to old St. Peter's than to the present basilica.
I will try to do as much supplemental reading/research on the Triumphal Way, especially the re-enactments during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.


1997.09.07
Campo Marzio - glossary
I think I am going to approach the glossary more as an encyclopedia of the Campo Marzio. It will start with a hyperlinked list of translations. Each word/link will then connect to a list and perhaps also illustrations of all the occurances of the word/type throughout the Campo Marzio. In turn, this list will also be a set of hyperlinks which will probably lead to a final page on a specific building or topic--this is where I will collect all the archeological data and texts. These final pages will also double as specific pages that will be used as reference throughout the book project.


1997.09.08
Campo Marzio organization
While going through all my Campo Marzio material to date, I am here compiling a list of tasks that still need to be done to bring all the material up to its most useful level:
1. redux the web outline as per the new consolidated version, incorporating all the notes like before. I think I will make the opening page of each outline section a list of hyperlinked topics that will connect to specific notes, illustrations, texts, etc. That way, I don't have to design omnibus pages that hold all the various pieces of data.
2. write comments for the Tafuri text from The Sphere & Labyrinth.
3. write comments for the Bloomer text.
4. write comments for the Wilton-Ely text.
5. I have set up part 3 of the Fasolo text for comments, but at this point I'm not really sure how I am going to use this text.
6. update the Piranesi concise notes to include all the latest notes.
7. there are separate notes on Piranesi's imagination (imgpir.doc) from the BIA material that I'm not sure are necessary anymore. The document may be helpful, however, in setting up the new web outline.
8. I have created my own glossary.doc, and it is now up to me to turn it into a useful web page, (see general note 145). This is already started.
9. there are some database notes that I decided to consolidate with the general Piranesi notes.
10. I still have to scan Sue D.'s notes on the text of Il Campo Marzio and then apply the notes to the second level of the glossary.
11. I should try to collect as many views from the Campo Marzio as possible.
12. I should get a better copy of Middleton's review of recent Piranesi literature JSAH XLI, 4 (December 1982), pp. 333-344.
13. combine outnotes with the concise notes.
14. I have quotes (passages) from Collingwood and I need to now make an html comment page.
15. perhaps incorporate Campo Marzio index notes (8.5.97) within the concise notes.
16. perhaps try to bring the book proposal up to date in accordance with all my new research and conclusions/decisions/material.
17. finish the [CRYPT] analysis of Bloomer's text.
18. I think I already have the beginnings of my first chapter, and I should now put the effort into producing the final document.

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