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The pattern of our lives

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Title:
The pattern of our lives toward a complex, living architecture
Creator:
Filipek, Lorraine Henrietta
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Language:
English
Physical Description:
xiii, 194 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
1900 - 1999 ( fast )
Architecture, Modern -- 20th century ( lcsh )
Architecture -- Philosophy ( lcsh )
Architecture and society ( lcsh )
Deconstructivism (Architecture) ( lcsh )
Architecture, Postmodern ( lcsh )
Sustainable architecture ( lcsh )
Architecture and society ( fast )
Architecture, Modern ( fast )
Architecture -- Philosophy ( fast )
Architecture, Postmodern ( fast )
Deconstructivism (Architecture) ( fast )
Sustainable architecture ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 183-194).
General Note:
College of Architecture and Planning
Statement of Responsibility:
by Lorraine Henrietta Filipek.

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Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
46241337 ( OCLC )
ocm46241337
Classification:
LD1190.A72 2000 .F54 ( lcc )

Full Text
THE PATTERNS OF OUR LIVES:
Toward a Complex, Living Architecture
by
Lorraine Henrietta Filipek
B.S., University of Michigan, 1969
M.A., The Johns Hopkins University, 1974
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1979
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Architecture
2000


2000 by Lorraine H. Filipek
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Master of Architecture
degree by
Lorraine Henrietta Filipek
has been approved
by
Michael K. Jenson
Date


Filipek, Lorraine Henrietta (M. Arch.)
THE PATTERNS OF OUR LIVES: Toward a Complex, Living Architecture
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Hans R. Morgenthaler
ABSTRACT
Architecture should enhance the patterns of our lives, expand the possibilities of Life, and
give us hope.
Throughout much of the past, the world has been dominated by the simple pattern of
opposites, or dualities. The past century experienced a profound growth period in humanitys
understanding of itself and of the world it inhabits, which has resulted in a change in its
thought patternsa paradigm shift. Each living being is now understood as an evolving
complex system existing within an evolving system of complex systems. Cognitive science
has shown that our brains specialize in recognizing patterns. Our brains are neural networks
self-organized by our moment-to-moment interactions with the physical world, which
includes architecture. In such self-organizing systems, the simple patterns of dualities can
either be interwoven to produce complexity at a greater order or opposed to create chaos
lack of pattern (or pattern at a much lower order). The process of changing thought patterns
causes major upheavals and dissonance as old patterns disintegrate and new ones emerge.
Architects have participated in, and have been affected by, this upheaval. Three significant
patterns of architectural thought have emerged: postmodernism, deconstructionism, and
sustainable architecture. Each has confronted change in its own way. Postmodernism has
concentrated on surficial imagery and the new middle class; deconstructionism has
emphasized ambiguity, isolation, and the author; and sustainable architecture has emphasized
interconnectivity and the environment. This thesis suggests that each movement and
individual architects within the movements have evolved. Each represents a different path to
a new stage in psychological and cultural evolutionadulthood. Each has helped pave the
way toward a new complex and sacred architecture that has respect for both the individual
and interconnectivityan adult, living architecture that enhances the patterns of our lives,
expands the possibilities of Life, and gives us hope.
IV


DEDICATION
To my husband and best friend, Stacy Walters,
For accepting my need to change and grow.
v


ACKNOWLEDGMENT
My thanks to my advisor, Dr. Hans Morgenthaler, for his help and guidance during the
writing of this thesis. I also wish to thank Keith Loftin and George Hoover for their
invaluable inspiration and support, and Robert Venturi, for his kind and rapid response to my
somewhat audacious request for information and photographs of VSBAs architectural
works.
vi


CONTENTS
ABSTRACT................................................................IV
INTRODUCTION (WHATS IT ALL ABOUT...?).................................1
PART 1: LIFEA COMPLEX SYSTEM OF PATTERNS...............................4
Complex Systems and Evolution (Simple rules for a complex world)....4
The Inner Workings of My Mind (and Yours)..............................7
Neural Nets, Affor dances, and MicroworldsPatterns in the Brain....7
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs..........................................9
Individual Needs....................................................10
Place and the Need for Beauty.......................................11
Meaning and Value...................................................12
Memes and MetaphorsPatterns of Human Thought.........................15
Memes and Sparse, Distributed Memory................................15
Metaphors of Morality...............................................18
PART 2: THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESSCHANGING OUR
PATTERNS OF THOUGHT.....................................................22
Paradigms, Learning, and Losses.......................................23
Paradigms/Habits of Mind............................................23
Learning............................................................23
Mourning a Loss.....................................................25
Stages of Consciousness/Maturation....................................25
The Toddler and the Beginnings of Verbal Communication..............27
Early Childhood, Language, and the Magical (Fantasia").............27
Mid- to Late Childhood and the Late Mythic/Mental...................30
Adolescence and the Rational........................................32
Youth and the Existential...........................................34
Adulthood and the Interconnected Individual.........................37
The Next Stages: Maturity and Beyond................................40
Media and Education: We shape our technology, and our technology shapes
us...............................................................41
PART 3: TWENTIETH-CENTURY CULTURE AND ARCHITECTURE-
PATTERNS IN FLUX........................................................44
General Society.......................................................44
Cycles of HistoryRecurring Patterns................................44
Acceleration and Intertwining of the Cycles.........................46
Architecture in the Twentieth Century.................................50
The Stage is Set....................................................51
The First Iconoclast and the Beginning of Postmodernism.............54
vii


Deconstructionism........................................................57
Holism and Sustainability................................................60
An Ethical System for Evaluating Architecture.....................................64
A Summary of Values for Architecture...........................................66
Metaphors for Landscape and Architecture.................................67
How to Create An Ethical Architecture....................................71
The Tools of ArchitectureIts Vocabulary.................................73
PART 4: THE ARCHITECTS........................................................76
THE ICONOGRAPHERS AND THEIR FASCINATION WITH SURFACE..........................76
Venturi/Scott Brown: Biographical Background................................77
A Gentle ManifestoThe 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s..............................78
Background...............................................................78
Architectural Theory.....................................................80
Trubek and Wislocki Houses, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, 1970-71 (Venturi).89
Postmodernism Reaches Youth and the Parents Transcendthe 1980s.............92
Background...............................................................92
Architectural Theory.....................................................95
Gordon Wu Hall, Butler College, Princeton, New Jersey, 1980-83.................100
The Complex 1990s..........................................................103
Background and Architectural Theory.....................................103
Mielparque Nikko Kirifuri Resort Complex, Nikko, Japan, 1992-1997.......107
THE ISOLATIONISTS AND THEIR STRUGGLE WITH WHAT IS REAL?...........................Ill
Peter Eisenman: Biographical Background....................................112
Cardboard Architecture and Geometric Grammar: The 1960s and 1970s.................112
Background..............................................................112
Eisenman's Architectural Theory.........................................115
House III, Lakeville, Connecticut: 1969-1971............................121
Cities of Artificial Excavation: The Late 1970s and 1980s..................124
Background..............................................................124
Architectural Theory....................................................126
Wexner Center for the Visual Arts, The Ohio State University: 1982-1986.130
Cosmogenic Architecture: The Late 1980s and 1990s..........................134
Background and Architectural Theory.....................................134
Department of Art, Architecture, and Planning, The University of Cincinnati,
Cincinnati, Ohio, 1990-1995........................................144
THE MODERNIST WITH A SUSTAINABLE VISION....................................148
Hoover: Biographical Background............................................149
The Modernist Stretches: The 1960s and Early 1970s.........................149
Background..............................................................149
Architectural Theory....................................................150
United Methodist Church, Laramie, Wyoming, 1966.........................156
viii


Making Connections and Embracing the City: The mid-1970s and 1980s....158
Background..........................................................158
Architectural Theory................................................158
North Classroom Building, Auraria Campus, Denver, Colorado, 1984....163
EmergenceBody, Mind, and Spirit: The Late 1980s and 1990s............167
Background..........................................................167
Architectural Theory................................................167
Environment and Natural Resources Building, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona,
1993-1994......................................................176
PART 5: CONCLUSIONS.....................................................180
The Real and the Sacred...............................................180
Patterns for Our Future...............................................181
BIBLIOGRAPHY............................................................183
Complexity Theory / Neural Nets.......................................183
Biological and Cultural Evolution/Cognition/Psychology................183
Philosophy/Ethics/Religion...........................................186
Architectural Theory..................................................188
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.................................190
Peter Eisenman........................................................192
George Hoover / AR7...................................................194
IX


FIGURES
VSBA
Venturi and Rauch, Trubek and Wislocki Houses, Nantucket Island, MA, 1970-1971. (following
P-91)
1. Trubek House, right; Wislocki House, left', view to northeast.
2. Trubek and Wislocki Houses. Trubek House, left; Wislocki House, right', view to
southwest.
3. Trubek House. Plans and sections.
4. Trubek House. Elevations and details.
5. Wislocki House. Plans and elevations.
6. Trubek House. Living and dining room, view to west.
Venturi, Rauch, and Scott Brown, Gordon Wu Hall, Butler College, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ, 1980-1983. (following p. 102)
7. Gordon Wu Hall, Butler College. Site plan.
8. Gordon Wu Hall. West fa?ade, showing main entrance and dining hall windows.
9. Gordon Wu Hall. Longitudinal section.
10. Gordon Wu Hall. South bay window from dining hall.
11. Gordon Wu Hall. South and west facades and piazza.
Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Mielparque Nikko Kirifuri Resort Complex, Nikko, Japan,
1992-1997. (following p. 110)
12. Mielparque Nikko Kirifuri Resort Complex. Athletic complex, bottom left', hotel complex,
right.
13. Kirifuri Resort Complex. South facade of hotel complex, showing entrance.
14. Kirifuri Resort Complex. Pedestrian village street in hotel lobby at night.
15. Kirifuri Resort Complex. Hotel complex, elevations and section.
16. Kirifuri Resort Complex. Hotel complex, portion of east elevation showing storm-water
detention pond.
Figures 1 through 16 courtesy of VSBA.
x


Peter Eisenman
House III, Lakeville, CT, 1969-1971. (following p. 123)
17. House III. View to southeast, above; view to northwest, below.
18. House III. Forms and transformations used to develop design.
19. House III. Interior.
20. House III. Plans.
Eisenman Architects and Richard Trott and Partners, Wexner Center for the Visual Arts, The
Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 1982-86. (following p. 133)
21. Wexner Center for the Visual Arts. Site overview, showing Wexner Center, center, wedged
between existing campus buildings.
22. Wexner Center. Elevation and section.
23. Wexner Center. Site plan, above', plans, center and below
24. Wexner Center. Interior views.
25. Wexner Center. Sections.
Eisenman Architects, Department of Art, Architecture and Planning (DAAP), University of
Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, 1990-1995. (following p. 147)
26. DAAP. Site overview, showing DAAP addition next to existing building.
27. DAAP. Plans.
28. DAAP. Sections and transformations used in design.
29. DAAP. Interior (computer simulation).
Figures 17 through 20 reproduced from Eisenman 1974.
Figures 21 through 25 reproduced from Eisenman Architects and Richard Trott and Partners
1989.
Figures 26 through 29 reproduced from Benjamin 1993.
xi


George Hoover
30. Muchow Associates (George Hoover, architect), Bennett Residence, Snowmass, CO, 1968.
Model, (p. 153)
31. Muchow Associates (George Hoover, architect), Bennett Residence, Sun Valley, ID, 1969.
Model, (p. 153)
32. Muchow Associates (George Hoover, architect), Park Central Office Towers, Denver, CO,
1970-1973. Southeast fa9ade. (Photo by James Maxwell) (p. 155)
Muchow Associates (George Hoover, architect), United Methodist Church, Laramie, WY, 1966.
(following p. 157)
33. United Methodist Church. Side facade, also showing rose window and narthex.
34. United Methodist Church. Back fa 35. United Methodist Church. Site plan.
36. United Methodist Church. View into church from narthex.
37. United Methodist Church. View toward altar.
38. United Methodist Church. View from behind altar toward rose window and narthex.
39. Hoover Berg Desmond, Douglas County Administration Building, Castle Rock, CO, 1979-
1982. Front fa?ade. (p. 161)
40. Hoover Berg Desmond, Light of the World Catholic Church, Littleton, CO, 1982-84. View
looking west. (p. 161)
Hoover Berg Desmond, North Classroom Building (NCB), Auraria Campus, Denver, CO, 1984.
(following p. 166)
41. NCB. Site plan. The NCB is the northernmost building on campus, close to the boulevard
and creek.
42. NCB. Plans.
43. NCB. Southeast fa9ade. (Photo by Greg Hursley)
44. NCB. North fa9ade. (Photo by Greg Hursley)
45. NCB. Stairwells on northwest fa9ade. (Photo by Greg Hursley)
Xll


Hoover Berg Desmond, Environment and Natural Resources Building (ENRB), University of
Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 1993-1994. (following p. 179)
46. ENRB.
47. ENRB.
48. ENRB.
49. ENRB.
50. ENRB.
Site plan.
Plans.
Elevations.
Courtyard with tile mural.
Brick wall sheltering west fa9ade.
Figures 30 through 50 supplied by George Hoover, unless otherwise stated.


INTRODUCTION (Whats it all about...?)
I have come to believe that humanity is in the midst of a new, emergent way of
thinking/feeling about the world and ourselves. Until the Renaissance, the Western world
was dominated by religion. The Renaissance ushered in the age of science. These two
dominant forces are examples of how, throughout the historical past, the Western world has
been dominated by the pattern of opposites, or dualities. (Dualities, such as second-class
status for women, also existed throughout both the communist world and the Far East.). In
the West, this dualism has produced alternating cycles of dominance and reaction in which
one half of a duality pair, such as science or religion, mind or body, intellect or intuition,
reason or emotion, prevailed.
Many now have rejected dualism in favor of complexitya belief that each living being
is an evolving complex system existing within an open-ended, evolving system of complex
systems. In such systems, dualities can be interwoven through dialogue into more complex,
emergent or transcendent higher orders of patterns in a process of self-organization. I
propose that, in this new paradigm, ostensibly different areas of lifeart, morals, and
sciencecan and are being integrated. I believe that we are at a point in evolution at which a
new, more ordered, yet more complex civilization can emerge in a very short period of time
as we learn to integrate, or interweave, dualities and differences.
Throughout this thesis I will try to integrate the inside and the outside and the one and the
many. These two sets of dualities provide a conceptual map of all human activity, beliefs,
and evolution: Interior-individual (intentional), exterior-individual (behavioral), exterior-
collective (social), and interior-collective (cultural). They are central to understanding how
humanity and human evolution fit within the new paradigm. Ken Wilber (e.g. 1996), who
first developed this way of looking at evolution, often relates the intentional quadrant with
I and art, the social quadrant with WE and morals, and sometimes collapses the two
exterior quadrants to IT and science.
I have organized this thesis into five parts. Part 1 provides the foundationor in the
metaphor of the new paradigmthe fertile field in which the rest of the thesis can grow. It
summarizes aspects of complexity theory relevant to understanding the new paradigm.
1


Arguably the most important research to come out of complexity theory, from the standpoint
of humanitys future, is in the fields of psychology and cognitive sciencethe sciences of
how our brains work, how we think and, ultimately, why we do the things we do. Our
present understanding of our brains shows them to be designed specifically to recognize
patterns. They are neural networks self-organized by our moment-to-moment interactions
with the concrete, physical, patterned world around us. In other words, this research shows
that our minds are embodiedthey would not be what they are if our bodies and our
environments were not the way they are. Because of this, how each of us was raised as a
child and the time and culture in which each of us grew up, as well as our individual genetic
make-up, have shaped each of us to act and think automatically in certain particular patterns.
Winston Churchill is often quoted as saying: We shape our dwellings and afterwards our
dwellings shape us. We can substitute any number of words for dwellings in this quotation,
such as landscapes, technologies, education, families, careers, or culture. All are part of the
nonlinear feedback system, or structural coupling (Hoover 1993), of human and cultural
evolutionthe complex interaction of patterns with patterns.
Part 2 provides the structure. In this part, I build on the foundation of complexity theory
as I follow the evolution of consciousness in both the individual and in culture as a whole.
The self grows both continuously and in step-like jumps from one stage or structure of
consciousness to the next more complex stage. As it does so, it learns to recognize and
integrate more and more complex patterns. It reorganizes as it makes the transition to each
new stage. As a significant percentage of individuals reach a new stage of consciousness,
enough patterns change that society as a whole also evolves, in a tremendous structural
coupling or positive-feedback loop. Each stage of consciousness has its own needs and
values. Each has its own pitfalls when lower stages of consciousness have not been fully
integrated into the newest stage. And each has its own symbolic or marker behaviors that
allow one to take a good educated guess as to where the person is coming from and why.
In Part 3,1 briefly examine the history of U.S. culture and architecture in the twentieth
century, in light of the principles developed in the first part. I concentrate especially on the
past thirty years and on present trends in architecture. I will show that the new paradigm
involves a radical re-thinking of the architectural design process. I discuss some recent
2


design approaches based on the new paradigm and use them to develop what I hope is an
internally consistent set of ethical principles for architectural design.
In Part 4,1 look at a number of case studies to investigate the relationship between the
time and culture in which four present-day architects grew up and what they believe and
produce. I also trace their evolution and the evolution of their clients through time.
Architects are people and they have been affected by their upbringing, culture, and
environment just like everyone else. They have each participated in their own way in the
upheaval caused by changing paradigms. However, I see patterns of similarities within
groups of architects. At least three major schools of architectural thought have developed
over the past 30 years: Postmodernism; deconstructionism; and sustainable, or healthy,
architecture. Each has confronted important aspects of this change in its own way.
Postmodernism has concentrated on surficial images and the gratification of a new type of
clientthe new middle class; deconstructionism has emphasized ambiguity, isolation, the
individual and the gratification of the intellectual; and sustainable architecture has
emphasized interconnectivity and the gratification of both the individual and the
environment. I will focus on representatives from each of the three major schools Robert
Venturi and Denise Scott Brown for postmodernism; Peter Eisenman for deconstructionism;
and George Hoover for sustainable, spiritually and physically healthy architectureeach of
whom has taken a radically different path.
Finally, in Part 5,1 will draw conclusions about the future of architecture and culture
based on the new paradigm and the case studies.
3


PART 1: LifeA Complex System of Patterns
Complex Systems and Evolution (Simple rules for a complex world1)
We all have a need to knowthat is one of the traits that makes us human. Early in our
existence, hunter-gatherer and horticultural humans prayed to the Earth Goddess, from whose
womb all life seemed to grow (Pollack 1997; Sjod and Mor 1987, 1991). After the Great
Flood and the development of writing, Westerners turned away from images to a God in the
heavens and to the written word to answer our need for understanding (Shlain 1998). Later,
throughout the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Industrial Revolution, physics reigned
supreme as the highest form of knowledge; and mathematics was its tool. Many humans felt
we could answer our own questions without the need for a God or Goddess.
In 1977, the Belgian chemist Ilya Prigogine received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for a
theory he had first published in the 1940s. His theory concerned the thermodynamics of non-
simple, nonequilibrium systems. Complex systems are those that do not follow simple linear
cause and effect, but rather have positive and/or negative feedback. Prigogine theorized
something extremely radical for these systems: New and more complex forms of order
more complex patternscould develop spontaneously in dynamic, complex systems that
were far from equilibrium. Prigogine called this order dissipative structure (Gleick 1987); it
is now more commonly referred to as an emergent property. The process that formed this
order has come to be called self-organization. Thus, we have emergent orderdevelopment
of patternbecause the system is not in equilibrium!
A key concept in Prigogines theory is that when a system is pushed into a condition far
from equilibrium, it reaches a critical or bifurcation point in which it will spontaneously
change to one of two new, very different conditions. At this bifurcation point, small inputs
will yield huge effects and can push the system into either a higher (more complex,
emergent) or lower (more random, chaotic) order depending on the direction of the push.
The ability to look at things from different perspectives is important in understanding
complexity (of any type). One of the earliest features of complex systems to gain notoriety
is self-similarity. Self-similarity at all scales results in patterns called fractals: The pattern at
1 A quote attributed to legal scholar Richard Epstein, in Postrel 1998, 112.
4


one scale is approximately the same as the pattern at any other scale. The seacoast is the
classic example. Fractals and the general issue of scaling came to the fore in both the
scientific and the arts communities in the 1960s and 1970s as a reaction to the simple
geometries of modernism. Mandelbrots fractal images described complex systems but they
did not explain them, as he himself acknowledged (Gleick 1987). I will suggest in a later
chapter that, similarly, architects who rely on such images as the basis of their design are
only describing, but may not really understand the paradigm of complex systems.
Another way of visualizing complex systems that provides more insight into the complex
processes is by using topology and shapes called attractors. Attractors are patterns
developed by a complex system in phase space. In phase space, a point represents the state
of the system at an instant in time. As the system progresses through time, it traces a
trajectory in this space. For complex systems, the same trajectory is never repeated, but tends
to settle into a certain region of the spacean attractor basin. If the system is stable to small
perturbations, it will return to its attractor basin. It is then said to have homeostasis. Systems
that behave similarly have similar attractor basinssimilar shapes in phase space. Systems
that are unstable, or chaotic, do not have attractor basins. Any slight perturbation will send a
chaotic system off on a totally different trajectory. Complex systems can have both stable
and unstable regions; the critical, or bifurcation, point is the point where slight perturbations
can shift the system from one stable region to another stable or unstable region.
This visualization of complex systems has been used to show how the theory of evolution
should be expanded to include not only traditional Darwinian selection, but also self-
organization due to complexity. Using complexity theory, we find that growth and evolution
are both continuous and discrete. Without the one type, the other would not get very far.
Cells in embryos continue in the stable regime with a slow, continuous growth until a large
enough perturbation pushes them into a branching mode, in which a new, emergent property,
such as a new organ or body part, can appear. This concept can be seen at scales much larger
than individual cells, including humans and galaxies. We as individuals may all be poised on
the edge of chaos (Kauffman 1995) at or near the critical point. Being poised near the
critical point puts organisms and ecosystems at risk of potential extinction, but offers the
advantage of allowing us to take best advantage of opportunity. The interactions of
5


individuals may keep the biosphere as a whole supracriticalmeaning that it evolves
exponentially.
A rapid initial burst of creative activity, followed by a slow-down over time may be the
typical mode of evolution for organisms, as well as diverse other complex phenomena such
as new technologies and even types of societies. Paleontologists have shown that early
evolution produced what is known as the Cambrian explosion. For perhaps 3 billion years,
single-celled organisms lived alone on the Earth. Then, in the Cambrian Period (about 550
million years ago), multi-celled life burst upon the scene. They rapidly evolved into a huge
diversity of different morphological forms in a great design experiment. Most of these forms
just as rapidly became extinct. The Earth has undergone a number of mass extinctions since
then. After each of these mass extinctions, the major diversification has typically occurred
early in the following rebound. Thus, the family trees of species have been bushy at the base
(Kauffman 1995).
Some variation of this process appears to be generally applicable to complex systems.
For example, new technologies are often bushy at the base in that people do a lot of early
trial-and-error experimenting, lots of start-ups are bom, then comes a shake-out in which
many designs and/or companies become extinct, and finally a few settle down and make
minor variations over time. The computer scientist, author, and futurist Ray Kurzweil has
identified a number of stages in the life cycle of a technology that sound very similar to this
concept. Technologies fight for survival, evolve, and undergo their own characteristic life
cycle (Kurzweil 1999, 18).
In ecology, for example, Holling (1987, 1992; in Gardner and Stem 1996, 328-329),
argues that ecological and political systems go through four stages in a cyclic evolution:
exploitation, conservation, creative destruction, and reorganization. Bushy-at-the-base
exploitation is the exploration and colonization of a new territory by pioneers, who make use
of the easily accessible resources. Conservation is the creation of structures, mechanisms, or
institutions that regulate the rate of resource exploitation and establish some stability in the
face of potential shortages. In the creative destruction stage the inevitable disruptive events,
such as fire, storms, or political upheaval destroy the stability and create the possibilities for a
new cycle. In the reorganization stage (the bifurcation point) the process starts again.
6


