Your Equation Only For Angels

“Why is your equation only for angels, Roger? Why can’t we do
something, down here? Couldn’t there be an equation for us too,
something to help us find a safer place?”

“Why am I surrounded,” his usual understanding self today, “by
statistical illiterates? There’s no way, love, not as long as the mean
density of strikes is constant.”

—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

 

Angel, Fort Worth, Texas

 

 

 

 

A New Kind Of 20th Century Life

“These people were content with their environment, and felt no particular objection to an impersonal steel and concrete landscape, no qualms about the invasion of their privacy by government agencies and organizations, and if anything welcoming these intrusions, using them for their own purposes. These people were the first to master a new kind of 20th century life. They thrived on the rapid turnover of acquaintances, the lack of involvement with others, and the total self-sufficiency of lives which, needing nothing, were never disappointed. Alternatively, their real needs might emerge later.”
― J.G. Ballard, High-Rise

Fort Worth, Texas

Practically Nothing Is Going On

“Artists use frauds to make human beings seem more wonderful than they really are. Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. Films and books and plays show us people talking much more entertainingly than people really talk, make paltry human enterprises seem important. Singers and musicians show us human beings making sounds far more lovely than human beings really make. Architects give us temples in which something marvelous is obviously going on. Actually, practically nothing is going on.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons

Downtown Fort Worth, Texas

Oblique Strategy: Retrace your steps

What are the reasons for the modern vertical big city downtown? Maybe three is no reason… maybe they just are, like a mountain or an ocean. Maybe simply the value of a square foot of property.

There is the perceived need to pack a large number of lawyers, accountants, and administrative assistants together in order to foster some sort of symbiotic synergy between them. Think of the three dimensional human density in a fifty story high rise… it is unprecedented. I saw a documentary on The Lost Boys of Sudan – the Africans were brought to Houston and given ordinary apartments. They had never seen a two story building and were constantly afraid of falling through the roof of the first floor. Imagine their reaction in a skyscraper.

With today’s multi-use towers, will we have people born, live, work, and die in the same building? It’s certainly possible. It may be inevitable.

But I think the real reason for skyscrapers is to impress the rubes. To amaze the hayseeds off the farm and in the city for the first time. After all, they are the only ones that look up.

Impervious to the Psychological Pressures

“A new social type was being created by the apartment building, a cool, unemotional personality impervious to the psychological pressures of high-rise life, with minimal needs for privacy, who thrived like an advanced species of machine in the neutral atmosphere. This was the sort of resident who was content to do nothing but sit in his over-priced apartment, watch television with the sound turned down, and wait for his neighbours to make a mistake.”
― J.G. Ballard, High-Rise

Fort Worth, Texas

Men With a Future and Women With a Past

Downtown Fort Worth, Texas


Twenty Five Oscar Wilde Quotes:

1. I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.

2. The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.

3. Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.

4. It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.

5. The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself.

6. Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.

7. What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

8. A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.

9. When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.

10. There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.

11. Work is the curse of the drinking classes.

12. Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.

13. True friends stab you in the front.

14. All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.

15. Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.

16. There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

17. Genius is born—not paid.

18. Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.

19. How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?

20. A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.

21. My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s.

22. The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.

23. I like men who have a future and women who have a past.

24. There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.

25. Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.

Built For Man’s Abscence

“this was an environment built, not for man, but for man’s absence.”
― J.G. Ballard, High-Rise

Wells Fargo Tower in Fort Worth, Texas. Click on image for a higher resolution image in Flickr.

Wells Fargo Tower in Fort Worth, Texas. Click on image for a higher resolution image in Flickr.

I have always been fascinated with the view of skyscrapers, looking up, from the sidewalk beneath. They cease to be buildings and are converted into insane abstract constructions.

Love/Hate – what amazing examples of man’s imagination, ambition, and effort – yet they are also the least human of buildings. From the street they are nothing but glass walls with tiny openings guarded by armed guards. Man is not welcomed into his own creations.

(title paraphrased from High-Rise, by J. G. Ballard. I wrote about it here).