Thoughts on the Urban Long Tail

Stephen Johnson, author of Interface Culture and Emergence, is now writing on the Urban Long Tail and lecturing widely on the Urban Web. In Discover Magazine he suggests that the Long Tail is a sort of antidote to the indifference and withdrawal that Richard Sennett identifies in the contemporary city. Johnson argues that as our tastes become more eccentric, the diversity of taste cultures that we can find in dense cities will appeal to us more and more. Forms of locative media and such as dodgeball or even will facilitate this. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that the urban has itself greatly changed during the last thirty years. You may seek others like yourself, but as this USA Today report on the work of demographic corporation Claritas demonstrates, the earth is now blanketed in a posturban terrain of discontinuous microcosms, clusters of communities organized by similar taste, culture, and ideology. The kind of urban infrastructure (40 year old suburb, brand new 80 story condos on the beach, exurban loft, ultra-dangerous urban renaissance skid-row housing) we choose for ourselves, then, is a product of our position within a cluster. So is this really an antidote to the condition of disconnect Sennett identifies? Not in my book. But this post isn’t intended as a lament. We can’t recuperate the city any more than we can recuperate the pre-industrial village. Instead, architects and urbanists need to find strategies for working in this new landscape.

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Tactical Sound Garden

The Tactical Sound Garden rewrites the idea of locative media. This project intrigues me since it adds an aural, not visual, layer to the city. Most projects that propose a geospatial web or other virtual superimposition over an urban condition run aground due to the problem of attention. As Walter Benjamin points out, we apprehend architecture””?and cities””?through a state of distraction. Adding some kind of PDA-style visual interface to the city is a fruitful strategy, but fails to engage with this dominant, distracted way by which we experience cities. On the other hand, thanks to the Walkman and the iPod, millions of individuals are thoroughly accustomed to détourning their urban environment with sound on a daily basis. Mark Shepard’s proposal for the Tactical Sound Garden suggests that this is something that urbanists will be able to directly engage.

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We Cannot Not Know History

Journal of Architectural Education, Vol. 49, No. 2. (Nov. 1995), pp. 92-104.

Whatever we might think of Philip Johnson’s qualifications as a designer or of the individuals and movements that he has promoted over the years, there can be no question that he has played a key role in shaping twentieth-century architectural discourse. Johnson has been an architectural trendsetter, promoting the International Style, Mies van der Rohe, classicism and historical eclecticism, post­modernism, deconstructivism, and now a kind of Scharounian neoexpressionism.

If we are to try to understand better Johnson’s role in history, taking into account his impact on the history of architectural ideas, as well as his impact on the history of architectural form, we have to take into account his early political interests. As Franz Schulze brings to our attention in his 1994 biography Philip Johnson: Life and Work, between 1932 and 1940, Johnson was active in the politics of the extreme Right and, toward the end of that period, wrote a series of texts in which he expressed antisemitic views and painted Nazi Germany in a good light in comparison with England and France. The discipline of architecture has been largely silent on the issue of Johnson’s right-wing past, even though his political activities have long been the subject of gossip and plenty of materials document­ing them were available prior to the publication of Schulze’s book.(1) Johnson wrote extensively for right-wing organizations during the thirties, and his activities were covered in contemporary publications as well as in more recent histories of prewar movements in the ex­treme Right. In stark contrast to the more than three hundred ar­ticles published on literary critic Paul de Man’s writing for Le Soir during the Nazi occupation of Belgium (2) and a similarly copious amount of discourse on philosopher Martin Heidegger’s public en­dorsement of the Nazi program, Johnson’s past has received scant attention in the architectural media. Even Elaine S. Hochman avoided mentioning Johnson’s right-wing political commitments in her book, Architects of Fortune: Mies van der Rohe and the Third Reich, an attempt to document Johnson’s friend’s collaboration with the Nazi government.(3) Until Schulze’s book came out, to my knowl­edge only two articles by members of the discipline examined Johnson’s political past: architect Michael Sorkin’s “Where Was Philip?” and architectural historian Geoffrey Blodgett’s “Philip Johnson’s Great Depression.” However, both articles were published outside of the architectural media, in Spymagazine and Timeline, the newsletter of the Ohio Historical Society, respectively.(4) They were never taken up in the public discourse of architecture despite the fact that both articles provided enough information to enable anyone with interlibrary loan access to retrieve at least some of Johnson’s writings. Sorkin concluded his article with bitter questions pointing to the discipline’s silence about Johnson: “And what about some sort of apology? Some version of the [Kurt] Waldheim grovel? There never has been one from Johnson-not publicly, at any rate. How­ ever, apology or no, he has been forgiven.”(5) In spite of one of Johnson’s most memorable quotes, “We cannot not know history,” both Johnson and the discipline didn’t really want to know their own history.

Instead of simply judging Johnson’s past in order to reach a convenient historical closure, in this essay I examine Johnson’s philosophy by comparing Johnson’s political texts between 1932 and 1940 with the philosophy of architecture that he promoted after the war. The result will lay a groundwork for an analysis of Johnson’s intellectual legacy and should help point to the larger issue of both architecture and this country’s avoidance of acknowledging com­plicity in and repression of the Holocaust.