The amount of ongoing creative destruction is critical to a systems behavior (Costanza et
al. 1993, in Gardner and Stem 996,328). If some moderate amount of release is allowed to
occur on a more frequent basis, then the destruction will be on a more local scale and the
system will be more resilient. This is what foresters in the United States learned the hard
way about fire prevention in national forests and Yellowstone. Total fire suppression causes
major catastrophic events. More frequent, controlled fires tend to prevent the major
catastrophes. What we will see with respect to individual and cultural evolution of humans is
essentially this same pattern at many different time scales. I call this pattern the Yellowstone
syndrome.
The Inner Workings of My Mind (and Yours)
Neural Nets, Ajfordances, and MicroworldsPatterns in the Brain
Human brain research and answers to why we do what we do have progressed rapidly in
recent years by using the complexity paradigm. In the previous dualistic paradigm based on
the philosophy of Descartes, people believed in a split between the mind and the body. The
mind was the boss and the body was less important. This was the modernist, functionalist
paradigman analytical, a priori philosophy that believed in reason as disembodied and
literal. Initial attempts at artificial intelligence were based on this dualistic, hierarchical
approach and they failed because of it.
By the mid- to late 1970s, a body of research emerged that called into question the
dualistic paradigm and suggested an alternative empirical foundation for the mind. This new
paradigm meshed with the complex systems approach in science, in which we realize that we
are part of the system we are analyzing. Researchers also stepped back and looked at
evolution and other organisms to help us understand ourselves.
Evolution builds brains using evolution itself as a design tool. As it matures, a brain
literally adapts to its body (Deacon 1997, 194). As we saw in the last section, researchers
now agree that the brain is composed of a net of neurons that interacts with information from
the environment. This neural net arrangement excels at pattern recognition; it looks for the
similarities between a present event and prior events.
Coupled with a physical understanding of our brain, we need a psychological
understanding of our mind. As Deacon (1997) suggests, an organisms brain requires its
7


body and its environment in order to be. Or, in other words, the inner requires encounters
with the outer.
The psychologist James J. Gibson developed the term affordances during the first half of
the 20th century to describe the resources an organism encounters in the environment. He
defined affordances as opportunities for action to express the concept that, for example,
branches or handles want to be grasped and fruit or candy wants to be eaten. These
opportunities are picked up by organisms as they negotiate the world... Affordances in
the environment are offered by things like surfaces that can be stood upon, places that present
opportunities for hiding, things that are reachable, and things that are climbable (Sanders
1999, 129).
Most information we encounter has some fixed and some variable aspectsparts of the
patterns remain constant and parts change. Habitats have variability over time and space.
Therefore, an organism must be flexible, but also have functional specificity. It must be able
to monitor, track, and adjust to significant variations in [its] circumstances (Reed 1996,
68). The information picked up is not random, but specific to the ecological task of the
animalit is directed toward filling a need. For example, we have all had the experience of
not having seen something (that someone later points out to us) because it was not
important to what we were doing at the time. Perception is of the self in the environment;
and information pickup is a process of detection, not of construction of mental models.
Given this, it is not the animals brain that organizes its world, but the evolutionary ecology
of the animal that organizes its brain (Reed 1996, 69). In the deepest sense, then, the brain
and the mind are embodied.
Research in both the psychological and neurobiological realms has shown that we
develop fixed responses to situations based on the pattern recognition capabilities of the
neural net in our brains. These responses are body-wide (Varela 1999). We go from
microworld to microworld as we recognize different preexisting patterns based on prior
experiences. Who we arethe pervasive mode of livingconsists of already constituted
microworlds (Varela 1999, 9). One important conclusion from neurobiological research is
that there is NO central control in the brainno little woman (or man) in the brain pulling
8


strings and telling us what to doit is a body-wide, integrated, team effort. What a neural
network does is coordinate the animals encounters with its environment (Reed 1996).
Each microworld has a microidentity, which is composed of a self-organized group of
neurons (Blakeslee 1996). Consciousness is a higher-order, emergent property of the self-
organization of subnetworks in our brains. Probably we acquired consciousness as a
consequence of our language abilities. Varela (1999, 41) calls consciousness a virtual self.
The conscious virtual self believes it is in control, but is not. It makes up explanations for
behavior that was actually controlled by other neural groups. Research shows that the virtual
self is typically no better, and often worse, at explaining ones own behavior than an outside
observer! (Gazzaniga 1985, in Blakeslee 1996)
So, now we have begun to construct an ecological foundationwe have prepared the
fieldfor the evolution of a brain that can encounter the world. I will get back to the neural
basis of our encounters after I add a few more building blocks to the ecological foundation
or, in the new metaphor, add topological complexity to the ecological field. First, I will look
at the human needs that we satisfy by our encounters with affordances, then at meaning and
value.
Maslow s Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow (1970) developed his theory of the hierarchy of needs to explain what
motivates human behavior. From the base of the hierarchy up are physiological needs, then
the needs for safety, belongingness and love, esteem, and self-actualization. As we
sufficiently fill needs lower on the hierarchy, we move up to higher and higher needs: Man
is a wanting animal and rarely reaches a state of complete satisfaction except for a short time.
As one desire is satisfied, still another pops up to take its place (Maslow 1970, 24). The
hierarchy is not strict; we go to the next need before the preceding one is completely
satisfied. We vary in where we are within the hierarchy from hour to hour and day to day as
we encounter different situations.
The first two sets of needsphysiological and safetyare basic, ongoing needs that keep
us alive. Physiological needs are for things that provide homeostasis: food, water, and
nutrients. Fulfillment of these needs is necessary throughout life. Insufficient fulfillment for
an infant in its first months can produce permanent physical and mental damage.
9


Safety needs include security, stability, dependency, protection, and freedom from fear.
They become primary as a child is learning language, but continue throughout life:
An indication of the childs need for safety is his preference for some kind of undisrupted routine
or rhythm. He seems to want a predictable, lawful, orderly world. For instance, injustice,
unfairness, or inconsistency in the parents seems to make a child feel anxious and unsafe. .
The tendency to have some religion or world philosophy that organizes the universe and the men
in it into some sort of satisfactorily coherent meaningful whole is also in part motivated by safety
seeking. Here too we may list science and philosophy in general as partially motivated by safety
needs. The threat of chaos or of nihilism can be expected in most human beings to produce a
regression from any higher needs to the more prepotent safety needs. (Maslow 1970; 35, 41, 43)
The next set of needsbelongingness and loveincludes the need for affectionate
relations and the importance of ones territory, ones clan, and ones own kind. These needs
are due to our deeply animal tendency to herd, to flock, to join, to belong; hunger for human
contact, for intimacy; the need to overcome widespread feelings of alienation, aloneness,
strangeness, and loneliness; togetherness in the face of a common enemy, any enemy
(Maslow 1970, 43).
Once we feel a sense of belongingness, we need esteemfor achievement, for adequacy,
for mastery and competence, for independence and freedomdeserved respect (Maslow
1970, 45). The highest need on Maslows hierarchy is for self-actualization. What a man
can be, he must be. He must be true to his own nature. [Self-actualization is the need] to
become everything one is capable of becoming. [It is] the desire for self-fulfillment
(Maslow 1970, 45). Self-actualization is the need for developing the self in the world.
Individual Needs
All humans have the same basic hierarchy of needs because we are all the same species.
However, we also have differing needs based on our unique abilities and predispositions that
stem from our unique genetic makeup. These unique predispositions color our individual
experience of what constitutes an affordance, or as we will see shortly, our efforts after
values. Genes determine or at least contribute to differences in the relative need, for
example, for mental and/or physical stimulation, for companionship, and for order.
Our ancestors lived intimately with the climate, completely within diurnal cycles and the
cycles of the seasons. Some of us are more sensitive to the environment and to place than
others, to the point where inappropriate environments can produce acute depression or manic-
depressive disorder. For example, most of us suffer to some degree from the syndrome
10


called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) when we do not get enough sun in the winter. The
manic-depressive artist Vincent van Gogh likely suffered immensely from it (Wehr, in
Gallagher 1993).
From birth, babies respond differently to the same stimulation or frustration. Some are
naturally more calm, others more excitable. Researchers of human temperament use the
terms inhibited and uninhibited, anxious and bold, timid and thrill seeker, or introvert and
extrovert to distinguish between what most of us call uptight and laid-back. These are
actually the two opposite ends of a spectrum of temperaments that affect behavior. Most of
us are somewhere in the middle. Thrill seekers have low resting heart rate, skin conductance,
and brain-wave activity compared to average values, while timid introverts have high levels.
It appears everyone seeks an optimum level halfway between anxiety and boredom. For
thrill-seekers, this level requires more than average stimulation; for introverts, this level
requires less than average stimulation. Thus, each type seeks a different sort of environment:
Thrill-seekers were once the adventurers. Today, they tend to like the fast-paced city life.
Introverts need finely tuned lighting, fresh air, tranquil environments, and familiar
surroundings.1
The introvert/extrovert axis is only one of any number of axes of personality differences
due to differences in genetic makeup. As I write, the Genome Project is nearing completion.
Much of the current research is health-related. However, I expect that there will be a burst of
new information on the role of genes in our psychological lives as well. How we will use
that information will depend on what stage of consciousness we are in.
Place and the Need for Beauty
We saw that place can have a strong effect on our moods and actions. Most of us have
strong preferences for certain types of landscape. For many of us, the preference is for the
type of place in which we grew up: Our landscapes shape our stories, then our stories shape
us.
The human species probably first lived in the savanna. Some believe that we have
evolved to prefer this landscape, which gives us both refuge and prospect. Refuge is a safe
place to hide, a place from which one can see without being seen; prospect is a wide-ranging
11


overview. People from all cultures appear to prefer an environment that gives us both
understanding/coherence and exploration/complexity (Kaplan 1992). I would argue that our
preference for the savanna is not hardwired by evolution, but is rather due to the savannas
ability to satisfy both our survival needsour needs for safety and security
(understanding/coherence)and our growth needsour needs for learning and self-
actualization (exploration/complexity). People feel best in settings that, like parks and cars,
foster a sense of control, impose few constraints, and offer multiple options Gallagher 1999,
77).
I believe that our concept of beauty is intimately related to our preference for a savanna-
type environment. I suggest that beauty is that which simultaneously fulfills both our
survival needs and our growth needs. We need beauty in order to grow. We develop our
abilities to make aesthetic judgments in much the same way as we learn everything else
(Parsons 1987), and what we consider beautiful depends on our stage of consciousness.
There is also a structural coupling between the viewer and the aesthetic object. For example,
knowing something about the authors life often helps the viewer understand the authors
artwork. The reverse is also true. And further:
It is dialectical, a spiral if you will, in which new skills open up new areas of challenge, which ..
. facilitate the merging of attention and awareness. In the encounter with the aesthetic object,
attention will be fully focused only when the challenges and skills are in balance. And
completing the cycle, but at a higher level, this very focusing of attention develops new skills.
(Csikszentmihalyi and Robinson 1990, 119)
As we begin to understand how we are interconnected with the rest of the Earth, the
definition of beauty could logically be extended to include morality as well, as David Orr
(1999, 149) pleads: In the largest sense, what we must do to ensure human tenure on Earth
is to cultivate a new standard that defines beauty as that which causes no ugliness somewhere
else or at some later time.
Meaning and Value
The quest after value and meaning is basic to all animal life and derives from our
encountering the environment. Valuing is the process of living. Without constant valuing of
factsor affordancesby an organism, it would not live. Valuing up or down is as 1
1 Gallagher 1993. Gallagher discusses research by a number of environmental physiologists and psychologists.
12


ubiquitous as the antibodies in our bloodstream recognizing and destroying invader microbes.
The medley of valuing in a living organism provides the undercurrent of its existence (Ferre
1998, 284).
The effort after value is based on our need to obtain the affordances we require both to
live and to thrive. Every individual effort after a value will have some effect on all
subsequent efforts. If an effort is successful, it will increase the tendency for similar efforts
in the future. If it is unsuccessful, it will foster a tendency to seek similar values by other
means or actions (Reed 1996). We thus have the formation of a pattern either to do or not to
do something in the future. The effort after value, then, trains the neural networks of the
brain.
The effort after meaning is the detection of information that allows us to obtain the
affordances we need. A number of researchers have shown through diverse experiments that
the detection of informationthe effort after meaningis intrinsically motivating. Animals
naturally want to know more; we are innately curious. We have most likely evolved to be
this way from earliest time because the more information we can collect about affordances,
the more likely we are to satisfy our survival needs.
Our perceptual systems are organized so that activities that extract information from the
environment tend to improve over time. We learn to collect more information better.
Perceptual learning is the increasing ability to extract more and more subtle and/or extensive
information from a given situation. We also try to make our information consistent.
Psychologists use the terms cognitive dissonance and disharmony to refer to the unpleasant
feeling that people get when we have two conflicting pieces of knowledge about the world.
We try to make the pieces fit together, either by adding new cognitions that connect the
pieces or by changing one or both of the original cognitions.
Both genes and environment are important in learning. Humans (and other animals) that
live in social groups are likely to have extensive shaping experiences merely due to their
proximity to others of their groupdue to living in a populated environment. Social animals
that engage in signaling do so to share values and meaningfor example, the presence of
food or a predator. Primates and humans teach their young, both by example and by actively
13


correcting mistakes. In so doing, we are collectivizing our efforts and our motivation (Reed
1996).
In the process of this collectivization, we humans have developed cultureanother
emergent property. One of the distinguishing features of the human species is that we have
colonized most of the worlds biomes. Most biomes lack at least some of the affordances we
have evolved to want or need. Where an affordance such as warmth, shelter, or food was not
present, we have specialized as a species in modifying the environment to provide that
affordance. As a species, we have transformed objects, places, and events, and in the process
have developed an evolving culture.
The most visible of these modifications is the transformation of place. We have built
shelters, increased our access to water, and improved our vistas for protection and view. The
hearth became the centerpiece of human community and helped shaped our evolution. We
evolved routine daily activities and events along with increasing differentiation of place for
these different activities, such as butchering spots, cooking areas, sleeping areas, and garbage
dumps. As we did so, we also developed a distinction between proper carrying out of
events and actions and improper (sometimes even taboo) ways of carrying them out. Our
human environment is structured not only by the substances and surfaces we used but by
characteristically distinct patterns of social regulation, selectively specifying certain actions
as appropriate and tending to inhibit or restrict other actions (Reed 1996, 118).
Much of the activity of our daily lives is given to routine daily tasks. These tasks are
organized both in space and in timesleeping; waking; finding, preparing, and eating food.
Children learn regulated behaviors in a highly structured environment. For most people, their
settings are more important than their personalities in determining their behavior during their
day-to-day activities. In a very real sense, we are all actors on a stage. For example, in a
shop we are proprietor or customer, in a library or church we speak with hushed voice
(Barker, in Gallagher 1993).
Again, we see the prevalence of automatic, fixed unconscious patterns of behaviors. This
is an important inner issue. Next, let us delve deeper into our minds.
14


Memes and MetaphorsPatterns of Human Thought
We have now built a very basic ecological psychological framework for human and
cultural evolution and laid some groundwork on human needs and for rethinking the search
for values and meaning. Now I would like to go down a parallel track and look at some of
the same issues from a different perspective. In this section my goal is to tie the
psychological theory to some of the latest neuroscience and linguistic-philosophical models
of how our brains work and how we interact. I will start by introducing the idea of memes
and why they are so much a part of our lives. Then I will look more closely at some of these
memesthe mostly unconscious metaphors of morality by which we live our lives.
Memes and Sparse, Distributed Memory
Meme is a term first coined by Richard Dawkins (1976, 1989) to represent the cultural
analogue of a gene. According to Susan Blackmore (1999, 17), Memes are instructions for
carrying out behaviour, stored in brains (or other objects) and passed on by imitation. Their
competition drives the evolution of the mind. Memes are replicators of cultural
information; they are both the patterns in the mind and those things external to the brain that
are mapped by these patterns, such as advertising jingles, fashion, fads, recipes, rituals, and
so onanything that can be passed on by imitation.
Often, memes are found in groups, called memeplexes. Among the myriad of
memeplexes are science, religion, philosophy, and the concept of self. The term meme has
found its way into the popular jargon; thus it has itself become a successful meme. One of
the key points about memes is that, just like genes, their goal is to reproduce. They are
considered by some to be a life-form that has co-evolved in parallel with the human species.
Because memes are information, they reproduce in direct proportion to the amount of
attention they receive by people. The more attention a meme receives, the more likely it is to
spread. But, some people question whether what is best for the meme is necessarily best for
people.
Memes propagate so successfully within individuals and cultures because of the vast
amount of information in the world and the way the finite brain has developed to make sense
of it. It likes and needs recurring patterns. The neural networks of all brains have developed
a mode of information storage that computer modelers call sparse, distributed memory
15


