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Bloggingheads 07-12-2009 05:13 PM

Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
Technical difficulties

Missing from this diavlog are the first six minutes of conversation. That means Esther and Stephen don't get a chance to introduce themselves. So if you're wondering who these people are, we recommend going to Esther's and Stephen's websites to find out.

--BhTV staff

bwn 07-12-2009 06:30 PM

News for the ancient Greeks
 
Around minute 7, Esther explains to us the difference between mazes and labyrinths. She argues what the ancient Greeks referred to as a labyrinth in the myth of the minotaur was actually a maze. That is, the ancient Greeks - who as far as I know came up with the entire concept of mazes/labyrinths - were using the wrong word.

She's taking a modern distinction made by American scholars and projecting it back millennia and onto Greece. I have no idea whether the ancient Greeks distinguished between labyrinths and mazes, but even most modern languages do not, in the sense that they don't have two distinct words for those two structures. English can afford to make the distinction because it has a wealth of synonyms, and in this case it takes labyrinth from Greek (via Latin) and gets maze from Old English and its Germanic roots.

Maybe I'm being picky, but is it too much to ask that instead of saying "People confuse these two concepts and that confusion began among the ancient Greeks," she say, "Nowadays, for the sake of expressing ourselves more exactly, we've assigned these two words specific, distinct meanings"? I know that the choice of words doesn't necessarily reflect the accuracy of her broader arguments, which I find interesting. But when she takes the jargon of her environ as the gold standard and attributes confusion to those who first came up with the concept she's discussing, it makes me wonder about the other assertions she makes.

Ocean 07-12-2009 06:38 PM

Re: News for the ancient Greeks
 
I bet there is a term for what you describe. Perhaps something like "culturo-centric fallacy" or such.

Seriously, you raise a point that I find very interesting and has to do with the confusion between the words that we create and the expectation that they reflect some objective reality that has always existed. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case.

Stapler Malone 07-12-2009 10:44 PM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
I see they've abandoned the "you must be this tall to be on Bloggingheads" policy.

themightypuck 07-12-2009 11:33 PM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
Has Shermer ever been on?

graz 07-13-2009 12:12 AM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/357

themightypuck 07-13-2009 12:16 AM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
Nice.

holyworrier 07-13-2009 10:23 AM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
My first thought is that feelings evoked by Disney's theme park rides or architecture are superficial and perverse and even brainwashing, to the weak-minded or emotionally damaged. I would say that Disneyland appeals primarily to these people. It is the architecture of the cheap thrill, of kitsch, of hidden cynicism. To compare Disney with Gehry is a lengthy stretch, even if there is a big honking Gehry building with Disney's name on it.

I returned at the end of June from a week in Chautauqua, where I stayed at the Athenaeum Hotel at the off-season price. The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science had their annual gathering there for the first time, and it is a lovely spot. I prefer the more recent and less predominant Craftsman architecture to the Victorian and Queen Anne gingerbread in that village. The NeoClassical temples are rather preposterous, but de rigeur. There seems to be a strong feeling of neighborhood there, however ethnically and socially homogenous it is. The hotel is beautiful, 2nd Empire, 1881. There are some great trees in Chautauqua.

The general visual aesthetic of Main Drag, Anywhere, USA sucks. It's interchangeable, depressing, desolate, designed by the market, unplanned, ramshackle, sickening. Then to top it off, those whom one might assume, because of their wealth and power, to have more sophisticated aesthetic sensibilities, give major commissions for public spaces to such Disneyworld architects as Santiago Calatrava.

http://curbed.com/uploads/2008_4_calatrava.jpg
http://www.spanish-architecture.info..._tenerife1.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mi..._1_(Mulad).jpg

kezboard 07-14-2009 04:45 AM

Gehry
 
Unfortunately, whenever I'm around our local Frank Gehry neuroscientific experience, I don't undergo the journey from architecture-induced anxiety to architecture-induced catharsis because I'm too busy thinking about how irritating it is that Mayor Daley decided to spend zillions of dollars on a show-offy tourist attraction that could feature in movies and attract corporate sponsorship and make Chicago a "world city", whatever that means, rather than using it to improve our craptastic public transportation system or public schools.

uncle ebeneezer 07-14-2009 05:21 AM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
Not everyone was "excited" by the Disney theater:

http://architecture.about.com/od/the...-Hall.-9Sc.htm

badhatharry 07-14-2009 02:14 PM

Re: Gehry
 
"I'm too busy thinking about how irritating it is that Mayor Daley decided to spend zillions of dollars on a show-offy tourist attraction that could feature in movies and attract corporate sponsorship and make Chicago a "world city", whatever that means, rather than using it to improve our craptastic public transportation system or public schools."