Johnson shows evidence of having been interested in right­ wing politics by 1932, the same year as his Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) exhibit on the International Style. During one of his vis­its to Germany to scout out modern art and architecture, Johnson attended a Hitler rally in Potsdam where, he told Schulze, he was enthralled.(6) After his return to the United States, Johnson and Alan Blackburn, a friend from Harvard University and MOMA, began to take an interest in the political philosophy of Lawrence Dennis.(7)

An active figure in the extreme Right, Dennis predicted that capitalism in the United States was doomed and that only the com­ ing of fascism could save it from communism. (8) To help would-be American fascists, Dennis provided a theoretical framework that he believed the successful movement would follow. Fascist revolt, he explained, would come not from the masses but from “the menaced and injured members of the elite who have a will to power and a will, through the capture and use of power, to change conditions they find in tolerable.”(9) Dennis argued that because all societies were ultimately run by elites, fascism had the virtue of not being hypo­ critical, as it “frankly acknowledges, or rather boasts, that its elite rule.” If the economy performed better and the masses were hap­ pier under fascism than they could be under communism or liberal capitalism, Dennis concluded, then indeed it was the right choice for America.(10)

Dennis’s message appealed to Johnson and Blackburn. In December 1934, prominent accounts in the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune reported that they had formed their own “Nationalist party,” or “Gray shirts,” and, after trying to re­ cruit members and holding a few meetings, had quit their jobs with the intention ofleaving for Louisiana to offer their services to Sena­ tor Huey Long, the Kingfish.(11) Their decision must have pleased Dennis, who had written that Long was “the nearest approach to a national fascist leader. … It takes a man like Long to lead the masses Long’s smarter than Hitler but he needs a good brain trust.”(12) The two told reporters that they hoped that in Louisiana they could “develop [themselves) by doing the sort of things that everybody in New York would like to do but never has time for. We may learn to shoot, fly airplanes, and take contemplative walks in the woods.” (13) A reporter for the Herald Tribune noted that Johnson’s office at the Museum of Modern Art was filled with cata­logs of firearms. Blackburn was in favor of large pistols, whereas Johnson favored the submachine gun. (14)

Suspicious of the two Harvard graduates, Long sent them away to Johnson’s Ohio home turf to organize for a possible 1936 run for the presidency.(15) After Long’s 1935 assassination, however, their plans were scuttled, and they joined up with Father Charles E. Coughlin, a political figure with tremendous grass-roots support based on his weekly radio programs.(16) With his popular support, the powerful political organization of his National Union for Social Justice, his weekly newspaper Social Justice, and a natural gift for oratory, Coughlin was the other possible candidate for an Ameri­ can fascist leader in Dennis’s eyes.(17) Within three years Coughlin would be notorious as a prominent Nazi sympathizer and one of the leaders of anti-Semitism in the United States.

Johnson and Blackburn supported Coughlin in a variety of ways. They endorsed Union party presidential candidate William Lemke, contributing $5,000 to his campaign,(18) and Johnson ran for the Ohio state legislature as a Democrat only to withdraw his candidacy in mid-campaign.(19) They supervised the printing of Social Justice, and, in what was probably their biggest coup, they organized a rally in Chicago at which eighty thousand spectators paid fifty cents each to hear Coughlin and Lemke. In one of his first architectural works, Johnson designed a podium for Coughlin that was modeled after the podium he had seen Hitler use at Potsdam.(20)

In 1938, after Blackburn left politics to get married, Johnson returned to New York and began spending more time with Lawrence Dennis. With Dennis’s help, Johnson was invited by the German government to attend a Sommerkurs for Auslander in Ber­ lin, an introduction to Nazi politics for foreigners, and to see Hitler speak at the Nazi rally at Nuremberg marking five years in power.(21) This rally was the greatest and last of the Nuremberg rallies. The next year the country would be at war.

At about this time, according to Schulze’s interviews with Johnson, he had become friends with Viola Bodenschatz, an Ameri­ can journalist married to Major General Karl Bodenschatz, Hermann Goring’s top aide. Johnson continued to try to make his message public: In a letter to her dated April 23, 1939, he wrote that he had planned to buy the American Mercury, a popular con­ servative magazine to which Dennis frequently contributed, but “the Jews bought the magazine and are ruining it, naturally.”(22)

With his interest in controlling a periodical thwarted, Johnson began setting his thoughts on paper, contributing to three right-wing publications: the Examiner, a publication dedicated to understanding the good points in fascism put out by critic Geoffrey Stone, a close friend of Wyndham Lewis; Social justice, which by 1938 had become notorious for its antisemitic, pro-Nazi slant, most notably for reprinting a speech by Joseph Goebbels essentially un­ changed under Coughlin’s name, for publishing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and for defending the Nazis after Kristallnacht; (23) and Today’s Challenge, a journal distributed by the American Fellowship Forum, an organization with close ties to Lawrence Dennis, funded by the German government and dedicated to disseminating pro­ German propaganda to the upper-class types who might not read Social Justice.

