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Frank Lloyd Wright Is Dead, Again

March 6, 2020

9 of 46

Easter came early for Frank Lloyd Wright.

Dead almost 60 years, his last living creation, the school he made, Taliesin, was scheduled for death last fall, fully done this year.

But, no: Resurrection. Yesterday.

As with most things human, the reasons for death were financial, and the reasons for new life were also financial. “New funding” was the noble reanimating force. The student protest was extreme, despite the fact that if the outcome of making buildings was the goal of Taliesin, then this century’s prospects were not good.

There are about 6,000 architecture students graduating every year. And there are about 2,500 jobs available to make things. Architectural education, like the rest of the Fine Arts has become a Dabbler’s Paradise, often taught by those who do not build (and who do not know how to) to those who do not build anything except on their computer screen.

All good, but student debt is in the trillions and Starbucks has been closing stores, limiting these students’ job opportunities even more. So closing an esoteric, niche school that promotes a devout cult of personality seemed inevitable. But no.

In a season of Lent some of us think about the end of life, and it’s reason. We also think about resurrection. Why would a school based on a dead human, in a profession in an existential slide, die and then not die?

Humans are not comfortable thinking they, their work, their loves, their experiencing, their connecting, their creating, will end. This plane of existence is overwhelming. Everything we are is here, now. If that isn’t forever, then why do anything. And some are dissolute revelers – sex, food, gaming, binging, drugs, booze – in the name of denying any consequence in a terminal life.

The beauty of a cult is that it denies any meaning but it’s own, The law of gravity has one pulling centrality, the cult. So much of aesthetic expression, so completely unnecessary to eat, breath, sleep and live, is self-referencing justification. But being alive, creating, connecting, loving is joyous. The passions of who we are cannot be denied, we can only be distracted from their reality.

So we effort continuing our passions, despite all other realities. Taliesin lives. Again.

Those graduating architecture students have a joy that is bankable, apparently, so Taliesin has life after death. Salvation is theirs, as much as it The Master’s. That resurrection denies death. For a while.

But in Lent, we who are aware of it are completely engaged in dealing with ending. Because in the weird, unjustifiable focus on an ancient reality Christians deal with what is elementally alive in us. This is not a cult, because we know that death is here, now. No apologies, “just the facts, ma’am”.

There is no videotape of the resurrection, no body cam, cell phone or drone footage. No press releases, no Institute, nothing except history. Written by the losers. Jesus did not save Israel. But something happened.

He did not stay dead. Taliesin my revive, but Frank Lloyd Wright is still dead.

The paradox of living to know that you will die was anything but lost on Emily Dickinson. A self-isolating reveler in a world of thought, she was largely unknown to anyone who was not her family and dear ones. No grand persona of Frank. No cult like architecture. Her mind was hers, and became ours only after she died.

The bonded schism of the here and now and it’s end and its eternity was great with her. And some visit her in those days we can only guess at.

“Death is the supple Suitor

That wins at last —

It is a stealthy Wooing

Conducted first

By pallid innuendoes

And dim approach

But brave at last with Bugles

And a bisected Coach

It bears away in triumph

To Troth unknown

And Kindred as responsive

As Porcelain”

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