(Gabora 1997). A sparse, distributed memory is a method of data storage that allows vast
amounts of information to be stored in a much smaller system than would be necessary if the
data were stored on a one-to-one basis. This type of storage system allows for creativity and
thus cultural evolution.
In simplified terms, storage of a piece of information, or meme, is distributed across a
group of neurons. Each neuron in the group also participates in the storage of many other
memes. Memes that are together temporally or spatially when a person (or other animal) first
experiences them are initially stored close to each other in the brain, using some of the same
neurons. The closer two memes are located in storage, the more likely that they will be used,
or retrieved, together. The memes can also rearrange with time as new information is
gathered. Many memes can get integrated into a single memeplex by categorization. In
other words, brains are designed to categorizeto lump things and concepts based on similar
patterns.
Every living being categorizes (Lakoff and Johnson 1999, 17). How they do so
depends on their sensory apparatus and on their ability to move themselves and manipulate
objects:
Most (categorizations) are formed automatically and unconsciously as a result of functioning in
the world. The peculiar nature of our bodies shapes our very possibilities for
conceptualizations and categorizations. Categorization is thus not a purely intellectual
matter, occurring after the fact of experience. Rather the formation and use of categories is the
stuff of experience. ... What we call concepts are neural structures that allow us to mentally
characterize our categories and reason about them. Human categories are typically
conceptualized in more than one way, in terms of what are called prototypes. (Lakoff and
Johnson 1999, 18-19)
Prototypes are neural structurespatternsthat permit us to do some sort of inferential
or imaginative task relative to a category. They allow rapid differentiation between the ideal
case and the typical, e.g. the ideal and the typical husband. They are the basis of social
stereotypes, which allow us to make instant judgments, usually about people. Most of our
reasoning is based on prototypes.
The abstract concepts that we use to develop categories are largely metaphorical (Lakoff
and Johnson 1980, 1999). They are based on spatial relations concepts such as containment,
source-path-goal, compulsive force, balance, attraction, and verticality. The metaphors are
experience-based: in the middle of the hierarchy, concepts are grounded... We often
16


envision categories as containers, with an inside, an outside, and a boundary... These
experience-based metaphors form the basis of how we conceptualize and reason. We
perceive affordancesthat which is of potential value to us in its use. It is a process and
relationship, not a thing, that interests us and that we perceive. Metaphors combine
seemingly different things that actually use the same types of processesthat have the same
general patterns.
Because we encounter affordancesopportunities, rather than just thingswe have the
capacity from birth to automatically integrate the information collected by each of our
individual senses. Our perceptions, emotions, and actions are cross-modal (Johnson 1999).
Infants experience shapes, including facial features, in terms of basic feelings or affects, such
as being happy or angry. Stem (1985, in Johnson 1999) suggests that there is a vast domain
of affective experience-feelingsbeyond the commonly considered ones of happiness,
sadness, fear, anger, and so forthfor which we have no similar names. These are dynamic,
active aspects of our experience, and we use words that express movement, such as surging,
fleeting, fading away, drawn out, floating, rushing, bursting, explosive, and crescendo. They
are innately time-dependent, with particular patterns of change in intensity, or contours of
activation, over time.
These recurring patterns of embodied interactions characterize and ground all human
thinking, conceptualization, and reasoning. For example, the source-path-goal metaphor is a
typical pattern of embodied experience. Hundreds of times each day we move our bodies
through space to achieve some goal, such as going to the sink for a glass of water, to the
refrigerator for some food, to the doorstep for the morning paper, the medicine cabinet for
our toothpaste... We also observe others moving through our perceptual space from some
initial point to some destination. We depend on this pattern for our survival. Thus, it is not
surprising that we would extend this pattern as a metaphor for our entire life or major
portions of it.
The metaphors we unconsciously develop from recurring contours of activation over time
and the fact that we do not usually have direct control over their use suggest that that they
may actually be complex-system attractors that have developed within our brain. Combs and
Goertzel (in Combs 1996) maintain that the mind is a grand attractor that includes an
17


individuals entire mental life. This attractor has lobes or subattractors within it that are
patterns or habits of thought, memories, dreams, and entire belief systems. These mental
events/subattractors can interact to give birth to new and original ideas. States of
consciousnessintrospection, flow state, sleep, meditation, and so forthare similarly
attractors. If the conditions are altered enough, one moves from one attractor basin to
another. Certain places, objects, events, or people can trigger the switch from one state or
attractor to another in an individual.
Major connections within the neural circuitryattractorsrapidly develop in the first
years of life as the infant develops perceptual and interactive skills (Deacon 1997). At the
onset of each major stage of psychological development (which I will discuss in Part 2), the
neural net in the brain undergoes significant reorganizationforming more complex
attractors. The success of this reorganization depends on the types of patterns previously
learned. The earliest relationships that an infant experiences have a decisive impact on its
physical growth and future health, as well as its socialization as an adult. The infants
emerging sense of self-identity consists mainly in the process and structure of its experience
(Stem 1985, in Johnson 1999)the patterns it learns.
Metaphors of Morality
Combs suggests that our entire belief system is a subattractor. Similarly, our ethical or
moral behavior is for the most part an unconscious, learned pattern of behavior (Varela
1999)a subattractor. Further, it is behavior based on learning a relatively small set of
body-based metaphorssmaller subattractors. These metaphors all appear to be grounded
in our various experiences of well-being, especially physical well-being (Lakoff and
Johnson 1999, 290). With each of these metaphors comes a particular set of moral beliefs.
Six metaphors form the basis for most of our Western concepts of morality: Moral
strength, moral accounting, moral authority, moral order, moral nurturance, and moral
empathy. In order to act on ones moral convictions, one must have moral strength. Thus,
moral strength is a central metaphor within essentially all moral systems. It includes moral
uprightness and balance, as well as control over oneself and evil. In this metaphor, good and
evil are forces. One becomes morally strong to fight the force of evil through self-discipline
and self-denial. The metaphor of wealth brings with it moral accounting: Doing something
18


good for someone gives them value and you earn a moral credit; doing them harm earns you
a moral debit. A number of moral schemes use the accounting metaphor. Among them are
reciprocation, retribution, revenge, restitution, and altruism.
In our culture, two major types of upbringing, Strict Father and Nurturant Parent, are
dominant; a third less prevalent variant, Permissive, also exists (Lakoff and Johnson 1999).
Each uses a different subset of moral metaphors and produces a different type of morality.
Strict Father Morality. This model gives precedence to the metaphors of moral authority,
moral strength, and moral order. It emerged in response to the perception that life is hard and
dangerous. Moral authority is modeled on dominance in the physical sphere. The parents
moral authority over the child is based on the physical dominance of the parent over the
child. If the father is the moral authority, he has the capacity to define the moral principles
for the family. Moral order justifies the moral authority of certain people. In this metaphor,
there is a natural hierarchy, for example, such that God is higher than man, man is higher
than woman, adults are higher than children, humans are higher than nature. The moral order
metaphor legitimizes power relationships and generates a hierarchy of moral responsibility in
which those who have moral authority over another also have a moral responsibility toward
that other.
Today, this is the model of the nuclear family. The father has primary responsibility for
supporting and protecting the family; the mother has day-to-day responsibility for raising the
children, maintaining the household, and upholding the fathers authority. Right and wrong
are taught as a set of strict rules enforced by rewards and punishment whose purpose is to
help the child succeed in a world of competition and struggle. Children must learn discipline
and must develop strong character in order to compete and survive. Coddling is frowned
upon because it is considered spoiling the childit makes the child weak.
The Strict Father morality tends to follow a rights and rules ethic. According to this
model, children learn self-discipline and self-reliance through obedience. Ideally, when they
grow up, they become self-governing and self-legislatingobedient to their own internalized
moral authority. However, psychological research suggests that Strict Father upbringing
does not produce the desired type of people. Rather, it tends to produce grown-ups who are
dependent on authority and have little sense of conscience or of responsibility (Lakoff and
19


Johnson 1999). They are either domineering if raised to be on top (usually boys), or
submissive, if raised to be on the bottom of the hierarchy (usually girls and minorities). The
extreme outcome of this type of morality is Nazi Germany.
Nurturant Parent Morality. In this model, the priorities of the various morality metaphors
are essentially opposite to that of the Strict Father morality. Moral nurturance and moral
empathy are the most important. Moral nurturance is based on the need of all organisms for
nurturance in order to grow. Children require physical, mental, emotional, and moral
nurturance to become healthy adults. In this metaphor, parents must have moral empathy in
order to understand what their children need, and they then have the responsibility to provide
it. Not to do so is to act immorallyto rob the children of their right to become a healthy
adult, in all senses of the word. This metaphor of morality is fundamentally different from
that of moral authority in that it focuses on the responsibility to care for other people, rather
than on ones own rights.
Proper Nurturant Parent morality sets bounds on what people are allowed to do because
genuine nurturance teaches respect and responsibility. Ideally, children learn obedience not
out of fear of punishment, but out of love and respect for their parents. Open, two-way,
mutually respectful communication is crucial to allow children to understand why the
parents decisions serve to protect and nurture them. The primal experience behind this
model is that of being cared for and cared about, having ones desires for loving interactions
met, living as happily as possible, and deriving meaning from mutual interaction and care
(Lakoff and Johnson 1999, 315). Nurturant Parent morality works better than Strict Father
morality in that it tends to instill confidence, a sense of responsibility, and respect for others.
Permissive Morality. Both the Strict Father and the Nurturant Parent moralities
recognize clear sets of values, strict standards of behavior, and the necessity of moral
strength and discipline.... They place stringent constraints on our actions (Lakoff and
Johnson 1999, 323). Permissive morality can be viewed as a pathological extreme of the
Nurturant Parent morality or pathological reaction to Strict Father morality, in which children
are allowed to do as they please. They are not held responsible for their actions and there are
no strict rules. Children growing up in this environment tend to be selfish and egotistical,
and believe that other people only matter as a means to an end.
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The morals of the family that a child grew up in are the main determinant of the childs
future morality as a grown-up, especially if the culture reinforces that upbringing (Lakoff and
Johnson 1999). The patterns learned in childhood determine which moral metaphor
unconsciously takes precedence in any particular situation. Many of the differences in the
ability of people to progress through the stages of consciousness are due to differences in
family upbringing and the pre-existing memes of the culture in which they found
themselvesdifferences in the subattractor basins, or patterns, in their brains.
21


PART 2: The Evolution of ConsciousnessChanging Our Patterns of
Thought
My goal in this part of the thesis is to form the basis both for the evolution of individual
psyches and the evolution of society and culture as a whole. Consciousness, like other living
systems, grows both continuously and in step-like jumps from one stage or structure to a
higher stage. As the stage of consciousness of a significant percentage of its grown-ups
increases, the stage of consciousness of the culture also increases (Combs 1995, Wilber
1996). Similarly, as the stage of consciousness increases in a culture, it affects the way
individuals at lower stages experience their stages and helps them reach the highest stage of
the culture. The twothe individual and the cultureform a massive structural coupling or
positive feedback loop. This point is critical and will bring us much closer to answering why
different peopleincluding architectsat different times in their life and different times in
history do what they do.
We will see that the earliest people of a culture to enter a new stage of consciousness are
point people who, depending on the values they learned as children, either use their new
abilities to their advantage to repress others or try to help others grow. Each stage of
consciousness has started off painfully within a culture, with a significant bang, because each
new stage has brought with it a new paradigm or worldviewa new set of thought patterns.
Yet each stage has gotten easierand earlierfor successive generations. When the
vanguard group who first entered a new stage become parents, teachers, and full societal
members, the transition of the next generation through that stage of consciousness becomes
easier. It then prepares that group for transition to an even higher stage.
In Part 2,1 will briefly explore the concept of paradigms, outline how we learn, and
describe our need to mourn for lost selves from previous stages. With this and the foundation
from Part 1,1 will review the stages of infant development and human maturation from a
psychological perspective and discuss the needs and values that are dominant at each stage. I
will also relate each stage of the individual to the time in history or pre-history that this stage
dominated human culture. Finally, I will discuss the effects of technology and education on
our advancement through the consciousness stages.
22


Paradigms, Learning, and Losses
Paradigms/Habits of Mind
Paradigm is another word for worldview or stage of consciousness. It is a memea
habit, or pattern, of minddue to the pattern-recognition structure of the human brain.
Paradigm shifts require either overcoming a unique, single barrier habit of mind or
developing a missing habit of mind in order to bridge a perceptual or conceptual gap
(Margolis 1993). A barrier habit explains why paradigm shifts in a field of science are most
often made by someone new to the field, who does not have the same preconceived ideas
about the field that old-timers do. Either a single barrier or a single missing habit explains
why, during certain periods of history, several people independently discover the same new
paradigm at essentially the same time. The time is ripe, in that a new generation grew up
under different circumstances with different cultural patterns than their parents,
circumstances that allowed the younger generation either to not learn their parents barrier
habit or to learn the missing habit.
Habits of mind are learned. But how do we learn, how do we form patterns of thought
and actionattractors in our individual complex systemsand how do we change them?
Learning
We learn many of our skills at an early age by imitation or by trial-and-error. We also
learn skills by instruction. The process is the same whether the skill is intellectual, such as
chess, or physical, such as driving a car. Dreyfus and Dreyfus (1999) have outlined the
stages in this learning process.
For the beginner, the instructor breaks down the task into a set of context-free features
and sets up rules for determining action, just like a computer following a program. As the
beginner gains experience coping with real situations, she begins to notice examples of
meaningful additional aspects of the situation.
The advanced beginner has some grasp of both rules for non-situational features and
actions for specific situational aspects. As she gains more experience, she becomes
overwhelmed with the number of different aspects she recognizes. Performance becomes
exhausting. To cope, she learns to devise a plan or take a perspective, in order to prioritize.
23


With fewer relevant features and aspects, decision-making becomes easier and she can then
develop competence.
The competent performer seeks rules for choosing the relevant rules and aspects. She
must make decisions on her own without being sure that they will be appropriate for a given
situation. She becomes frightened, and feels a great sense of responsibility for her actions.
She alternates between waves of euphoria for correct moves and agony for mistakes. It is
increasingly difficult to be emotionally detached. She is now at a bifurcation point.
Increasing involvement sets the stage for advancement. Failure to take responsibility results
in regression. If the competent player remains involved, the internal positive and negative
reinforcement strengthens successful responses and inhibits unsuccessful ones. She develops
intuitive situational responses.
Actions become easier and less stressful, as the proficient player sees intuitively what
needs to be achieved, rather than needing to make conscious decisions on what the goal is.
However, because she has simply not yet had enough experience in the wide variety of
responses to a given situation, she must still decide what to do. So she falls back on detached
rule following and spends time deliberating. She has an overview of the situation, but still
must make conscious decisions on a particular choice of action.
The expert not only has the situational overview, but also a vast range of experience, so
that she also knows intuitively what to do. At this point, her responses are immediate and
automatic. She can actually concentrate on something entirely different and still respond
correctly in the area of expertise (Dreyfus and Dreyfus 1999, 110).
We will see that as we progress through stages of consciousness, we expand our minds
range of understanding. At each stage, we must learn new skills and develop new abilities
before we can move on to the next stage. The same sequence of steps to learning a skill
must occur within each stage of maturation or we will become stuck (Anderson 1995). The
child is the beginner learning the concepts and the rules. The pre-teen is the advanced
beginner who has become aware of frustrations and taken the perspective of the other to his
parents. The adolescent is the competent performer who rationally, but also emotionally,
seeks rules for choosing rules. The youth is the proficient player who has the overview of
multiple perspectives, but must still decide what to do. And the adult is the expert intuitive
24


integrator. So, we learn skills at each stage and each stage is itself a new skillsimilar
processes at different scalespatterns within patterns. Also, what is experienced as a
balanced state depends on which stage a person is in. And going from one stage to the next
requires not only learning new skills, but also giving up old ones and successfully mourning
their loss.
Mourning a Loss
When we experience a significant loss, whether it is the death of someone close, the loss
of a job, or the death of a belief or long-time habit, we go through a number of stages in the
healing processa learning to unlearn particular patterns. Completion of all stages of
mourning for the loss of prior stages of consciousness is a requirement for successful moving
from one stage of consciousness to the next. (Again, we have stages within stagespatterns
within patterns.)
The first stage is shock or numbness, and a retreat to safety. This is a protective response
that allows the truth to sink in slowly so that it can be more easily coped with. To move out
of this stage, the person must emotionally accept the reality of the loss. The second stage is
conscious, emotional awareness of the loss. There is a desperate yearning for the lost one;
and feelings of anxiety, anger, protest, and guilt arise. The person in grief must allow himself
to feel the pain and express it in order to work through it. The third stage is disorganization
and withdrawal. At this phase, the impact of the loss sinks in, that it is irreversible. There is
an obsessive review of the loss. Feelings of despair, sadness, and helplessness develop. At
this point, the person needs to adjust to changes in his roles, sense of self, and view of the
world. He must find new approaches and new relationships. The fourth phase is healing and
reorganization. It is the process of regaining control and rebuilding ones life. It is a time
for restructuring the persons identity. In this phase, the person must withdraw his emotional
investment from the old and reinvest it in new relationships (Moorey 1995; Sanders 1989).
Stages of Consciousness/Maturation
As we learn more and different types of information, we acquire a greater diversity of
mental patternswe become a more advanced learner of life. When enough patterns
accumulate, our brain periodically reorganizesit develops a higher order structure of
consciousness. Several authors have discussed this growth process in detail. This discussion
25


will build on the syntheses of five of these interdisciplinarians, each of whom has a
somewhat different perspectivea different set of thought patternsand has something
unique to offer. Wilber has developed a basic scheme for the evolution of consciousness of
men and culture from his synthesis of others work. Combs has built upon and expanded this
synthesis. Reed and Anderson have developed reasonable explanations for parts of the actual
processes. Gilligan has shown that the order of maturation tends to be different for most
women than for most men.
Infancy and Paradise
The newborn is a beginner in learning the skills of life. It first learns the skills of
perception and interaction. Initial interactions are mainly face-to-face because the newborn
has very little control of posture. These interactions are of vital importance and they need to
have consistency and rhythm: Relationships, or connections with others, are known to the
young child as patterns of interaction that occur in time and extend through time: themes and
variations (Gilligan 1988, ix). Consistency in these patterns provides security for the infant.
At about 3 to 4 months and continuing until about 9 months, two new types of
interactions emerge in the infant (Reed 1996). In the first, the child begins to form social
expectations about certain people and their games and expressions and can control entry into
face-to-face interaction. In the second, it develops some perception of itself as an agent in
that it learns to reject face-to-face interaction and begins to show interest in objects,
especially if it can somehow control them. At about 7 months, images begin to emerge in an
infants mind. Toys, security blankets, thumb sucking, and other objects become valued
temporary organizers that provide stability. At around the age of 9 months, infants develop
independent locomotion skillsthey learn to crawl. This changes the infants status and
perspective, and produces a rapid expansion of range of both physical and social interactions.
In our pre-history, a culture with a consciousness equivalent to present-day infancy
probably emerged between a million and 400,000 years ago. At this time, proto-humans
were hunter-gatherers, or foragers. They probably lived in family groups or small tribes of
less than about 40 people, based on estimations of the carrying capacity of the land. The
average life span at the time was probably about 22 or 23 years. This was a period in which
the proto-humans differed from other animals only in that the male hunted for his family,
26


rather than only himself (Wilber 1996). This period likely corresponds with the mythical
paradise of Eden, when the anguish of separation and .. individual existence and death was
not yet known (Combs 1996, 129).
The Toddler and the Beginnings of Verbal Communication
By the time children are about 1 year old, they are beginning to learn how to control their
expressions so as to reliably communicate to their caregivers what they want. Between about
12 and 15 months, they learn to walk. They also start to see their father, as well as their
mother, as a valued organizer. They continue to value consistency in the patterns of
interaction.
They also enter the first phase of language development, and begin to use indicational
language (Reed 1996). The functional skills mainly revolve around the childs ability to
select or indicate a topic of interest (object, place, event, or person) to be shared with the
caregiver or other family member. Because the skill is used largely within the confines of the
immediate family, it tends to be idiosyncratic. People not interacting regularly with the child
are unlikely to understand it. Reed (1996, 155-156) makes a crucial point: Language is not
a means of transmitting ideas or representations; it is a means of making information
available to others and thereby contributes to the regulation of ones own and ones groups
activity.
During our early humanity, simple indicational language began to develop as the
individuals interacted in their families. The archeologist Marija Gibutas (1991) has presented
evidence of the existence of flint sculptures of female figures from at least 500,000 years ago.
John Pfeiffer has dated a carefully marked ox rib as 2-300,000 years old. These, and similar
other pieces of evidence, suggest humans had evolved to a point of at least simple
communication by this timeperhaps to the point of rudimentary indicational language.
Early Childhood, Language, and the Magical ("Fantasia )
Once the child has built up a critical complexity of interactive patterns, the complexity
triggers the next emergent property of language in the childthe vocabulary explosion that
occurs at about 18 months (Reed 1996). As the child is exposed to an ever-greater range of
people and circumstances, it is forced to adapt to the language of the community and a major
reorganization of its language abilities occursanother change of patterns.
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By the time a child is about 2 years old, it has begun to use language generatively:
Language is no longer just a vehicle for indicating the topic or focus of (joint) attention. It
is increasingly a vehicle for predicating something about that topic or focus (Reed 1996,
163). This generative use of language, in another positive-feedback loop, then begins to
reorganize how the caregivers interact with the child, which further spurs the childs
development. There is always interplay between the child and those around it. The learning
of generational language takes a considerable amount of time and effort.
Related to the capacity to learn generational language is the capacity to understand
symbols. From 2 to 4 years, symbols, such as Fido for the family dog, dominate the childs
awareness. At this time, images and symbols may not be clearly differentiated from the
objects they represent. It seems that to manipulate the image is to actually change the
object. The child lives in (a) world of magical displacement and condensation (Wilber
1996, 173).
At about 15 to 24 months, if all goes well, the emotional self begins to differentiate itself
from the emotional environment (Wilber 1996). The child enters the terrible twos and
begins practicing the concept no (Anderson 1995). It begins to realize that it is a separate
self existing in a separate world (Wilber 1996, 165). It values the reaction it gets when it
practices its separation behavior. This is a period when the child develops and values a
number of temporary organizers to provide mental stability or consolidation. These include
such things as blankets, dolls, pets, and thumb sucking. Throughout childhood and
adolescence, the child continues to need consistent behavior from those with whom it
interacts in order to develop patterns. It needs to learn boundariesit values consistent
boundaries as something it can rely on for security. If it does not learn the boundaries, it
tends to develop a Permissive morality, a morality based on the need to controla morality
based on fear.
Two dimensions exist in the young childs awareness of self in relation to others
attachment and inequality. The childs early social environment is experienced differently
for boys and girls because the mother sees herself as more like her daughters and as different
from her sons. The daughter in turn senses this sameness in attachment and the son separates
28


himself from his mother (Gilligan and Wiggins 1988). The two dynamics of attachment and
inequality begin to play out differently across the sexes by the age of three.
Moral dilemmas occur for the child when its search for equalityto become as
competent as the adultcomes in conflict with the childs search for attachmentthe effort
to create and sustain authentic relationships. These conflicts become most intense in early
childhood and again in adolescence, which are major physiological and emotional growth
periods. These are the periods when the child learns to use either a win/lose, either/or
strategy or a win/win, both/and strategy to deal with such conflicts.
The stage of development of the modem 2- to 4-year old, with its gradual acquisition of
symbols and generative language and its dual experience of inequality and attachment
appears to correspond to the Neolithic period of human evolution between about 40,000 to
20,000 years ago. Approximately 35,000 to 40,000 years ago the Cro-Magnons underwent a
creative explosion, with wall paintings and engravings, elaborately carved figurines, and
delicately incised bones. All of these artistic products were symbols (Pfeiffer 1982, in
Pollack 1997). For example, the carved figurine Venus of Willendorf is estimated to be
about 30,000 years old. The figurine is an abstracted female body with a large honeycomb-
like head. This is a culture that identified with the mother earth and likely believed in magic.
Early-Middle Childhood and the Early Mythic
Children between the ages of 4 and 7 begin to categorizethe word dog represents all
dogs, not just Fido (Wilber 1996). This is the period of the mental or conceptual self. The
caregivers orchestration of a childs experiences is crucial in determining how it learns to
categorize (Reed 1996, 148). Thus, children of different epochs learned different concepts
different patterns. Children of different sexes do alsoincluding concepts about themselves:
Girls come to experience themselves as less differentiated than boys, as more continuous
with and related to the external object-world, and as differently oriented to their inner object-
world as well (Chodorow 1978, in Gilligan 1982, 8).
The young girl may become painfully aware of inequality if the father and the community
hold the mother in lower esteem because she is a woman. In this casethat of the Strict
Father moralitythe girl leams that she will always be less than a boy. The boy learns that
he is presently unequal to his father, but will some day be higher than his mother and any
29