Johnson’s first political text was not his own, but rather a translation. Sometime during 1938, Johnson, under the guidance of Dennis, translated Werner Sombart’s essay Weltanschauung, Sci­ence and Economy. According to Schulze, Johnson happened upon the essay in a fastschrift for Hjalmar Schacht, German economist and then Hitler’s Minister of Economics, and having sought Sombart out, received permission to translate the essay into En­glish.(24) First printed in the Examiner,the essay was published in book form along with an introduction by Johnson by the Veritas Press, a publishing house funded by the German government through the German Library of Information for propaganda purposes.(25) Sombart was an influential German sociologist in the early part of the century who began to veer to the Right when he theo­rized an antisemitic critique of capitalism via racial archetypes.(26) He supported the Nazi party in the thirties. While Weltanschauung, Sci­ence and Economy is not a particularly important text in Sombart’s oeuvre and does not address the question of race, translating it gave Johnson, Dennis, and the German government a chance to bring Sombart’s ideas to the American public.

In the text, Sombart explained that although the Nazis had a strong will, they lacked “a thorough philosophic training and edu­cation,” leading them to spend their time “aimlessly running about.”(27) In other words, Nazi theory was not up to its practice. A reasonable conclusion from this would be that a theory like Dennis’s could give a solid grounding to the American fascist move­ ment to help it avoid the difficulties encountered by the German version. Sombart’s book would thus have formed a complement to Dennis’s writings, a call for an American theory of fascism.

Johnson, however, had political theories of his own. He laid out his position on race in an article for the Examiner (later reprinted in Today’s Challenge) titled “A Dying People?” He opened the article by warning that Americans were failing to reproduce in sufficient quantities, predicting deserted ghost towns and a massive population decline. Midway through the article, however, Johnson displaced population decrease in absolute terms with a decrease in the popula­ tion of the white race, writing, “This decline in fertility, so far as sci­ entists have been able to discover, is unique in the history of the white race.”(28) The decline Johnson was predicting would be among whites only. “In short,” Johnson wrote, “the United States of America is committing race suicide.” Only by thinking in the broader terms of the greater good of the race could whites save it:

… by their lack of will to live and grow, [Americans] them selves accelerate the already rapid decline in births. I have heard many educated men talk in this way: “Well if we are not the fittest to survive, nature will wipe us out. The Japa­ nese may be more fit to survive. Remember Darwin.”

But this appeal to Darwin is merely a cloak for weak­ ness. For surely the will to live is a factor in determining what is “fittest.” If we will to live and grow, we shall be fitter than the Japanese. If we sit back and look at the situation purely “objectively,” the Japanese are very likely, with their strong will to live, to become fitter to survive than we.

The course of nature is not pre-destined. Human will is a part of the biological process. Our will, for example, interferes, constantly in the world of the lower animals. When English sparrows threaten to drive out our songbirds, we shoot the sparrows, rather than letting nature and Darwin take their course. Thus the songbirds, thanks to our will, be­ come the “fittest” and survive.(29)

Johnson’s argument was indebted to the eugenic discourse that was popular in the early part of the century but by the late thir­ ties had been left behind by scientific eugenicists, retained only by the extreme Right, most notably the Nazis. Like Johnson, the ear­ lier eugenicists were alarmed by indications that Nordic or Anglo­ Saxon Americans had a lower birthrate than immigrants from other countries.(30) As Johnson would do later, the eugenicists predicted that “race suicide” and “national deterioration” would be the con­ sequence of these trends. Only eugenic measures against the immi­ grants and increased fertility for the established could fend off the destruction of the race. Johnson’s reference to the Japanese also re­ calls eugenicist fears of”the yellow peril” threatening the West with its increased fertility.(31)

In a book review of Mein Kampf for the Examiner, Johnson went into greater detail on his ideas on race, locating a healthy and positive attitude in Hitler’s racism:

At the basis of the Hitlerian mystique is the notion of “race.” The exclusiveness implicit in this notion has repelled anti­ Liberal thinkers outside of Germany, who have joined forces with Liberals in condemning it as unhistorical and unscien­tific. If, however, we overlook the terminology that Hitler inherits from Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamber­lain—and that has become so repugnant to Americans be­ cause it has been made to appear primarily antisemitic—we shall find a different picture than we have been led to expect by reading excerpts from the more lurid German “anthro­pologists.” Reduced to plain terms, Hitler’s “racism” is a per­fectly simple though far-reaching idea. It is the myth of “we, the best,” which we find, more or less fully developed, in all vigorous cultures. Thus Plato constructing the ideal State in his Republic assumed that it would be Greek: apparently even in the realm ofldeas nationality occurs, and one’s own takes precedence over all others. (32)

Johnson’s position on race was carried over in his role as Eu­ropean correspondent for Social justice and Today’s Challenge. In his writings, Johnson consistently promoted an antisemitic, proGerman political stance that went far beyond what Paul de Man wrote in his articles for Le Soir. Johnson’s writing speaks for it­ self. In an article for Today’s Challenge, Johnson expressed his opinion on the Jewish refugees in Paris during the summer of 1939:

