The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
Stephen Lauf



28 August 1778
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28 August 1977
Sunday     Ostia Antica     [I liked the ruined port town a lot, but, toward the end of the visit around noon, I started feeling unwell, so I went back to Rome and stayed in bed until the next morning, and then I'd see how I feel.]


28 August 1997
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 transparency 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 patterns 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 retrieve 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).


28 August 2001
Frampton on Kahn
"The other Enlightenment figure [besides Ledoux] who unquestionably had a lasting impact on Kahn was Piranesi. As Vincent Scully points out, Piranesi's map of Rome [the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio] was accorded a place of honor above Kahn's desk throughout the entirety of his mature career, and it seems that Piranesi was the essential catalyst which enabled Kahn to synthesize two otherwise irreconcilable aspects of his art: on the one hand, his constant preoccupation with the technical and tectonic authority of the constituent elements from which building had to be composed -- the ducts and piers of service and support; on the other, the capacity to combine and recombine the ruined fragments of a lost heroic past -- ruined both by time and by the delirium of the imagination -- and to posit these fragments, recomposed en miettes, as viable models for a disjunctive future."
Kenneth Frampton, "Louis Kahn and the French Connection," Oppositions 22, 1980.

Re: Prisca, Eutropia and Valeria
Thank you for supplying the Lactantius source regarding the (textually slim) possibility that Prisca and Valeria were Christian believers during the persecution of 303-305 or in the following years of their lives. While textual evidence is most often the cornerstone of historical veracity, there are also many other factors that relate 'history'. For example, you mention some reasons that may have compelled Eutropia to 'convert' to Christianity by 324 or soon thereafter. A question I ask is: how might Eutropia (and Helena for that matter) have reacted when she learned of the dire fate of Prisca and Valeria? Prisca and Eutropia no doubt knew each other quite well, perhaps just as well as their respective husbands Diocletian and Maximian knew each other. The violent deaths of Prisca and Valeria may well have affected Eutropia greatly. Perhaps this is the reason why she later decided to "embrace the faith of her son-in-law," or perhaps this is one of the factors that further resolved Eutropia's own faith. The point being that either scenario is plausible depending almost only on individual point of view.
As to lack of other textual evidence regarding the possible Christian beliefs of Prisca and Valeria, I am quickly reminded of the recent discussion here on damnatio memoriae and the notion of historical 'silence' as well. Last night I was reading H.W. Bird's Introduction to the Breviarium ab Urbe Condita of Eutropius, and was intrigued to learn that Christianity was virtually not at all mentioned in this abbreviated history of Rome and its rulers, even though the text was dedicated to and written for the Christian Emperor Valens in 369. Did Eutropius omit Christian details because he himself was not a Christian? Having been close to the emperor Julian (the Apostate), however, the rise (and threat) of Christianity to the Hellenic status quo was surely not unknown to Eutropius. The Breviarium of Eutropius is a perfect example of textual history that purposefully omits much of what (really) happened.
[As an aside, last summer (15 August to be exact) I thought of a great title for a book, but alas I wasn't sure what the content would or could be. Given what appears to be my approach toward (writing) history, I think I could now eventually fill a book entitled Learning from Lacunae: a progressive inquiry of the acquisition of knowledge via reflection on what is not there.]
Putting the issue of Prisca and Valeria in the background for a while, the most widely accepted reason that any Imperial of the early 3rd century became an avowed Christian is due largely to augury, specifically Constantine's report that there was a 'sign' in the sky 27 October 312, the night before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. While augury is for the most part considered a Pagan practice, it is nonetheless exactly a type of augury that Constantine professed to base his faith upon. That augury was still very much practiced throughout the Empire in the early 3rd century is well documented, for example, Maxentius went into battle at the Milvian Bridge in confidence against Constantine because 28 October 312 was exactly the sixth anniversary of Maxentius' raise to power (28 October 306). Some historians write that Maxentius' augers foresaw a great victory, but unfortunately it turned out not to be his own.
I have to admit that 'augury' has very much to do with my investigation into the life of Helena. Since 1 April 1999 (Holy Thursday that year, and the fifth anniversary of the death of a close architect/friend of mine; 1 April 1994 was Good Friday) there have been repeated occurrences that I could call 'signs', however, for reasons of objectivity, I choose to first off accurately record the occurrences (e.g., 'calendrical coincidences'), and thus treat the occurrences as their own history. If I am able to write anything with complete veracity, it is the story of how Helena (very unexpectedly) became a part of my life. Is it significant that within the first week of writing EPICENTRAL that Steven Izenour, co-author of Learning from Las Vegas died on 21 August 2001 (the same date as my grandmother's death 13 years ago, and the birthday of my nephew/godson also 13 years ago)? Or that a Vietnamese nun was brutally attacked early 23 August 2001 while on her way to Mass at St. Helena's Church in Olney, Philadelphia? (The nun was hit on the head with a hammer, but not severely injured, and St. Helena's is the Catholic parish next to my own; I live in (the exact same valley of) St. Ambrose Parish, Philadelphia. And the relationship between Ambrose and Helena certainly hasn't escaped me). The only real significance of all this is that it is indeed all true, which is a whole lot more than can be said of many 'histories'.
Getting back to serious history then, it is interesting to note that Fausta is named within the Breviarium of Eutropius, specifically her disclosure of Maximian's plot against Constantine (Book 10, section 3). Comparatively, the death of Crispus is mentioned (10:6) but only that Constantine "killed his son"--the name of Crispus is omitted. This appears to be a sure sign as to the continuance of the damnatio memoriae of Crispus, but why then is Fausta's name written in the same text if she also suffered damnatio memoriae. Again, is there then a special significance to the 'Helena/Fausta' palimpsest of CIL X 678?


28 August 2003
Re: closing on Mars
Last night I began to wonder/question when exactly the planet Mars was first named (for) Mars. Moreover, what did/do other (than Western) cultures name the fourth planet of our solar system? According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Greeks associated the fourth planet with Ares (also a god of war) supposedly because of its red (i.e., danger) color.
When Mars is in opposition, like now, it is the fourth brightest heavenly body (relative to Earth viewing), being surpassed only by the sun, the moon, and the planet Venus. When Mars is not in opposition, the planet Jupiter is the fourth brightest heavenly object (relative to Earth viewing). Perhaps the ancients (at least the Greeks and the Romans) saw this periodic exchange of 'power' between Jupiter and Mars as indicative of the periodic power of war over even the most high. Fortunately, love, i.e. Venus, is never outshone by either Mars or Jupiter.


28 August 2012
The Philadelphia School, deterritorialized


Spent a good part of this morning taking pictures around the exterior of Louis Kahn's Fisher House, in Hatboro, PA. Just by chance I found out last Friday that the house is currently on the market (and may actually be sold at this point), and the house is presently vacant. The exterior of the house is very nicely detailed, and still inspiring. It's also the plan of this house that inspired a collage technique I employ from time to time.








28 August 2022
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