The City of Scrambled Alphabets

In The Dialectics of the Negative and the Metropolis, the concept of the Metropolis culminates as a totally assumed negativity such as that of Benjamin or writers like Poe, Baudelaire, and Kafka. In Loos and His Contemporaries the concept of the Metropolis reaches its highest point with the multiplicity of languages an argument Loos fully grasped. Cacciari writes that Loos does not see art as transcending handicraft and industry his emphasis is on the reciprocal 'transcendence' of all these...

On the Architecture of Nihilism

To paraphrase Kraus's school of resistance, which Canetti described,1 we can speak of Adolf Loos's notion of dwelling as an act of resistance. In philosophical terms, the problem that presents itself in Loos is that of the possibility and meaning of dwelling in the age of Nietzschean nihilism fulfilled.1 Although the reconstruction of the historical development of modern architecture through the macroschemas of the Modern Movement, Rationalism, and so on, has become legend, it is still absurd...

The Fleeting Gaze of the Angel

In that Nietzschean meditation on the writing of history that is The Historical Project (the preface to The Sphere and the Labyrinth), Tafuri also faces the question of the multiplicity of languages and warns against the danger of wirkliche Historie (real history) to conceive history as recognition, that is to say on the presupposition that there is a unity of history, based on the unity of the structures on which it rests, on the unity, as well, of its single elements.73 Then Tafuri quotes...

Conversations

To insist on the theory of the Metropolis is for Cacciari the full, almost physical awareness of the fact that cultural analysis cannot eschew political work. To insist on the Metropolis means to grasp, via the urban theme so important in Benjamin, the most basic Marxist touchstones the factory, capital, the cycle of money and goods, State organization as the foundation of political economy. As Benjamin understands it, there is continuity from factory work to metropolitan life. He compares the...

Architectural Theory Against Italian Cultural Tradition

Cacciari devoted a chapter of The Dialectics of the Negative and the Metropolis to artistic representation, clearly leading to Loos's architecture of nihilism. Against any irrationalist illusion of redemption by art,30 of an art that would finally save the world by proposing a different use of itself or new contents, Cacciari identifies the tragic dimension of some artistic languages that do not try to eschew the negativity of the Metropolis. Poe, Baudelaire, Kafka, and Nietzsche speak the...

Loosian Dialectics

The Vienna of Loos, Loos-Wien, is primarily important for having demolished the general ideological foundations of the German Werkbund and the Vienna Werkstatte. Loos's most significant essays towards this end as well as his first key works all appear during the main period of the crisis of Viennese culture.1 And it was in this same area that his work coincided with the more authentic currents of negative thought that is, in the critique of historicist-synthetical Kultur and of the Weimarian...

The City as Essay

The city, too, can be comprehended only in the essay form. As the goal of metropolitan life itself proves to be the synthesis of individuality and freedom the rupture of community circles as well as the emergence of the Geist its representation falls entirely within the formal laws of the essay as we have defined it above. The value that the city must embody the attainment of freedom, the effective formation of Individualit t is the same as that of the essay it is the Verbindung of Bridge and...

Merchants and Heroes

The Soul is God's mirror thus resonates the beginning of Walther Rathenau's Breviarium Mysticum, which he composed under the spell of his first visit to Hellas in 1906.1 The opposition he sets up between Seele (soul) and Geist (mind) derived from the German philosophy of life in the period between Wilhelmzeit and Weimar and characterizes the Kultur we are examining here. The mind (Geist) is intelligence that aims at a specific end in this case it is the spirit of the rationalization and...

Introduction The Philosophy of the City

That shakes me up and bites into me ) Charles Baudelaire L'H autontimoroum nos Les Fleurs du Mal Architecture and Nihilism is the first book by Massimo Cacciari to be published in English. Until now, one article, Eupalinos or Architecture, has been translated in Oppositions in 1980. It is an Heideggerian reflection on the concepts of building and dwelling as well as a comment on Manfredo Tafuri and Francesco Dal Co's Modern Architecture. Cacciari is one of the most important and productive...

Tabula Rasa

Hevesi's designation of the Caf Museum as Caf Nihilismus must have seemed even more applicable to the Michaelerplatz building.1 But, as should by now be clear, this definition is inexact. If what appears to be nihilistic is Loos's position with regard to ornament and the impatience of the new, the reasons behind this position are essentially constructive. The quest to insinuate tradition, as well as the compositional solutions of the work, into the urban fabric and into language, is for the...

Negative Thought and Artistic Representation

Benjamin's analysis of the Metropolis becomes historically comprehensible only when we see how, between the time of Sim-mel's Die Grossstadte and Benjamin's essays on Baudelaire and Paris, the synthesis of Vergeistigung and ethical individuality a synthesis attempted by Simmel himself comes to collapse. What does it mean to assert that Simmel's perspective is still that of Kultur It means that his thought is totally determined by the definition of the modes and forms by which thought can...

Of Progress and Pioneers

A conspicuous example of how all of the themes of the Loosian commentary thus far singled out can be systematically ignored, is the Festschrift for the sixtieth birthday of the Viennese Baumeister,1 in which a great majority of the contributions do not touch upon these topics. On the other hand, many of the themes that would later reemerge regarding Loos's lifework are anticipated in this volume, by Kulka2 and M nz, among others. For this reason, the historical importance of this volume cannot...

The Other

A loyalty to the search for the justice of the word is implicit in the struggle against right the simplicity of Treusein resists the rules of right. This basic theme undergoes many variations in the pages of Das Andere, the review that published only two issues, in 1903, as a supplement to Kunst, a publication edited by Peter Altenberg. The model for Das Andere is clearly Kraus's Die Fackel, and yet, in certain ways, the style of its writings, especially those by Loos, is closer to Altenberg.1...

On Looss Tomb

Only over the course of his life's work does Loos hint at what is meant by speaking in the void. What is really pronounced in the void is Loos's art, or rather, the problem of its difference from tradition and from tradition's notion of building. This difference lies at Loos's end, and it can be said that his entire oeuvre exists for the sake of this end. The usual way of understanding the dimension of art in Loos is to conceive of it as a kind of space-beyond, of abstract Other, attainable...