Saturday, July 08, 2006

Architecture "well-disposed toward life"

Some marvellously life-affirming writing from Friedrich Nietzsche, giving his impressions on the city of Genoa, the home city of Christopher Columbus who did more than anyone to "place a new world beside the old one," and also of Renzo Piano and Nicoló Paganini:
Genoa.—For a long while now I have been looking at this city, at its villas and pleasure gardens and the far-flung periphery of its inhabited heights and slopes. In the end I must say: I see faces that belong to past generations; this region is studded with the images of bold and autocratic human beings.

They have lived and wished to live on: that is what they are telling me with their houses, built and adorned to last for centuries and not for a fleeting hour; they were well-disposed toward life, however ill-disposed they often may have been toward themselves.

I keep seeing the builders, their eyes resting on everything near and far that they have built, and also on the city, the sea, and the contours of the mountains, and there is violence and conquest in their eyes. All this they want to fit into their plan and ultimately make their possession by making it part of their plan.

This whole region is overgrown with this magnificent, insatiable selfishness of the lust for possessions and spoils; and even as these people refused to recognize any boundaries in distant lands and, thirsting for what was new, placed a new world beside the old one, each rebelled against each at home, too, and found a way to express his superiority and to lay between himself and his neighbor his personal infinity. Each once more conquered his homeland for himself by overwhelming it with his architectural ideas and refashioning it into a house that was a feast for his eyes.
TAGS: Architecture, Philosophy

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