the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

Archive for March, 2011

quotes: proust on asparagus

Posted by rigorousm on March 31, 2011

… what fascinated me would be the asparagus, tinged with ultramarine and rosy pink which ran from their heads, finely stippled in mauve and azure, through a series of imperceptible changes to their white feet, still stained a little by the soil of their garden-bed: a rainbow-loveliness that was not of this world. I felt that these celestial hues indicated the presence of exquisite creatures who had been pleased to assume vegetable form, who, through the disguise which covered their firm and edible flesh, allowed me to discern in this radiance of earliest dawn, these hinted rainbows, these blue evening shades, that precious quality which I should recognise again when, all night long after a dinner at which I had partaken of them, they played (lyrical and coarse in their jesting as the fairies in Shakespeare’s Dream) at transforming my humble chamber into a bower of aromatic perfume.

— Proust, Swann’s Way, p 92.


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quotes: the encyclopedic novel

Posted by rigorousm on March 29, 2011

Literary critics have suggested that there’s such a thing as the “encyclopedia novel,” a hodgepodge of a genre you could take to include to which I’ve already alluded — Moby Dick would be a founding document, and the work of James Joyce and Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace would follow idiosyncratically in the line. If anything but length holds these books together, it’s anattitude towards the novel as a form that can chew up verifiable fact, saturate its readers with documentary detail. It’s probably not accidental, either, that all these books are driven varieties of obsessiveness…. The encyclopedic novel might, like the encyclopedia itself, have to yield itself up to an even more chaotic form, of restive voices and multiple informants, lacking even the authority of the single author who makes those voices formally cohere. This would be less encyclopedia than Wikipedia….

The vast book often becomes a kind of desperate object– every next page needs to keep talking because nothing has been said quite right.

–Casey Walker, “The Bountiful Continent” The Believer 8(2):38. Feb 2010.

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quotes: architecture in practice – las vegas

Posted by rigorousm on March 29, 2011

“Look at the most successful hotels in this town,” [Dave Hickey, UN Las Vegas art critic] said. “What do they got in common? They’re all ceilings and floors and no fucking walls. Casino designers know that people don’t like gambling with a lot of space above them. So when you look at a place like the Bellagio, which is the most successful hotel this city’s ever seen, it’s got this giant open floor plan of 80,000 square feet, but it’s all underneath a really low ceiling. … you end up with is a twenty-foot-high ceiling that’s got nine feet of head room. Why? Because the hotel knows that the reason people come here is to be protected from God. I’m serious. No one’s consciously thinking about this, but that’s why they’re here. They want as much space between them and Jesus Christ as they can get while they’re fucking around. That’s why hotels that emphasize their height don’t really do well here. I mean, you’ve got the Luxor, right, with its light that shoots into space. That opened up in the mid-’90s as a luxury hotel, but ten years later they’ve got some of the lowest room rates on the Strip. Rooms at the Paris Hotel are usually discounted too…. It’s just not a welcoming place. It’s got tons of tiny windows built into its facade that create a huge towering sense of height over the viewer. People don’t want to be looking up while they’re visiting this city. No one comes to Las Vegas to pray.”

— John D’Agata, “What Happens There: Aside from Heart Attacks, Strokes, and Three Types of Cancer, the Thing Most Likely to Kill You in Las Vegas is Yourself.” The Believer 8(10):12. Jan 2010.


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quotes: on becoming-girl

Posted by rigorousm on March 21, 2011

The YoungGirl is fascinating in the same way as everything that expresses its being closed in upon itself, a mechanical self-sufficiency or an indifference to the observer; like an insect, an infant, a robot, or Foucault’s pendulum.

The YoungGirl loves her illusions in the same way as she loves her reification: by proclaiming them.

Smiles have never been any good as arguments. There is also such a thing as the smile of skeletons.

The YoungGirl carries in her laughter all the desolation of late-night bars.

The YoungGirl is the only insect that consents to the entomology of women’s magazines.

The YoungGirl is resentment that smiles.

The YoungGirl swims in deja-vus. for her, the first time something is lived is always [at least] the second time it has been represented.

— from Raw Materials for a Theory of the “YoungGirl” (original in French here, translation here)

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quotes: fiction, symptoms

Posted by rigorousm on March 21, 2011

it combines worst aspects of standard Lit moroseness with worst aspects of pomo: semi-random drift motivated by reading habits

— k-punk on Rings of Saturn (original tweet here)

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quotes: proust on taking people for granted

Posted by rigorousm on March 21, 2011

… even in the most insignificant details of our daily life, none of us can be said to constitute a material whole, which is identical for everyone, and need only be turned up like a page in an account-book or the record of a will; our social personality is created by the thoughts of others. Even the simple act which we describe as “seeing some one we know” is, to some extent, an intellectual process.” We pack the physical outline of the creature we see with all the ideas we have already formed about him, and in the complete picture of him which we compose in our minds those ideas have certainly the principal place. In the end they come to fill out so completely the surve of his cheeks, to follow so exactly the line of his nose, they blend so harmoniously in the sound of his voice that these seem to be no more than a transparent envelope, so that each time we see the face or hear the voice it is our own ideas of him which we recognise and to which we listen.

– Proust, Swann’s Way, Overture, p. 15.

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quotes: kahn on restrictions, realizations

Posted by rigorousm on March 15, 2011

A young architect came to ask a question. “I dream of spaces full of wonder. Spaces that rise and envelop flowingly without beginning, without end, of a jointless material white and gold. When I place the first line on paper to capture this dream, however, the dream becomes less.”

… This is a question of the unmeasurable and the measurable. Nature, physical nature, is measurable.

Feeling and dream has no measure, has no language, and everyone’s dream is singular.

Everything… made however obeys the laws of nature. The man is always greater than his works because he can never fully express his aspirations….

Said the young architect: “To live and make nothing is intolerable. The dream has in it already the will to be and the desire to express this will. Thought is inseparable from feeling.”

… Realization is the merging of Thought and Feeling and the closest rapporty of the mind with the Psyche, the source of what a thing wants to be.

— Louis I Kahn, 1960

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repetition, repetition, repeition: a playlist

Posted by rigorousm on March 15, 2011

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quote: people-less architecture

Posted by rigorousm on March 13, 2011

B.L. [On Gert Jan] The task to design a world without people is of course an impossible one, and implicitly brings them into the picture or into your head even more strongly. That hurts. It is about a gut feeling. It is about loneliness. And you can only feel that if one day experienced the world differently. It is about trauma and disappointment.

What interests me today in terms of design is sameness, be it in the form of a new vernacular, a new tradition or whatever. I am not sure this can be found on the level of architecture as yet. We will first have to formulate an idea about urbanism or urban development in terms of both technology and bureaucracy. And the ideological debate will come back, be it in a different way than we’re used to. But autonomy as protest or refusal the way we did it in the eighties makes no sense anymore– if it ever did. The world goes on anyway.

— Trauma and Disappointment, a conversation between Bart Lootsma and Pier Vittorio Aureli at ArchitecturalTheory.EU

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quote: delillo, the subjective quandry

Posted by rigorousm on March 6, 2011

How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk arund, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn’t they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise.

— Delillo, White Noise p. 198

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