sisters. Also, if the parents show that they value the child only when it does what the parents
want, the child learns that it is only valuable under certain circumstances. The values here
are moral authority, moral strength, and moral orderrevenge and retribution. If oppressive,
they can result in pathological development of both sexes because their growth needs conflict
with their need for securitythey have conflicting mental patterns.
The boy is less likely to lose sight of attachment and the girl is less likely to lose sight of
equality if the parents practice a Nurturant Parent morality that both nurtures and challenges
them and sets good examples. If children see that people of both sexes are caring and loving,
as well as strong and independent, they will learn that these traits are not sex-linked and that
one need not forego one set of values for the other. Adult role models are critical to teaching
skills at this stage and to developing confidence in the child. The values here for both sexes
are care, responsibility, relationship, and respectfor both self and others.
In general, this is the age when children begin to realize that magic does not workthat
they cannot change things by themselves by wishing it. So they turn to their parents and
those around them. This corresponds to the time for looking towards goddesses and gods.
Whereas, in the previous magical phase, the infant thought that it itself could alter the world
by the right word-magic, now it has to spend its time trying to appease the gods and demons
and forces that can alter the world, often for the worse. Egocentric power gives way to
egocentric prayer and ritual (Wilber 1996, 173).
This is also the time for Once upon a time... stories, a time of myths. This childhood
stage is similar to the beginnings of the Mythic epoch during the Neolithic horticultural era
believed to have begun about 12,000 years ago (Wilber 1996). At this time humans first
began planting cropsmainly with a digging stick. A stick could be used by both sexes,
even pregnant women. Thus, this was a time of relative equality. Great Mother societies
flourished. The average life span was about 25 years. Children went directly from childhood
to adulthood. It is likely that these people had no concept of self separate from the group.
Mid- to Late Childhood and the Late Mythic/Mental
The next stage of cognitive growth is the development of concrete operational cognition.
In other words, people at this stage take things at face value. They recount salient details
without analyzing; and they infer motives, feelings, and character traits directly from actions
30


without considering alternative possibilities. They understand the concepts of fairness and
revenge (Bardige 1988). With this stage comes the ability to take mental roles and to form
mental rules.
In the present-day developed world, this stage typically emerges at around age 6 or 7 and
continues until somewhere between age 11 and 15. As the stage progresses, the child
develops the ability to put herself in your shoes. The child develops a perspectival, three-
dimensional worldview (Wilber 1996). As a pre-teen, it has become an advanced beginner in
the skills of life and has taken a point of view. Teachers, friends, and activities such as
games now become organizers for the child and provide psychological stability. In the later
part of this stage in particular, pre-teens become very peer-group oriented. Advertisers are
well aware that children and young adults value those things that others valuethe latest fad,
the latest meme.
Boys at this stage play competitive games, and in so doing, need and learn rules for
dispute resolution. For boys, the typical pattern becomes my country right or wrong and
law and order (Wilber 1996, 175). Girls tend to play social games and to subordinate the
continuation of the game to the continuation of relationships, rather than elaborating a system
of rules for resolving disputes (Gilligan 1982). Thus, while both boys and girls may take a
conformist stance at this stage, their reasoning is somewhat different. Boys concentrate on
the universal; girls on the particular. Whereas boys would say my team right or wrong;
girls would say my relationship right or wrong.
Wilber (1996) calls this stage of cultural evolution the Agrarian, Mythic-Membership
stage and suggests that it began between 6,000 to 4,000 years ago. Anderson (1995)
discusses psychologist Julian Jaynes theory that the Iliad and the Odyssey represent two
different stages in human evolution. The Iliad is the story of the Trojan War, which occurred
about 1230 B.C. Because of the frequent repetition of stock phrasessimple patternsand
other peculiarities of the way the Iliad was written, Jaynes believed that at the time of the
Trojan War, people had no self-awareness and they literally thought that the voices they
heard inside their heads were those of their ancestors or the gods and goddesses. In effect,
they were delusional. Thus, the Trojan War was directed by hallucinations.
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The Odyssey is a collection of poems about various heroes, believed created about 100 to
150 years after the Iliad. The differences in the types and patterns of the two legends
suggested to Jaynes that the transformation to a self-aware mind had been completed by the
time the Odyssey was written. Anderson suggests that the thinking in the Iliad is similar to
that of infants. I disagree. I believe that it is the time of children who hear their dolls and
soldiers and imaginary friends speak to themthe time of vivid imagination. What children
learn is a function of what their caregivers teach them. If the caregivers believe that ghosts
and gods are talking to them, the children will believe so also.
At this time in ancient culture the sexes became very polarized and the deity figures
changed from female-oriented to almost exclusively male-oriented. The man was the head of
the house; the woman the heart. This was a time of extreme dualism, patriarchy, and
tribalismmy tribe against your tribeand the beginning of the first great empires. This
cultural period has only very recently been superseded, and only in some cultures or
subcultures. According to Anderson (1995), the next stage in cultureadolescenceonly
first appeared as the dominant stage with the Industrial Revolution!
Adolescence and the Rational
In 1904, psychologist G. Stanley Hall documented the emergence of a new human life
stageadolescenceIn the present-day developed world, at around age 11 to 15, the child
becomes an adolescent. At this stage, the young teenager develops the ability to reason
abstractly and use formal logic in a stepwise, linear fashion. He can think about thinking, can
criticize and judge. The young teen is capable of considering several points of view and can
recognize that what people see is affected not only by where they stand but also by the
language and values through which they filter their perspectives (Bardige 1988, 91).
Peers are the primary organizers at this stage. Teenagers have expanded their physical
environment regionally beyond the home and school, but have included the entire world in
their mind (Anderson 1995, Wilber 1996). People in this stage think they know it all: I
think, therefore Im right. It is the age of rebellion against parents. Many adolescents
become Rebels without a[n obvious] Cause. They are doing what Anderson (1995) calls 1
1 Halls work is discussed in Anderson 1995.
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practicing. They are essentially driven to throw out the old identity of child so that they can
test the new identity of an independent person. They are becoming competent performers
seeking rules for choosing rules for living.
This is an especially dangerous time for boys, whose testosterone is beginning to rage:
Formal thinking opens up the world of powerful moral ideals and hypothetical arguments, but
puberty also opens up the world of reproductive sexuality and mystifying attachments. The
potential for alienated rationalizing and for detached feelings is, therefore, heightened in the
difficult social world of the teenager, especially in the presence of systematic injustice or
rationalized indifference on the part of adults. Inhelder and Piaget offer vivid descriptions of the
seduction of metaphysics in adolescence, and they see the adolescents egocentrism as
messianic, liable to produce private fantasies that even the thinker himself or herself later
might find to be pathological megalomania. The critical variable for moral development in
adolescence may be the development of genuine intellectual and emotional attachments which
would counter the potential for such egocentrism. (Gilligan and Wiggins 1988, 130)
The kinds of friendships that adolescents form and the values they develop at this time
are typically based on their reactions to their upbringing. The lessons adolescents learn from
their peers are extensions of, and reactions to, what they learned from their parents. Thus,
many of the problems that develop in adolescence are due to problems in the parents' moral
development, stage of consciousness, and behavior toward their child in earlier stages of its
development. Values at this stage are postconventional, in that the adolescent has thought
about them and criticized them (Wilber 1996). For someone who reaches adolescence
successfully, the values continue to be care, responsibility, justice, relationship, order, and
respectfor both self and others. Values for compulsive caregiversusually girlsat this
stage include care and relationship. Values for the egocentric individual include justice and
order.
Wilber (1996) suggests that the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution triggered
this change and that it is the stage of the modem. The change from a rural agrarian society to
an urban industrial society required the skills of a secondary education. This increased
knowledge causes a massive reorganization in the brain of the student (Anderson 1995). The
types of crises that occurred during the Enlightenment are consistent with it being the
beginning of the adolescent stage of consciousness. The late 1700s were a time of cultural
identity crises, revolutions, democracies, and new ideals. At that point in history, however,
adolescence came much later in life, and the crises were much more earth shattering! For
33


example, the French Revolution showed the extent to which people could become
messianic. And the individual struggles with identity appeared to last throughout the life
for even the most eminent people: Thomas Jefferson helped craft one of the most important
documents of all time on individual freedom and owned slaves until he died. Hitler, Stalin,
Mussolini, and other Fascist dictators and those in high command were probably mostly in
the adolescent stage; whereas many of their followers were likely still in the late childhood
stage. Many suffered during the world depression and so were all too willing to find
scapegoats for their anger.
Youth and the Existential
In 1970, Kenneth Keniston documented yet another life stageyouththat occurs after
adolescence, but before adulthood.1 Keniston began studying this newly emerging stage in
the 1960s, on college campuses. Anderson (1995, 123) writes that men and womenmost
of them in their late teens and early twentieswere experiencing a profound sense of
alienation: toward their educational institutions; toward prevailing social policy; toward
society in general... in June 1970 a Gallup poll cited campus unrest as the nations main
problem.
These were the Beatniks, who had discovered existentialism, and the Baby Boomers, who
disagreed with the Vietnam War and favored the Civil Rights and later the feminist
movement. Many of their parents had not gone to college, but wanted more for their
children. The parents were then shocked by their more highly educated childrens seemingly
ungrateful and narcissistic behavior. With increased education with its attendant increase in
the complexity of information a person receives, the brain again reorganizes. In youth, the
range of rebellion and separation again broadensfrom parents to society.
Youth is the time when a person continues to develop multiple perspectives, and in so
doing comes to the conclusion that there may not be one right answer for everyone. The
youth then goes on to develop her unique talents and interests. She has become a proficient
player. People begin to be aware of some of the problems in their upbringing and in society
1 Kenistons research is discussed in Anderson 1995.
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in general. This awareness often brings with it anger and sorrowthe typical stages of
mourning.
Sometimes this stage produces a radical change in beliefs, such as loss of faith in a
paternal God. It may also bring behavior that is a reaction to previous beliefs that have been
discarded. For example, the Luddite, goddess, and New Age movements are such misguided
attempts at this stage to cure societys wrongs by going backwardwhich we cannot do
without having incurred brain damage. Similarly, a blind faith in alternative medicineor
modem medicine, for that matterwithout an understanding of what it can and cannot do is
another such misguided activity common in this stage. These activities are part of the pre-
trans fallacy: Both prerational and transrational thought are nonrational, but only
transrational thought includes and transcends the rational (Wilber, in Schwartz 1995, 363-
363).
This stage of consciousness first appeared in the 1920s and 1930s, based on the changes
in art, literature, and science occurring at the time. This is the stage of quantum physics and
Picassos multiple viewpoints (Combs 1995). It is also the stage of the existentialists and the
postmodernists who do not privilege any one perspective (Wilber 1996). This stage is
fraught with problems. For example, in the case of the existential orientation, the dawning
realization that the seemingly important agendas of the ego really amount to very little when
all is said and done can lead to existential despair (Combs, 1995, 139). On the positive side,
this stage of consciousness also produces the fluid and luminous, often lyrical, but
sometimes dark play of the postmodern consciousness that makes and dissolves realities with
the same vigor and delight with which previous generations created representational
canvases (Combs 1995, 119).
This stage is also a time in which one becomes aware of ones body. Anderson (1995)
notes that running became extremely popular in America in the 1970s. It eventually became
a pastime for about 100 million people worldwide, most of whom were highly educated. He
suggests that the activities of the fitness boom can be symbolic behaviors, pointing to the
unfolding of a specific segment of the maturational path in which the capacity for self-
development, self-reliance, and the further development of body image are central issues....
Taken together, all point to the emergence within the general population of midyouth
35


(Anderson 1995, 127). He calls these symbolic behaviors marker behaviors. Other examples
of marker behavior are the early childs use of no and the adolescents rebellion against
parents.
This is still a time of selfthe time when the individual chooses a life path, proves
himself, and earns the esteem of peers. Another key feature of this stage appears to be the
inability of people to carry over and integrate the creativity they have developed within their
specific talents to the rest of their lives (Combs 1995). This stage is the struggle to come to
grips emotionally with multiple perspectives at a time when one is also driven to make a
name for oneselfto carve out ones own identity separate from the authority of social
conventions. The person realizes that the playing field has been leveled, so to speak, and
then must find and develop unique skills and abilities that he believes will define him as a
person. Values at this stage include respect, prestige, money, and the joy of doing whatever
it is that one does well. Individual values based on genetic potential become very important
at this stage. The need for status implies that it is good (useful) that each of us has a unique
mixture of abilities because this allows for the possibility that all of us can achieve some
local status in some area.
This stage affects people very differently depending on when they were bom and where
they saw themselves in the prior stages, which emphasized dualityself and other. A young
white male raised to believe he was on the top half of the duality is likely to be significantly
less happy about leveling the field and starting from scratch than the young woman and
minority who were raised to believe they were on the bottomor the young man who had a
low draft number during the Vietnam War. While some people, mostly men, were going
through a postmodern malaise mourning their loss of dominance, many women and
minorities were going through the feminist and civil rights movements and finding a voice: a
new sense of power and freedom.
The postmodern malaise and the feminist movement represent two different strategies in
this stage related to the issue of how to find ones own identity within the multiple
perspectives of the rest of the world: exit and voice. These have to do with the issues of
inequality /justice and attachment/care that I discussed in earlier stages. Exit is making a
clean break from an objectionable situation. It is typically neat and impersonalby
36


courtesy of the Invisible Hand (Gilligan 1988, 141). Voice is making an attempt to change
rather than escape from an objectionable situation. It is typically messy, cumbersome, and
direct. Voice is political action par excellence, carrying with it the potential for heartbreak
by substituting the personal and public articulation of critical opinions for the private, secret
vote (Gilligan 1988, 141).
Young males are more likely to attempt to go from inequality to equality; and in so doing
go through a process of detachment and oppositionexit. Young females are more likely to
demonstrate a reluctance to exit[. They] may articulate a different voicea voice which
speaks of loyalty to persons and identifies detachment as morally problematic. ... [Their
growth process] relies not on detachment but on a change in the form of attachmenta
change that must be negotiated by voice (Gilligan 1988, 146). As in all complex systems,
the situation is actually more complicated than this duality of exit and voice. However, these
are the two endpoints.
Ideally, with proper nurturing in previous stages, youths strive to do their best and share
in the joy of others successesa win/win situation. However, this ideal has been rare
because many parents and much of culture were at a lower stage until recently. It is likely
that most of the marker behaviors of this stage, including alienation, workaholism, and the
do-it-all-ism of the superwoman and soccer mom are caused, at least in part, by problems
at prior developmental stages. For example, the alienation and isolation of the
deconstructionists appear to be a strong preoccupation with issues that are sticking points in
the growth process. The glorification, and with it the resultant exorbitant salaries, of the very
best in a fieldthe superstaris likely another marker behavior of a society that is presently
having problems with the youth stage.
Adulthood and the Interconnected Individual
The heros journey to adulthood is to discover himself, then integrate with others; the
heroines journey is to integrate with others, then discover herself.
Probably all English-speaking people are familiar with Ebenezer Scrooge. Many also are
aware of the changes in the two protagonists of the Australian movie Piano and in the
woman lawyer in Grishams book The Client. Each of these people experienced a major life
change that brought them to maturity. In recent years, a similar phenomenon has been
37


occurring throughout the United States and other developed countries. Some members of the
WWII generation have gone through a quieter version of this at retirement. Many of the
early Baby Boomers and their slightly older peers in the Silent generation (those bom
between about 1925 and 1945), especially the most highly educated, have been going through
the throes of a midlife crisis. A number of popular books have been written recently about
this new dark night of the soul. Successful completion of this crisis constitutes the passage
into mature adulthood.
The onset of the midlife crisis seems to require that the person has reached some amount
of success or end point in his or her chosen career, whether it is in business or in raising
children. He becomes vaguely dissatisfied and wonders why success did not bring all the
good feelings that it was supposed to. She begins to ask: Is this all there is? What have I
missed? Thoughts of getting a divorce, having an affair, and/or starting a new career
constantly intrude on the mind. Sometimes the person has recently experienced a serious
illness or the death or separation of a loved one or friend. There is a panic that I must do it
now or it will be too late, and I will die having wasted my life.
These are the types of thoughts that accompany a major change in organization of mental
processes. Many physical symptoms are also unique to the midlife crisis: They can mimic
various brain disorders, or even early senility. They can last from a few days to several
weeks or months. Forgetfulness, loss of long-term memory, inability to articulate words,
physical and psychological clumsinessall reflect changes occurring deep within the mind
(Anderson 1995, 141). If a person successfully passes into this new stage, his whole mode of
thinking changes. Anderson (1995) suggests that the minds range expands to include
intuitive input, which he considers a sixth sense.
The process is somewhat different for men than for women. Until adulthood, most men
have spent their lives building their self-esteem, their career, and their individual identity. In
this stage, they develop their feminine sideempathy and compassion for others. They add
the caring traits of women to their male repertoire. Until recently, most women have spent
their lives building and nurturing attachments. At this stage, they develop their masculine
sideconcern for themselves. They find their own separate identity. They add the traits of
menrights and justice for themselvesto their female repertoire. Thus, both sexes become
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more alike and more whole. With intuition and the right to care for oneself, one learns to
trust in oneself-one develops an inner gyroscope for stability, rather than external
organizersthe adult becomes self-actualizing. He becomes an expert intuitive integrator.
In the stages preceding adulthood, the mind automatically receives each thought as a
part and proceeds to create a broader understanding of the subject by expanding the part
into a whole (Anderson 1995, 62). The mind needs to form prototypes in order to make
rapid judgments. In adulthood, the thought process changes. Instead of starting with parts
and prototypes, the mind now starts from the whole and fills in the parts. With this new
integrative mindset, the mind, previously accustomed to linear thinking, suddenly seems
naturally designed to consider and understand nonlinear thinking (Anderson 1995, 153).
Complexity theory is the theory of nonlinear interactions. It is thus no accident that such
great strides have been made recently in understanding this theory at the time when we begin
to have a more complex understanding of ourselvesthe two provide nonlinear positive
feedback.
In this stage, one is even more aware of both ones body and ones mind than in the youth
stage. But this awareness is of their interactionhow the mind influences the body and the
body influences the mind. Much of the recent interest in alternative medicine is due to the
intuitive sense that our body has an immense capacity to heal itself. At this stage, one
develops a feel for when to use traditional medicine and when to use alternativesbecause
one integrates intuition with a hard-core investigation of the available facts, and a demand for
more when they are inadequate.
Adulthood also brings with it a renewed interest in spiritualitybut in a very different
manner and context from previous stages. The late childhood stage is the stage of organized
religion and of religious warfare: My religion/God is better than yoursMine is the REAL
God. A hallmark of the youth stage is the realization that God is deadin the sense of
the patriarchal God or the God of wisdom, compassion, and love of earlier stages. In
adulthood it is the actualization of potential that is experienced as the realization of God
(Anderson 1995, 159).
Reaching this stage entails even more difficulty than the youth stage because it is the
most complex (so far). Presently, most people take several years to work through enough
39


