Some great buildings are never built. It’s imaginary architecture. Painters over the centuries have conjured up fantastic towers, and refined and elegant mansions of the imagination. This is often a dream architecture that is occasionally gaudy, often improbable and almost always psychologically revealing. The tradition is long and varied since Roman times, and assumed greater significance among Renaissance artists on both sides of the alps who delighted in architectural imagery which peaked during the Baroque, the golden age of fantastic architecture.
In the modern era, we have come to appreciate how much the artist paints of himself when he creates imaginary architecture. Clothes express the individual within, at least to some degree, but so also does building. Thomas Carlyle a hundred and eighty years ago:For neither in tailoring nor in legislating does man proceed by mere Accident, but the hand is ever guided on by mysterious operations of the mind….
In all his Modes, and habilatory endeavors, an Architectural Idea will be found lurking; his Body and the Cloth are the site and materials whereon and whereby his beautified edifice, of a Person, is to be built. Whether he flow gracefully out in folded mantles, based on light sandals; tower up in high headgear, from amid peaks, spangles and bell-girdles; swell out in starched ruffs, buckram stuffings, and monstrous tuberosities; or girth himself into separate sections, and front the world an Agglomeration of four limbs,–will depend on the nature of such Architectural Idea: whether Grecian, Gothic, Later Gothic, or altogether Modern, and Parisian or Anglo-Dandiacal…. Read More: http://www.classicauthors.net/carlyle/SartorResartus/SartorResartus5.html a
In the draft of “Architecture of Hysteria,” Freud tries to sort through the relation of fantasies to accurate memories of traumatic events. It is not surprising that the idea of private fantasies, or fears, should be expressed in a phrase like “building castles in the air” or in the words of Michael Balfe from a Victorian opera from 1841:
I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls,
With vassals and serfs at my side,
And of all who assembled within those walls,
That I was the hope and the pride.
I had riches too great to count
Could boast of a high ancestral name;
But I also dreamt, which pleased me most,
That you lov’d me still the same
That you lov’d me, you lov’d me still the same,
That you lov’d me, you lov’d me still the same.
It is psychologically coherent, for Freud’s primer of psychoanalysis is filled with the architectural elements he found in dreams: houses, houses of worship, courts, stairs, rooms, gates, doors, windows, balconies, alcoves, attics, and so on. All of this is a way of expressing that architecture has deep roots in the imagination.
“Studying how architectural memes spread in a society, and how competing memes are selected requires a knowledge of the factors affecting meme propagation. Francis Heylighen has identified a list of these. We will discuss seven of his factors: SIMPLICITY, NOVELTY, UTILITY, FORMALITY, AUTHORITY, PUBLICITY, and CONFORMITY in the context of architecture . With the exception of UTILITY, none of these factors serves actual human needs. We will argue, therefore, that the spread of a design style occurs in a society more because of mass media than for practical reasons. Even UTILITY will be shown to obey memetic transmission, as often the mere promise of UTILITY is responsible for the success of an architectural style that creates buildings impractical in actual use.
In his essay ‘On Transience’ (1916) Sigmund Freud recalled a walk he took in the Dolomite Mountains with the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. It was an exquisite summer’s day; the flowers were in bloom and brightly colored butterflies danced above the meadows. The psychoanalyst was glad to be outdoors (it had been raining all week), but his companion walked with his head bowed, his eyes fixed on the ground, and remained taciturn throughout the excursion. It wasn’t that Rilke was oblivious to the beauty around him; he simply could not overlook how impermanent everything was. In Freud’s words, he was unable to forget ‘that all this beauty was fated to extinction, that it would vanish when winter came, like all human beauty and all the beauty that men have created or may create’. Read More: http://www.enotalone.com/article/17049.html
Freud was unsympathetic; for him, the capacity to love anything attractive, however fragile it might be, was a hallmark of psychological health. But Rilke’s stance, though inconvenient, helpfully emphasizes how it can be those most in thrall to beauty who will be especially aware of, and saddened by, its ephemeral character. Such melancholic enthusiasts will see the moth hole beneath the curtain swatch and the ruin beneath the plan. They may at the last moment cancel an appointment with an estate agent, having realized that the house under offer, as well as the city and even civilization itself, will soon enough be reduced to fragments of shattered brick over which cockroaches will triumphantly crawl. They may prefer to rent a room or live in a barrel out of a reluctance to contemplate the slow disintegration of the objects of their love. Read More: http://www.enotalone.com/article/17049.html a
At its apex, a passion for architecture may turn us into aesthetes, eccentric figures who must watch over their houses with the vigilance of museum guards, patrolling their rooms in search of stains, a damp cloth or sponge in hand. Aesthetes will have no choice but to forgo the company of small children and, during dinner with friends, will have to ignore the conversation in order to focus on whether someone might lean back and inadvertently leave a head-shaped imprint on the wall.
It would be pleasant to refuse in a muscular spirit to lend stray blemishes genuine significance. However, aesthetes force us to consider whether happiness may not sometimes turn on the presence or absence of a fingerprint, whether in certain situations beauty and ugliness may not lie only a few millimeters apart, whether a single mark might not wreck a wall or an errant brush stroke undo a landscape painting. We should thank these sensitive spirits for pointing us with theatrical honesty towards the possibility of a genuine antithesis between competing values: for example, an attachment to beautiful architecture and the pursuit of an exuberant and affectionate family life. Read More: http://www.enotalone.com/article/17049.html
How wise were the ancient philosophers in suggesting that we exclude from our vision of contentment anything that might one day be covered by lava or blow down in a hurricane, succumb to a chocolate smear or absorb a wine stain.