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TitleArchitecture and Nihilism: On the Philosophy of Modern Architecture
PublisherYale Univ Pr
ISBN 139780300063042
File Size3.9 MB
Total Pages308
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Philosophy of the City
	Venice's Spleen
	Real Allegory
	Architectural Theory Against Italian Cultural Tradition
	The Shock of History
	The City of Scrambled Alphabets
	The Fleeting Gaze of the Angel
	Not a Home But an Adventure
PART 1: The Dialectics of the Negative and the Metropolis
	1. Metropolis
	2. On the German Sociology of the City at the Turn of the Century
	3. Merchants and Heroes
	4. Negative Thought and Artistic Representation
	5. Essay and Tragedy
	6. The City as Essay
PART 2: Loos and His Contemporaries
	7. Loosian Dialectics
	8. The Contemporaries
	9. The Oikos of Wittgenstein
PART 3: Loos and His Angel
	10. Loos and His Angel
	11. Being Loyal
	12. The Other
	13. Tabula Rasa
	14. The New Space
	15. The House
	16. Lou's Buttons
	17. The Chain of Glass
	18. Of Progress and Pioneers
	19. On Loos's Tomb
Epilogue: On the Architecture of Nihilism
	Chapter 1. Metropolis
	Chapter 2. On the German Sociology of the City at the Turn of the Century
	Chapter 3. Merchants and Heroes
	Chapter 4. Negative Thought and Artistic Representation
	Chapter 5. Essay and Tragedy
	Chapter 6. The City as Essay
	Chapter 7. Loosian Dialectics
	Chapter 8. The Contemporaries
	Chapter 9. The oikos of Wittgenstein
	Chapter 10. Loos and His Angel
	Chapter 11. Being Loyal
	Chapter 12. The Other
	Chapter 13. Tabula Rasa
	Chapter 14. The New Space
	Chapter 15. The House
	Chapter 16. Lou's Buttons
	Chapter 17. The Chain of Glass
	Chapter 18. Of Progress and Pioneers
	Chapter 19. On Loos's Tomb
Credits for Illustrations
Document Text Contents
Page 154


Proust is the real author of these Images. In these essays, the
utopia of the city is entirely in the past tense. Benjamin's essay
on Paris shows a critical awareness of, and an ability to draw
conclusions from Die Grossstl:idte und das Geistesleben, and his
Berlin essay shows an indentical relation with Simmel's vision
of Tuscany. It is the same kind of relation that Benjamin had
elucidated between Bergson and Proust. The object, of course,
is always the city, but a city that one can no longer posit­
whose form has irreversibly its course. Inasmuch as he is still
unable to recognize any value other than that of the urban struc­
ture synthesized with Individualitiit-inasmuch as the object of
the analysis is still the values of Gemeinschaft-Benjamin too
writes essays, essayistic images of the city. But the real center
around which the essay here revolves is not the possible utopia,
the objective hope of Simmel and later of Bloch. However mov­
ing the memory of Moscow may be, it is still memory. There is
no room for any kind of project, on top of the ruins of the urban
organism; "The places we have known do not belong only to
the realm of space, which is where we situate them for the sake
of facility. They are but a thin slice from the sequence of im­
pressions that constituted our life at that time; the memory of a
particular image is but the regret for a particular moment; and
the houses, streets, and avenues are as fleeting, alas, as the years
themselves." 8

However, there was a moment in Simmel where the forms of
the city structure did not hold up, where the image of the city
came dangerously close to the style of Benjamin and Proust. The
essay form assumed the absolutely problematical tone that only
the Benjamin of Elective Affinities has been able to confer upon
it successfully. In the face of Venice, every value of the city-the
essay form as the path to truth, the synthesis of nature and spirit,
interior and exterior, the tangible realization of the harmony of
the whole-becomes useless, uncomprehending, silent.9

In Venice, the philosophico-aesthetic categories that appeared
to represent Rome, Florence, and the entire Mediterranean as
opposed to Nordic symbolism, cease to hold water. And yet
in Venice, too, there is no allusion, no symbol, no Romantic
Sehnsucht. Here other forms come into play, forms that defini­
tively throw the utopia of Gemeinschaft into disorder. And these

Dialectics of Negative and Metropolis

Page 307

Credits for filustrations
page 3: Georg Simmel, "The Metropolis and Modem Life," in On
Individuality and Social Forms (Chicago: University of Chicago Press)
1971, p. 324

page 23: Friedrich Nietzsche, ThtlS Spoke Zaratht1Stra (New York:
Viking Press), 1966, p. 176

pages Ix and 42: Peter Behrens, Assembly Hall of Turbine Factory,
Berlin-Moabit (1909); photo courtesy of Firmenarchiv

page 56: Edgar Allan Poe, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," in The
Complete Tales and Poems (New York: Random House), 1975, p. 141

page 67: Georg Lukacs, "On the Nature and Form of the Essay," in
Soul and Form (Cambridge: Press), 1978, p. 1

page 87: W�lter Benjamin, "Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century,"
in Illuminations (New York: Schocken Books), 1969, p. 146

pages 98 and 120: Joseph Olbrich, Ernst Ludwig House, Kiinstler­
kolonie, Darmstadt (1901); photo from Joseph M. Olbrich, 1867-
1908 (Darmstadt: Mathildenhole), 1983

page 101: Adolf Loos, Cafe Museum, Vienna (1899); photo © 1992
New York/VBK, Vienna, courtesy of Graphische Sarnmlung

Albertina, Vienna

page 131 : Ludwig Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein House, Vienna (1928);
photo by Moritz Nachs

page 143: Das Andere, no. 1 (1903)

Credits for Illustrations


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