Rem Koolhaas, the nervous cultural observer and architect, gave a public talk. Because at that moment he would have preferred to be thinking rather than talking, he spoke very quietly, off to the side and away from the microphone. He spoke in English to a German audience. He wasn’t able to conceal the fact that he didn’t want to impart anything new at that moment. Perhaps tomorrow. It was ridiculous to set the date for public events like this six months in advance. How was he to know whether he would want to say anything at that particular moment? So it was that the conditions for communicative contact between the 1,000 people collected in the great hall of Munich University and himself, the attentive observer, were far from ideal.
What he said (for him nothing new) was the following: Maxim Gorky went to Coney Island and looked at the attractions: the Ferris wheels, carnival booths, the “wonders,” gambling halls, the spiral slides, the “places of nonsense and forgetting,” and the peepholes for moving images. He considered the mass of visitors, and the “principle of entertainment,” to be a “betrayal of the real needs of the people.” Here you lose time and win nothing, he said.
The fantastic facilities of Coney Island did not lead only to the skyscrapers of New York, so Rem Koolhaas continued, but also to the cinema (i.e. “new, real conditions”), while the critique of Maxim Gorky produced nothing real whatsoever; criticism, as Marx predicted, had only accompanied the realities.
For this assertion, said Koolhaas (continuing to develop his thoughts), he did not need the key phrase: the masses are always right. That was a phrase that Gorky would have agreed with, but also the one which paralyzes serious discussion. What mattered much more was the observation that the masses “magnetize attractions” in two different ways and thereby initiate or destroy creative innovations. On the one hand there is a kind of mass demand that has no effect in and of itself (but which can be used by third parties to exploit it). At the same time there is a second type of demand that is both spontaneous and long-lasting. Parasitic businesses can benefit from this desire, but they cannot change the general direction of it. This kind of mass initiative is in search of “blind happiness.”
At this point there was a question from the audience (the speaker was hard to understand and spoke quietly, which meant that he was also easy to interrupt) as to what “blind happiness” meant. It constituted the antithesis of “blind unhappiness” Koolhaas answered. “Blind unhappiness” ends without memory (like soldiers at war storming forward, who want nothing more than to escape the misery of being ordered about, run blindly and ceaselessly, but after being rescued can remember absolutely nothing about it). According to Rem Koolhaas neither the slot machines of Coney Island nor the subsequent “flowering of cinema” could have generated a sufficiently strong promise that they would deliver “blind happiness.” Moments of surprise, sudden insights into another world, and memories conjured up by film did, however, offer an INDICATION of “blind happiness” and word of this got around. The indication that there could be such moments at all is sufficient to justify the founding of a new medium.
Media, however, are best judged using architectural criteria because these feelings are always on the lookout for rooms, caves, or houses in which they can park themselves. It is not the spectators’ judgement of taste that is the issue, but rather their habituation. If they feel at home, i.e., if public spaces are created, it is irrelevant whether art or kitsch holds sway.
At this point, because they didn’t want to remain inactive, the listeners rewarded themselves for their effort at listening, which had been achieved in difficult conditions, with enthusiastic applause. The leap to the idea that cinema is in itself an architectural art form appealed to the audience. For them it was not necessary to add that some of the most imaginative buildings of the century were in fact cinemas. It was not these buildings of marble, wood, and stone, but rather the films themselves as buildings which were the artistic event offering hope that cinema would, according to Koolhaas, not only satisfy the needs of 1902 but also (despite the demise of the cinemas themselves) of the 21st century. The listeners were able to visualize innovative future places of entertainment that “somehow” had something to do with the moving image (and thus also with moving sound).
“In the stock of phraseology that lays bare the amalgam of stupidity and cowardice constituting the mode of life of the German bourgeois, the locution referring to impeding catastrophe—-that “things can’t go on like this”—-is particularly noteworthy. The helpless fixation on notions of security and property deriving from past decades keeps the average citizen from perceiving the quite remarkable stabilities of an entirely new kind that underlie the present situation. Because the relative stability of the prewar years benefited him, he feels compelled to regard any state that dispossesses him as unstable. But stable conditions need by no means be pleasant conditions, and even before the war there were strata for whom stabilized conditions amounted to stabilized wretchedness. To decline is no less stable, no more surprising, than to rise. Only a view which acknowledges downfall as the sole reason for the present situation can advance beyond enervating amazement at what is daily repeated, and perceive the phenomena of decline as stability itself and rescue alone as extraordinary, verging on the marvelous and incomprehensible. People in the national communities of Central Europe live like the inhabitants of an encircled town whose provisions and gunpowder are running out and for whom deliverance is, by human reasoning, scarcely to be expected—-a case in which surrender, perhaps unconditional, should be seriously considered. But the silent, invisible power that Central Europe feels opposing it does not negotiate. Nothing, therefore, remains but to direct the gaze, in the perpetual expectation of the final onslaught, on nothing except the extraordinary event in which alone salvation now lies. But this necessary state of intense and uncomplaining attention could, because we are in mysterious contact with the powers besieging us, really call forth a miracle. Conversely, the assumption that things cannot go on like this will one day find itself apprised of the fact that for individuals as of communities there is only one limit beyond which things cannot go: annihilation.”—Walter Benjamin (via dumbassfils)
I got a note in the mail that reads "What's good for the goose is good for cisgender". The return address just reads "Control". What does this mean? What should I do? Also what are your favorite foods and television stars?
its a warning shot from the forces of Order in an ongoing war of reterritorialization. its meant as a test, to see how you’ll react. i mean at least in theory. they already know how you’ll react because they’ve extensively analyzed your buying habits, geospatial ambit, ideological markers [the so-called data self]. thats why they sent you the note in the first place. but then why even send the note if they already know how youll react ahead of time?
its all very arcane and confusing
better to just throw it in the garbage and see if you can find that lady from the trial that gets horny for condemned men
her favorites are probably better than mine anyway