Ach Hans–you make joke!

A bothersome feature of the Salingaros book I just commented on briefly is that it’s necessary. Basically, he’s saying that buildings should look normal to normal people, and fit in with the way normal people normally act and feel. Nobody’s ever had to say that before. Up to 80-100 years ago such things could not have become an issue. To make those points in a world in which normality has officially been abolished as oppressive and fraudulent, and everyone’s been trained to be clueless, he has to go into complicated stuff involving fractal hierarchies, information content, self-similarity at different levels of scale, Darwinian evolution, and what not else.

That’s got to be done, and he does it well, but how far is it going to get us? Suppose he gave a brilliant explanation of why Bertie Wooster is funny and why humor is good that actually communicated something to an audience trained to be humorless. The explanation might help them accept jokes as jokes, and perhaps become more tolerant of uneducated people who continue to laugh at life’s oddities, but it’s not going to turn them into P. G. Wodehouse. From where I stand, the future of architecture still looks troubled. Theories that show why obvious atrocities are atrocities are good, but far from sufficient.

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