On how architects come around to collaboration:
.: gisela 12:45 PM
The agency overseeing reconstruction of the World Trade Center site launched an open international design competition Monday for a memorial to honor those who died at the hands of terrorists. (cnn)
.: Jonas 11:49 AM
NYtimes today: While Daniel Libeskind, who won the World Trade Center commission, is busy opening an office in New York, Mr. Koolhaas, who says he opted not to participate in the final competition for the World Trade Center site, is reducing his New York office to a dozen employees. In a recent speech to architecture students at Columbia University, he said he "admitted defeat in New York." [..] The World Trade Center competition, he said in the speech at Columbia in February, was all about looking backward ..
.: Jonas 11:46 AM
The newly recognized pathogen - which will be known as the "SARS virus" - is a member of the coronavirus family (cnn)
Today, one of the most important means of spreading diseases around the globe is air travel. (David Heymann, WHO)
Fifteen varieties of influenza subtype A travel thousands of miles in the guts of migratory birds without disabling these aerial carriers. The microbes take advantage of such commuters between continents and hemispheres as mallard ducks, Peking ducks, pintail ducks, and dabbling ducks, geese, swans and gulls. (Howard Bloom)
Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites, stops issuing pilgrimage visas to many East Asian countries because of Sars fears. (bbc)
The Weave of Conquest and the Genes of Trade | Wars and Epidemics
.: Jonas 10:18 AM
image of the week....
.: gisela 2:13 PM
The virus thought to cause Sars is constantly changing form, say scientists - which will make developing a vaccine difficult. [..] Natural selection means that "mistakes" that end up benefiting the virus will lead to the creation of strains that are more virulent, or more easily transmitted from human to human. (bbc)
From the Black Death in medieval Europe to the AIDS crisis in twenty-first-century Africa, disease has been such a major factor in human history that, paradoxically, historians have seldom bothered to trace its precise impact on military and political events. (source)
In the grisly manner evolution favors, the measles virus massacred those in European cities who had no genetic resistance and left only the fortunates whose genes were able to adjust the immune system to mount an appropriate defense. These protective genes then grew robust within the following generations, making a profound mark on the face of history. The genetic acquisition of immunity was the greatest weapon of the Conquistadors and colonialists, who wiped out an estimated seventy million Native Americans (source)
.: Jonas 1:39 PM
IMPOSING A NEW ORDER ON THIS BLOOD-SOAKED REGION IS ABOUT OIL AND A SHOW OF RESOLVE.
President Bush has waged war twice within 17 months. When he had the Taliban regime eliminated, the principal objective was the hunt for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. At the same time, however, the strategic advantage to be gained by installing military bases across Central Asia could certainly not be overlooked. In addition, just as in the Middle East, imperial ambitions in this corner of the world clearly go hand in hand with gaining a wealth of new oil resources.
.: gisela 11:45 AM
banner ad for SARS notification service
Launched by Sunday Communications, the service allows subscribers with SMS-enabled phones to identify the "contaminated" buildings within a kilometer of their calling location. Subscribers can also learn which buildings visited recently by patients suspected of having SARS, or "atypical pneumonia," as the disease is known throughout much of Asia. (wired)
.: Jonas 6:26 PM
Great timing, with SARS and all getting out of control:
The sugar industry in the US is threatening to bring the World Health Organisation to its knees by demanding that Congress end its funding unless the WHO scraps guidelines on healthy eating, due to be published on Wednesday.
The threat is being described by WHO insiders as tantamount to blackmail and worse than any pressure exerted by the tobacco lobby.
.: sawad 2:24 PM
raul, thanks for your response. sorry it has taken me a while to read it. i haven't been checking the blogs for a couple of weeks ... preoccupied with a paper i need to write.
i agree with you about the general notion of the (im)balance under the current regime between war and education.
"So, very literally, the funds allocated to war abroad and at home could have had a much more fruitful purpose without a loaded agenda."
nothing there for me to disagree with.
however, one person's "loaded agenda" is another person's science (or "intelligent design"). thus, unfortunately, there is no doubt that one would find people in the bushgime agreeing with this statement as well. among their takes i imagine one would hear arguments for so-called creationism to be taught along side the sciences. thus, i think that the bushgime in principle is not against spending some good money on education, just as long as it is the "right" kind of education.
i agree with you on how the war(s) is/are "erasing" opportunities for people in this country -- and others. i am not sure if you mean that it is simply a matter of "guns or butter" economics, or if you are implying that the wars are being used to excuse the otherwise unpopular right-wing/corporatist agenda of the bushgime. in the 60's, johnson, for all his faults, tried to fund the war on vietnam as well as his "great society" for as long as he could.
i don't think it is just people in the ghetto-burbs who are "at risk." i am appalled every day by how little i know, and no less surprised by how ignorant young, relatively progressively-minded people with advanced degrees are about the crimes being perpetrated everyday by the bushgime.
on a more optimistic note, i saw that the bbc saw a significant spike in american viewership after bush attacked iraq. it is believed that people were tunning away from the narrow views purveyed by american/murdoch media.
nice running into jonas and gisela saturday on subway platform.
