Hard drives

I hope that if I suddenly die someone will preserve this hard drive. I know if anyone close to me passed away that I would want to see their photos , musings, and secret journal entries.

I’d want someone to see my darkest thoughts too. That way, they could gain a closer approximation to who I actually was and what I actually thought.

It would be the best way to remember someone, I think. An electronic epitaph.

Today, people practically live on their computers, they’re like some sort of rectangular appendage that everybody suddenly found is attached to their arm. We manifest ourselves  in these machines. I think we’re androids, cyberbeings, to some degree already. In many ways we’re even more like Darth Vader than Darth Vader. Sure we don’t have robotic bodies, but we spend all of our time focused on these screens and wrapped-up silicon components: they occupy our thoughts and put distance between people in way the dark side of the force could never even dream of.

Night and Fog

My feet hit the ground with all too familiar a feeling. The immediate surroundings fade into a monotone, a flat note.  The walk to class is an exercise in realism. Now, across the bridge, my feet clattering down those steps.

I’m coming closer to meaning.

Everything is all stress on the walk to the Language and Communication building. I’m anticipating more startling realizations. I foresee the interconnectivity of our cultures. It’s disconcerting when you realize that nothing about history is really accurate. Watch Nuit et Brouillard by Alain Resnais and you’ll get an idea of what I’m saying. The real history is in the midst of those grains of film: The pale hands in rigor mortis clutching at the sky; vacant eyes; skin stretched impossibly thin over brittle bones.

See Herodotus, see The Triumph of the Will, see The White Man’s Burden, see the Holy Bible.

Collective memory is an untrustworthy bitch, a shifting target. What the fuck happened anyway?


Cement in the snow

I like the way the sidewalk dapples with the snow that blows in with the northerly storms. It’s like the snow is a painter and its trying to turn the landscape into a black and white watercolor.

The color is absent.

I was on the train and a girl followed me to the seat I chose and sat across from me. Not in a way I could talk to her, but more in a way that suggested she wanted me to look at her. Examine her.  Maybe she forgot who she was and she needs other people to scrutinize her. Maybe she’ll find me at some point and ask me what I thought. I could smell her long after she got off at the next stop. She carried a powerful scent of lotion, like Lubriderm or something.

I know what she’s feeling, though. The snow has this fantastic ability to make you forget your purpose. All else seems to pale in comparison to the onslaught of nature. The snow makes you remember that you’re small. The ice crystals that settle everywhere make you realize that the world is a larger system, and the storm is just doing its duty: taking the colder temperatures south, as it must. Everything moves forward.

What is it that I was doing? Was I progressing toward something?

The coffee that the cafeteria serves next to my dormitory tastes like soap. I can’t even drink it. I don’t think it’s even caffeinated, so forcing yourself to drink it is an exercise in futility. To combat this I buy my own. I force myself to go down to the shop that I always do. I see the regulars, the homeless people that scrounge to buy a cup of coffee to be able to sit in the warm building all day. The acoustic plucking in my headphones narrates the scene. It says something like “it’s not all that bad, you don’t have to know where you’re going as long as you find warmth somewhere.”

It made me quite angry that there are people in this world who care nothing for the past, who are able to compartmentalize other people’s tragedies and package them into neat boxes, hidden from the everyday. We watched a movie on the Nanking Massacre in class the other day and then discussed some of the literature surrounding the event. I left class feeling depressed and demoralized, having lost some faith in the ability of people to portray their history correctly or objectively. When I asked my friend, who was in class with me that day, what his impression of the Massacre discussion was, he told me that he thought the class was boring and that he dozed off during the movie. He also remarked that he hadn’t done any of the readings yet.

What is happening to my generation? Why is apathy so pervasive?

exhaust exhaustion

The sky’s been sick for the last couple of days and Salt Lake City is unfortunately located in a deep valley, wherein the air has a difficult time escaping. The impact of this is that the city chokes in its own pollution if no fronts blow in for a while. The local weather folks even created their own system of colors to measure air quality: green being best and red, the worst, because air gets stuck in Salt Lake a lot.

