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The diaries of L’Obscurier

The hugely influential artist, architect, sculptor, painter and social engineer revolutionised the way we think about the built environment and then drowned in the Mediterranean

Translated by Danvers Couchmere from the original haughty French

January 17, 1954.

‘What material will the buildings in our Cities of the Future be built in?’ Prattling drivel such as this seems to fill the pages of the popular prints nowadays.

‘Perhaps’, mewl the cultural commentators, ‘a new form of loadbearing Bakelite may be developed. Perhaps some monstrous sentient plastic will be created in the municipal laboratories of the 1960s. Perhaps tensile bubbles are the answer’.

Bah. How much easier to speculate on how a new epoch may begin than to acknowledge that a new epoch has ALREADY begun. I, L’Obscurier, announced this so-called ‘new’ epoch nearly three years ago. It is about time certain people paid a little more attention to the actual epoch around them and stopped daydreaming about a theoretical epoch to come.

This post-war world will not rebuild itself. Muscular young men in vests are required to rebuild this world, just as architectural visionaries are required to direct and oversee them, and to make occasional sketches celebrating the taut nobility of their labours.

However-that-may-be, there is a fascinating essay on the ‘Future of construction materials’ in this month’s Modern Spatialist. I am the author.

My essay mocks those effete negativists who argue that unless mankind mends its ways, it will squander the world’s natural resources and - preposterously - heat up the atmosphere with discharges from mass-production factories, atomic cement-guns & cetera.

So in the future we will be obliged to become ‘sustainable’, to use ‘renewable resources’? Pah! How this will work in practice is an utter mystery. I suppose these flat-earthers imagine that carbon molecules may simply be harvested from chimney-smoke and re-fashioned into new trees! Nit-wits. Cannot they accept the evidence of their own age?

Renewable resources! As a ‘resource’ sunlight is limited - is it not absent during the hours of darkness? How much more fickle is the wind, which blows in irrational gusts. Concrete, however, is an infinite resource - dependable, universal. Why, even my Proposal For 1,000 Giant Concrete Working Class Cities would scarcely diminish our international reserves of this lithe, sensuous material.

  • All styles are a lie
  • Concrete is truthful
  • God is dead, long live the Morality of Concrete.

Our new epoch binds together the nations of the world in a matrix of hardening cement. Beyond it, perhaps, lies an age of neighbourly concrete division. Forward-thinking projects on my drawing board include a concrete Retaining Wall for East Berlin, a concrete ‘sleeve’ for the Suez Canal, and a free-form concrete ‘fence’ separating the peoples of Arabia from the New Israelites.

Post Scriptum. Today I shall demonstrate what an elegant and versatile material concrete truly is. I have designed an ultra-thin concrete swimming suit filled with tiny pockets of air which I will test for the first time this morning. Let us hope that the concrete craftsmen I engaged have learned from the stern lecture I gave them. Firstly, do not question the wisdom of L’Obscurier on the inherent buoyancy of concrete. Secondly, do not forget to include the tiny pockets of air.

Ian Martin is away

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