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The arts

Notes on a book against modernist and postmodernist art

The book is Who Says That’s Art?: A Commonsense View of the Visual Arts, by Michelle Marder Kamhi. It was recommended by a friend who’s also a friend of the author.

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Essay on Christopher Alexander

An essay or book review I wrote on architectural theorist Christopher Alexander’s theory of order has appeared in the International Journal of Architectural Research. Here’s the special issue in which the piece appears.

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Beauty, saving the world, and similar topics

I have a short piece up at Solidarity Hall, a site that seems fairly new. It’s a comment on a much longer piece by Mark Signorelli, his review of the book Beauty Will Save the World by Gregory Wolfe.

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The necessity of artistic counterrevolution

My friend Nikos Salingaros, together with Mark Signorelli, develops and adds to some thoughts he and I kicked around in an interview and a short essay we did together last year: The Tyranny of Artistic Modernism. The basic argument is that artistic modernism is antihuman, tyrannical, and nihilistic in its essence, and must be overthrown. No compromise is possible.

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Two films with food mysticism (spoiler alert!)

A blogger’s complaints about foodies put me in mind of a couple of award-winning and actually quite good movies I saw recently about food and drink as religion, Sideways and Babette’s Feast.

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Salingaros interview

I interview the mathematician and architectural theorist Nikos Salingaros at the Philadelphia Society website. He goes into a variety of topics relating to his recent writings, including the evolution of living form, the cluelessness of modern man, the perfidies of the evil oligarchs. and what it all means for politics and religion.

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From living order to transcendence

I mentioned marriage as an example of the antiliberal implications of the new science of complex order developed by writers on architecture such as Christopher Alexander and Nikos Salingaros.

There are of course many other examples, because the new science goes to basics. It helps make sense of living systems, explains how their specific qualities are tied to their ability to function in the adaptive way they do, and insists on the severe disadvantages of simpler and seemingly more rational systems.

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Figuring out our situation

I’ve been reading Nikos Salingaros’ Twelve Lectures on Architecture: Algorithmic Sustainable Design. It’s a somewhat expanded set of notes for a series of lectures he gave a couple of years ago on architecture and urbanism.

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Musical interlude

I’ve done paintings and movies recently, so why not music? Here—if you’re in the mood—is a Buxtehude setting of Psalm 41:2-3, Quemadmodum desiderat cervus, ad fontes aquarum, ita desiderat anima mea, ad te, Deum. Sitivit anima mea ad te, Deum, fontem vivum. Quando veniam et apparebo ante faciem tuam? (“As the deer longs for the springs of waters, so longs my soul for thee O God. My soul thirsts for thee, God, the living spring. When will I come and appear before thy face?”). It’s sung by Charles Daniels, with the Purcell Quartet.

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Design for living

I’ve got another piece out on Christopher Alexander, this one at Takimag. It ended up following the general approach of the University Bookman review, which was mostly taken from old blog entries, but with a few different angles, examples, and turns of phrase. Also, the editor included some nice pictures.

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Order gets physical II

I have a review of the first volume of Christopher Alexander’s The Nature of Order in The University Bookman.

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Art and life

Painting and sculpture

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Architecture

Movies

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Art and Kulcha

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The building of tyranny

If our built environment is an image of what we believe about the world generally, then the ways the modernist ideology is imposed and maintained in architecture must be part of a more general process. With that in mind, this short essay by a Norwegian urbanist with a legal background takes on considerable interest even apart from its particular concern: why architectural modernism is so dominant when everybody hates it.

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A headless world

Some data points:

  • Anthony Esolen notices that at places like Netflix users make normal critical comments on films based on natural distinctions like good, better and best, while in formal literary studies such concerns have been edged out by clunky political posturing.
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Wanderings among theoreticians

I just sent in final revisions on the final proofs for my book on liberalism and what to do about it, so I’ve gone back to the more pleasant, more interesting, and very likely more productive investigation of architecture—the brick-and-mortar side of our social environment.

One thing leads to another, especially on the web, so architecture theory led to art theory. Which turns out to be quite interesting in itself, at least in parts. Here are some highlights from the day’s reading:

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    One skeptical viewer

    I just watched 12 Angry Men, supposedly one of the top 100 movies of all time, on DVD. Before watching it told my wife that I thought based on reputation that it was going to be “improving.” Now that I’ve watched it I suppose I must be improved.

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