.: sawad 12:50 PM
I have been reading most of Robert Fisk's articles since the war began. He has always been very critical of the ways in which this war is being handled by the 'coalition' forces. But now, the tone has changed, disbelief and anger. What are they doing? (Fisk)
.: raul 10:24 PM
take a close look
.: gisela 7:20 PM
US firm cashes in on 'Comical Ali'
Sony Drops 'Shock and Awe' Trademark Bid
.: Jonas 2:04 PM
NYtimes today: For Those Who Question the War, Complications Amid Loss
The argument — a "major confrontation" in Ms. Aitken's memory — was by no means their first debate over the war, but it was their last. Capt. Tristan N. Aitken, 31, died on April 4 as American soldiers fought for control of the Baghdad airport. "He was doing his job," Ms. Aitken said. "He had no choice, and I'm proud of who he was. But it makes me mad that this whole war was sold to the American public and to the soldiers as something it wasn't. Our forces have been convinced that Iraqis were responsible for Sept. 11, and that's not true. I told Tristan that he should go to Saudi Arabia for that. All he would come back to was, `Mom, I have to do my job.' " [..]
But for others, there was no comfort. In Baltimore, Michael Waters-Bey held up a photograph of his son, Staff Sgt. Kendall D. Waters-Bey of the Marine Corps, for news cameras, and said, "President Bush, you took my only son away from me." [..]
"If my nephew had died in Afghanistan, I would have understood his death and accepted it more," Ms. Russell said. "I'm not for war, but the Bible does say that there's a time for war and a time for peace. I just don't know what this war is for."[..]
In Escondido, Calif., another father, Fernando Suárez del Solar, told reporters that his son, Lance Cpl. Jesus A. Suárez del Solar of the Marine Corps, had died for "Bush's oil."
Broader philosophical concerns have given way to grief.
.: Jonas 3:06 PM
"It's untidy, and freedom's untidy," he said, jabbing his hand in the air. "Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things." Donald Rumsfeld. (The Guardian)
.: raul 2:47 PM
Sawad: very interesting points you make.
Firstly, to clarify my position relative to two main ideas which run their own courses but that I find in their intersection some ‘food for thought’. War/Education and memory as the balance between matter and thought. Broad topics indeed which can be developed a myriad of ways.
With the idea of War/Education I am thinking in very pragmatic terms, i.e., the more we spend on war the less we spend on education. Now ‘education’ here means any government support of public goods, be it schools, libraries, art funds, health, urban projects, all of which can be ‘taught’ by others, but that hopefully are given an umbrella of freedom for discovery, to learn as you live and experience (outside dogmas as much as possible). So, very literally, the funds allocated to war abroad and at home could have had a much more fruitful purpose without a loaded agenda. Though this status quo in the u.s. is not new, it can only get worse under the present and future militaristic endeavors.
The quote by Whitehead via Colin Wilson, on the other hand is not so ‘pragmatic’. Here, as you point out, it is impossible to have ‘mere material domination’ since, after all, objects, things, embedded with thought, time, aura, have inescapable memories which affect us. But, what I find interesting in this idea is that by taking the relationship between memory (in this case referring to the individual’s inner arsenal of emotional, rational and spiritual mechanisms) vs the ‘outside’ world of things, to the maximum point in the curve (memory as one axis and matter as the other) I find a fascinating if not refreshing way to think as to how this balance can change. So, when there is no memory, there is…’mere material domination’. The balance will never be at either extreme, but I do think that this move towards war is literally erasing a lot of possibilities for the general populace, the suburbanities who are not exposed to the world other than the programmed television sets, or the families living in the ghettos whose children are destined to end up in prison (1 out of 3 African-Americans males).
The implications of our current geo-political situation are vastly expansive as is obvious. By looking at the ways in which this administration is dealing with their domestic issues though, we may draw some interesting paradoxes and contradictions, which can help us clarify the many motives and prejudices inherent in their attitudes, but which are ‘fogged’ by the way in which the ideological messages are delivered (the high tech media game of aesthetic seduction and ‘clever’ narratives).