I once took a political science class during which the professor (a lone libertarian) expressed the view that all municipal buildings should be made of cinder block and have small signs indicating ingress and egress...that our government should not be spending our money in its own aggrandizement.

I think I agree.

As far as architecture goes, I think Frank Lloyd Wright had it about as right as anyone could. Buildings should reflect and enhance their environment...not stick out like very sore and egotistical thumbs. Also his horizontal aesthetic is restful and peaceful. Just about perfect.

uncle ebeneezer 07-14-2009 03:13 PM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
There must be something wrong with me. Almost every aspect of Disneyland, generally, makes me ill. The screaming children. The hour-long lines for a 2-minute ride that hasn't been upgraded since the 70's (Peter Pan, Space Mountain.) The NEW ride that just so happens to coincide with whatever Disney movie has just been released. The impossibility of eating lunch for less than $20/person. That said, I enjoyed Thunder Mountain.

Did anyone else feel like this diavlog was really New-Age-y? I kept waiting for them to hand me a pamphlet about "discovering truth" or trying to sell me a time-share.

bjkeefe 07-14-2009 04:46 PM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 120357)
There must be something wrong with me. Almost every aspect of Disneyland, generally, makes me ill. The screaming children. The hour-long lines for a 2-minute ride that hasn't been upgraded since the 70's (Peter Pan, Space Mountain.) The NEW ride that just so happens to coincide with whatever Disney movie has just been released. The impossibility of eating lunch for less than $20/person. That said, I enjoyed Thunder Mountain.

Did anyone else feel like this diavlog was really New-Age-y? I kept waiting for them to hand me a pamphlet about "discovering truth" or trying to sell me a time-share.

I found Disneyland fun the two times I went, probably in large part because the first time was with a bunch of little kids, and the second time with a man who had grown up in East Germany. I'm not sure who was more overwhelmed, but the waits in lines were worth it just to watch them reeling around in over-stimulation. Personally, though, I share your distaste, for all the reasons you list, among others.

I did feel this diavlog had a bit of that New Age tinge, yes, but then I think most conversations about architecture become faintly ludicrous after a while. I am reminded of people droning on about wine, or attending scholarly conferences to discuss Nancy Drew, or finding significance in reality TV. Okay, not quite that bad.

I do think there are a lot of valid considerations about building design and how it affects people's moods and I'm truly glad smart people spend time thinking about these things. I guess the problem has to do with the realizations seeming obvious once they're pointed out (as with many great ideas) -- natural light is restful, orientation markers are comforting, open green spaces are soothing, walking a labyrinth can clear your mind, harmony with the environment makes you feel less boxed in and makes the structure seem like less of an intrusion, etc. -- and the tendency by many repeaters of the ideas to imbue the simple truths with too much flowery language. It takes hard work and great insight to become aware of the specifics of what makes one building better than another; unfortunately, the conclusions once realized just don't bear that much discussion. To my ear, anyway.

On the other hand, when listening to Esther and Stephen talk, I could easily imagine them in front of a board, pitching the idea of spending more money to better design and build some planned facility, and succeeding precisely because they make the simple truths sound more complex, and hence important to a certain kind of ear. So, ends justify the means, maybe.

And hey, at least they never once said feng shui.

bjkeefe 07-14-2009 05:16 PM

Re: Gehry
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 120351)
"I'm too busy thinking about how irritating it is that Mayor Daley decided to spend zillions of dollars on a show-offy tourist attraction that could feature in movies and attract corporate sponsorship and make Chicago a "world city", whatever that means, rather than using it to improve our craptastic public transportation system or public schools."

I once took a political science class during which the professor (a lone libertarian) expressed the view that all municipal buildings should be made of cinder block and have small signs indicating ingress and egress...that our government should not be spending our money in its own aggrandizement.

I think I agree.

I take your point, and certainly agree with kez's complaint about Hizzoner, but I have to say, I do like, for example, a court building to have majesty. I am also never in favor of ugly buildings for any reason. No matter what's going to be inside, we're all going to have to look at it for the next bunch of decades, so it might as well look less like this and more like this.

And while I share your distaste for egotists building monuments to self, especially political ones, I also think, since I truly believe in government of the people, by the people, and for the people, that a public building does well to reflect an aspiration to rise above the mundane. Maybe being in the proverbial hallowed halls can help remind us of our ideals and jolt us out of momentary and petty concerns.

