Evelyn Waugh, Black Mischief, Chapter 5
“ It was from the least expected quarter, the tribesmen and villagers, that the real support for Seth’s Birth Control policy suddenly appeared. ”
Leon R. Kass, The Beginning of Wisdom, Pp. 406-7.
“ The biblical counterpart of Odysseus, Jacob must solve the fundamental human difficulties illustrated in the pre-Abrahamic chapters of Genesis. ”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, A Dangerous Place, Chapter 1: A Half-Life, p8-9
“ In that I was a member of the Cabinet, protocol provided that I step out of Air Force One behind the President and ahead of Kissinger, who was also on the journey. Somehow Kissinger invariably reached the ground ahead of me. ”
Philip Roth, The Plot Against America (paperback edition), p210-1
“ I couldn’t manage to be anywhere near a nun, let alone a pair of them, without a mind awash in my none-too-pure Jewish thoughts. ”
Ian Fleming, Diamonds are Forever
“ It was natural to bring out the small change and jerk the handles and watch the lemons and the oranges and the cherries and the bell fruits whirl round to their final click-pause-ting, followed by a soft mechanical sigh. Five cents, ten cents, a quarter. Bond gave them all a try… ”
David Pryce-Jones, “Jews, Arabs, and French Diplomacy: A Special Report”
“ The Zionists must understand once and for all that there can be no question of constituting an independent Jewish state in Palestine, or even forming some sovereign Jewish body. ”
Charles Darwin, The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals, Chapter 1, General Principles of Expression
“ It is well known that cats dislike wetting their feet, owing, it is probable, to their having aboriginally inhabited the dry country of Egypt; and when they wet their feet they shake them violently. My daughter poured some water into a glass close to the head of a kitten; and it immediately shook its feet in the usual manner; so that here we have an habitual movement falsely excited by an associated sound instead of by the sense of touch. ”
Edward Lear, Journals of a Landscape Painter in the Balkans
“ Not the least annoyance was that given me by the persevering attentions of a mad or fanatic dervish, of most singular appearance as well as conduct. His note of ‘Shaitán‘ was frequently sounded; and as he twirled about, and performed many curious antics, he frequently advanced to me, shaking a long hooked stick, covered with jingling ornaments, in my very face, pointing to the Kawas with menacing looks, as though he would say, “Were it not for this protector you should he annihilated, you infidel!” ”
Robert Graves, I, Claudius
“ The drink was as remarkable as the food, and Caligula became so lively as the meal went on that, deprecating his own generosity to Herod in the past as something hardly worth mentioning, he now promised to give him whatever it lay in his power to grant. “Ask me anything, my dearest Herod,” he said, “And it shall be yours.” He repeated: “Absolutely anything. I swear by my own Divinity that I will grant it.” ”
o think,” as the Master used to say, “is to deal in simples.” And that means with an eye single to the altogether.
This is, I believe, the single secret of simplicity: that we may truly regard nothing at all as simple in itself. I believe that no one thing in itself is ever so, but must achieve simplicity — as an artist should use the term — as a perfectly realized part of some organic whole. Only as a feature or any part becomes harmonious element in the harmonious whole does it arrive at the state of simplicity. Any wild flower is truly simple but double the same wild flower by cultivation and it ceased to be so. The scheme of the original is no longer clear. Clarity of design and perfect significance both are first essentials of the spontaneous born simplicity of the lilies of the field. “They toil not, neither do they spin.” Jesus wrote the supreme essay on simplicity in this, “Consider the lilies of the field.”
Five lines where three are enough is always stupidity. Nine pounds where three are enough is obesity. But to eliminate expressive words in speaking or writing — words that intensify or vivify meaning — is not simplicity. Nor is similar elimination in architecture simplicity. It may be, and usually is, stupidity.
In architecture, expressive changes of surface, emphasis of line and especially textures of material or imaginative pattern, may go to make facts more eloquent — forms more significant. Elimination, therefore, may be just as meaningless as elaboration, perhaps more often is so. To know what to leave out and what to put in; just where and just how, ah, that is to have been educated in knowledge of simplicity — toward ultimate freedom of expression.
As for objects of art in the house, even in that early day they were bȇte noires of the new simplicity. If well chosen, all right. But only if each were properly digested by the whole. Antique or modern sculpture, paintings, pottery, might well enough become objectives in the architectural scheme. And I accepted them, aimed at them often but assimilated them. Such precious things may often take their places as elements in the design of any house, be gracious and good to live with. But such assimilation is extraordinarily difficult. Better in general to design all as integral features.
I tried to make my clients see that furniture and furnishings that were not built in as integral features of the building should be designed as attributes of whatever furniture was built in and should be seen as a minor part of the building itself even if detached or kept aside to be employed only on occasion.
But when the building itself was finished the old furniture they already possessed usually went in with the clients to await the time when the interior might be completed in this sense. Very few of the houses, therefore, were anything but painful to me after the clients brought in their belongings.
Soon I found it difficult, anyway, to make some of the furniture in the abstract. That is, to design it as architecture and make it human at the same time — fit for human use. I have been black and blue in some spot, somewhere, almost all my life from too intimate contact with my own early furniture.