Another serious split in French opinion is that caused by the Jewish question, a problem much aggravated just at present by the multitude of emigres in Paris. Even I, as a stranger in the city, could not help noticing how much German was be­ ing spoken, especially in the better restaurants. Such an influx naturally makes the French wonder, not only about these in­ coming Jews, but also about their co-religionists who live and work here and call themselves French. The facts that Blum and the men around him are Jews, that there are two Jews in the present cabinet, Messrs. Zay and Mandel and that the Jewish bankers Mannheimer, de Rothschild and Lazard Freres are known to stand behind the present government all complicate the situation. The position taken by the Daladier government on this question is an interesting commentary on its policies in gen­eral. There are two decree laws which concern the press, one against publishing propaganda paid for by a foreign govern­ ment. Under these laws, the patriotic weeklies Le Deft and La France Enchainee were just recently suppressed, presumably for getting money from Hitler; but L’Humanite, which no one doubts gives out Russian propaganda, paid for by Rus­sia, has been left alone. What is freedom of the press and for whom is it done, the French ask.(33)

It is hard to imagine the author of this piece, the review of Mein Kampf, and “A Dying People?” supporting the admission of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and Eastern Europe into the United States. Johnson wrote a similar piece, “Aliens Reduce France to an ‘English Colony,”‘ which was published in Social Justice on July (24). In this article, he explained that although the American papers were trying to make the French seem, as he put it, “unified and coura­geously prepared for the worst,” in reality “lack of leadership and direction in the State has let the one group get control who always gain power in a nation’s time of weakness: the Jews.” Again, Johnson insinuated that the Jews were doing better under the new government, writing that Catholics were still “not allowed the right of assembly or instruction.” Instead, “it would seem that only Jews have freedom in the Third Republic. Small wonder one hears so many reports of growing antisemitism among the common people of France.” To emphasize, he quoted “a patriotic French woman, a well-known writer and journalist, whose name I must withhold for obvious reasons”:

My heart aches for the future of my country. When I see my beloved city of Paris overrun with German, Czech and Hungar­ ian Jews, I say to myself are these the “Frenchmen”who with their “French” cousins are to rule France? And am I not even to be allowed to raise my voice against it? … With our internal affairs in the hands of the Jewish bankers, our foreign affairs in the hands of Great Britain, and our country rent by dissension, what is to be the end for France? Who will save her?(34)

Johnson toured Poland with Viola Bodenschatz a month be­fore the outbreak of the war(35) and reported back on what he saw in an article for Social justice. Again, Johnson singled out the Jews in classically antisemitic terms:

When I first drove into Poland, the countryside was a shock to me. Like most Americans who learned their geography since the World War, I was brought up to think of Poland as a country which looked much like the other countries of Eu­ rope Once on the Polish side [of the Polish-German bor­der], I thought I must be in the region of some awful plague. The fields were nothing but stone, there were no trees, mere paths instead of roads. In the towns there were no shops, no automobiles, no pavements and again no trees. There were not even any Poles to be seen in the streets, only Jews!(36)

In an interview with Schulze, Johnson recalls finding his car surrounded by Jews after he got lost in the narrow streets of the town of Makow. “At first, I didn’t seem to know who they were except that they looked so disconcerting, so totally foreign. They were a differ­ ent breed of humanity, flitting about like locusts. Soon enough I re­alized they were Jews, with their long black coats, everyone in black, and their yarmulkes. Something about them desperate, as if they were pleading about something maybe because we were Ameri­ cans, with our American license plates. You know how in your dreams your world sometimes drops from under you? I felt out of my depth.”(37)

While he had disparaged Poland and its large Jewish popula­ tion, Johnson painted Germany in a starkly better light. Johnson compared Hitler to Lenin: both had provided their people with a positive revolutionary ideal for which they were prepared to sacri­fice their lives. The preconditions of revolution, “starvation, oppres­ sion, suffering” were “very far from being sufficient to cause a revolt.” Those opposed to Hitler constituted a diverse group-from “lawyers who miss the good old days when lawyers were looked up to and paid well” to “artists who resent the official disapproval of their art”—incapable of uniting on a common front. It was not re­ally that bad, Johnson explained: “None of those opposed to Hitler that I know would prefer the liberalism of the Weimar Republic to National Socialism as a system of government They do not like Hitler, but they feel that if Hitler were not Hitler but some imagi­ nary person that would be nice in their own particular way, then National Socialism or rather national socialism, would be a good idea. Such thoughts are not the stuff of revolutions.”(38)

One is left wondering what happened to the Jews in Johnson’s Germany. Had the plague been eliminated in Germany? Johnson could not have been ignorant of the vicious campaign against the Jews, either in his firsthand experience or from the ac­ counts printed in the American press, especially after Kristallnacht.(39) Schulze relates an incident told to him by Johnson about his first­ hand experience with the antisemitic violence of the Nazis. Passing through Brno, Johnson called on Otto Eisler, an architect who had participated in the International Style exhibit and was a Jew and a homosexual. Johnson told Schulze that Eisler “could only keep his head up at a distorted, painful angle. ‘Obviously you don’t know,’ he said, ‘but I’ve been in the hands of the Gestapo, and they let me out just the other day. I don’t know how long I can talk to you.”‘ Johnson was shaken by the incident and wrote J. J.P. Oud to ask him to help. Oud could not do anything, and Johnson quickly put the incident behind him.