Quote:

As far as architecture goes, I think Frank Lloyd Wright had it about as right as anyone could. Buildings should reflect and enhance their environment...not stick out like very sore and egotistical thumbs. Also his horizontal aesthetic is restful and peaceful. Just about perfect.
I like some of his ideas, but I'd much rather live in, and look at, a tall Victorian house. To my taste, some of FLW's buildings seem squat and boxy, like a block of marble or wood abandoned before the sculpture was halfway complete.

uncle ebeneezer 07-14-2009 06:07 PM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
Actually, I agree, the topics and discussion were very interesting. It was more the tone that they took that made me think they were about to start talking about the "energy, man" or crystals or something.

I definitely am far more inspired to write music or do anything else creative, when I'm in certain environs (the mountains, a beautiful park in mid-city, or surrounded by stylish buildings, or even in a cathedral) than in some suburb of cookie-cutter houses, or some cold, simple box-style building. I prefer my use of public spaces to be easy on the eyes. I don't generally like the Los Angeles style of homes (except for some of the mansions), but I love the area by the public library downtown, and the Biltmore, the Getty Center etc.

One of the things I miss about Philly is the architectural style. Lots of old tall Victorian (I think) houses using lots of stonework. Of course they also have lots of trees and different weather, so that style is much more fitting than it would be in LA.

I'd be curious to know how big a percentage of tourism for a given city, is tied to it's use of public space. When I think of New York, Boston, LA, Philly etc., most of my image for these cities involves their parks, museums etc.

I also would have liked a longer discussion on the walking meditation/sports element of stress relief. This is something I've been a big believer in and has probably played a large role in why I have been a pretty obsessive tennis player over the years. Simply put, it takes my mind off everything else.

Ocean 07-14-2009 07:07 PM

Re: Gehry
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 120351)
As far as architecture goes, I think Frank Lloyd Wright had it about as right as anyone could. Buildings should reflect and enhance their environment...not stick out like very sore and egotistical thumbs. Also his horizontal aesthetic is restful and peaceful. Just about perfect.

Although I don't know much about architecture, I have been very impressed with some (the little I know) of Frank Lloyd Wright's work. And I agree that the magic of his style is the way he blends man-made structures with the natural environment. Otherwise, I love the Northwest contemporary style. Houses built from the inside out.

I thought the reference to mental health hospitals was interesting although I always thought that nicely built hospitals were more an exception than the rule.

badhatharry 07-14-2009 08:54 PM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 120357)
There must be something wrong with me. Almost every aspect of Disneyland, generally, makes me ill. The screaming children. The hour-long lines for a 2-minute ride that hasn't been upgraded since the 70's (Peter Pan, Space Mountain.) The NEW ride that just so happens to coincide with whatever Disney movie has just been released. The impossibility of eating lunch for less than $20/person. That said, I enjoyed Thunder Mountain.

Did anyone else feel like this diavlog was really New-Age-y? I kept waiting for them to hand me a pamphlet about "discovering truth" or trying to sell me a time-share.

I hate Disneyland in the same way you do. So very phony and manufactured and researched to be a certain way, but that's what people like so what are you going to do? Go to Lourdes, I guess.

I thought the conversation was very new agey. But the idea of 'healing places' should have been the big tip off. I sometimes wish I could be the type of person who believes that a place can heal my arthritis, but I'm not. In fact I think you'd need to be that type of person to have it work at all. Kinda like believing in God.

It's interesting to hear about people's preferences about architecture. It certainly goes to show that there will never be just one kind.

Ocean 07-14-2009 11:02 PM

Re: Gehry
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 120376)
I like some of his ideas, but I'd much rather live in, and look at, a tall Victorian house. To my taste, some of FLW's buildings seem squat and boxy, like a block of marble or wood abandoned before the sculpture was halfway complete.

Sure?

bjkeefe 07-14-2009 11:19 PM

Re: Gehry
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 120394)

I said some, not all.

Joel_Cairo 07-14-2009 11:26 PM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 120389)
I hate Disneyland in the same way you do. So very phony and manufactured and researched to be a certain way, but that's what people like so what are you going to do?

This reminds me of one of my favorite french sneers, at the "cultural Chernobyl" that was EuroDisney's opening:
Quote:

"a horror made of cardboard, plastic and appalling colors, a construction of hardened chewing gum and idiotic folklore taken straight out of comic books written for obese Americans."
ouch!

claymisher 07-14-2009 11:28 PM

Re: Gehry
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 120397)
I said some, not all.

We can't all live in the woods next to waterfalls. :)

nikkibong 07-14-2009 11:41 PM

Re: Gehry
 
999 posts, Clay! You are on the cusp of immortality!

Ocean 07-15-2009 12:17 AM

Re: Gehry
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 120397)
I said some, not all.

Yeah, yeah... try to fix it now...

