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…really…

May 1, 2022

Every few years it is claimed that what we are living through is completely unprecedented.

Sure. By definition each moment is new. But each moment is held by each human, and personalized. Universal and idiosyncratic.

The difference is that we can now see many of us, instantly, free, and with no more choice than seeing what is on the screen we happen to be viewing. So the trillions of idiosyncratic reactions to universal realities are now, themselves universal.

Cancer used to be scary. It was mysterious, and universally fatal. Somehow people who some feared to be dangerous were loath to admit they had it. Some still direct judgment of cancers that are often caused by what people choose to do. But understanding has made cancer a very bad thing that often can be made benign in people’s lives. No bizarre mantle of vague danger or culpability or weakness accompanies it’s discovery.

Growing up, there were those who were “troubled” – they lived with their families beyond childhood because they had to – or were sent to warehouses of other humans to “protect” them (and us). Those prisons have been illegal for a couple of generations, and the “troubled” became understood as the victims of health realities.

Knowing more does beat back fear. But knowing more also liberates constructions of our own making. Where once a distant, benign, God or distant malevolent Devil carrot and sticked human behavior based on conjectured outcomes of punishment and reward, now this generation increasingly believes in its own agency.

We can cure COVID with inoculation. Inoculations infect us with State Sponsored Terrorism. Fully contradictory constructions are simultaneously determined, disseminated and believed by disparate humans, believing opposite realities, where one means the other is fully false.

Why does this happen? The Crusades were fraught over centuries due to events than happened 1,000 years before they did, because those defining events were seen differently, to the fighting parties, absent facts. Humans created facts, then and now, and many dedicated lives, and ended them, because of those believed facts.

The truth of our desire for Truth to the point of inventing untruth and believing it is not new.50 years ago Walter Cronkite, and a few others were the news. Then Cable television. Then the internet. A few “anchors” became scores of voices, then thousands, then, in this last decade, a few views emerged as exclusively true, because algorithms could be made to direct outcomes of Tweets, Facebook posts, even Google searches.

New “news” sites – on all platforms – came to offer no contradiction, only consensus. That imbalance created enough reaction, that Elon Musk decided to break the attempt at control that was being imposed, to inveigh his own control.

The freak out or ecstasy over Musk’s buying truth says one thing: We want to define reality. Either we block a reality we think is dangerous, simply because we can on some venue – or we scream out the reality we know, just know, is the truth. With listening to anything but that creation.The individuals who leap to block or inveigh sometimes are just the loudest voice.

Alex Jones is just a blowhard: finding support by being loud and proud at voicing what others feel, validating them and himself. There is a seed of reality in everything, but invention is the soul of many convictions, and Jones invented much, and others listened, sent money, wrecked the truth to prove their righteousness. The point came where Jones took a simple fact, the murder of children and their protectors and the suicide of their murderer, one who would have been called “troubled”, and denied it. Said that it did not happen. And that non-reality was not incompetence it was conspiracy, the malevolent, controlling invention of others, to control us.Completely, fully absurd, wrong and, well, evil in its dismissal of the death of innocents.And in the reality of reality.

Why did this happen?After a decade, after losing court battles that confirmed the reality he tried to wish away into his victimhood, Jones could no longer lie. Instead, he he declared his invention was due to the “trauma of the media and the corporations lying so much” that caused him to distrust everything, “kind of like a child whose parents lie to them over and over again.”

“So long before these lawsuits I said that in the past I thought everything was a conspiracy and I would kind of get into that mass group think of the communities that were out saying that,” he said. “And so now I see that it’s more in the middle… so that’s where I stand.”

The media made me do it.

Like most things, there is a reality in that reality.

Is our culture, vectoring from consensus to contradiction?

50 years ago Walter Cronkite, and a few others were the news. Then Cable television. Then the internet. Each decade saw the fractionalization of what was seen, the atomizing of ideas. A few “anchors” became scores of voices, then thousands, then, in this last decade, that wildly disparate chorus of contradictory voices began to coalesces into two raging bases of view.

It came to be that a few views were presented as exclusively true, because algorithms could be made to direct outcomes of Tweets, Facebook posts, even Google searches.

A person became President because of the fear of so many saying that the realities we see mean far for that what is being revealed. Most overlooked a long history of egomaniacal self-serving rampaging against anything but his own entitlement. But others were fully convinced that The Newtown Massacre was faked, as was 9-11, as was an election.

Or, others full-throatedly believe that if everyone had a guaranteed income, or cancelled debt, or reparations, or control over all content to prevent fear and provide safety, all would be in balance, in fairness. We could end a disease through science, while the reality was far more ambiguous and still uncertain.

We have left listening to anything that disagrees with our truth. We have found consensus, and we are, mostly, living in our our chorus, signing to ourselves. I think this is largely do to the fact that that there are “news” sites that offer no contradiction, only consensus. That imbalance created enough reaction, that Elon Musk decided to break the attempt at control that was being imposed.

In truth what do I know?

Well, I do know the world of architecture. And not just the designing reality, but the presenting, recognition and teaching realities of a tiny profession, whose results we all live with.

50 years ago, there were 2 architecture magazines – Architectural Record and Architecture, with Progressive Architecture was a young upstart. Then the internet exploded venues, all paper magazines went into a full-on collapse, and in a decade, there were dozens of venues, hundreds of competition, then in the last years, virtually thousands of private sites, blogs, chat boards.

Then in these last years, just like “news”, the radical distillations of perspective “Modern” and “Traditional” had their language turn as hostile, personal and absolute as “news” has become as extreme as those antipodal scream feasts.

But most architects simply do not care, they work to express themselves and those who use them, and earn a living. But those are quiet. The voices are the screamers, like me. But I am screamed at, too, naturally.

I am screamed at by both angry wings of a tiny place. Modernists are said to hate humanity and inveigh ugliness as a means to impose power. Traditionalists are decried as fascists, using history to control humanity in the lock-down of creativity, limited to what has been done in the past.

Evil Architecture or Fascist Architecture. Trump as Savior or Trump as Devil. Either way, instant rejection of any belief but your own – because it is defined as true: by you.

Some “Modern” architecture is painful to see and use, and often is removed over time. Some “Traditional” architecture is brain dead replication, serving only fear, not invention. So Elon Musk is propelled by these types of extremes to exert personal power to end a culture’s power over individuals.

Will architecture have its Elon Musk Moment?

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