Human beings must group, sit or recline, confound them, and they must dine — but dining is much easier to manage and always a great artistic opportunity. Arrangements for the informality of sitting in comfort singly or in groups still belonging in disarray to the scheme as a whole: that is a matter difficult to accomplish. But it can be done now and should be done, because only those attributes of human comfort and convenience should be in order which belong to the whole in this modern integrated sense.
Human use and comfort should not be taxed to pay dividends on any designer’s idiosyncrasy. Human use and comfort should have intimate possession of every interior — should be felt in every exterior. Decoration is intended to make use more charming and comfort more appropriate, or else a privilege has been abused.
As these ideals worked away from house to house, finally freedom of floor space and elimination of useless heights worked a miracle in the new dwelling place. A sense of appropriate freedom had changed its whole aspect. The whole became different but more fit for human habitation and more natural on its site. It was impossible to imagine a house once built on these principles somewhere else. An entirely new sense of space values in architecture came home. It now appears these new values came into the architecture of the world. New sense of repose in quiet streamline effects had arrived. The streamline and the plain surface seen as the flat plane had then and there, some thirty-seven years ago, found their way into buildings as we see them in steamships, airplanes, and motorcars, although they were intimately related to building materials, environment and the human being.
But, more important than all beside, still rising to greater dignity as an idea as it goes on working, was the ideal of plasticity. That ideal now began to emerge as a means to achieve an organic architecture.
Plasticity may be seen in the expressive flesh covering of the skeleton as contrasted with the articulation of the skeleton itself. If form really “followed function” — as the Master declared — here was the direct means of expression of the more spiritual idea that form and function are one: the only true means I could see then or can see now to eliminate the separation and complication of cut-and-butt joinery in favor of the expressive flow of continuous surface. Here, by instinct at first — all ideas germinate — a principle entered into building that has since gone on developing. In my work the idea of plasticity may now be seen as the element of continuity.
In architecture, plasticity is only the modern expression of an ancient thought. But the thought taken into structure and throughout human affairs will re-create in a badly “disjointed,” distracted world the entire fabric of human society. This magic word “plastic” was a word Louis Sullivan himself was fond of using in reference to his idea of ornamentation as distinguished from all other or applied ornament. But now, why not the larger application in the structure of the building itself in this sense?
Why a principle working in the part if not living in the whole?
If form really followed function — it did in a material sense by means of this ideal of plasticity, the spiritual concept of form and function as one — why not throw away the implications of post or upright and beam or horizontal entirely? Have no beams or columns piling up as “joinery.” Nor any cornices. Nor put into the building any fixtures whatsoever as “fixtures.” Eliminate the separations and separate joints. Classic architecture was all fixation-of-the-fixture. Yes, entirely so. Now why not let walls, ceilings, floors become seen as component parts of each other, their surfaces flowing into each other. To get continuity in the whole, eliminating all constructed features just as Louis Sullivan had eliminated background in his ornament in favor of an integral sense of the whole. Here the promotion of an idea from the material to the spiritual plane began to have consequences. Conceive now that an entire building might grow up out of conditions as a plant grows up out of soil and yet be free to be itself, to “live its own life according to Man’s Nature.” Dignified as a tree in the midst of nature but a child of the spirit of man.
I now propose an ideal for the architecture of the machine age, for the ideal American building. Let it grow up in that image. The tree.
But I do not mean to suggest the imitation of the tree.
Proceeding, then, step by step from generals to particulars, plasticity as a large means in architecture began to grip me and to work its own will. Fascinated I would watch its sequences, seeing other sequences in those consequences already in evidence; as in the Heurtley, Martin, Heath, Thomas, Tomek, Coonley, and dozens of other houses.
The old architecture, so far as its grammar went, for me began, literally, to disappear. As if by magic, new architectural effects came to life — effects genuinely new in the whole cycle of architecture owing simply to the working of this spiritual principle. Vistas of inevitable simplicity and ineffable harmonies would open, so beautiful to me that I was not only delighted, but often startled. Yes, sometimes amazed.
I have since concentrated on plasticity as physical continuity, using it as a practical working principle within the very nature of the building itself in the effort to accomplish this great thing called architecture. Every true aesthetic is an implication of nature, so it was inevitable that this aesthetic ideal should be found to enter into the actual building of the building itself as a principle of construction.
But later on I found that in the effort to actually eliminate the post and beam in favor of structural continuity, that is to say, making the two things one thing instead of two separate things, I could get no help at all from regular engineers. By habit, the engineer reduced everything in the field of calculation to the post and the beam resting upon it before he could calculate and tell you where and just how much for either. He had no other data. Walls made one with floors and ceilings, merging together yet reacting upon each other, the engineer had never met. And the engineer had not yet enough scientific formulas to enable him to calculate for continuity. Floor slabs stiffened and extended as cantilevers over centered supports, as a waiter’s tray rests upon his upturned fingers, such as I now began to use in order to get planes parallel to the earth to emphasize the third dimension, were new, as I used them, especially in the Imperial Hotel. But the engineer soon mastered the element of continuity in floor slabs with such formulas as he had. The cantilever thus became a new feature of design in architecture. As used in the Imperial Hotel at Tokyo it was the most important of the features of construction that insured the life of that building in the terrific temblor of 1922. So, not only a new aesthetic but proving the aesthetic as scientifically sound, a great new economic “stability,” derived from steel intension, was able now to enter into building construction.