.: raul 8:38 PM
I just saw Tschumi's final lecture as Dean at Columbia. He offered a grand reflection of his work at the school as well as of the work done in his office over the past 15 years. Among others he spoke about the historic challenge of designing the new Acropolis museum in Athens.
"Then, 200 years ago, something happened that continues to trouble the Greeks to this day. In the early 19th Century, Englishman Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin, traveled to Athens with the intent of bringing back some historic Greek pieces to put on display in London. He obtained permission from his friend, the Turkish Sultan (the Ottoman Empire controlled Greece at the time), to remove whatever he wanted for a small price. Elgin took the Sultan up on his offer, essentially LOOTING the Parthenon of its idols and taking as much as his ships could fit. The haul of sculptures, housed in London's British Museum since, would come to be known as Elgin's Marbles." (Columbia)
I learned a new term - looting - and wake up the next morning to npr/bbc news and all i hear is just this term. In a different context of course, yet not entirely unrelated, i think. Who is looting i wonder.
"LOOTING also raged in Basra, where British troops on Friday killed five men trying to rob a bank. Humanitarian agencies said it was not even safe to visit during daylight hours." (NYtimes)
"Franks' order also listed new rules of behavior for American forces in Baghdad now that the Iraqi capital is under U.S. control. Under the rules, troops are forbidden to use deadly force to prevent LOOTING." (NYtimes)
.: Jonas 7:07 PM
The Arab Street
The Weissenhofsiedlung, Stuttgart 1927 : With the art director, Mies van der Rohe, 17 architects from Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland created a model housing programme for the modern urbanite. After 1933 the settlement was seen as an "eyesore". It was called a suburb of Jerusalem and an Arab village. (source)
.: Jonas 5:01 PM
The Arab Street
Since the war in Afghanistan, and continuing through the major Israeli offensives in the West Bank and the buildup to Bush's war on Iraq, the "Arab street" has become a minor household word in the West, bandied about in the media as both a subject of profound anxiety and an object of withering condescension. The "Arab street," and by extension, the "Muslim street," have become code words that immediately invoke a reified and essentially "abnormal" mindset, as well as a strange place filled with angry people who, whether because they hate us or just don't understand us, must shout imprecations against us. "Arab or other Muslim actions" are described almost exclusively in terms of "mobs, riots, revolts," (3) leading to the logical conclusion that "Western standards for measuring public opinion simply don't apply" in the Arab world. At any time, American readers are reminded, protesting Arab masses may shed their unassuming appearance and "suddenly turn into a mob, powerful enough to sweep away governments" -- notably the "moderate" Arab governments who remain loyal allies of the US.
Middle East Report
.: sawad 8:03 PM
Will return to earlier entry later ... but I ran across the following gem from an al Jazeera story: Semari Ahmed, a Tunis history teacher, said: "I hear people asking angrily why Saddam's forces 'crumbled like a biscuit under US troops'. That outcome is logical. Saddam's artificial support was a result of a culture of hypocrisy, not conviction."
There is after all the little issue of technology. Like, U.S. military can project death a greater distance than probably any other military force in the world. U.S. soldiers are rarely touched by enemy fire, because enemy technology can't reach them for the most part. Enemies have to resort to old fashioned technology like suicide and ambush attacks.
It isn't simply Jesus vs. Allah, or bravery vs. cowardice, or hypocrisy vs. sincerity, good vs. evil. It is just overwhelming force in the form of technology.
.: sawad 6:28 PM
Raul: "What is scary about this relation of war/education is that memory, as defined by Whitehead, is the antidote to ‘mere material domination’."
If I understand your point, Raul, war-education (in other words, our conditioning through various rhetorical models and media to prepare for, accept, and delight in pre-emptive, blitzkrieg-style, aggression) is the vehicle for replacing or destroying the American capacity for memory, as defined by Whitehead, which you see as nurtured only through a different form of education.
I am not familiar with Whitehead, but the definition you cite strikes me as not altogether unfamiliar, one that I associate with Proust (whom Whitehead cites), but also with Freud and even Walter Benjamin.
I am open to this definition, and I often find it useful.
I am reminded that in the mythological network that is daily drawn upon to legitimize American identity lies embedded a mechanism for negating memory. This paradoxical mechanism supports an American propensity for repressing exploration of its pre- or alter-American history, as well as of the personal history of any of those individuals who have over the years found their way or have been thrown into the American state.
