It's supposed to look like that

Before leaving Seattle, I thought I would take them time to marvel at some of her ugly buildings.

The EMP, ostensibly a museum (in reality one man’s junk collection) was a 'gift' from billionerd Paul Allen. If I ever meet him I will be sure to give him the thanks he deserves. It should not be too surprising that the tastes of someone like Allen are frozen in adolescence, but did the city have to agree to indulge him simply because he was willing to pay for most of it?

The new Seattle library was not the result of philanthropy. Designed by a Dutch flim-flam man named Rem Koolhass, it too, is ugly. The way it bulges out oppressively into the street makes it unpleasant even to walk by. Viewing its unbalanced angles creates a sense of unease. We have lost the ability to create beautiful buildings. We have lost the ability to create tolerable buildings. Our new buildings are a form of aesthetic assault. This is a description of the library by a critic who admires it:
The Seattle Central Library succeeds where Wright’s Guggenheim fails. The sloped and spiraling stacks are a master stroke. It is almost like being in a Jorge Louis Borge novel. How can one possibly be in the same room at the same time with so many books? Sometimes the views are disturbing – have we had an earthquake?, is the structure sagging under the weight of the books?
I don’t want to be ‘disturbed’ when I go to the library, and I don’t want my library to impersonate a building damaged by natural disaster. Yet architects and architecture critics behave as if such design aspects are a self evidently positive. Another architecture critic, Rick Grol, has said about Koolhaas “the most significant aspect about Rem Koolhaas is that in many professional publications his designs are deemed to be avant-garde and controversial in nature. In my opinion, this is the best form of compliment”.

What admired building of the past does anyone describes as "avant-garde and controversial"? I can’t think of one. Mr. Grol doesn’t name any.

The ugly architecture of Seattle has inflamed my own ugly inclinations, and I find myself at The Exotic Dance Club. I have developed a fondness for one stripper in particular. She is slightly microcephalic, and does not say much. I tell her I find her looks "avant-garde and controversial in nature". She is thin to the point of scrawny, yet her flesh is oddly soft and disturbingly spongy - when I press her thigh with a finger the impression stays in her flesh, then only slowly fills back in, kind of like the cushions on the cheap naugahyde couch my parents had in the TV room when I was a boy in the 1970’s. I don't stay long.

Comments

  1. I don't think Borges wrote "novels". Just short stories. Which shows how much that critic knows. If he is referring to Borges' stories about libraries, they were short stories.

    Julian

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

One is an esoteric Straussian, the other went to Yale