Is this more to your liking?

bjkeefe 07-15-2009 12:43 AM

Re: Gehry
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 120404)
Yeah, yeah... try to fix it now...

Is this more to your liking?

That's pretty nice. Maybe not for a private home, though.

Ocean 07-15-2009 07:51 AM

Re: Gehry
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 120406)
That's pretty nice. Maybe not for a private home, though.

I'm sure you would love to have the library inside that building. I used to go there to study.

But it wouldn't be a homey place for sure.

badhatharry 07-15-2009 11:37 AM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
Bjkeefe said
"To my taste, some of FLW's buildings seem squat and boxy, like a block of marble or wood abandoned before the sculpture was halfway complete."

I'm glad the picture of Falling Water was introduced because it reminded me of the genius of FLW's buildings. It is amazing to me that you could describe this (or any of his work) as squat and boxy because it is anything but these things. Every thought of his was finished to its logical end. Every room blends into the next. Every piece of furniture and piece of moulding was designed to enhance the setting and every building fit its environment as though it grew there.

The Victorian aesthetic, on the other hand, looms and stands out like a cherry on a cake. These buildings scream "look at me and see how much stuff I can add to this building" while Wright's buildings are restrained and ask the viewer to first "find me" and then "experience me". They are plain and straight forward and very beautiful. But as I said, it's all about taste.

On another subject...can one of you geniuses tell me how to make a link title?
I'm sure that's not the right terminology, but you all seem to know how to take a web address and indicate it by a highlighted text the says something like 'this' or 'that'. I don't know how to do this and I'd love to. Thanks!

uncle ebeneezer 07-15-2009 02:27 PM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
Victorians can be overly stand-outish (I agree), but when they're surrounded by tall trees it's a nice effect. I've also just always loved houses that had multiple levels and attics and hidden rooms etc. I'm from New England so that probably shaped alot of my taste.

I like most of FLW's stuff. His use of nature was fantastic.

I've been trying to figure out the "link-title" thing forever. I think Brendan told me how once, but I accidentally threw out the message.

AemJeff 07-15-2009 07:59 PM

Re: Percontations: Healing Spaces
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 120433)
Bjkeefe said
"To my taste, some of FLW's buildings seem squat and boxy, like a block of marble or wood abandoned before the sculpture was halfway complete."

I'm glad the picture of Falling Water was introduced because it reminded me of the genius of FLW's buildings. It is amazing to me that you could describe this (or any of his work) as squat and boxy because it is anything but these things. Every thought of his was finished to its logical end. Every room blends into the next. Every piece of furniture and piece of moulding was designed to enhance the setting and every building fit its environment as though it grew there.

The Victorian aesthetic, on the other hand, looms and stands out like a cherry on a cake. These buildings scream "look at me and see how much stuff I can add to this building" while Wright's buildings are restrained and ask the viewer to first "find me" and then "experience me". They are plain and straight forward and very beautiful. But as I said, it's all about taste.

On another subject...can one of you geniuses tell me how to make a link title?
I'm sure that's not the right terminology, but you all seem to know how to take a web address and indicate it by a highlighted text the says something like 'this' or 'that'. I don't know how to do this and I'd love to. Thanks!

Harry, above the box into which you type the text of your posts there are two rows of small icons. The bottom of those rows starts with icons for standard text formatting - bold, italic and underline. the next icon to their roght is a picture of a globe overlayed by chain link. If you select text in the edit box (where you're typing your post) then click on that icon, you can type (or paste) a URL into the dialog that will be displayed. After you've done that and clicked "OK," the text you've highlighted will be a clickable link to the URL you entered.

themightypuck 07-15-2009 08:04 PM

Re: Gehry
 
This seems to be an inevitable result of your communitarian politics. FLW homes are beautiful but tend to be at least somewhat distinct. Tall Victorians tend to be part of urban communities.

graz 07-15-2009 08:45 PM

Re: Gehry
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 120376)
I like some of his ideas, but I'd much rather live in, and look at, a tall Victorian house. To my taste, some of FLW's buildings seem squat and boxy, like a block of marble or wood abandoned before the sculpture was halfway complete.

They are mostly squat and boxy. And notoriously inefficient and leaky. Take the Marin County Civic Center. It certainly meets the requirement of melding with the landscape... the jail is actually dug into the hillside. The inner atrium allows for natural central lighting, but the overall effect on each floor in corridors and court rooms alike is stifling and claustrophobic (to say nothing of the leaks):
Better observed from afar than lived in.

claymisher 07-16-2009 01:53 AM

Re: Gehry
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nikkibong (Post 120402)
999 posts, Clay! You are on the cusp of immortality!

1000!

Oh boy, I'm pretty high up on the charts. Does that make me rookie of the year?


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