At the invitation of the German Propaganda Ministry, Johnson accompanied the German army into Poland to see the in­ vasion firsthand. In his Berlin Diary, journalist William Shirer de­scribed his encounter with Johnson: “Dr. Boehmer, press chief of the Propaganda Ministry in charge of this trip, insisted that I share a double room in the hotel with Phillip [sic] Johnson, an American fascist who says he represents Father Coughlin’s Social Justice. None of us can stand the fellow and suspect he is spying on us for the Nazis. For the last hour in our room here he has been posing as anti­ Nazi and trying to pump me for my attitude. I have given him no more than a few bored grunts.”(40)

Although in his contemporary writings Johnson was eager to repeat quotations from individuals like the French woman, he would not repeat Eisler’s statement. Returning to New York, Johnson recounted what he had seen of the war in Poland. In another article for Social Justice he wrote, “You have been led to believe that the Ger­ mans have devastated Poland. 90 per cent false. I saw Warsaw burn. Modlin, Miava, and the hamlet ofNowograd I saw in ruins. But 99 per cent the towns I visited since the war are not only intact but full of Polish peasants and Jewish shopkeepers.” (41)

Johnson also gave at least three speeches on what he said he saw during the war. Historian Geoffrey Blodgett recounts that in mid-October, Johnson told the New London Rotary Club that journalists were distorting the war. The New London Record re­ported, “He found, especially in Poland, business as usual, the citi­ zens contented and more or less satisfied with the change of government, and the Jew but very little molested.”(42) Johnson fol­ lowed this with a second lecture on December 13, 1939, in Phila­ delphia on “Facts and Fiction in the Present War” about which as yet little is known.

On January 26, 1940, Johnson gave a speech at a Springfield, Massachusetts turnverein (Germanic athletic club) for the American Fellowship Forum. According to the Springfield Evening Union re­port, his theme was a warning that on account of British interests, the United States was ready to go to war with Germany. Calling him­ self a foreign correspondent, Johnson explained that the American newspapers were deceiving the public about the European war. Of the New York Times, he declared that it had only British correspon­dents in Europe who would send back only articles favoring their country’s positions. Johnson went on to cite a picture that appeared in the Springfield Evening Union the previous month depicting vic­tims of the war and said that it was taken in Brooklyn. Johnson con­ tinued to cite instances of purported anti-German propaganda in the American papers: “The newspapers lied about the war in Poland, he Qohnson] said, averring that the countryside was not made destitute as reported. He said only one town actually was destroyed and the half of another. The first town had been used as a fort, he said.”(43) In private correspondence, however, Johnson portrayed his trip in a different light. Schulze cites a letter sent by Johnson to Viola Bodenschatz after he had visited postinvasion Poland and had driven through the same town he described in the Social jus­ tice article as being full of Jews: “I was lucky enough to get to be a correspondent [at the invitation of the German government] so that I could go to the front when I wanted to and so it was that I came again to the country that we had motored through, the towns north of Warsaw. Do you remember Markow [sic]? I went through that same square where we got gas and it was unrecogniz­able. The German green uniforms made the place look gay and happy. There were not many Jews to be seen. We saw Warsaw burn and Modlin being bombed. It was a stirring spectacle.”(44) Johnson’s letter is in conflict with his public lectures and article for Social Justice.

Johnson’s antisemitic writing fit in with the publications for which he wrote. Coughlin’s Social Justice played a key role in spreading anti-Semitism in the prewar United States. Indeed, dur­ ing the period of Nazi rule, it was very difficult for European Jews to immigrate to chis country because of the Roosevelt administration’s fear of offending established Americans. Hitler himself used the American position to justify his antisemitic poli­cies, asking why, if the United States refused the Jews, should Ger­many accept them.

By 1940, pressure on Johnson to end his political activities was mounting. According to Schulze, that May the FBI began to assemble its dossier against him, and by June internal documents in the Office of Naval Intelligence marked him as a suspected spy. That fall, the American Fellowship Forum would undergo congres­ sional scrutiny by the House Special Committee to Investigate Un­sAmerican Activities. Roosevelt himself, in his fireside chat of May 26, pointed to a danger within: “The Trojan Horse. The Fifth Col­ umn that betrays a nation unprepared for treachery.” With the Wehrmacht rolling through the Low Countries and Roosevelt ask­ ing Congress to nearly double the military budget in preparation for possible war, (45) being an activist for subversive groups under govern­ ment suspicion must have begun to seem like a bad idea to Johnson. He was also beginning to get bad press: The September issue of Harper’s described him as one of”The American Fascists.”(46)

Abandoning his political career, Johnson returned to Harvard that fall to study architecture as a graduate student and to begin refashioning his public persona. His efforts were successful. After graduation and a short stint in the army as a latrine orderly in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Johnson regained his earlier position in MOMA’s architecture department with little difficulty and soon after became a practicing architect.

The first major landmark in Johnson’s refashioning of his public persona was his Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, which established him as an architect to watch. The house, as a site of numerous high society parties, became a symbol of his role as a power broker. In his 1950 photo essay in Architectural Review, Johnson presented a series of historical justifications for its design in a series of images with extensive captioning texts. The first ten images of the essay were of what Johnson cited as the precedents for the Glass House, the captions indicating that his interest in precedent was limited to drawing together formal moments from history. By reducing history to a slide show of formal events, Johnson’s photo essay repressed its materiality.

