Selected texts from readings;
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SIRE, I AM FROM THE OTHER COUNTRY 1953 'Ivan Chtcheglov
We are bored in the city, there is no longer any Temple of the Sun. Between the legs of the women walking by, the dadaists imagined a monkey wrench and the surrealists a crystal cup. That’s lost. We know how to read every promise in faces — the latest stage of morphology.
ANOTHER CITY FOR ANOTHER LIFE 1959 Constant
We demand adventure. Not finding it on earth, some want to seek it on the moon. We, however, are committed to changing life here on earth. We intend to create situations, new situations, breaking the laws that prevent the development of meaningful ventures in life and culture. We are at the dawn of a new era, and we are already attempting to sketch out the image of a happier life, of a unitary urbanism — an urbanism designed for pleasure.
Excerpt from a 1963 letter to Michèle Bernstein and Guy Debord, reprinted in Internationale Situationniste #9, p. 38 Ivan Chtcheglov, translators notes
“The dérive (with its flow of acts, its gestures, its strolls, its encounters) was to the totality exactly what psychoanalysis (in the best sense) is to language. Let yourself go with the flow of words, says the psychoanalyst. He listens, until the moment when he rejects or modifies (one could say detourns) a word, an expression or a definition. The dérive is certainly a technique, almost a therapeutic one. But just as analysis unaccompanied with anything else is almost always contraindicated, so continual dériving is dangerous to the extent that the individual, having gone too far (not without bases, but...) without defenses, is threatened with explosion, dissolution, dissociation, disintegration. And thence the relapse into what is termed ‘ordinary life,’ that is to say, in reality, into ‘petrified life.’ In this regard I now repudiate my Formulary’s propaganda for a continuous dérive. It could be continuous like the poker game in Las Vegas, but only for a certain period, limited to a weekend for some people, to a week as a good average; a month is really pushing it. In 1953-1954 we dérived for three or four months straight. That’s the extreme limit. It’s a miracle it didn’t kill us”
Robert Adams Beauty in Photography: Essays in Defense of Traditional Values, "Truth and Landscapes" 1981, p. 14
"Landscape pictures can offer us, I think, three verities - geography, autobiography, and metaphor. Geography is, if taken alone, sometimes boring, autobiography is frequently trivial, and metaphor can be dubious. But taken together the three kinds of information strengthen each other and reinforce what we all work to keep intact - an affection for life."
Naturales Quaestiones no. 7, Seneca, c. 1st century.
The time will come when diligent research over long periods will bring to light things that now lie hidden. A single life time, even though entirely devoted to research, would not be enough for the investigation of so vast a subject. And so this knowledge will be unfolded through long successive ages. There will come a time when our descendants will be amazed that we we did not know things that are so plain to them. Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will have been effaced. Our universe is a sorry little affair unless it has in it something for every age to investigate. Nature does not reveal her mysteries once and for all.
Designboom interview with Ettore Sottsass in his studio in Milan, 2000
You have spent a lot of time in Asia and you know the spiritual values of those cultures very well. Do you think that they tend to fuse with our wasteful western culture, or do you think there is another possibility?
The thing about Asia which interested me wasn’t so much the spirituality as the sensorial approach, the rituals... there is nothing spiritual in spirituality. The word spirituality was invented in the 19th century. I hate that word... It is finding a way to forget the existential disaster, it is a series of rituals, which correspond to the cosmos and they are rituals which depend on your social class, the weather, the relationship to animals - this interests me. I think that any attempt to integrate into the modern world can only be "pay attention to life", existence, but not afterlife.
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1994
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Reyner Banham: A Home Is Not A House, Art in America no. 2, April, 1965
When your house contains such a complex of piping, flues, ducts, wires, lights, inlets, outlets, ovens, sinks, refuse disposers, hi-fi re-verberators, antennae, conduits, freezers, heaters -when it contains so many services that the hardware could stand up by itself without any assistance from the house, why have a house to hold it up. When the cost of all this tackle is half of the total outlay (or more, as it often is) what is the house doing except concealing your mechanical pudenda from the stares of folks on the sidewalk?
John Berger, Ways of Seeing, 1972, p. 7
Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognises before it can speak.
But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.