9-11 (as increasingly limited as this term seems in naming the events related to this date) seems to have provided a (psychological) surge or reboot to this repressive mechanism, so that any investigation into the causes (I use plural) of that day must be retarded or repressed, if not outright denied. The sense that "America" was born "new" on that day, seems to go far beyond the ideological program of PNAC. The latter exploit this sense because it is there, and in turn they feed it rather than try to diffuse it.
But, memory, as a re-presentative structure, enables reflection, and indeed any form of education, self- or otherwise. I don't believe it is the other way around. Education, though valued by you and me, must also be seen as destructive of memory, in that it necessarily privileges or valorizes certain impressions over others. Education cannot be seen as simply running in one direction. War and education may have more in common than we dare acknowledge. Perhaps regressive elements have always recognized this and exploited it.
In a general sense, to the degree we have memory at all, in the modern sense we are using the term, there can be no "mere material domination," if by "material" we understand a kind of unmediated, unconstructed real.
On other words, it seems to me that the type of domination we fear is precisely one stemming from a destruction of memory as re-presentative, in favor of simply presentation. I understand that this old argument may seem paradoxical in the face of a culture simulation in which we seem to be trapped for now.
That's all for now. Hopefully I can write more later ...
.: sawad 7:14 PM
I might add that one larger, personal concern, is in the fact that Bush and his fascist team are furthering the already gigantic gap/void in the educational structure of this country. Without education as the most basic layer in forming the generations to come, there is little hope for things to get any better. One obvious (if egotistical) consequence of this war is that we are now training (educating?) citizens to be killing machines. Nothing fundamentally knew, but on a scale of rhetoric and aggression unprecedented. What is scary about this relation of war/education is that memory, as defined by Whitehead, is the antidote to ‘mere material domination’. How do we escape a viscious circle which has been suddenly catalyzed to unimaginable proportions?
.: raul 10:01 AM
Are pterodactyls not dinosaurs?
A theory with considerale currency suggests that dinosaurs live on as today's birds.
"The heroic is the struggle of Value against the unmeaning…"
Doesn't "unmeaning" have value too?
.: sawad 6:14 PM
GO KOFI, GO!!!
"A long-planned meeting of the leaders of Russia and Germany acquired a sudden new cast late today when President Jacques Chirac of France said he would attend the session this weekend, in St. Petersburg, and suggested that the situation in postwar Iraq would top the agenda.[...]
The potential for rancor was only underscored late today when the United Nations issued a cryptic denial of an earlier Kremlin announcement that Secretary General Kofi Annan would also meet with the leaders in St. Petersburg on Saturday."
.: gisela 6:00 PM
BBC NEWS | UK | How the web makes 'desk-chair generals' of us all
Wired News: Noted War Blogger Cops to Copying
.: Jonas 5:44 PM
blog photos = fotoblog
.: sawad 12:36 PM
Danish Architect Jørn Utzon Becomes 2003 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate.
Workers begin to clean up a "No War" slogan painted on the Concert Hall sail of the Sydney Opera House. (source)
.: Jonas 11:37 AM
Ariel Sharon has brushed aside an appeal by the White House to stop an unprecedented move by Jewish settlers into a Palestinian district of Jersualem which his critics say will further hinder a political settlement.
.: sawad 10:32 AM
.: sawad 9:52 AM
John Chamberlain, The Privet, 1997 [from NY Times Magazine 6 April 2003]
John Moore/Associated Press, A U.S. soldier from the Seventh Infantry
searching one of Saddam Hussein's palaces in Baghdad today.
[from NY Times front page 7 April 2003]
.: sawad 9:47 AM
Herbert Muschamp on Bernard's new building for Florida International University: "Tschumi has at last allowed intuition, instead of theory, to guide the design process. That's why graduation time is here. Theory can serve contemporary architecture only to a point. Beyond that lies orthodoxy. The Tribalistas, a musical group from Brazil, put it this way:
"WE'RE NOT HERE TO BE RIGHT. WE'RE NOT HERE TO BE CORRECT. WE'RE HERE TO BE THE BASIS OF NEW CONSTRUCTION.""