We’ve been living in yellowish-red air quality for about a week now, which is appropriate because the valley turned into this orange-opaque soup. It’s odd too because no one seemed to do anything about it. I mean there were radio broadcasts and little snippets in the newspaper that urged people to drive less and use public transit, but everyone seemed to continue what they were doing, sure that other people would stop driving. The valley smog soup just kept getting soupier.

The other morning, I rode my bike from Raisa’s house near the University to downtown so I could check on the development of the new mall that the Mormon Church is building. That was always odd, I think, that a Church would so wholly involve itself in material things and spend billions of dollars, not on the homeless or to help Church members, but to reconstruct the block next to their temple. Pretty churches attract more people I guess. Anyway, I could taste the car exhaust and burned brakes as I rode down first south. It was bitter and acidic. I wonder how much shorter my life will be now that I’ve inhaled those fumes?

Thank the snow gods though, because, finally, a nice cold front blew in and shifted our problem somewhere else. We can rejoice now and forget about the fact that someday the world will just be a soup and our problem won’t go away.

Architectural Space

I’ve been thinking about space a lot lately, which may sound odd. But I notice that I adopt a different mindset at the door of buildings.

Humans have become masters of space in their constructions. So much so that the concepts of “indoors” and “outdoors” I believe have become heuristics that conjure certain feelings and realities. It seems sometimes that we have engineered another dimension for ourselves. Windows help bridge that gap, yes, but it never seems to be enough. Maybe its the stillness of the air, or the warmth of the furnace, or more probably the smell that emanates from the people who live within,  but there is a tangible and artificial difference between the rest of the world and the abode which we inhabit.

Here is a study from Beatriz Colomina that follows two heralds to the “modern” movement: Adolf Loos and Le Corbusier. An Excerpt from the MIT press description for Privacy and Publicity:

Privacy and Publicity
Modern Architecture as Mass Media
Beatriz ColominaThrough a series of close readings of two major figures of the modern movement, Adolf Loos and Le Corbusier, Beatriz Colomina argues that architecture only becomes modern in its engagement with the mass media, and that in so doing it radically displaces the traditional sense of space and subjectivity.Privacy and Publicity boldly questions certain ideological assumptions underlying the received view of modern architecture and reconsiders the methodology of architectural criticism itself. Where conventional criticism portrays modern architecture as a high artistic practice in opposition to mass culture, Colomina sees the emerging systems of communication that have come to define twentieth-century culture—the mass media—as the true site within which modern architecture was produced. She considers architectural discourse as the intersection of a number of systems of representation such as drawings, models, photographs, books, films, and advertisements. This does not mean abandoning the architectural object, the building, but rather looking at it in a different way. The building is understood here in the same way as all the media that frame it, as a mechanism of representation in its own right.With modernity, the site of architectural production literally moved from the street into photographs, films, publications, and exhibitions—a displacement that presupposes a new sense of space, one defined by images rather than walls. This age of publicity corresponds to a transformation in the status of the private, Colomina argues; modernity is actually the publicity of the private. Modern architecture renegotiates the traditional relationship between public and private in a way that profoundly alters the experience of space. In a fascinating intellectual journey, Colomina tracks this shift through the modern incarnations of the archive, the city, fashion, war, sexuality, advertising, the window, and the museum, finally concentrating on the domestic interior that constructs the modern subject it appears merely to house.

Another figure, Andrew Geller, used Geometric shapes in often bizarre ways to alter our sense of architectural space, induce a new kind relationship with the household. The Hunt House was most intriguing to me.

A Geller sampling follows.

Reese House, 1955

Hunt House, 1958

Pearlroth House, 1959

Frank House, 1958

Lynn House, 1961

Elkin House, 1966

Andrew Geller