Thursday, 11 December 2008


In 1963 Norman Mailer said that “modern architecture is creating the empty landscapes of psychosis.” Strange way of putting it—to describe the conceptual landscapes of psychosis as empty! Rather the reverse. Perhaps he meant: creating the empty landscapes liable to provoke psychosis in people, but that’s a much less interesting observation, and not especially true.

But perhaps it is worth taking him at his word.

Psychosis is a kind of mental clutter; and psychotic beliefs a way of sorting or arranging the mess so as to make it less distressing, to give the impression of an assertion of self-control. Modernist architecture, the obsessive-compulsive erasure of ornament, the severity of neoclassical and later architectural lines, is, similarly, a mode of sorting or arranging the collective psychosis of an increasingly gnarly, tumorous and psychotic society.

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