A new cultural theory for everyone, and everyone for themselves
Ian Martin joins up to, and splits from, Schismism
MONDAY. Is it me, or has the volume of architectural spam increased lately?
Every morning there’s a huge pile of unsolicited and offensive email in my junk folder, waiting to be raked out like leaf litter. Ugh. Spam Email Of The Day: ‘Watch it grow bigger! Our planning supplement will add METERS to your SKYLINE TRUNCHEON!’
TUESDAY. Tweak my masterplan for Moon Dubai, removing a couple of the more absurd tall buildings and adding a little gravity.
Moon Dubai is part of the exciting Old World Leisure Destination I’m working up for a prime site – a gigantic impact basin just west of the Sea of Tranquillity. All the great historic cities of the Earth artistically squashed together in a dense aggregated clump of luxury hotels and posh shops. It should be ready three years after construction starts on site. One of my first political acts as Mayor of the Moon was to simplify paperwork for grand projects such as this. ‘Keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive means streamlining enablement’, that’s my motto.
Oh, my visionary cleverness in purchasing lunar mayorality from the internet all those years ago. The company who sold it to me may have long disappeared, but the dream goes on forever. Note to investors: the low-grav golf resort has been put back a year or two, pending a rethink on length of fairway.
WEDNESDAY. More spam: ‘She will love your thrusting ambition! REDESIGN ALL NIGHT with prescription meds!’
THURSDAY. To the Institute of Plasmic Arts for a conference on the future of Schismism, a vague cultural theory that has set the world of epic space gently aglow.
There are at least 16 people here from all over the twitter, avoiding eye contact. According to the Wikipedia page for Schismism, the movement was formed last year by a ‘group’ of European academics who have so far refused to talk to one another. This non-collective is led by Prof. Solomon Tizer, dean of a pop-up school of architecture currently touring Wales.
A conference is an important move forward for Schismism but what it really needs is a manifesto. That could be tricky. Schismism’s basic principle is that in a world diversifying at the speed of light, the only true path for self-regarding wankers is to ignore everybody else and construct a morality to suit their own busy lifestyle.
Or as Tizer puts it: ‘Schismism seeks to explore how ideas might be schismised through fluid schismism and how this fluid form schismism could create frameworks for schismism to flourish into a million species of architectures, musics, writings, whatever turns you on, each with its own web page but perhaps paying small subscriptions every year to an Institute of Schismism…’
This sounds suspiciously like the rationale behind the Royal Institute for the Protection of British Architects – apart from the small subscriptions bit – which is presumably why the RIPBA has sent a representative to the conference. She and I are the only people in the room when Tizer takes to the stage. The other delegates have schismed off to the pub, presumably all buying their own drinks. Tizer looks at us both with disdain, picks up an accordion and starts expressing his thoughts in the style of a sea shanty.
‘Parametricism lies a-bed, performatism it lies dead. Aye-o, whither shall we go? Architecture is descriptive, neither cryptic nor prescriptive. Aye-o, whither shall we go?’ He pauses, untangling his beard from an accordion strap, to tell us that a) The Ballad of Schismism is ‘strophic’ and b) there are 32 verses. I split, sensing that it’s turning out quite well for everybody in the end.
FRIDAY. Idea for relaunching ‘localism’: package community groups like pop groups. Neighbourhood champions could be lead localists, with everyone else on ‘backing locals’ for the chorus.
SATURDAY. To Hampstead for the Pre-Modernism Society’s summer party. Huge sense of optimism for the future, and lots to drink. Everyone shares a conviction that what happened in the 20th century was a false dawn, that proper global Modernism’s just around the corner. As I say, there was a lot of alcohol.
SUNDAY. Clear out junk box. ‘Worried Mother Nature will let you down? SUSTAINABILITY in pill form!’ ‘The biggest urban TOOL in the urban TOOLBOX!’ ‘Can’t get your BUNGA-BUNGALOW up? Now you can be AFFORDABLE CASANOVA!’
Afternoon in the recliner, clearing out my subconscious.