After the historical images, Johnson shifted to images of the Glass House itself, with captions explaining its different elements. Under a picture of the house illuminated at night, Johnson wrote: “The cylinder, made of the same brick as the platform from which it springs, forming the main motif of the house was not derived from Mies, but rather from a burned-out wooden village I saw once where nothing was left but the foundations and chimneys of brick. Over the chimney I slipped a steel cage with a glass skin. The chim­ ney forms the anchor.”(47)

Certainly, most readers would not have known about Johnson’s visit to postinvasion Poland or his reasons for going. Why then did Johnson make the connection with the war? In his 1979 introduction to Philip Johnson: Writings, Peter Eisenman elaborated on Johnson’s interpretation:”… the Glass House is Johnson’s own monument to the horrors of war. It is at once a ruin and also an ideal model of a more perfect society; it is the nothingness of glass and the wholeness of abstract form. How potent chis image will re­ main long after all of us have gone, as a fitting requiem for both a man’s life and his career as an architect! I know of no ocher architect’s house that answers so many questions, has such a sym­ biotic relationship with personal atonement and rebirth as an indi­ vidual.”(48) Eisenman’s allusion to ‘atonement’ is puzzling. Like Johnson, Eisenman did not explain Johnson’s role in the war. If Eisenman did not know about Johnson’s past, it is hard to under­ stand what he meant by ‘atonement.’ If he did, it is hard to under­ stand why he did not mention it.

More recently, Johnson has said chat the chimney is symbolic of nothing more than a hearth. Of the image of the burned-out vil­ lage, he stated, “Yes, I regret having said that. Because the burned­ out village was in the Second World War, and I was on the wrong side. So we don’t talk about chat anymore. My enemies do, of course. That’s a part of my life chat I’d rather forget. But it was a horrifying sight. And yet, it’s so symbolic, chat you’ve got the hearth, the one thing that was left. And it was so beautiful. That’s a horrible thing to say, but ruins are beautiful. You can’t help it. Fascination with ruins, it’s endless.”(49) This passage reinforces a reading of Johnson’s original text chat suggests Johnson had the ca­ pacity to appropriate any image, no matter what its context, for purely formal purposes.

It is this kind of formalist appropriation of historical materi­ ality that Johnson promoted when he stated in a 1959 lecture that “we cannot not know history.” Johnson didn’t want real historical investigation, any digging that might uncover the shaky founda­ tions on which the Glass House is built. Rather, as he explained in the same lecture, “I try to pick up what I like throughout history.”(50) “We cannot not know history” in this case does not refer to his own history, but rather to a history of aestheticized form.

Beginning in the early seventies, Johnson’s past was brought up occasionally in the architectural press, albeit almost exclusively in in­terviews in which Johnson would have a chance to deflect the issue. For the most part, Johnson’s interviewers were reluctant to investigate or grapple with the material in a significant way. Two interviews, however, stand out for the relative probity of the interviewers.

The first mention of Johnson’s past in the architectural media was in an article by Charles Jencks that contained within it an inter­ view with Johnson.Jencks confronted Johnson with the passage from Shirer’s Berlin Diary. Johnson retorted, “Shirer’s a very irresponsible journalist … very third rate writer.” However, Johnson had to agree with the account, excepting any possibility that he was a spy: “Yes it was that night in Danzig that Shirer writes about. But uh … I re­ally, I’d suppose that anyone who wasn’t actively crusading was sus­ picious and I probably did lean over backwards … no I was wrong … I hoped something good would come out of it. No this was be­fore concentration camps were started of course. But still no excuse. Speer has it right, I know, but of course I weren’t no spy.”(51)

Although he alluded to Albert Speer’s acceptance of full re­ sponsibility for Nazi war crimes, Johnson himself neither accepted responsibility nor detailed his own actions. Instead, he changed the topic to what he thought of Speer: “Oh, reading Speer is one of the really exciting things. Have you read the architectural section? Oh, but read the architectural part. Because Speer was an extremely sen­ sitive man and really a businessman architect-he’d be good in America, a really great skyscraper architect, an organizer. But with this mad architect-uh-Hitler, who didn’t have any intention to run the country at all-during the war. Spent the time designing­ and made the drawings himself sometimes. Oh, you must take a glance at the book.” (52)

Jencks responded: “What the … HITLER! An architect? Mad architect? Somehow it made a lot of fortuitous sense as if Johnson had suddenly illuminated a whole area of the architect’s dreams, the secret desires and warped fantasies which usually can­ not stand the light of day and remain hidden-even to the archi­ tect himself. But Hitler! A Thousand Year Reich.” (53) Yet just as Jencks had a brilliant moment of insight into both the identity of the contemporary architect and on Johnson as archetypal concernporary architect, he dropped it, ending his interpretation of Johnson’s statement by stating that “at best—in his self-mocking comments or his Sheldon Museum—he attains a level of candid introspection and exaggeration usually reserved as moments of truth for the court jester.”(54) Johnson had become the bad boy of archi­ tecture again, his past indiscretions just part of his persona. In another interview with Johnson by John W. Cook and Heinrich Klotz for their book, Conversations with Architects,(55) Johnson himself turned the interview toward Hitler:

Hitler … was, unfortunately, an extremely bad architect. The only thing I really regret about dictatorships isn’t the dictator­ ship, because I recognize that in Julius’s time and in Justinian’s time and Caesar’s time they had to have dictators. I mean I’m not interested in politics at all. I don’t see any sense to it. About Hitler-if he’d only been a good architect! … If you go to Rome today, you’ll find that the Terza Roma was much better than what’s been done in the Republic, in the same area, since the war. So let’s not be so fancy pants about who runs the country. Let’s talk about whether it’s good or not.

