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Architecture

This category contains 95 posts

Trash talk

Like most urban commuters I have learned to tune out other people’s mobile phone conversations. But when I’m forced to attend to one-sided overloud jibber-jabber the interlocutor may as well be speaking in code. “She said that? … He did it then. … Ask him to give it to me when I’m there.” Deixis Deictic … Continue reading

One knock for yes two for no

You might think that advanced technologies obliterate the need for a belief in spirit, a world outside of everyday tangible experience. More accurately, techno-science, and its attendant promotion of rationalism and the cultures of modernity have supposedly disenchanted the world. Techno-science explains the world without the need to look for extra-physical cause and effect. There’s … Continue reading

Everything is code

“He doesn’t give you questions. He doesn’t give you orders. He speaks in a code. I understand the code because I’ve been around him for a decade” said convicted ex-lawyer Michael Cohen about his ex-boss (Trump) before the US House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. As any student of semiotics knows, speaking in code is what … Continue reading

A life of crime

Crime is immensely popular — in fiction if not in everyday life. No victim enjoys the consequences of crime. But many of us enjoy a good mystery, and the narrative aspects of crime meet some human need, as when solving a puzzle, or watching others solve it. Burglary materialises metaphor, putting a thing in the … Continue reading

Breaking and entering

A burgh is simply a town, usually with some kind of protection or fortification. Think also of a castle, a court or a manor house — and the related noun borough. In native English a burgh-breche was a break-in, now contracted to burglary, “The crime of breaking (formerly by night) into a house with intent to commit felony” (OED), … Continue reading

Improper arrangements

There’s a long tradition that thinks about architecture as the art of arranging things — according to Vitruvius, “the putting of things in their proper places” (13). According to architectural theorist Mario Carpo, that architecture is an art of arrangement reached some kind of epogée with the invention of the moveable type printing press, developed … Continue reading

Iconophobia

The OED says iconophobia is a hatred of images, though I think a fear of images conjures up a more vivid picture. Avoidance of images would probably be more accurate, and by image we mean pictures, diagrams, illustrations, drawings and other visual representations. There are technical reasons for iconophobia. Here’s one story I’ve picked up from reading … Continue reading

No interpreter required

If only people speaking different languages could communicate without the need of an interpreter. I’m thinking of the Trump-Putin encounters with translators present. Only unscrupulous leaders would bar their translators from disclosing to other trusted officials what was said. But I’m also thinking of Leon Battista Alberti’s justification of his cipher technique, which was to … Continue reading

The immoveable typist

Johannes Gutenberg’s (1400-1468) printing press allowed knowledge to accumulate — and contributed to the idea that knowledge accumulates. But there were other benefits as it released energies from the laborious task of copying and transcribing texts by hand and other cumbersome and unreliable processes for reproduction, such as woodblock printing. According to social geographer and … Continue reading

The memory wheel

By most accounts, at least in Europe, the Gutenberg printing press ushered in a revolution. Printing firms would deploy individual, durable typographic elements (letters and punctuation marks) manufactured in metal and arrange them in rows to produce a page of text, the inked imprint of which was transferred to sheets of paper, over and over … Continue reading

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