midlife issues to make it into this stage. Gail Sheehys best-selling book New Passages
(1995) outlines the troubles of men and women in their late 40s and 50sthose who have
reached the Age of Masterymost of whom struggle over 15 years with their Passage to
the Age of Integrity!
The length of the struggle to reach adulthood is an example of the Yellowstone syndrome
I mentioned in Part 1. The movie American Beauty is a great example of the problems
inherent in the Yellowstone syndrome and the huge swings in thought people make at this
point when they and their culture are not prepared. A large percentage of those who have had
a midlife crisis have not made it to adulthood, but rather have regressed or gotten stuck
because of all the negative baggage they have from problems in previous stages.
A few of the older generations, many of the Silent generation (those born between about
1925 and 1945), and still more of the Baby Boomer generation have recently been
experiencing midlife crises. With each generation, a higher percentage has reached this crisis
point, at an earlier age, and at a time when our average lifespan has greatly increased. This
crisis is the marker that our brains are trying to enter adulthood. It is typically better-
educated people who have reached this point up till nowonly for the reason that they have
encountered more, varied information that has interacted with the neural network of their
brains. As the neural network encounters more and more information, it reaches a point, as I
discussed earlier, when it has to reorganize. The increase in numbers of older people
returning to school shows the drive of our neural nets to encounter more and varied
information.
The Next Stages: Maturity and Beyond. .
Anderson (1995) suggests that adulthood is the final, integrated, mature stage, with a
fully correct type of understanding. However, he also writes:
Recent contributions to human maturationthe development of a rapidly evolving society, the
discovery of the dynamic unconscious, the exercise of individual will in the pursuit of self-
realizationhave accelerated the rate of maturation, so much so that over the past century we
have witnessed more collective movement along our maturational path than has been seen over
the entire previous span of human history. (Anderson 1995, 133)
As we can see from the previous discussion, the average level of psychological maturity
in society has increased at an exponentially increasing rate. Kauffman (1993) has suggested
that the general process of evolution increases exponentially over timeit is supercritical.
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Kurzweil (1999) makes a case for the continued exponential increase in technology,
especially in the power of computers. He further suggests that the exponential increase in
computing power will radically change human psychology and culture (and post-human
culture!) in the process at the same exponentially increasing rate. Thus, based on our
experiences in recent history, I would be surprised if there are not other stages beyond
adulthood that we have not yet imaginedjust as my cats cannot imagine what it is like to be
human.
Media and Education: We shape our technology, and our technology shapes us.
Major inventions are equivalent to the formation of new paradigms and form a structural
couple with advancement through stages of consciousness. They both require giving up old
beliefs, mourning and releasing them, and learning something new. We have entered the
Information Age. Technological advances in electronics have provided movies, TV,
computers, and multi-media entertainment and learning. We are in a period at least as
revolutionary as those following the invention of writing and of the printing press.
A certain type of abstract thinking developed in people as a by-product of literacy:
The means we use to express our thoughts, as McLuhan and others began arguing in the 1960s
and 1970s, change our thoughts. Teach people to read and you do more than improve their
access to information; you remake their understanding of the world. And it does not matter what
they read, as long as they read. The mediumnot its contentis the message. Writing
changes our minds. Political attitudes, social attitudes and even philosophies can shift, the
argument goes, as the ways information is exchanged shift. (Stephens 1998, 20-21)
In the late 1800s, motion pictures appeared on the scene. The early 1900s brought the
advent of the radio, which gave people essentially instant access to world events for the first
time in history. Television was invented in 1939. After WWII ended, TV became a
household necessity faster than any other invention in history, and is now even in homes in
developing countries that do not have indoor plumbing. Brain wave research indicates that
TV puts a person into the same state of consciousness as meditation; whereas reading a book
puts one into the same state as concentrating on a task (Arguelles 1975, 116). The Baby
Boom generation was the first generation to be raised on a combination of TV and books.
Our parents were afraid that it would be our ruinan outcry that is also familiar today.
However, the Baby Boom generation is also the first generation to begin to reach the
consciousness stage of adulthood in large numbers. Is that only a coincidence?
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Today the technology of the child is the computer. Children in the US tend to be more
computer literate than their parents. That fact moves the childs inequality/equality balance
in the direction of greater equality. Thus, it could have positive effects, especially on boys
who tend to be more concerned with this issue. Perhaps it might even be moving them to
become more concerned with care, as they learn to help their parents!
Children have always had creative fantasies. Today, people of all ages can and do
participate in very elaborate fantasies. In some, such as Las Vegas and Disneyworld, the
person is a passive observer or experiencer. In others, one assumes a role and has significant
freedom for creativity within that role. In total immersion Murder Mysteries, people dress
in costume and actually assume the roles of the characters, sometimes in particular settings
developed specifically for the game. The computer version of this type of fantasy is the
MUD, or multi-user domain. MUDs first went on line in the 1980s and allow distant players
on the Internet to chat (by typing) in real time. Players build characters and environments,
and then live out the fantasies interacting with other players. MUDs (as multi-user
dungeons) were originally designed as role-playing games for teenagers, but have become
popular with adults (Murray 1997). In this way, people can experiment with multiple
perspectives and make mistakes without the costly consequences of real life. And they can
do so many times over.
Exposure to information in a variety of formsTV, the Internet, and virtual realityis
training people, especially the youngest generations, to have multiple perspectives at an early
age and to be at ease with change. As we saw earlier, we all need to go through practicing
behaviorto be bushy at the basein order to become skilled at a task. Whether young
peoples morphing ability will be beneficial to their growth depends on how we as adults
have educated them up to this point and how we deal with them as they morph.
In fact, education reforms are occurring in some places in the U.S. In the 1980s, alarms
were raised about our educational system and the necessity for massive change to develop a
new type of literacy:
The new literacy that requires such massive change goes beyond mere reading and writing
ability, beyond the so-called basics, and beyond the current requirements for a high school
diploma. It now includes capacities once demanded only of a privileged, college-bound elite: to
think critically and creatively, solve problems, exercise judgment, and learn new skills and
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knowledge throughout a lifetime. What at the beginning of the twentieth century was a high
standard for a few has apparently become, in the minds of a good many powerful people, a
desideratum for all. (Brown 1993, xii)
A battle is presently waging between rote learning and standardized tests vs. bushy-at-
the-base experiments in new ways of teaching that best promote active learning.
I expect that some people younger than Baby Boomers are presently at, or soon will
reach, adulthooddue to their frequent encounters with television and, more important,
interactive video and Internet games, as well as more thoughtful education. As our lives
and information become more and more complex, the neural nets learn faster and faster.
Anderson suggested that adulthood should appear at about age 30 in psychologically healthy,
well-educated people. I suggest that if children are raised to understand both equality and
care, learn responsibility and problem solving, and are exposed to and learn at their own
speed with interactive technology, their passage between each stage will be shorter and less
painful. Lifelong thoughtful learning causes lots of small controlled bums and eases the
transitions. In the future, if we do not destroy ourselves first, most people will not need to
experience the Yellowstone syndrome to mature.
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PART 3: Twentieth-Century Culture and ArchitecturePatterns in Flux
In this part of the thesis, we will look briefly at the past century based on the tools and
concepts developed in Parts 1 and 2. In doing so, we will encounter another layer of
complexitycycles. We will first concentrate on general society and then focus in on
architecture. Finally, we will consider the issue of values in architecture and examine
metaphors for architecture and landscape. The metaphors reflect the visions that architects
who use them have of themselves as architects and give a strong indication of their values.
General Society
Cycles of HistoryRecurring Patterns
Before the Renaissance, religion reigned supreme. With the Enlightenment, the
pendulum swung to science. Romantics reacted by advocating a return to an idealized
pastoral past... In Part 1,1 briefly discussed complexity theory and how the human brain
works; in Part 2, the evolution of individual and cultural consciousness and the needs and
values at each stage. Here, I will introduce another layer of complexity into the evolution of
stages of consciousnesshistorical cycles. Historians and economists William Strauss and
Neil Howe (1997) have found essentially the same four-stage cycle in Anglo-American
history that Holling described for ecosystems (Part 1)the same cycle of growth, maturation,
decay, and rebirth that the Earth experiences annually.
This 80- to 100-year cycle forms four successive generations with different cultures,
lifestyles, and values. The metaphors for these four stages in the cycle are the four seasons:
Spring is the High, summer the Awakening, autumn the Unraveling, and winter the Crisis.
Strauss and Howe have traced the beginnings of this generational cycle deep into Greek and
biblical history. In ancient times, it seemed to appear and die out, but became the food for
mythespecially myths of heroes and prophets. It reappeared at the beginning of the
Renaissance and has remained.
Strauss and Howe (1997, 322) maintain that history shapes generations, and generations
shape history. They talk about the cultural and historical equivalent of Andersons stage-
of-consciousness marker.' This marker is a public event, such as Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy 1
1 Andersons marker is discussed on p. 36.
44


and King assassinations, or the Challenger explosion. It helps shape all individuals of the
time. Peoples early markers reveal how older people and events shaped us. Our later
markers tell how we shaped events and younger people.
Since the Renaissance, generations have alternated between two extremes in each of two
dimensions. Approximately every 40 years, a new generation comes along that is the other
half of the double duality that appeared 40 years earlier. Each generation is bom, grows up,
and attains power in a different part of the cycle, which produces an archetype unique to that
stage: The Propheta moralist who wants to create a new value system, the Nomada
pragmatic loner in a harsh world, the Heroan hubristic foot soldier who wants to be king,
and the Artista sensitive helpmate who works within the system. Strauss and Howe outline
the same four quadrants of life that I discussed in the Introduction: The Prophet is Inner/self,
the Nomad is outer/self, the Hero is outer/society, and the Artist is inner/society. For
example, by its actions in midlife, a Hero (outer/society-oriented) generation produces an
oppositely oriented Prophet (inner/self-oriented) generation. Following is a short description
of each generation:
The Prophet generation (e.g. the Baby Boomers, bom between 1945 and 1962) is bom in
the High, when the midlife Heroes are building institutions, individualism is weakening, and
the old value system is in decay. This generation is indulged as a child and given expanded
freedoms. It is narcissistic in young adulthoodagainst the government and in search of
values. It creates the Unraveling in midlife by trying to convert everyone to its value system.
It meets its greatest trialthe Crisisin elderhood and, if it is successful, it finally becomes
wise.
The Nomad generation (e.g. Generation X, bom between about 1961 and 1981) is bom in
the Awakening, when the young Prophets with their new values are attacking the institutions
and civic order of the elder Heroes. This generation is underprotected or abandoned in
childhood and grows up fast, feeling unimportant. It is alienated, cynical, and self-sufficient
as a young adult in the Unraveling. By midlife, it becomes pragmatic, which is a necessary
skill required to get it and the other generations through the Crisis. In elderhood, it is careful
and tough.
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The Hero generation (e.g. the GIs, bom between about 1905 and 1924, and the Millennial
generation, bom since about 1982) is born in the Unraveling, when midlife Prophets are
weakening old institutions and creating a new value system. It is protected and treated as
important as a child, but its freedoms are curtailed. It is educated to be a good citizen and
controls itself with peer pressure. It comes of age during the Crisis and bravely fights for its
country. In midlife, during the High, it builds institutions and can develop hubris over its
great accomplishments. In elderhood, it expects and collects the rewards for its lifetime of
service.
The Artist generation (e.g. the Silent generation, bom between about 1925 and 1941) is
bom in the Crisis, when the new value system of the elder Prophets causes a breakdown of
the old civic order. It is overprotected as a child, but does not feel important because its
parents are busy with the Crisis. It becomes a sensitive, risk-averse helpmate as a young
adult during the High. It learns to use, and then perfects, the system in the Awakening. It
remains cautionary and indecisive throughout midlife. It develops empathy in elderhood,
during the Unraveling.
Acceleration and Intertwining of the Cycles
As I suggested earlier, from at least the Enlightenment until recently, Western culture has
been in the adolescent stage. It is likely that the educated classes have been in adolescence
since the Renaissance. Adolescence produces rebellion against the parents. Strauss and
Howes theory complements the concept of consciousness stages. The two offer a plausible
psychological cause for the dualities and swings of the pendulum that so many have written
about since at least the Enlightenment.
However, based on the theory of evolution discussed earlier, I believe that human
evolution is neither linear as is commonly thought in the West nor cyclical as described by
Strauss and Howe. It has components of both, but is more likely to be an exponential spiral.
The initial portion of an exponential spiral appears linear or cyclical, accelerating slowly at
first. But then the acceleration itself accelerates. Until recently, we have been in the initial
quasi-linear, quasi-cyclical portion of the exponential spiral. I hope to convince you that
the cycles have been accelerating and that we have an opportunity in what Strauss and Howe
46


consider to be the fourth turning of present cycle to make great stridesif we do not
squander that opportunity and force ourselves to start all over.
The twentieth century has been a period of profound conflict and changestarting off
with an Unraveling. At the beginning of the century, Western civilization was in a period of
dualities as it had been throughout recorded history. The Industrial Revolution had spawned
adolescent and youth haves and late-childhood have-nots.1 God was dead to the elite and the
intelligentsia, and they took His place.
Sciencethe objective study of realityand technology were considered the new gospel.
The children of the Nomad Robber Barons flaunted their wealth, while the next-cycle Nomad
workers of the Lost generation on whom that wealth depended became more and more
restless. For the Modernists, the machine was king. For the Arts and Crafts Movement,
human handiwork was all-important. Rulers felt omnipotent and engaged in intense rivalries.
Political tensions escalated in Europe due to empire building and finally erupted in World
War I. Social tensions continued after WWI and ultimately fueled a Second World War
(WW II). Cultural adolescence was feeling its rush of new hormones.
After WW II, from the late 1940s until the fall of the Berlin wall, the world was split into
two campscapitalism and communism. These camps were presided over by two
Superpowersthe United States and the Soviet Unionwhose powers stemmed from their
ability to annihilate the entire world with the push of a button.
In the 1950s, the United States set trends as the dominant capitalist nation. Modernism
and Levittown became the dominant forms of architecture in the US. The GI and the Silent
company man went to work in a modernist skyscraper or factory and the wife stayed home
with the kids in Levittown suburbia. Those GIs who fought in WW II were mainly those
who grew up during the depression in the 1930s. The time after WW II became for them a
time to gain or regain security. It was a time of conservative traditional values and the
generation of wealth. The post-war era generated a new middle classthe largest in history.
Houses, cars, and televisions became the symbols of prosperity.
1 See discussion of late-childhood on pp. 30-32, adolescence on pp. 32-34, and youth on pp. 34-37.
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In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a cultural revolution occurred in the United States and
brought with it a series of rifts. The Silent generation was the first in history to attend college
in significant numbers and produce a significant number of Youths. Those youths became
the first of the sensitive Artist generations not to be risk-averse. Civil rights became a major
issue in the US thanks to Silent generation Blacks such as Martin Luther King, Jr., who found
their voice. Silent generation women such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem gave voice to
womens concerns.
For early Baby Boomers, the first wave of the 20-year Prophet generation, the trigger was
the Vietnam War. The war divided not only different generations, but also the Baby Boomer
generation itself. The Baby Boomers split into the college-educated Youth who were anti-
Vietnam and the less educated Adolescents who tried to be the good Heroes that their parents
had been. The Watergate scandal caused some of every generation to lose faith in the
government. The oil embargo of the mid-1970s briefly focused attention on the energy
consumption and lavish lifestyle of the American middle and upper class. More and more
younger people experimented with alternative life styles and religions. Both inter- and intra-
generational conflicts continued with attacks and backlashes. America was no longer a
melting pot that homogenized diversity and subsumed it within the dominant white, male,
Strict Father hegemony. Rather, women and minorities continued to speak out, but not in
unified voices. Dualities began to break down into multiplicities.
The four-generation cycle seems to be accelerating also. Not only were the early Baby
Boomers split among themselves, but they were also split from the second half of the 20-year
generation. Gail Sheehys work on cultural changes between decades suggests that the Baby
Boomers are at least two 70-year-long generationsthe first she calls the Vietnam
generation, the second the Me generation. She sees the Vietnam generation as initially more
idealisticmore interested in making a difference in societyand the Me generation as
initially more interested in polishing and improving the self. A significantly larger
percentage of the Me (about a quarter of the generation) than the Vietnam generation have
gone to college. Further, the younger Me generation seemed to reach their midlife crisis
before the Vietnam generation (Sheehy 1995). Of the next generationGeneration Xover
half have gone to college, making them the best-educated generation ever.
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The cultural revolution begun in the 60s was largely fuelled by technology, first
television and then computers and the Internet. In the past 30 years, we have changed from
an industrial society to a post-industrial, global information age. In the 1970s through the
1990s, with the rapid growth in higher education, American culture entered in the youth
stage. The Superstar phenomenon in essentially every field is evidence of the extent of this
stage in our culture.
American culture is now beginning to enter adulthood1, and with it, a new, more complex
paradigm. Presently, many individuals and professions are reexamining their basic belief
structures and embracing the new paradigm. Never before has there been a time in history
where so many people are at so many different stages of consciousness and where younger
people are pulling ahead of their parents and grandparents and reaching higher stages of
consciousness. The potential for misunderstandings has never been greater. At the same
time, the potential has never been greater for a better understanding than ever before.
The most important logical extension of this new paradigm for us humans is that human
population growth must soon stop. We must remain at the subcritical, rather than continue
on to the supracritical phase, or else we will no longer exist as a species. The Youthful
Prophet Boomers saw this in the 1970s and led a moralistic campaign for Zero Population
Growth. The result was that the few children bom in the US in the 1970s became alienated
Nomads. What the Boomers did not see at that time was that population itself becomes self-
controlling as more and more people become middle classas they earn enough money, they
realize that they do not need to raise a swarm of children to ensure that some of them would
survive them and take care of them in their old age.
The old paradigm also pitted industry and economic growth against morals and against
the environment as conflicting dualities in a win/lose battle. The new paradigm suggests we
can and should have all threea strong economy, strong morals, and a strong environment
if we follow Natures lead and use Her strategies to produce a win/win situation. Schwartz,
Leyden, and Hyatt (1999; 3, 5-6) have a highly optimistic visionone they call a positive
meme:
1 For a discussion of adulthood, see pp. 37-40.
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This new boom has the potential to pull the whole world into it, allowing literally billions of
people to move into middle-class lifestyles. And that spreading prosperity will help bring about
beneficial changes far beyond the economy, changes that could truly make this a better
world...We can consistently grow the new global economy at unprecedented high rates that will
greatly expand prosperity, in the process drawing in people previously marginalized in both the
developed and developing countries. We can establish much more inclusive policies because
there is now a strong practical incentive to integrate everyone into this global economy. Just as
important, we can grow this economy without damaging the environment... We can set the world
on a trajectory that will, over the course of the twenty-first century, get the economy completely
in balance with nature. We can do this not simply for ecological reasons but because it makes
good business sense.
With this background, I would now like to concentrate on the recent socio-history of
architecture in the US as a manifestation of these changes.
Architecture in the Twentieth Century
Architecture is the concrete manifestation of a cultures spirit. Thus, the architecture of a
time and place is a key to the stage of consciousness of both the architect and the culture in
which he or she designs. The sociologist Magali Sarfatti Larson (1993, 15) follows the
thinking of the philosopher Suzanne Langer, and suggests that architecture, being
inseparable from ritual, abstracts the total pattern of life from all the physical, mental, and
behavioral fragments that signify a culture to those who live in it.
Larson (Larson 1993, 144) emphasizes the metaphorical nature of architecture in a
culture: As physical artifacts, buildings do more than articulate space within their shells:
They also make the space around and between them perceptible and organized. As
significant artifacts, buildings give spatial expression to the social relations and basic social
hierarchies that inform a culture, nourishing its language and cosmology with spatial
metaphors.
The twentieth century was a time of major changes in architecture; as well as in the way
architects work; what they thought of themselves and their profession; and how they related
to their clients, the public at large, and the environment. The culture shapes its architects and
the architecture they create and, in turn, the architecture shapes its culture. A question that
architects have been grappling with is What is the purpose of architecture and what is the
role of architects?
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The Stage is Set
The beginning of the twentieth century was already a time of diversity in architecture. In
the U.S. and the democratic parts of Europe there was an integration of architectural
philosophies. Academic Eclecticism included input from Classical and Gothic revival, as
well as the French Beaux-Arts. The Progressive movement included Arts and Crafts, Prairie
Style, and Domestic Revival. This mix of styles suggests that, even though adolescence was
dominant, there were already some people who had reached the youth stage, especially in the
democratic U.S.
The political tensions escalating in Europe, especially in Germany and Italy, had their
architectural counterparts. Extremes became commonplace. In Germany, architecture split
into two opposing campsthe old (emotional and expressive) and the new (rational and
intellectual). The Rationalists became the first members of the Modernist movement in
Europe (Gelemter 1999). Both the Rationalists and the Expressionists were either in the
late-childhood or the adolescent stage of developmentneither could tolerate the others
viewpoint. Neither side had any interest in integration. Thus, the rote, authoritative Strict
Father morality of Germany produced a pathological culture stuck between late childhood
and adolescence.
The youthful architects in the U.S. at that time, such as Sullivan and Wright, agreed with
modernism on the values of simplification and the machine, as well as the inappropriateness
of traditional styles in contemporary life and the image of the architect as an artist who
answered to his own urges. However, Wright tried to integrate the two extremes. The U.S.
was neither interested in the socialism of the Expressionists nor the imperialism of the
Rationalists (Gelemter 1999). Americans were proud of democracy and capitalism, which
had moved the American culture well into adolescence and was beginning to fuel the sparks
of youth.
American democracy and capitalism triumphed in WWII. The adolescent rationalist
(Internationalist) version of modernism spread through the world in the late 1940s and 1950s.
It became the basis for huge Urban Renewal projects in the 1950s using Le Corbusiers
European Modernist model of housing towers in urban parks. By the 1960s, modernism had
51