.: Jonas 4:42 PM
GERMANY: BUILDING BEGINS ON HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL After years of debate and delay, construction began on Germany's national Holocaust memorial. Bulldozers started leveling the five-acre site in Berlin, near the Brandenburg Gate, about 18 months after a groundbreaking ceremony. The Parliament president, Wolfgang Thierse, said the monument, designed by the American architect Peter Eisenman, should be completed by May 8, 2005, the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Germany in World War II. The memorial — 2,700 concrete slabs laid out in a plot the size of two football fields to look like a graveyard — commemorates the more than six million Jews who died in the Holocaust. The first slabs are to be put in place in August or September. The monument was approved by the Parliament in June 1999, after decades of emotional debate on how Germany could remember Holocaust victims. (NYtimes)
.: Jonas 1:51 PM
“Whitehead goes on to summarize the role of memory and anticipation. Without memory, life is a flat train of events; a man without memory would be no better than an imbecile. But as soon as there is memory, no matter how faint, ‘there is a reaction against mere…material domination. Thus the universe is material in proportion to the restriction of memory and anticipation.’ Memory is the instrument of man’s consciousness; memory, as Proust knew, is the key to prehension. The struggle of life to assert itself into the world of activity by means of memory and consciousness is the ultimate definition of the ideal of heroism. The heroic is the struggle of Value against the unmeaning…
…I believe every civilization reaches its moment of crisis, and that Western civilization has now reached its moment. I believe that this crisis presents its challenge: Smash, or go on to higher things. So far no civilization has ever met this challenge successfully. History is the study of the bones of civilizations that failed, as the pterodactyl and the dinosaur failed…
…In our case, the scientific progress that has brought us closer than ever to conquering the problems of civilization, has also robbed us of spiritual drive; and the Outsider is doubly a rebel: a rebel against the Established Church, a rebel against the unestablished church of materialism. Yet for all this, he is the real spiritual heir of the prophets, of Jesus and St. Peter, of St. Augustine and Peter Waldo. The purest religion of any age lies in the hands of its spiritual rebels. The 20th century is no exception…” Colin Wilson, Religion and The Rebel , 1957
.: raul 4:02 PM
The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head
There is an emerging second superpower, but it is not a nation. Instead, it is a new form of international player, constituted by the “will of the people” in a global social movement. The beautiful but deeply agitated face of this second superpower is the worldwide peace campaign, but the body of the movement is made up of millions of people concerned with a broad agenda that includes social development, environmentalism, health, and human rights. This movement has a surprisingly agile and muscular body of citizen activists who identify their interests with world society as a whole—and who recognize that at a fundamental level we are all one. These are people who are attempting to take into account the needs and dreams of all 6.3 billion people in the world—and not just the members of one or another nation.
The Other Superpower
As the war began, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld promised a "campaign unlike any other in history." What he did not plan or expect, however, was that the peoples of earth--what some are calling "the other superpower"--would launch an opposing campaign destined to be even less like any other in history.
.: sawad 11:45 PM
Listen to the FAMILIES Mr. Secretary of "Defense":
"My deepest fear is for America, as we have known it, as it has been handed down to us and protected and defended by people like my father and many millions who fought a true threat of tyranny in World War II. I fear for America and its hard-won democracy, its precious freedoms, because our government has been seized by far right zealots who wish to impose upon the rest of the world what they call a “benevolent global hegemony.” They won't call it “empire” because that's not good PR. They are zealots who are willing to run roughshod over American freedoms to get their way. They are willing to push aside the Constitution and the Bill of Rights if necessary to achieve their agenda."
.: Jonas 6:45 PM
OFFENSE AND DEFENSE - The battle between Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon.
.: jason 9:13 AM
what am i willing to accept
how is today different
.: sawad 7:41 PM
as if we had been spirited away
remember your name, or you will never return
.: sawad 7:37 PM
Practice to Deceive
Chaos in the Middle East is not the Bush hawks' nightmare scenario--it's their plan.
by Josh Marshall
Today, however, the great majority of the American people have no concept of what kind of conflict the president is leading them into. The White House has presented this as a war to depose Saddam Hussein in order to keep him from acquiring weapons of mass destruction--a goal that the majority of Americans support. But the White House really has in mind an enterprise of a scale, cost, and scope that would be almost impossible to sell to the American public. The White House knows that. So it hasn't even tried. Instead, it's focused on getting us into Iraq with the hope of setting off a sequence of events that will draw us inexorably towards the agenda they have in mind.
.: sawad 7:27 PM
"The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance," he told his interviewer. He also said that reports about civilian casualties in Baghdad had served to "help those who oppose the war" in the United States." Peter Arnett on Iraqi Television, a statement that prompted NBC to fire him as a reporter.
So much to the freedom of speech in this country.
.: gisela 11:01 AM