Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

The diaries of L’Obscurier

  • Comment

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

March 14, 1954.

Mme L’Obscurier in peevish mood. The Cook has resigned.

There had been Bolshevik rumblings from the kitchen since I began sending down my sketches for Proposed Contemporary Suppers. The ‘last straw’ apparently was my Blue-Print for an International Pie.

I envisioned a simple pie raised on equidistant reinforced potato stilts, its open-plan filling enabled by structurally independent pastry. Large, horizontal ‘windows’ are amusingly incised with a pastry hawk. There is a roof garden of broccoli florets and miniature abstract carrot art.

Of course Mme L’Obscurier would have none of it. We were obliged to suffer instead irregular chops, themeless ratatouille and tantrums.

Today, however, a new Cook has been appointed, exactly 1.5m in height. Perfect. I hand her a sketched paradigm of my breakfast grapefruit, in plan. Already I sense some resistance. Mme L’Obscurier: ‘Cannot you confine your silly ideas to the study and accept that people have their own opinions about what is right? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you pompous, clacking stick insect!’

This is demonstrably nonsensical. ‘Beauty’? ‘Beholder’? The common man gazes upon a row of onion seedlings at his allotment and imagines they are the Ladies of the Moulin Rouge - ridiculous. In a modern industrial world ‘harmless reveries’ such as this have no merit unless mass-produced. A reverie must be a machine for dreaming in.

  • Beauty is a savage conundrum.
  • Beauty is a fathomless construction of the intellect.
  • Beauty is in the vision of the master architect-artist.

Spend the afternoon gazing at my navel. There is something odd, compelling, about it. Might it be a determining point of my occupation of space?

A convergence, a fulcrum. Perhaps it holds some geo‑plasmic significance in relation to the top of my head, to the soles of my feet. And to the tip of my upraised … wait a moment.

As I lie there on my modern bakelite and cowhide ‘thinking couch’ it occurs to me that an analysis of the human body as a series of Golden Sections may be more usefully considered in terms of height rather than length. I stand up: epiphany boogie-woogies through my veins like cabled electricity through service ducts. Of COURSE!

I spend the rest of the afternoon gazing at my navel while standing up.

In the evening, I execute some sketches (remembering to sign and date them) derived from my new spatial theory, which I shall call Standard Person Architectonicalism. Dimensions are generated by the average height of a man - 1.7526m, my own.

I am aware that certain of my rivals, the so-called Laconic Realists, are slightly taller than this but it will do them no harm to stoop a little.

Those shorter than 1.7526m will in time be able to achieve the correct relationship to their surroundings with the aid of my soon-to-be-patented magnetic-levitation brogues.

God, how my arm aches from being held aloft.


A midnight swim in the Mediterranean. The chill water is precisely what is needed to dispel this awful Architectonicalistical cramp.

Ian Martin is away

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.