become the establishment architecture for adolescent government, banks, corporations,
churches, and the houses of the nouveau riche and middle-class suburbanites.
In the 1950s, several prominent architects began to react to the static lines of the
Internationalist style and became interested in an expressionist version of modernism, in
which form no longer followed rational function. These architects were evolving in their
work and thinking and entering the new youth stage of consciousness. The expressionist
reactions were a foreboding of what became the cultural revolution in the 1960s and 1970s
the Civil Rights movement, the feminist movement, and anti-Vietnam sentiment by young
people. This was the explosive birth of the youth stage of consciousness for a significant
number of young people. It was also the birth of the postmodernist movement in philosophy,
literature, and architecture.
However, architects in the 1960s were still enmeshed in dualities: Art and profession,
aesthetics and utility, discourse and building, extraordinary and ordinary design, autonomy
and heteronomy. Even for a recognized elite, these are essential dilemmas, rooted in the
contradictions of architectural practice (Larson 1993, 20). As some of the older architects
were changing their approach to architectural design toward expressionism, younger
architects just coming into the profession became enmeshed in these issues. They respected
and learned from their mentors, but many wanted to separate themselves and make their own
names with their own theories. They were making their youthful rebellion against their
architectural culture in order to earn esteem within the profession. At the same time, they
needed to make a living at their work by finding commissions. I suggest that the times made
the passage into youth and the mourning of lost adolescence difficult, especially for those
who became the next elites and were in the limelight for their type of mourning.
In 1966, the young architect Robert Venturi published a book called Complexity and
Contradiction in Architecture, which most architects agree revolutionized architecture.
Many of the young architects of the 1960s, feeling liberated by Venturis book, challenged
the modem aesthetic and philosophy. In so doing, they developed a multiplicity of schools of
thought out of modernism. For example, Charles Jencks (1977, in Larson 1993, 60) traced
six major tendencies from 1960 to the late 1970s: historicism, straight revivalism, neo-
vernacular, ad hoc urbanist, metaphor metaphysical, and postmodern space. Robert Stem
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grouped these revisionist trends based on whether they showed a predominance of a
schismatic or traditional sensibility. Larson writes of these:
Schismatic revisionism attempts to continue modernisms aspiration toward a clean break with
the Western Humanist tradition. But in its most radical form, it rejects even modernisms faith
in art; it falls then into the paradox of the avant-gardes, which proclaim the dissolution of art
while continuing to produce new work with artistic aspirations. Traditional revisionism accepts
the cultural tradition of Western Humanism of which it holds modernism to be a part; in
particular, it seeks reintegration with the Romanticism which flourished between 1750 and
1850. These tendencies, which we should more properly call premodern, correspond to the
eclectic historicism for which architects reserve the label ofpostmodernism.1
Larson (1993, 60) further suggests that Robert Venturi, whose intentions were in part to
make an architecture of invented or reconstructed American vernacular, marks yet a
different path. The proponents within each school can be loosely grouped based on age and
cultural background. Some of these schools developed in the academic setting in the 1970s,
during stagflation when commissions were scarce. Their ideas appeared as paper
architecture. Others developed as a way to develop a client base for real built architecture.
Each school has confronted important aspects of the change inherent in cultures youthful
rebellion stage in its own way. Venturis iconoclasm and historical postmodernism have
both concentrated on surficial images and the new middle class. The main form of
schismatic revisionismdeconstructionismhas emphasized ambiguity, isolation, and the
author. Another, initially minor, school was green and solar architecture, which appeared
in response to the oil crisis of the 1970s. This school essentially died out when tax credits
disappeared because it tended to be anti-development. The movement has recently been
reborn in an evolved, o-dualistic formsustainable architecturethat has emphasized
interconnectivity and the environment.
Why and how these schools developed are a function of the stages of consciousness of
the older and younger architects of the time; of the state-of-the-art of science, philosophy,
and culture of the time; the psychological fixations of the time; and of the economic ups and
downs of the time. As Larson (1993, 17) suggests, part of the struggle between these schools
has been one of status within the disciplineinternal hierarchy, rankings, networks of
1 Larson 1993, 60. She quotes from Stem 1980; 76, 82.
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influence, and personal standingall the strategic positions by means of which symbolic
capital is formed and resources of wealth and power claimed.
As we saw earlier, the other part of the struggle has been outside the discipline, within the
culture at large. This struggle is typical of the competitiveness and striving for status of the
youthful stage of consciousness. The split between the schismatic and premodem in
architecture seems to me to be the standard faulty male and female strategies, respectively.
They were likely caused by problems entering youth with an upbringing by adolescent or
late-childhood parents who had themselves suffered from the faulty values of their culture.
Those architects who became Superstars tended to get caught up in the struggles because
their Superstar status was the result of the struggle. Those architects who were at the second
tier in terms of statusnot because of lesser architectural skills but because they did not
publicize themselves as well or as muchironically may have had an easier time with their
youth transition.
The following sections summarize these interrelated issues for three schools of
architectural thought and set the stage for detailed analyses of three particular
architects/teamsRobert Venturi/Denise Scott Brown, Peter Eisenman, and George Hoover.
The First Iconoclast and the Beginning of Postmodernism
Robert Venturi, born in 1925 on the cusp between the GI and the Silent Generation, first
articulated the rebellion against modernisma rebellion that, in its broadest sense, has been
called by the general title of postmodernism.1 Venturis mother was a socialist and pacifist
(who) worked to prepare (Venturi) to feel almost all right as an outsider (Venturi 1991,
1996; 99). Venturi did not serve in the military when he was old enough near the very end of
WW II. Instead, he went to college in architecture and then spent a couple of years in post-
war Rome studying the vast range of architecture there. That series of decisions likely put
him at odds with the prevailing pro-America/anti-Axis sentiment and required strength of
will. In Rome, he was able to see architecture and America from a new perspective. Thus,
he understood the issue of multiple perspectives early on and led the Silent generation in
1 Venturi 2000. Personal communication. Venturi presently does not like the meaning that the term
postmodernism has acquired via what he feels are misinterpretations of what his and Denise Scott Browns
work stands for. I will discuss this issue in more detail in the section on his and Scott Browns work and
evolution.
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emphasizing this issue. He became the first Reformer of a very wnsilent Silent generation to
voice his concerns. And he did so from a perspective unusual for a young maleone of
concern, as well as, rights.
Venturi modeled his youthful rebellion within the discipline of architecture on the
Mannerists whom he studied in Rome. His rebellion, like theirs, was a playful rebellion.
Venturi saw Mannerism as an expression of the resurgent desire for complexity and the
tolerance of contradictions (Larson 1993, 53). This philosophy formed the basis for his
book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. Some of the Modernists, such as
Gropius and the Bauhaus school, had banished history from architecture. Venturi brought
back historical tradition and even treated modernism as historical.
Venturi gathered strength for his perspective from his interactions with others, especially
his partner and spouse Denise Scott Brown. Their work has turned into an intimate team
effortso much so that it is disrespectful to either one not to mention their name in
discussing the work of the other. Venturi had known Scott Brown, a Silent generation
interdisciplinary architect and planner, since at leastl960 at the University of Pennsylvania.
They married in 1967 and their work and writing have been intimately entwined since the
early 1960s. They are the most prominent spousal architect team in the world. Their
partnership embodies the concept of multiple perspectives and concern for multiple cultural
contexts.
Their work has derived from the culture around them and has criticized hegemony. They
have looked at what the every-day people built and lived in. Their designs have aimed at
cultural context in all its multiplicities, as well as careful attention to the clients program.
Most of the traditional postmodernists who followed, especially in the 1980s, drew from the
aesthetic and formal aspects of Venturi and Scott Browns work, but not the
cultural/contextual aspects. Most of these neotraditionalists suffered from the pre-trans
fallacy and went pre-modem rather than trans-modem.
I will suggest in my discussions of Venturi and Scott Brown that they were youths some
of whose values were those typically held by women of their culture and that other architects
and people in power, who were almost all men, did not understand them. This lack of
understanding appears to have caused significant pain to both Venturi and Scott Brown
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especially Scott Brown who was considered only a woman. In like manner, Venturi and
Scott Browns approach to multiple perspectives grew at a time when they and others were
mourning previous injustices and trying to find an identity for themselvespart of the
natural process of youth. They became naturally entangled in the need for self-expression
even as they were concerned about others.
By the late 1970s, a generation of youthful people no longer wanted to be in boxes; they
were looking for workspaces that felt more human. Architects responded to corporate
clients desire to placate office managers by designing in neotraditional styles based on the
aesthetics of Venturi and Scott Browns work. By the mid-1980s, neotraditionalism in
various guises had become a favorite dress of corporate headquarters and upscale new
developments (Larson 1993, 63). Thus, postmodernism had followed the pattern of
modernism in its use by the capitalistic society that earlier architects had disagreed with, but
which paid the big bucks for commissions and made some architects famous. The
neotraditionalists work was experiential, but not necessarily contextual.
Postmodernism, in both the initial Venturi/Scott Brown version and its historic/aesthetic
variation, appeals not only to corporations, but also to some of the other groups who became
winners in the second half of the century. First were WW II veterans and Silent generation
people who had been poor during the Depression and enjoyed newfound middle-class status
as factory or office workers after the war. Then came many of their children and
grandchildrenbaby-boomers who participated in, and younger people who were raised to
believe in, the struggles of the other (women, minorities, the environment)people who had
an emotional investment against the dominance paradigm.
For these winners, the past 30 years have been a time of newfound freedom. For the first
time in history, these people have had a voice. For them, the time has been one to a) vent
anger over previously frustrated needs for esteem (i.e. mourn their original lack); b) be giddy
and take tentative, sometimes fearful, first steps toward growth; and c) look for appropriate
new myths/sacred journeys.
Each of these people has been in the process of fulfilling different needs in order to grow.
Some, especially those from the new middle class, have become obsessed with image; with
the things that hard work or money can buy. They are still fulfilling their need for self-
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esteem by supplying themselves with the visible trappings of their newfound relative wealth.
They are in the bushy-at-the-base process of learning to handle money. These winners see
wealth as the goal, rather than as a signpost along the way. Present-day Las Vegas and its
aesthetic postmodern architecture appeal to many of these new winners. Most people with
new wealth get stuck temporarily at this stage until they reach a point where money no
longer satisfies them. Some, especially those raised in the Strict Father morality, may get
permanently stuck and not see beyond the illusion.
Others understand and value the illusion of the aesthetic postmodernism of Las Vegas for
what it is. These are people who like to have help with their imaginationwhose childhood
experiences were impoverished. They go expecting to lose money but gain entertainment and
experiences that they never had at home. They see dazzling sights such as a huge pyramid
and the miniature Big Apple in the new Las Vegas that they could never afford to see
otherwise. They can immerse themselves in their experience. They play make-believe.
Las Vegas helps them imagine. It provides them another perspective.
As more and more people enter adulthood, they sense the importance of reality; and they
lose interest in Las Vegas. They concentrate, as we will see, on places that nurture the mind,
body, and soul, not just the imagination. As these adults help more and more young people
grow up with a variety of rich and meaningful experiences from childhood, the sites of Las
Vegas will lose their glitter for the children as well.
Deconstructionism
In the late 1970s and the early 1980s, the humanism shown in the facades of corporate
buildings masked the breakdown at the same time of the implied social contract between the
company as parent and its employees as children. The companies were now struggling with
their entry into the youth stage. Long-time employees were laid off en masse as companies
began to downsize in order to be more competitive in a rapidly changing economic climate.
Some architects, notably Bernard Tschumi, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Peter Eisenman, and
Daniel Libeskind, reacted to the general anxiety of the time, as well as to the revival of
traditional forms and a perceived loss of individualism. Thus was bom the architectural
movement known as deconstructionism. The movement derived its philosophy from the
Deconstructionist literary movement spreading through universities and its artistic inspiration
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from the Constructionist artistic movement that had flourished in Russia in the 1920s. The
designs were highly individualistic, fragmented, colliding, and clashing forms that seemed in
many cases to be out of control.
The deconstructionist movement evidences most of the sense of malaise that Larson
observed. The movement is based mainly on the work of the French philosopher and prolific
Silent-generation writer Jacques Derrida. In his writings, he disagreed with the Western
scientific paradigm that one can discover objective truths about the world. According to
Derrida, we artificially impose order on a world in which order does not exist. To prove this,
he deconstructed a number of important philosophical texts to show the contradictions in
their logic (Gelemter 1999, 308). He thus took away the author-ity of the author.
Deconstructionist architects, claiming to follow Derridas philosophy, often produced
works with a narcissistic, nihilistic quality. These works created Superstars of those who
professed to remove their authorship from their works. Derridas voluminous, contortionist
prose also created Superstar status for Derrida himself. Elite architects assumed Superstar
status for the images they producedin both their names and their facadeseven as their
control over other aspects of a project diminished.
The 1980s and 1990s became the age of the Superstar in many other disciplines and
throughout Western culture. This was a period when culture was well into its youth stage,
which had begun in the 1960s. The new youth stage of consciousness affected people in
many different ways depending on their previous backgrounds. Deconstructionism was the
other extreme from the neotraditionalists.
I believe that the nihilistic quality expressed in much deconstructionist work was a direct
result of the dynamics of rage and revenge for past disappointment and disillusionments
(Maslow 1970, x) engendered in a group of youths by the multiple conflicting sets of cultural
patterns co-existing after World War II. First came a growing awareness that the Modernist
paradigm of the Industrial Revolution was false. At that time, men believed strongly in
dualities, with themselves at the top. They believed that they were dominant, apart from, and
in control of the otherthey believed they were God.
I believe that deconstructionism grew out of the terror that men who were raised on this
dominance paradigm and on Strict Father family morality felt when they realized they had
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been deluded in terms of control and dualities. I believe that on an emotional level these
men preferred to keep the delusion of isolation and control, or even nothingness, rather than
accept integration with the other. For them, it was preferable to believe that there is NO
meaning and that there can be NO mutual understanding than to try to understand the other.
They ran away from life, which they perceived as negative. They feared that integration
would produce loss of the dominant self. Thus, they worked hard to make isolation/the
void a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their works were both a resistance against integrating with
the other and their way of mourning the loss of their dominant selfhood.
Many of the deconstructionists, including Derrida, Eisenman, and Libeskind, are Silent-
generation Jewish men who grew up during the Holocaust. Jewish history revolves around
Jews being considered the Other (Taylor 1987). At first this may seem a paradox if
deconstructionism indeed grew out of collapse of the dominance paradigm. However, much
of Jewish culture tended to use Strict Father family morality and Jews have also considered
themselves the Chosen Ones of God. Thus, their status as Other actually gave them a
strong identity, a very high opinion of their self. The Holocaust, combined with the death
of their God, crushed this high opinion.
The deconstructionists not only hated fascism, but also had a love-hate relationship with
science. They perceived science as fascisms ultimate cause. Yet the architects, especially,
used the logic and approach of linear, structuralist science for their work. They could not see
that the paradigm of science itself was changing. It appears that the deconstructionists had
extreme difficulty shaking free from the Strict Father morality in which they were
entrenched. Ironically, their Superstar status exacerbated the problem tremendously.
Frederick Ferre (1996, 305) suggests that the deconstructionist/post-structuralist
movement was an overreaction against totalizing theories in general...This reaction [was]
itself a totalizing judgment. In other words, the reaction itself was a symptom of a very
Strict Father-like culture and upbringing that was causing problems with development in the
youth stage. The deconstructionist architect Tschumi (in Taylor 1997, 246) wrote:
It is significant that architectural postmodernisms challenge to the linguistic choices of
modernism has never assaulted its value system. To discuss the crisis of architecture in wholly
stylistic terms was a false polemic, a clever feint aimed at masking the absence of concerns
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about use...both address the same definition of architecture as formal or stylistic manipulation.
Form still follows form; only the meaning and the frame of reference differ.
Tschumi was criticizing postmodernism as opposed to deconstructionism. However, I
consider such a statement concerning values from a deconstructionist extremely ironic.
Tschumis own work has also been about style, not use. Deconstructionists play with words
and ignore values. They posit that no one can ever understand the other. In so doing, they
free themselves from the responsibility of even trying to understand what the other wants
or needs, allowing themselves also to concentrate on form and their own ego, and to ignore
concerns about use.
It is likely that conflicting messages since childhood were painful and caused the
deconstructionists to lose faith in everything. Many seem to have the personality style of the
Investigator. As we saw earlier, their successive reactions of numbness or denial, anger, and
then despair are parts of the normal process of grieving a loss that must be worked through
before a person can heal and be renewed. Deconstructionist writing and architecture gave
these men, and others in society who felt the same way, an avenue for their grief. However,
the first part of the grieving processdenial, anger, and despairis the easier part.
Developing the courage to be renewed is harder. Unfortunately, it may be especially difficult
for those who have earned Superstar status by publicizing the first part of this grief process
to extricate themselves from it.
If and when the deconstructionists successfully make the transition and come to accept
and integrate the other, they will enter adulthood and their work will change accordingly. If
they do not make the transition, their work will remain in this liminal state and they will be
left behind by younger people who have gone beyond.
Holism and Sustainability
The natural environment became a key issue for those architects who had been involved
in the environmental movement of the late 1960s. They were also responding to the energy
crisis of the early 1970s. Bushy-at-the-base experimentation was aimed at making buildings
more energy efficient in order to protect the natural environment. This was the birth of a
scientifically designed green architecture. Some architects buried their buildings to take
advantage of the heat stored in the earth. Others rediscovered passive solar principles such as
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large areas of glass on the south side of the house and masonry mass for heat storage. Still
others used the latest active solar storage technologies to heat water in rooftop solar
collectors. In the 1980s, when energy prices dropped and energy tax credits expired,
however, interest in this type of construction waned.
Two other related scientism movementsthe Environmental Design and Design
Methodology movementsstressed the social nature of architecture using a deterministic
system that excluded style and aesthetics. They proposed to abandon architectures
traditional alliance with the arts, and to redefine it as a rigorous science (Gelemter 1999,
290). They worked with sociologists and psychologists to study the effect of settings on
people. Their approach was to rationally apply this body of information to what they called
design problems using rigorous mathematical models. Christopher Alexander, an architect
with a doctorate in mathematics, was one of the major proponents of this approach in the first
half of the 1960s. Initially, he advised against studying old buildings because he felt they
represented old solutions to old problems.
However, in the early 1970s Alexander changed his mind and called his earlier attitude a
mistakeone could not use science isolated from history and feeling to develop good
architecture. Alexander wrote a book called The Timeless Way of Building {1979), in which
he discussed what he called the quality without a namea timeless quality that he had
found in the traditional buildings and towns of many world cultures. According to Alexander,
this quality incorporates several other words: alive but including such non-living things as
a well-made fire and not including such living beings as people who feel dead, whole but
less enclosed, comfortable but not stultifying, free but uncontrived and with roots, exact
in its adaptation to forces that are in it, egoless but with the persons whole self in it, and
eternal but ordinary. Alexander (1979, 40) writes: The quality which has no name
includes these simpler sweeter qualities. But it is so ordinary as well, that it somehow
reminds us of the passing of our life. It is a slightly bitter quality. It is complexity in its
most complete sense.
Alexander looked for living patterns in space and human events/time by observing
mainly vernacular architecture throughout history and around the world. He discusses what
makes a pattern alive: The specific patterns out of which a building or a town is made may
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be alive or dead. To the extent they are alive, they let our inner forces loose, and set us free;
but when they are dead they keep us locked in inner conflict (Alexander 1979, 101). He and
a team of several other researchers published a companion book called A Pattern Language
(1977), which offered 253 patterns for particular design problems based on solutions
gathered from these observations. With each pattern, they offered psychological reasons for
why the pattern seems to work.
Alexander and colleagues found certain attributes common to patterns considered
pleasing to most people. They tend to be present in such objects as well-made Oriental rugs
and include: Many levels of scale, centers, good figure, solid boundaries, ambiguity and
interlock, repetition, alternation, color contrast, slight irregularities, and inner calm and
balance. According to Alexander, one propertycentersproduces all the other properties
when the centers are reiterated, especially when there is more stuff towards the centers
edge than in its center. These properties, when taken together, produce a complex mixture of
order that provides both knowledge and challengethose qualities that would
simultaneously fulfill our survival needs and our growth needs. As you recall, this was the
definition I earlier suggested for beauty. It seems that Alexander agrees that true beauty
helps free us to grow.
In the 1960s, Alexander worked within the linear paradigm of sciencethe paradigm of
modernism. His revised thinking in the 1970s was an early bushy-at-the-base outline of what
has become the complexity paradigm. He switched from looking for deterministic rules to
looking for rules that were open-ended and organicrules that described the essence of
meaning in a pattern. Alexander and his team were going beyond the pre- to the
transrational.
Alexanders discussion of the environment sounds like that of Gibsons concept of
affordances: The actual substance out of which the environment is made consists of
relations, or patterns, rather than things; and...it is...generated by the implicit, language-like
system of rules which determines their structure (Alexander, in Grabow 1983, 45). He also
integrates value and fact: There is a central value, approachable through feeling, and
approachable by loss of self, which is deeply connected to facts, and forms a single
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indivisible world picture, within which productive results can be obtained (Alexander, in
Grabow 1983, 78).
Alexander has dealt with aspects of beauty that replenish the spirit. In that sense, they are
sustainable. The term sustainable development has become a buzzword for all kinds of
bushy-at-the-base experimenting with processes that allow us and the Earth to survive, and
thrive, together. The term, like life itself, has evolved. Originally, sustainability was all
science and energy efficiencyit was a youthful concept. As we reach adulthood, we
realize, like the architect and daylighting expert Mary Guzowski (2000, xxv) that we need to
create environments that sustain all of lifeincluding humans and their seemingly unique
aesthetic, physiological, psychological, and spiritual needs. Aesthetics, beauty, health, well-
being, and quality of life are as important to sustainable design as are reducing waste, energy
consumption, and environmental impacts.
The Denver architect and professor George Hoover gives a similar adult definition of the
term sustainable and brings it to the issue of architecture:
Sustainable means not only indefinitely-prolonged, but nourishing, as Earth is nourishing to
life, and as a healthful natural environment is nourishing for the self-actualizing of persons and
communities. Development refers not only to economic activity, but also to the evolution,
unfolding, growth, and fulfillment of any and all aspects of life. Thus sustainable development
is human activity that supports and nourishes the historical fulfillment of the whole community
of life. This definition leads us back to the enduring concern of architecture, and to the
realization that the question facing us as architects today is the oldest of questions: What today
is a meaningful order for life and how can we promote and nourish this order as architects and
as citizens?
Hoover was not part of either the environmental movement or Alexanders version of
scientism. He was a Modernist interested in minimalist design. He came to sustainability
from a very different path than these other architects. I will suggest in my discussion of
Hoover that he began entering adulthood in his 30s as the result of a series of personal
tragedies. These tragedies profoundly affected his attitude toward life and community and
were the catalyst for his search for a meaningful order for life. He was led by his intuition
to design an architecture that strives to nourish all life. Recently, upon contemplating his
intuition, he has been able to articulate a series of metaphors to describe this architecture
metaphors for a living architecture. We will learn more about these metaphors later. 1
1 Hoover 1993, 4. Hoover credits his inspiration to the concept to Rockerfeller and Elder 1992, 9.
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Recently, more and more people have looked around themselves and asked similar
questions to those asked by Hoover. They have become concerned that humans are close to
