Science is to be celebrated for what it has accomplished.  But at the same time must be condemned for what it has done to our processes of thought.  The "scientific method" was justifiable, but, being dependant on physical evidence to uncover the inner relationships, the mechanics, of a subject, it has taken us into a very questionable intellectual paradigm.  The paradigm is the need to breakdown into working parts all observable phenomena. This analytical method of separating subjects into functioning parts is so imbedded in our consciousness that we are incapable of viewing the totality or the larger meaning of an object.  The medical profession, for instance, views our bodies and our health in a mechanistic way, such that It will not be long before we will shop for body replacements, as we do for automobile parts. 
 
The problem with modern thought is the inability to perceive organically; to perceive and give meaning to the whole over the relative importance of the parts.  The analytical Paradigm penetrated all of the arts.  One need only follow the course of painting in this century to read the progress of scientific theory.  The impressionists and the post-impressionists, with their urge to discover the structure under form and the radiant energy of colour and light, the cubists expressing the space/time continuum of Einstein; the surrealists probing the conjunction of the conscious and subconscious mind, the non-objectivists and the abstract expressionists probing the mind itself with form devoid of content.

What has been the effect of this paradigm on our cities and our architecture?  Europe is fortunate because its cities were developed in a pre-scientific period before the concept of "planning."  The medieval city was a mini-cosmos; not unlike a living creature, it was organic insofar as circumstances, necessity and belief grew it.  The American city, after the 19th century, became an aberration spun from the mechanistic viewpoint.  The organization of the city was based on the compartmentalization that the mechanistic view imposed; the city was separated into interdependent functional parts under the guise of "zoning."  The zoning of the newer American cities, invented for improving city life, instead created serious new social problems.  Empty streets in the urban centres, impoverished areas on the fringes. Unfortunately new Asia, particularly China, is basing its planning and architecture on the Anglo-American zoning system promising an even greater urbanistic aberration and consequent social TURMOIL.  From a once very organic society. 

Architecture followed a similar path. Mechanization demanded that the house be "a machine for living" as per Le Corbusier.  Early modernism preached functionalism, the relationship of parts performing like a well-oiled machine.  But more significant was the space-time component extolled by the cubist painters.  Exemplified in Le Corbusier's Ville Savoie, raised on stilts from the ground with highly sculptural roof terraces and slotted facades allowing the penetration of view to the internal recesses of the house to the external spaces.  Experienced simultaneously from all six sides, this was a clear expression of Einstein's simultaneity of space and time.  Mies Van der Rohe in his Barcelona Pavilion abstracted the early romantic work of Frank Lloyd Wright, which extended the interior into its environment, uniting the object and its context as in the space/time continuum.  In this period, the confining skin that had enveloped all previous architecture was ripped apart to expose the interior and to link it to the exterior, the object with its environs.  This was not simply a formal device but a profound reflection from the philosophical view, corroborated by physics and the ancient religions, that every object is only space and that all space is one.  The object perceived by our senses does not, in fact, exist.  Here, philosophy, art and science converged, anticipating the forthcoming revolution in thought, which would reject the 19th and 20th century delineation of institutions, medical, legal, governmental, political, religious and ethnic, into tidy confining parcels.   We are on the verge of comprehending the universality instead of the specialty, the difference limiting every field.

We are also in the midst of a tremendous transition: from electronic to beamed energy, from human to artificial intelligence, from real to cyber space. Digits are replacing language so we now have an international Esperanto in glyphs. What is the sacrifice? The hand no longer directs the pencil. The eye no longer leads the line. Space, that ethereal dimension of architecture, is transmuted into two dimensions by the soulless manipulation of our latest software. 

Since software has no conscience about human concerns or loyalty to any craft, it can make up anything; perform any task that our whims decree. Human whim is boundless, subject to no constraints but the subconscious fabric of dream or nightmare. Where are the limitations of discipline, the once precious constraints of proportion, scale, composition, technics and the nature of materials Ė what is the motivation, other than pure fancy, which floats beyond basic needs? How do we reign in the wild horse of our imagination; or find the bit to make it stop or turn on our command?

This revolution is far more profound than the machines themselves in changing our humanity, in expanding our vision, in making us aware of our common plight, in making all knowledge accessible, all actions accountable; space and time collapsible If our power challenges the will of heaven, what will be the consequence? The veil seems to be lifting, in spite of the turmoil, to expose a new reality. Are we only a device of the great dreamer, to make consciousness, in the end, conscious of itself?

In the last two decades we have seen the inevitable deterioration of the hallowed professions: the law, the church, that banks, the medical profession, science and the government itself. Both our belief and the credibility of any of these is waning.

But none of this matters. These institutions represented old values, suspect premises and redundant structures which will have no place in our lives in the future. We are witnessing a casting off of the old values that constrained the growing planetary conscience, which canít condone existing political, monetary, ethnic, cultural or religious conventions. All of these are being melded into a new awareness that is the result of facing new challenges and, more important, evolving new insights. Already, resistance abounds! We can see the emergence of extremism, a reaction to change in political, ethnic, moral and religious conflicts. Most of mankind is desperate to hold on to what is comforting in the familiar and resists change, especially that rends his cocoon of accepted values apart.
 

NEXT PAGE: The Next Generation...

 

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