destroying themselves and the environment that nurtures and nourishes us. These people are
working to nurture humanity and the ecosystem of which we are a part. Many have become
interested in vernacular regional architecture that is responsive to the local environment and
history, and that provides a sense of local place. They have become advocates of both sacred
architecture and of green and sustainable architecture.
Many business owners have also realized the benefits of buildings that are physically and
psychologically healthy. They have found that they can have higher profits if their
employees become more engrossed in work and have fewer sick days. Customers stay longer
in their store because it is a pleasant place. They have realized that a good building easily
pays back its initial costs. Healthy buildings that provide a sense of place have become a
win/win proposition. According to James J. Chaffin, Jr., president of the Urban Land
Institute:
Emerging psychographic, sociographic, and cultural trends indicate that the market is more
receptive to products that are the result of responsible ecological stewardship... There is a
preoccupation with quality of life, with an emphasis on health over wealth, and a focus on well-
being as opposed to being well-off. The market is in a time of wakefulness regarding our moral
relationship with the land. There is a shift of consciousness as we begin to see the reality of our
past behavior. The market, in short, is leading us to sustainable development practices. (Chaffin,
in Wilson et al., 1998, vii-ix)
It appears that culture and architecture are beginning to enter adulthood and we are
reevaluating what is important in lifewhat is life-enhancing. We are beginning to learn a
new way of thinking, which brings with it a new way of designingof integrating art,
science, and morals. In the next section, we will explore a way to understand and evaluate
architects values and their architecture as part of this bushy-at-the-base process of learning.
An Ethical System for Evaluating Architecture
How do we relate ethics to stages of consciousness? Lakoff and Johnson argue that
science is forcing us to be more responsible by bringing us closer to understanding the basis
of moralssets of values. My overriding goal in this thesis is to develop patterns that will
expand the possibilities of Life and help give humanity hopeto me that is value.
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Michael Benedikt has recently offered a similar, but significantly more complete,
definition of value. He has been developing a theory of value that allows one to consider all
values as manifestations of a single concept. Benedikt writes:
I conclude that there has to be a way to make aesthetic, moral, and economic values
commensurable, if only because real life asks us so often to compare and choose amongst them
in the name of some larger value.... I propose another concept for measuring value which
compounds the difficulties of these but also their strength and that is life, the product of
aliveness- or lifefulness-per-unit-time, and time. .. Life is a sort of vitalist, Bergsonian idea
that what really, ultimately, is of most value is that which promotes lifein the sense of
aliveness or livelinessat the highest levels of complexity and organization, over the largest
number of living things, and for the longest time. Money, honesty, beauty, love,
goodness...all of these, in my view, are subsumable to this life-enhancing principle, and
conflicts between them resolved in the court of its judgment. When we see through the
conventional terms of approbation and condemnation to the deeper life-increasing quality of our
better actions, beliefs, physical things and places, then we are able on the one hand to appreciate
and tolerate the variety of life-forms and life-practices that present themselves to us that much
better, and on the other hand to imagine new and judge old ones with that much less prejudice.
Although history and technology may guide its course, life, it seems, simply wants more (and
better) life. (Benedikt 1997, 54-55)
Kent Van Cleave (1989, 13) has a related concept of value, which he too relates to life:
The purpose of life is to continue. The more kinds of life populate the universe, the better
they thrive and scatter throughout the galaxies, the better life will have fulfilled its purpose ..
.. It is time that we understood that we will serve ourselves best by stressing our deepest
valuethe welfare of our remote descendantsand accepting the evolutionary purpose of
life as our own.
Van Cleave (1989) suggests that there are actually three basic valuesthree fundamental
evolutionary attractors that are evident in every successful evolutionary adaptation, in every
successful striving for more and better life. They are security, variety, and excellence.
I believe, with Benedikt and Van Cleave, that values at any stage are good if they expand
experience and growth for everyone (humans and life in general) and give everyone hope for
growth. Values are bad if they result in enslavement to old ruts or produce hopeless
situations for someone. These observations are consistent with the pursuit of variety and
excellence. They provide an increased number of options for all and thus increased security.
They hold true whether one is running a government, raising a child, or designing a building.
They provide an ethical guideline for evaluating a persons value systems.
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A Summary of Values for Architecture
Every work of architecture has several stakeholders: The client, the present and future
users, the builder, the construction workers, the neighbors and passersby, those whose present
or future livelihood and/or health is affected by the materials used in the building, and, last
but not least, the architect who designs the building. Each of these stakeholders comes with a
set of values. Some of their values they have in common as human beings at a particular
stage of consciousness, some are unique to each persons particular genetics and upbringing,
and some are unique to their particular position with respect to the building (Hubbard, 1995).
I have already discussed general values at each stage of consciousness. I have touched on
genetically based values. For example, people who become scientists tend to have excellent
logical abilities and value knowledge. Those who become athletes tend to have excellent
physical abilities and value physical prowess. Those who become architects tend to have
excellent artistic and spatial comprehension and value beauty and order.
Stakeholders have different values depending on the type of stake they hold. The client
of a commercial building wants results that will bring a good financial return. The users
want an interior environment that is physically and psychologically healthy, safe, and flexible
enough for future uses. The builder wants straightforward plans that will not result in cost
overruns. The workers want plans that are easy to follow and safe to build. The neighbors
want a beautiful building that fits in with the neighborhood and that will improve their
property values. Passersby want a building that is visually and texturally interesting and that
enhances the gestalt of the surroundings. Those who produce the products used in the
building appreciate the business. Future citizens want a world that is not damaged by the
extraction and use of those products. The architect wants a building she or he can be proud
of, one that shows order and fine design and embodies all other things she or he values.
All of these are ethical values if they expand experience and growth for everyone and
give everyone hope. They provide tools to evaluate architecture. The next steps are to
identify the metaphors that people use for architecture and the values those metaphors reflect,
and then to identify the tools that architects use to build those metaphors.
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Metaphors for Landscape and Architecture
Lakoff and Johnson offer a method of analyzing ones belief system based on analysis of
ones text. The analytical tools they use are the prototypes and metaphors discussed in Part
1. They state: As is common in cognitive science, (the analysis) pays special attention to
what is not overtly and consciously discussed in the text, but rather to what must be
unconsciously taken for granted in order to make sense of the text (Lakoff and Johnson
1999, 343). I will use this method of analysis to examine which metaphors and values each
of the architects appears to have, based on their writings as well as their buildings, and
whether these have changed over time.
I propose that people develop metaphors for important aspects of their career that are
related to their moral metaphors. Thus, each architect has a vision of what it is to be an
architect and what architecture signifies. In examining metaphors for architecture, I also
want to look at metaphors for a related topic of relevance to architectslandscapethe
natural and cultural environment in which all architecture is set. Architects have strong
convictions about the role of architecture in the landscape. Their convictions are based not
only on how they perceive architecture, but, more fundamentally, on how they perceive
landscapethe setting of architecture. D.W. Meinig (1979, 34) wrote of the different ways
in which different people view landscape: Any landscape is composed not only of what
lies before our eyes but what lies within our heads. We are concerned...with the organizing
ideas we use to make sense out of what we see.
Meinig was talking of metaphors. He identified ten metaphors people use for landscape,
each with its own belief system. Reading between the lines, I believe Meinig considered
these metaphors to be the result of the interaction of the values of a particular culture and an
individuals needs and goals within that culture. I suggest that certain metaphors also tend to
be characteristic of certain stages of consciousness. The following are Meinigs ten
metaphors for landscape, what I consider associated metaphors for architecture, and my
interpretation of the role of the architect in each:
Landscape as Nature. People who think in this metaphor consider humans minuscule,
surficial, inconsequential and subordinate to a primary, enduring, and dominant nature.
Meinig believes that those in present society who hold this view want to restore nature to its
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pristine state without any marks of humans. He also believes that this was the view of the
eighteenth century Romantics. I believe it was the magical worldview of Neolithic humans.
It was a time when humans tried to protect themselves with magic against the powers of
Nature. Architecture for them was a Foundinga marking off of space to separate it from
Natureand a Shelter from the Worlda form of protection against the powers of Nature.
The architect in this metaphor is the Shaman.' The main goal of Founding is create an
experiential spacea space that provides an experience of physical and emotional security.
Landscape as Habitat. In this view, Earth is the home of humanitythe garden that we
cultivateand the two live in harmony. The role of humans is to domesticate the landscape,
so that every landscape is to be a blend of humans and nature. Nature is basically benign and
will provide a comfortable home when properly understood. This is the view of those
environmentalists who long to go back to an earlier, simpler timewho suffer from Wilbers
pre-trans fallacy. It is the prerational mythic worldview of horticultural and agricultural
society and of the farmers and settlers who built their own vernacular architecture.
Architecture in this metaphor is Dwelling, or Shelter in the World. The architect in this
metaphor is the Midwife. The main goal of the architect is to create a contextual spacea
space that excellently suits its place and provides security.
Landscape as Artifact. Nature provides a stage. There is no Nature distinct from man,
who overpowers Her with dams, quarries, and the grid system. This is the view of the
Ancient, Renaissance, and Modem erasof man as creator and conqueror of nature. It is a
dualistic, adolescent worldview that is actually part of the viewpoint of landscape as
Problem. It was the original worldview of modernist engineers and of the architects who
emulated them. Architects in this metaphor see themselves as Creators. Architecture in this
metaphor is Temple or the Creation of Spacean ideal, eternal Model of the World. The
main goal of the architect is to create a conceptual spaceto represent an excellent idea and
provide a sense of security to those who enter. 1
1 I first met many of the metaphors I outline here for architecture in a course on architectural conversations
throughout Western history. The course was called Conversations Across the Breach and was taught by L.
Keith Loftin III.
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Landscape as System. The landscape is a dynamic system of general interacting
processesan immense input-output matrix. In this view, man is considered essentially
omniscient by virtue of the power of his mind. This was the viewpoint of modernist systems
science before we began to comprehend the open-endedness of complex systemsit is still a
mind/matter duality. Again, it is a dualistic, adolescent worldview. This was the worldview
of modernist scientists and of those modernist architects who saw themselves as Scientists
and also saw architecture as a Scientific System. The main goal of the architect is to create a
perceptual and conceptual spacea space that shows visually and intellectually the excellent
organization of the scientific system and provides a sense of security to those who use it.
Landscape as Problem. This viewpoint has two subsets.
In the first, this is the view of the designer who believes in control and comprehensive
planningwho sees every landscape and building as a design problema scene that can
be changed to bring about a more pleasing harmony and efficiency. In this subset, it is an
adolescent worldview in which the architect or planner plays God. The goal of the
architect is to create a conceptual spacea space that provides variety and excellent
harmony.
In the second subset, this is the view of the social activist who sees that humans have
ruined the landscape and that it must be fixed. This subset includes reverence for Nature
and a conviction that we know enough science to correct the wrongs. It is a youthful
worldview that sees multiple perspectives, but still believes it has all the answers. This is
the worldview of those architects who consider themselves Saviorswho design
sustainable architecture as a System to save the Earth. The main goal of the architect is
to effectively create a space that is environmentally economic and expedienta space that
excellently provides security for the environment and peace of mind (hope and security)
for those concerned about the environment.
Landscape as Wealth. This is a logical and systematic view that is adjusted continuously
because land has ever-changing value in a market economy. It is a youthful worldview in
that it is dynamic and looks at multiple perspectives, but it sees landscape only for what it
can provide, not for itself. This is the view of the Speculator and Developer in a society that
is strongly commercial, pragmatic, and quantitative in its thinking. The goal of the architect
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is to efficiently create an economic, expedient space that people will buya space that
provides security, in sufficient variety and excellence to serve the marketplace.
Landscape as Aesthetic. This view has a subordination of any interest in the identity and
function of specific features to a preoccupation with their artistic qualities (Meinig 1979,
46). It sees landscape as an abstraction, in that it seeks the generalthe essence of beauty
and truthfrom the particular in the landscape. In this view, the landscape holds a meaning
that we strive to grasp, but cannot reach. The artist holds the ladder: In this view landscape
lies utterly beyond science, holding meanings which link us as individual souls and psyches
to an ineffable and infinite world (Meinig 1979, 47). This view equates art with spirit and
denigrates science. I consider it a youthful worldview in that it is still based in mind/matter,
art/science dualities. I believe that this was the viewpoint of many of the eighteenth century
Romanticists and of the modernist artist. It is also the viewpoint of the architect who sees
him/herself first and foremost as Artist and who sees architecture as Works of Art. The main
goal of the architect is to create a conceptual and perceptual spacea space that touches the
spirit with its excellence.
Landscape as Ideology. These people see the landscape as an expression of the values,
governing ideas, and underlying philosophies of a culture. In this view, if we want to change
the landscape in major ways, then we will need to change the ideas and values of the culture
and people who created it. It is a youthful worldview in that it sees multiple human
perspectives, but sees landscape only as a symbol, not for itself. This is the viewpoint of
modem and postmodern architects who also see architecture only as Symbol or Image and see
themselves as Interpreters and Saviors of the Culture. The goal of the architect is to create a
conceptual spaceone that excellently portrays the culture or what the architect believes are
the problems with it in order to increase a cultures security, variety, and/or excellence.
Landscape as History. In this view, the landscape is the complex cumulative record of
the processes of nature and man in this particular place(Meinig, 43). Chronology is the
principal organizing system. This view of process differs from landscape as System in that it
concentrates on the particular rather than the general. It is a youthful worldview of multiple
perspectives based mainly on logic and science. This is the viewpoint of both the traditional
postmodernists and some deconstructionists who see themselves as Interpreters of History.
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For both, architecture is Symbol or Image. For the traditionalists, the symbol is Classical, in
the double sense of Remembering and Perfection. (Ironically, most of the traditionalists have
forgotten, or never learned, that the original Classical Greek temples commemorated blood
and death and were the product of a late childhood worldview.) The main goal of the
architect is to create a conceptual and contextual spaceone that excellently reveals the
history of the place in all of its variety, as the architect sees it.
Landscape as Place. This view builds on most of the other views of landscape. It adds
the perspective that a well-cultivated sense of placeboth natural and builtis important for
human well being. It assumes that all events are anchored in a place. Meinig (1979, 46)
writes that this view has an implicit ideology that the individuality of places is a
fundamental characteristic of subtle and immense importance to life on earth, that all human
events take place, all problems are anchored in place, and ultimately can only be understood
in such terms. Such a view insists that our individual lives are necessarily affected in myriad
ways by the particular localities in which we live, that it is simply inconceivable that anyone
could be the same person in a different place.
Landscape as Place is an adult worldview that is highly complex. It integrates art,
morals, and science in a search for understanding the physical, psychological, and spiritual
particulars of any given landscape and any given group of people. Architecture in this
metaphor is again Dwelling or Sheltering in the World, this time in a transrational senseto
be at peace in a place and to understand it with our sixth sense. It is the viewpoint of
architects who consider themselves Integrators of their own and others values. The goal of
the architect is to create a perceptual, experiential, contextual, and conceptual spaceone
that excellently provides hope and security to all stakeholders and integrates the variety of
values of those stakeholders.
How to Create An Ethical Architecture
Colin St. John Wilson writes about what an ethical architecture is for a given culture, and
how one goes about creating it, in an essay entitled The Ethics of Architecture. For him,
the meaning of a work of architecture lies in its use. By use, or its correlate function, Wilson
means something significantly more than just the program supplied by the client. His
concepts of use and function also embody the wholehearted commitment to accountability
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in social, economic, and technical terms (Wilson 1992, 26). They include all of humanitys
physical, intellectual, psychological, social, cultural, spiritual, and other as yet unarticulated
needs, both now and in the future. Wilson refers to architecture embodying all this
functionality as The Uncompleted Project. I consider it adult, living architecture.
Wilson suggests that to create ethical architecture requires a balance and synthesis of very
different abilities. It is an iterative process of discovery, dialogue, and exchange (Wilson
1992, 33). The process begins with the ability to analyze, to observe and to listen, in order
to arrive at a proper definition of the appetite in question(Wilson 1992, 31-32). This
discovery, or unveiling, of the hidden truth of the needs (appetites) inherent in the
particular commission is one of letting be, of being open and aware of the needs of others.
The second step is invention/creation of a design. In this step, the element of play allows one
to come up with a creative solution. Play requires two kinds of processes: First, one uses
ones instincts to take an imaginative leap to form an hypothesis; then, one explores
modalities and variations until one establishes a set of rules and points where these rules
can/should be broken. This process is iterative, and the play must be the translation of a set
of needs in society (Wilson 1992, 34).
Wilson (1992, 49) states: Between the patient drawing out of the concealed agenda
(what the Greeks called the hidden truth) and the discipline that will ensure relevance to the
power of invention, a certain alchemy is required to fuse the rigour of the one with the gift of
play of the other. It is exactly this alchemythis synthesis of the objective (the hidden
truth) and the subjective (creative design)that is possible when one engages in the
Experientialist Myth.
Myths provide ways of comprehending experience, they give order to our lives (Lakoff
and Johnson 1980, 185). The Experientialist Myth synthesizes the dualities of the objective
and the subjective myths using the shared experiences/metaphors of a culture. Whether or
not there is an absolute objective reality, there is a kind of objectivity relative to the
conceptual system of a culture (Lakoff and Johnson 1980, 193). It is this objectivity one
seeks when one unveils the hidden truth. In the Experientialist Myth, individual
subjectivity is replaced by the subjectivity of the culture. Thus, the rules of play in the
creative process are the shared metaphors and rituals of ones culture. It is in the iterative
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process of discovery, dialogue, and exchange, in the interaction between the architect and
the client/users/societyusing shared metaphorsthat understanding emerges and meaning
in a work of architecture is made possible.
Each of the ten metaphors of landscape and its associated architectural metaphor has been
prevalent at a particular time and place and for particular groups of people. Each has come
about as an attempt to balance the needs of the architect to develop his or her own interests
and skills and the need to make a living from the commission of his or her clientto produce
an ethical architecture for that time and place. As culture has advanced to higher stages of
consciousness, clients have had different values and demanded different products. In some
cases, the architects have had multiple metaphors for landscape and architecture and have
provided a more complex architectural work because of them.
With these metaphors, we have a framework for an ethical architecture for today and for
evaluating a work of architecture within its time and culture. The only piece yet missing is a
brief description of the tools of the architectural tradethe vocabulary of architecture.
The Tools of ArchitectureIts Vocabulary
The vocabulary of architecture is the set of architectural elements: Floor, column, beam,
wall, roof/ceiling, door, window, hearth, and altar/platform/seat. The architect combines, or
joins, the elements into compounds or assemblies: Room, hall, stairway, threshold, vestibule,
porch, colonnade, court/atrium, attic, cellar. ... These assemblies are then joined to make
the whole building. The architect makes the joints using one of a series of transactions,
including adhesion, fusion, interpenetration, and separation by use of a third material and/or
assembly.
Each element and assembly can represent many different things besides its obvious
function. For example, the roof is an architectural element with a myriad of potential
meanings. It acts as the boundary between out/in, up/down, over/under, exposed/sheltered,
chaos/order, uncontrolled/controlled, heaven/earth, universal/particular. ... The roofs shape
is significant: Domed or peaked roofs provide separation and a center; they offer shelter and
protection; and they suggest a consecrated or sacred space within. Flat roofs can signify
connection with the land and can suggest that the entire world is a safe place. Roofs with an
upward curve or downward peak tend to push the inside out. Saw-toothed roofs turn the one
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into many. They offer contradictions because they are open and closed at the same time. The
material of the roof can also invoke particular feelings: Wood is alive. Stone is solid. Some
of these meanings are universal; others are very dependent on culture. For example, the color
white stands for purity and innocence in Western culture, but is the color of death in India.1
Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour asserted in Learning from Las Vegas that meaning
could be conveyed in architecture in two waysthrough the overall composition, or form, of
the architecture (the duck) or overtly in signs and symbols applied on the architecture (the
decorated shed). In actuality, meaning can be conveyed at every level from applied
ornamental detail at the smallest scale, through joint, element, assembly, building form, to
the building in its setting at the largest scale. Each is a whole in itself and part of a greater
wholea holon2 within a holon.
For example, in sacred architecture across cultures, meaning tends to be conveyed at all
architectural levels as well as in the interplay between the architecture and the rituals carried
on within and around it. The path of movement through sacred architecture is itself a symbol
of the spiritual path and its goal. The architect Thomas Barrie (1996, 5-6) writes that
examples of sacred architecture across time and cultures reveal that: religious architecture is
fundamentally built myth that both symbolizes a cultures belief systems and
accommodates and facilitates the enactment of shared rituals.
Thus, the architect controls the contextual, conceptual, perceptual, and experiential
properties of an architectural work by her choice of the shape, material, and color of each
element and each assembly, how she joins them, and how she relates the overall composition
to the existing context of the site. As we just saw, architects skills in making such choices
are based on their ability to embody their architectural metaphor.
1 I owe much of the discussion of architectural elements and compounds to a seminar called Appropriate
Intervention taught by Peter Schneider.
2 The word holon was coined by Arthur Koestler. I was introduced to it in a class called Sacred Architecture
after the Death of God taught by George Hoover.
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The stage is now set to analyze architects values and how well they embody those values
in their architecture.
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PART 4: The Architects
In this part of my thesis I will evaluate selected writings and works of three
architects/teams and compare what they said or wrote with what they actually designed. This
comparison should allow me to relate the architects metaphors and values to their designs.
In keeping with the approach of using peoples text to winnow out their underlying beliefs,
much of the following will be direct quotes from the architects themselves and from those
who reviewed their works at the time. The quotes will be preceded or followed by my
interpretation of why they said what they did.
I will conduct an analysis of how each building reconciles the complexities inherent in its
unique situation. I will examine each buildings conceptual, experiential/material,
perceptual, and contextual qualities. These include how the building relates to its sites
physical and historic conditions; what rituals and settings it incorporates and how these relate
to the program, the client, the present and future users, and other stakeholders; how it uses
geometry and its effect on the physical and psychological well-being of the users; what
traditions are followed in its design and elements; what materials and techniques are used in
its construction and how these effect the users and the environment; and what the architects
intent was. In so doing, I will investigate what values were incorporated into each
architectural work and whether these have changed over time.
The Iconographers and their Fascination with Surface
Postmodernism, with its tendencies toward decoration of the surface, is the product and
process of a subgroup of a generation who began to question the excesses of the old paradigm
of modernism. They became frustrated and/or bored and wanted to use their creativity. Their
questioning was initially completely within the old paradigm in the sense that it was a swing
toward an opposite extremethe decorated shed rather than the duck. In this sense, dualism
was still alive and well, and architecture was in a hard transition from the adolescent to the
youth stage.1
1 See discussion of adolescence on pp. 32-34, and youth on pp. 34-37
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In the following sections, I will analyze selected writings and works of Robert Venturi
and Denise Scott Brown (whom I will refer to collectively as VSBA), the team who are
credited with giving birth to postmodernism. VSBA have pointed out in exasperation to
those who followed and popularized postmodernism that they were misunderstanding
VSBAs basic tenets. I will discuss this issue and suggest that VSBA were misunderstood by
most of the other architects of their generation and the next because they were using both the
feminine approach of giving voice and the masculine approach of rebellion, while many
others who followed only rebelled in the more typically masculine way of oscillating to the
opposite extreme.
Venturi/Scott Brown: Biographical Background
Robert Venturi was bom in Philadelphia, PA in 1925. He attended the Episcopal
Academy for nine years through high school. He then attended Princeton University during
the last years of WW II. He received his B.A. from Princeton in 1947 and M.F.A. from the
American Academy in Rome in 1950. He worked as a designer for Oscar Stonorov, Eero
Saarinen, and Louis Kahn. From 1957 to 1965, he was first Assistant Professor, then
Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He
held several other academic and related positions, including State Department Lecturer in the
U.S.S.R., 1965; Architect-in-Residence, American Academy in Rome, 1966; and Charlotte
Shepherd Davenport Professor of Architecture, Yale University, 1966 to 1970. He was a
partner with Paul Cope and H. Mather Lippincott from 1958 to 1961 and with William Short
from 1961 to 1964. He entered a partnership with John Rauch in 1964 and with Rauch and
Denise Scott Brown in 1967. In 1967, he married Denise Scott Brown. Presently the
partnership is called Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc. (VSBA). Venturi has
received numerous architectural awards and honors.
Denise Scott Brown was bom Denise Lakofski in Nkana, Zambia, in 1931. She went to
school at Kingsmead College, Johannesburg, South Africa from 1938 to 1947 and the
University of Witwatersrand, from 1948 to 1951. She studied tropical architecture at the
Architectural Association School in London, under Arthur Kom from 1952 to 1955. She
then studied at the University of Pennsylvania under Herbert Gans and Louis Kahn and
received the M. City Planning in 1960 and the M. Arch, in 1965. She was Assistant
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Professor, School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania froml960 to 1965; Associate
Professor, School of Urban Planning, University of California at Los Angeles, 1965 to 1968;
and Visiting Professor in Urban Design, Yale University, 1967 to 1970. Since 1967, she has
been Architect and Planner, and then Partner, with Robert Venturi. Her first marriage was to
the architect Robert Scott Brown in 1955; he died in 1959. Scott Brown has won a number
of awards for both architecture and planning.
A Gentle ManifestoThe 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s
Background
Early Mentors and Experience. Robert Venturi was trained in architecture at Princeton.
He was strongly influenced by two of his teachers: The first was the architect Jean Labatut,
who had been trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and taught by its methods, rather than the
methods of modernism. The second was the art historian Donald Drew Egbert, who saw
Beaux-Arts architecture as part of the complex of 19th'and 20,h-century civilization (Venturi
1979, 70). Venturi (1979, 70) writes: I learned I was part of a historical evolution, where I
learned about aesthetic and critical tolerance and the fragility of ideas; that todays rear guard
can be tomorrows avant-garde. Thus, not only Venturis parents, who appeared to be of the
Nurturant Parent type, but also his teachers at Princeton taught him to respect multiple
perspectives.
Venturi went to Rome for graduate school where he gained a new perspective on
architecture and on America. He wrote his Master of Fine Arts thesis in Rome in the 1950s.
In it, he wrote about the Campidoglio in Rome as a case study in context:
The architect has a responsibility toward the landscape which he can subtly enhance or impair,
for we see in perceptual wholes, and the introduction of any new building will change the
character of all the other elements in a scene. The Campidoglio in Rome has been injured
through ignorance of this principle. (Venturi 1953, 12)
The injury, according to Venturi, was the building of the very large Victor Emanuel
Monument during Mussolinis era of big boulevards and unenclosed spaces of monumental
parks. Venturi writes:
The vast Parisian spaces and other trimmings have robbed the buildings and their immediate
exterior spaces of force. The modem planners scrupulous respect for a Michelangelo design has
caused them to leave the Campidoglio untouched physically, but they have, nevertheless,
obscured its meaning and significance. A wrecking crew could hardly have damaged it more.
(Venturi 1953, 13)
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As Venturi went to Rome to learn about other cultures, Denise Scott Brown came from
Africa to London to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to study with Herbert
Gans. Gans was a young professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania who had
been born in Germany in 1927 and had fled with his family to England in 1938 during the
Nazi regime. He was an advocate of cultural pluralism who questioned the universality of
the tastes and standards of the elite high culture. Stanislaus von Moos elaborates on the
importance of this series of moves. He writes:
To be able to catalogue (and interpret aesthetically) the images of the everyday culture of
ordinary people, it was necessary simultaneously to sense it from within and to study it
from without. In short, drawing on this heritage to make the everyday reality of America the
subject of architectural discourse required the background and sociological acumen of Denise
Scott Brown.
She has speculated on the marginal nature of [her] own relation to dominant cultures
and on the fact that much of her thinking draws on dual colonial heritages: one American
and the other African, both set in a European mold. Accordingly, it is not by chance that the
Venturis have focused their interests not on Man per se, that idealized abstraction
postulated by modem architectures implicit universalism, but on the cultures of social
subgroups and marginal ethnic communitieson the marginal man who, as a cultural
androgyne, relates to two cultures at once: that of his racial and ethnic heritage and that of
middle-class America, into which he is partly assimilated. It is no coincidence that marginal
man, the stranger, and the wanderer were the focus of the American urban studies
conducted by the Chicago School of Sociology as early as 1920, studies that form the
background of Herbert Ganss education and research and thereby alsoindirectlythat of
Denise Scott Brown.1
Thus, VSBA as a team have the advantage of a number of complementary perspectives.
They can look from the inside out and the outside in.
1 Moos 1987, 20-21. Quotes are from Scott Brown 1989, 158-170.
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Architectural Theory
Complexity, Inclusion, and Symbolism. Venturi wrote Complexity and Contradiction in
Architecture based on his experiences in Rome. Venturis main objective, according to Moos
(1987, 11), was to set up a system of aesthetic principles that could be used to evaluate and
to criticize the architects own work while it was still on the drawing board.... The book
was an attempt to put criteria of literary theory to use in the aesthetic analysis of
architecture. In Venturis gentle manifesto, he showed an early understanding of
complexity:
I like elements which are hybrid rather than pure, compromising rather than clean, distorted
rather than straightforward, ambiguous rather than articulated, perverse as well as impersonal,
boring as well as interesting, conventional rather than designed, accommodating rather than
excluding, redundant rather than simple, vestigial as well as innovating, inconsistent and
equivocal rather than direct and clear. I am for messy vitality over obvious unity. 1 include the
non sequitur and proclaim the duality.
I am for richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning.... 1 prefer both-and to either-
or. A valid architecture evokes many levels of meaning and combinations of focus: its
space and its elements become readable and workable in several ways at once. But an
architecture of complexity and contradiction has a special obligation toward the whole. ... It
must embody the difficult unity or inclusion rather than the easy unity of exclusion. (Venturi
1966,1977; 16)
Venturi had discovered Christopher Alexanders early work on complexity. He
combined this with a definition of maturity given by August Heckscher that I believe actually
describes the passage from adolescence into youth with its awareness of multiple
perspectives, but its inability to completely integrate them:
Modern architects with few exceptions eschewed ambiguity. But now our position is different:
At the same time that the problems increase in quantity, complexity, and difficulty they also
change faster than before, and require an attitude more like that described by August Heckscher:
The movement from a view of life as essentially simple and orderly to a view of life as complex
and ironic is what every individual passes through in becoming mature. But certain epochs
encourage this development; in them the paradoxical or dramatic outlook colors the whole
intellectual scene. Amid simplicity and order rationalism is born, but rationalism proves
inadequate in any period of upheaval. Then equilibrium must be created out of opposites. Such
inner peace as men gain must represent a tension among contradictions and uncertainties. ... A
feeling for paradox allows seemingly dissimilar things to exist side by side, their very
incongruity suggesting a kind of truth.1
1 Venturi 1966, 1977; 16. First quote is from Alexander 1964, 4. The second quote is from Heckscher 1962,
102.
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Venturi, Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour wrote Learning from Las Vegas based on what
they had learned both as children and as youths at the University of Pennsylvaniato be
aware of other perspectives. They write:
Learning from the existing landscape is a way of being revolutionary for an architect....
Architects are out of the habit of looking nonjudgmentally at the environment, because orthodox
Modern architecture is progressive, if not revolutionary, utopian, and puristic; it is dissatisfied
with existing conditions. Modern architecture has been anything but permissive: Architects
have preferred to change the existing environment rather than enhance what is there.
But to gain insight from the commonplace is nothing new: Fine art often follows folk art.
Romantic architects of the eighteenth century discovered an existing and conventional rustic
architecture. Early Modem architects appropriated an existing and conventional industrial
vocabulary without much adaptation. .. Modern architects work through analogy, symbol, and
imagealthough they have gone to lengths to disclaim almost all determinants of their forms
except structural necessity and the programand they derive insights, analogies, and stimulation
from unexpected images. There is a perversity in the learning process: We look backward at
history and tradition to go forward; we can also look downward to go upward. And withholding
judgment may be used as a tool to make later judgment more sensitive. This is a way of learning
from everything. (Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour 1972, 1977; 3)
Two issues in Learning from Las Vegas echo the concepts first spelled out in Complexity
and Contradiction in Architectureinclusion and the difficult order:
The emerging order of the Strip is a complex order. It is not the easy, rigid order of the urban
renewal project or the fashionable total design of the megastructure. But the order of the
Strip includes; it includes at all levels, from the mixture of seemingly incongruous land uses to
the mixture of seemingly incongruous advertising media. (Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour
1972,1977; 52)
A city is a set of intertwined activities that form a pattern on the land. The Las Vegas Strip is not
a chaotic sprawl but a set of activities whose pattern, as with other cities, depends on the
technology of movement and communication and the economic value of land. We term it
sprawl, because it is a new pattern we have not yet understood. The aim here is for us as
designers to derive an understanding of this new pattern. (Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour
1972, 1977; 76)
The other major issue is that of symbolism and allusion:
The Strip shows the value of symbolism and allusion in an architecture of vast space and speed
and proves that people, even architects, have fun with architecture that reminds them of
something else, perhaps of harems or the Wild West in Las Vegas, perhaps of the nations New
England forebears in New Jersey. Allusion and comment, on the past or present or on our great
commonplaces or old cliches, and inclusion of the everyday in the environment, sacred and
profanethese are what are lacking in present-day Modern architecture. (Venturi, Scott Brown,
and Izenour 1972,1977;53)
A second edition of Learning from Las Vegas was published in 1977 after the first edition
had received a heated mix of praise and outrage based mostly on a literal interpretation of the
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book. In the preface to the second edition, Scott Brown clarified that what they had learned
was not the specifics of Las Vegas but the generalities of the roles of symbolism and
receptivity to multiple perspectives in the aesthetics of architecture:
What we learned from Las Vegas ... is not to place neon signs on the Champs Elysees or a
blinking 2 + 2 = 4 on the roof of the Mathematics Building, but rather to assess the role of
symbolism in architecture, and, in the process, to learn a new receptivity to the tastes and values
of other people and a new modesty in our designs and in our perception of our role as architects
in society. Architecture for the last quarter of our century should be socially less coercive and
aesthetically more vital than the striving and bombastic building of our recent past. We
architects can learn this from Rome and Las Vegas and from looking around us wherever we
happen to be. (Scott Brown 1977, xvi-xvii, in Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour 1977)
Historical Precedents and the Relationship to Modernism. In Learning from Las Vegas,
Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour suggest that modem architects created and analyzed forms
in terms of their perceptual qualities rather than their symbolic content. According to them,
early modernists scorned recollection in architecture and second generation modernists
followed Sigfried Giedion, who abstracted the historical building and its piazza as pure form
and space in light.... the competition of signs and symbols in the medieval city at various
levels of perception and meaning in both building and piazza was lost on the space-oriented
architect (Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour 1972, 1977; 104).
They arrive at this conclusion by taking what they learned from symbols in Las Vegas
back to Rome. From this new perspective, they show how historical symbols had been
common for architecture before modernism. They cite examples in Renaissance, Mannerist,
Neoclassical, and the eclectic architecture of the nineteenth century. They point to the Italian
palace as the decorated shed par excellence. The plan of the palace as a series of rooms
around a rectangular arcaded courtyard survived for two centuries as a consistent base for
stylistic and compositional variationschanges mainly in decoration. The Gothic cathedral
was especially complex in that it was both a decorated shed and a duck:
Amiens Cathedral is a billboard with a building behind it. Gothic cathedrals have been
considered weak in that they did not achieve an organic unity between front and side. But this
disjunction is a natural reflection of an inherent contradiction in a complex building that, toward
the cathedral square, is a relatively two-dimensional screen for propaganda and, in back, is a
masonry systems building. This is the reflection of a contradiction between image and function
that the decorated shed often accommodates. (The shed behind is also a duck because its shape
is that of a cross.) (Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour 1972, 1977; 105)
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They suggest that modernism had produced mainly heroic architectural ducks, but that
the culture of the 1970s was a time for decorated sheds rather than ducks:
Each medium has its day, and the rhetorical environmental statements of our timecivic,
commercial, or residentialwill come from media more purely symbolic, perhaps less static and
more adaptable to the scale of our environment. The iconography and mixed media of roadside
commercial architecture will point the way, if we will look. ..
Basic to the argument for the decorated shed is the assumption that symbolism is essential in
architecture and that the model from a previous time or from the existing city is part of the
source material, and the replication of elements is part of the design method of this architecture.
That is, architecture that depends on association in its perception depends on association in its
creation. (Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour 1972, 1977; 130-131)
They point out that they came to this conclusion pragmatically through concrete
examples, and that others have reached the same conclusion using different approaches. For
example:
Alan Colquhoun has written of architecture as part of a system of communications within
society and describes the anthropological and psychological basis for the use of a typology of
forms in design, suggesting that not only are we not free from the forms of the past, and from
the availability of these forms as typological models, but that, if we assume we are free, we have
lost control over a very active sector of our imagination and of our power to communicate with
others.
Colquhoun describes the essentially representational quality of the artifacts of primitive culture
and their relationships, and discusses the continuing anthropological basis for iconic values in
the products of technology. The cosmological systems of primitive peoples were not close to
nature but intellectual and artificial.1
They suggest that modernists had made the mistake of believing the psychological
wisdom of the early twentieth century that primary forms have an intrinsic meaning to
humans. They point out research by E.H. Gombrich that shows that this assumption was not
true, but rather the meaning of a particular shape depends on the particular culture. This is
the same point that the psychologists Gibson and then Reed have made concerning
affordances. Thus, early modernists had been using symbols specific to their culture without
realizing that they were doing so.
Moos believes that Venturis Masters thesis, his first book, and Venturi, Rauch and Scott
Browns architectural works of this period (at least) are all within the modem tradition.
Venturi was interested in aesthetic principles. He was not concerned with why his historical
examples used complexity and contradiction, only with what Moos calls:
1 Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour 1972, 1977; 131. They quote from Colquhoun 1967, 11-14.
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the visual impact that these phenomena have on the subjective perception of architectural form...
To the extent that Venturi thinks not as a historian but as a designer of urban spaces, he is an
architect. To the extent that he allows himself to be guided by his eyeby subjective
perceptionhe is part of a specifically modem tradition....
As the Venturis see it, the main problem of the architecture propagated by the CIAM
[International Congresses of Modern Architecture] is not so much that it has replaced the
awareness of past experience with the mythology of technocratic expediency (as it may actually
have done in its early years around 1928), but that it has adopted historical models that seem to
embody simple and straightforward solutions of complex problems, whereas the social and
cultural reality of urban coexistence in general demands essentially hybrid and complex
solutions. (Moos 1987; 13-14, 15)
Moos suggests that a discussion of the criteria that modernism adopted:
to legitimize its extremely selective use of history would have to center on psychology, the
theory of perception, and a practice of art history in which interest was focused primarily on
problems with form. ...
Against this background, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture does not appear as a
break with the tradition of Modernism. Rather, it comes across as the continuation of a
specifically modern obsession with learning from historical experience in the light of relevant
aesthetic issues. The issues discussed in the book revolve primarily around form and space
in architecture, even though they address formal and spatial qualities quite different from those
that interested the generation of Le Corbusier and Giedion. (Moos 1987, 15)
Thus, Moos suggests that although Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown in their early works
may have rebelled against the particular types of form expressed by the modernist system
because they considered them irrelevant for their time, they still remained within the system
because their work still concentrated primarily on form and aesthetics. In Learning from Las
Vegas, form is still an issue, according to Moos. But now the focus has shifted:
from an aesthetic and psychological perspective to a basically linguistic one. The authors are not
concerned with the fundamentally timeless structure of architectural form but rather with its
capacity to convey extremely temporal meanings and messages. But in neither caseneither the
book of 1966 nor that of 1972were historically determined architectural phenomena subjected
to social criticism or attributed to social dialectics. ... Their aim is to grasp reality as it is, not to
uncover the social mechanisms that brought it about. To that extent, even Learning from Las
Vegas belongs to a decidedly modern tradition that was ushered in by Impressionism in the fine
arts... [where] the unbiased visual assimilation of popular big-city everyday lifehas been a
central theme of modern art ever since. (Moos 1987, 16-17)
Thus, their early work is a direct evolution of modernism into a more complex formthat
of pluralistic images, symbols, and signs. Moos suggests that Le Corbusier and the
modernism of his time sought to solve problems using an approach taken from social
engineering and the natural sciencesin other words, the adolescent worldview of landscape
as Problem. In contrast, Moos (1987, 11-12) sees in the writings of Venturi and Scott Brown
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during this period the worldview of Architect as Observer. He points out that their
approach differs from earlier modernists in that it is literary with underpinnings of empirical
sociology. His discussion suggests that their worldview would be similar to the youthful
worldview I have called architects as Interpreters of the Culture, in which landscape is
Ideology. Moos writing suggests that he himself is at least at a youth, and quite possibly
adult, stage based on his ability to not only see, but also integrate, a number of perspectives.
A Recent Sociologists Analysis. Larson (1993, 53) considers the issues discussed in
Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Learning from Las Vegas a renegotiation
of the architects role with self, profession, and society. She lists five important areas in
which this renegotiation took place in their writing.
First, Venturis implicit insistence that architects must be committed to the clients
needs simply restates the principle of architectures professional morality (Larson 1993, 54).
The program of architecture was becoming more complex as contemporary life became more
complex. Modernism, with its purity, is better suited to single-function buildings like high-
rise offices. However, most architects do not design skyscrapers, but rather small projects
with modest budgets and programs as complex as larger buildings. They must therefore be
concerned with their client or go out of business.
Second, Venturi exposed and rejected the hubris and hegemony of the modernist
mastersthe same negative qualities as those evinced by Hitler and the other adolescent
totalitarian rulers of the first half of the twentieth century:
Despite all the dogmatic declarations of the Modern Movement, form does not follow function:
Venturi asserts that there are no good architectural reasons (as against economic or
constructional ones) why it should.... If exclusions of nonstructural elements ... are not
justified by functionality but by ideology, that ideology ought to be rejected as aesthetically
irrelevantas an encumbrance that often conceals the aesthetic preferences and choices of the
modernist masters...In reaction to the nineteenth-century nostalgic appropriation of many pasts,
the Modern Movement has chosen to create unity and order by classificationnamely, the
separation and specialization of elements at all levels of the built environment. This rigorous
emphasis on order reflected the heroic and utopian vision of an architecture that was going to
remake the world. Now that the urban world has been remade, the exclusionary principles
unity, order, purityhave become a totalizing ideology that excludes the projection and
communication of all meaning but one: the implacable and impersonal order of the machine.
(Larson 1993, 54)
Third, as I have just discussed, Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour argued that because
orthodox modernist architects were imprisoned by the dogmatic exclusion of ornament, they
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veered instead toward signification by monumental expressionismthe duck. They showed
that architecture throughout history has also embodied another type of signifier, the
decorated shedconventional shelter that applies symbol (Larson 1993, 54). In the
complexity of contemporary life: Architecture has multiple meanings (it is polysemic, as
we would say today), and the elements by which it projects meaning may be contradictory to
the form, structure and program with which they combine (Larson 1993, 54).
Fourth, Venturi used ordinary signs in unordinary ways, similar to Pop painters, as a
commentary on contemporary life. He was, as I suggested earlier, an Interpreter of Culture:
The architect who would accept his role as combiner of significant old clichesvalid
banalitiesin new contexts as his condition within a society that directs its best efforts, its
big money and its elegant technologies elsewhere, can ironically express in this indirect way
a true concern for societys inverted scale of values (Venturi 1966, 1977, in Larson, 1993,
56).
Thus, Larson posits:
The unorthodox architect rededicates him- or herself to the creation of meanings that are
ambiguous, complex, and contradictorylike modernity itself. A contemporary architecture is
therefore realistic, it should adapt itself modestly to what exists, using conventions to create the
unconventional. Throughout history, decoration has been (and should be again) an important
way of creating meaning through image. (Larson 1993, 56)
Finally, Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour re-legitimized decoration and offered several
other means for generating form. These include:
Inflection, the art of the fragment, which achieves a difficult unity through inclusion.
Inflected parts are holons, with their own identity and diversity. The space made by these
becomes formed space, rather than fluid and continuous space.
Emphasis on the wall, which acts as a boundary between two spaces. The wall decorated
on both sides induces simultaneous awareness of what is significant on either side.
Emphasis on the facade, which leads to reevaluation of the street and allows urbanity.
The unresolved building that can accommodate growth and changing programs.
The vast symbolic repertories of history and popular culture, including the commercial
culture of America.
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Thus, Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour vented their frustration with what modem
architecture had become and set the stage for major changes in thinking about the design of
architectural form based on pluralistic views of reality. Other architects of the same age
group felt liberated from the hegemony of modernism as a result of these books, but then
struggled because they had been taught modernism with a Strict Father approach and now
were suddenly cut free. They needed to decide what they wanted architecture to look like and
how they fit in with a rapidly changing society.
Still An Architects Architecture. The 1960s had two periods of decline in construction.
Then a severe building recession occurred during the early 1970s. Architects were struggling
within their profession and with their self-esteem. They were also struggling with the
question of what architecture was as a profession. Engineering had become a separate
discipline that assured the structural integrity of a building.
As we saw earlier, Venturi and Scott Brown rebelled against the prevailing modernist
philosophy of building as form and process, and thus the building itself as symbol (the duck),
in favor of the building as shelter with applied symbols (the decorated shed). But,
considering themselves as artists first and foremost, they were still concerned with
aestheticswith image (in other words, the two-dimensional surface):
We shall emphasize imageimage over process or formin asserting that architecture depends
in its perception and creation on past experience and emotional association and that these
symbolic and representational elements may often be contradictory to the form, structure, and
program with which they combine in the same building. (Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour
1977,87)
Creation of the image, according to Venturi, is the architects responsibility. Based on
comments by Venturi in a Progressive Architecture awards jury in 1975, Larson writes:
[Venturi] acknowledges that it is not his meaning that matters. Yet at no time does Venturi
suggest that an architect ought to yield his authority or his strategic interests to choices
determined by the people. The architect designs the structure and will also design the applied
decoration that Venturi wants to bring back. Here, the designers task is to provide the
anonymous (though decorated) shed where the users live as they want and create their own
meanings. Venturi phrases the architects mandate exclusively in terms of design, keeping it
securely within his professional purview and forestalling moves to wrest it away. (Larson 1993,
223-224)
Venturis comments were symptomatic of the struggle of architects in defining their role.
As did Venturi, many other architects came to the conclusion that, with engineering and
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