In other words, for Johnson the ethics of patronage is irrelevant, only the quality of the design left behind: “whether it’s good or not.” In a subsequent exchange, Johnson explained that he also loved Stalin as he thought the dictator might build something. “Hitler,” he continued, “was a terrible disappointment, putting aside the social problem.” (56)

Johnson’s call for an evaluation of Nazi Germany in terms of its aesthetic legacy is consistent with the rest of the interview in which Johnson took pains to dismiss the myth that Mies’s flight from Ger­many might have been motivated by distaste for Hitler’s politics. In its stead, he created a new myth of Mies who fled Germany because he couldn’t get any commissions under the Nazi regime. Mies, it turned out, was just like Johnson, a true architect, apolitical or more properly committed to an aesthetic ideology of the importance of ar­ chitecture over all else. Johnson explained that his own goal as an ar­ chitect was not to inspire or improve people, but rather to entertain them. He gave as an example a “maffioso numbers man” who could be given a proper environment: “He’ll go on killing his people, but I hope to amuse him in between.”(57)

Remarkably, in the foreword to the Cook and Klotz book, archi­tectural historian Vincent Scully could only remark, “In the interview with Philip Johnson, I find Cook and Klotz unnecessarily tedious­ with their bits about travertine and Hitler and all. But everybody baits Johnson, and he asks for it and usually comes dancing through it with a fine, brittle, Balanchine-like rigor-as he does here.”(58)

In recent years, Johnson has maintained a public ambivalence on the issue. For example, in an article in the June 1993 issue of Vanity Fair, Johnson stated that “I have no excuse [for] such utter, unbelievable stupidity I don’t know how you expiate guilt.” When asked if he would have built for Hitler in 1936, he replied, “Who’s to say? That would have tempted anyone.”(59) He says that he went to Germany “to see what a country at war was really like” and because he “had always been interested in the German language” and was “brought up with the prejudices of my class and background and all that. I was fascinated with power.”(60) Johnson neither mentions his antisemitic writings nor examines the repercussions of his actions. Further, when told that the Schulze biography might attract a lot of attention, Johnson fliply replied, “Well, sex and Nazism can do that,” referring to the book’s discussions of his homosexuality as well as his Nazi past.(61) Johnson would appear to believe that one is just as “bad” as the other, equating the homosexual population con­ demned by the Nazis with the action of its condemnation and con­ versely domesticating Nazism as something that “bad boys” do.

Although Johnson admits to his past activities when pressed, he generally only acknowledges what is offered, which until the Schulze book came out was mainly the period he tried to get close to Huey Long. Yet Huey Long is rather safe: The Kingfish, as far as he is remembered, is a part of Americana. Johnson is more reluctant to talk about his activities in Nazi Germany or his activities for a Nazi-funded propaganda movement expressly aimed to convince the American people that Germany wasn’t the enemy. Johnson seems to be upset that the whole matter was ever mentioned and still appears to hope that it will all be forgotten so that we can get down to the business of appreciating him for his role as architect and patron.(62)

At the same time, Johnson continues to promote the same philosophical motives that led him into what Schulze calls “the in­ glorious detour.” In a recent interview, Johnson detailed the conti­ nuity between his politics and architecture:

I learned the German language, when I was young, because I was interested in reading Nietzsche. And I still read Nietzsche, in German, because it’s much better. He’s a poet and a thinker. That’s why I was initially attracted to Hitler, who to­ tally misunderstood Nietzsche, really. But there was enough similarity between them so I got very excited about it. That was long before the problems for the Jews came up. It all ended in the frightful war, so of course, it was wrong…. Art, of course-Nietzsche said it-is the most impor­ tant thing in the world. Art is with us in order that we not perish from the truth-if you understand truth as he did. Nietzsche felt that art is more important than philosophy. The hierarchy of important things in the world starrs with art, not with looking for truth, or science, or anything. Well that naturally appeals to artists. And of course, the “will to power” sounds like a horrible term, but that’s what will to power means. Will to power means, “How can I do the best art in the world?” Nietzsche’s image got all warped because of Hitler. And of course, Nietzsche came long before him and wouldn’t have approved of him at all.(63)

However, Johnson’s reading of Nietzsche isn’t radically dif­ ferent from the Nazi goal of the aestheticization of the world. As far back as his 1954 lecture, “The Seven Crutches of Modern Archi­tecture,” Johnson quoted Nietzsche’s views on architecture: “In ar­ chitectural works, man’s pride, man’s triumph over gravitation, man’s will to power assume visible form. Architecture is a veritable oratory of power made by form.”(64) For Johnson, the architect stands as a Nietzschean figure, wielding architecture as the unmediated will to power against the masses. Like Johnson, his friend Peter Eisenman has also repeatedly cited Nietzsche as his muse. In a recent debate with Leon Krier, an architect who has on occasion attempted to resurrect the architec­ ture of Albert Speer on the grounds that it is ideologically neutral,(65) Eisenman explained just what it means to be an architect in Nietzschean terms:

Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra… is a book that both Leon and I understand very well and it probably brings us very close together. I believe that it was on page 61, (although I’m not certain as I didn’t bring the book with me. I don’t like reading from prepared script because I respond to the presentness of this situation) but it was something about the creator. What Nietzsche says is that the creator is a lonely person and must always stand apart from and perhaps against the mass, and will always be in a sense outside and alien to the existing order. In that sense, I guess that I agree with Leon that the creator must have a degree of certainty to do that. I think that Nietzsche then asks the question, how does one have the right to be a creator? In other words, how does one have the right to stand outside? What is that right that allows one to arrogate to one’s self that possibility? My answer to that question is that people who are not creators don’t think about that right. They remain within the mass always. I don’t think we are talking today about those individuals, architects sometimes, poets, physicists, whoever has had that need to stand outside and therefore the right to stand apart. To be those wanderers who always understand what presentness is because the need to creation is always in­ volved in presentness. Great architecture, I would argue, has never been liked by the masses. The great monuments always have been, in their time, not necessarily liked or understood. We do not know, when we build today, whether we have ei­ ther caught the spirit of our time because it’s an elusive thing; nor whether we catch the presentness or whether we are building, as Leon said, in the spirit of all time. I think it’s the willingness of the creator to take that risk; the risk of being alone and of attempting to define that elusive condition. That is what makes an architecture of presentness.(66)

Eisenman and Johnson’s drive to identify the architect with Nietzsche’s overman underscores the pervasiveness of Nietzscheanism in our culture, especially in art, architecture, and the historiography of those fields. In terms of the latter, a funda­mental Nietzschean historical impulse underlies Heinrich Wolfflin’s basic project for art history-the same basic project that still motivates so much of art and architecture history today-to mark out the “monuments” from the insignificant.(67) This demand of aesthetic over all else harkens back to a crucial moment where Nietzsche, in his Birth of Tragedy declared, “We may assume that we are merely images and artistic projections or the true author, and that we have our highest dignity in our significance as works of art-for it is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are eternally justified.” (68)

Here lies the greatest problem with architectural Nietzscheanism: the idea that life is only justifiable as an aesthetic phenomenon and thus that overmen must make life a total work of art,(69) excluding the aesthetically unpleasant Other.(70) Is it ethi­cally tenable to support a vision of a Nietzschean architect after the Holocaust? Can one go about creating an aestheticized space after the attempt to create an aestheticized space that was Nazi Ger­many?

Architecture must work through this question, which delegitimates it, but how? Elsewhere, Eisenman has written that after 1945, there is no “Truth” left, and architecture itself loses any possibility of meaning:

With the scientifically orchestrated horror of Hiroshima and the consciousness of the human brutality of the Holocaust it became impossible for man to sustain a relationship with any of the dominant cosmologies of his past; he could no longer derive his identity from a belief in a heroic purpose and fu­ ture. Survival became his only “heroic” possibility. The tech­ nocratic model, which was really just a disguise for the anthropocentric one, brought down the entire cosmological matrix. For the first time in history, man was faced with no way of assuaging his unmediated confrontation with an exis­ tential anxiety. (71)

According to Eisenman’s statement, to survive 1945 is to live with a perpetual existential anxiety. Does this existential anxiety arise because we know that the same ideology responsible for these horrors is sold to us every day and that although we reproduce it wittingly or unwittingly we must do our best to try and fight it? Or does the existential anxiety arise because we are still fundamentally conducting business as usual and we must go on because that is how one gets ahead? Johnson, after all, is one of the great survivors. Schulze cites an incident that problematizes Eisenman’s “sur­vival.” During the late seventies and early eighties, Eisenman made it known that he was working on a biography of Johnson, with the latter’s cooperation, to be published after his death. According to Johnson’s former partner, John Burgee, the biography was aborted after Eisenman told him, ‘Tm going to get him. I’ve got the goods on him. I’ve got photographs of him riding in a Nazi car. Lovers in Cambridge during school. I’m going to pull him down for good this time.” Burgee explains that he related the incident to Johnson and although Johnson initially reveled in the idea of being depicted as a colorful character, Burgee finally convinced him that Eisenman wanted to bring him down. Johnson had his lawyer draw up a con­ tract and paid him ten thousand dollars to abandon the project.(72) In fairness to Eisenman, he has denied that this event ever took place, but whether it ever took place is largely irrelevant. The anecdote serves as an allegory for the larger historical-critical community’s apparent fear of offending the wealthy and well con­ nected Johnson. Even now that the Schulze book is out, the public secret is at work again. Notoriously pro-Johnson New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger’s review of Franz Schulze’s book barely mentioned Johnson’s fascist past, devoting only two sen­ tences to the topic. In his New Yorker review, Johnson’s friend Brendan Gill assessed Johnson’s life and concluded, “Against high odds and at whatever cost in private anguish, he has wrested a good time from the world-no mean prize.” For Gill, Johnson is a true survivor, and Schulze’s biography is a narrative of the triumphant wresting of a grand eccentric life against formidable odds.(73) If Johnson’s political activities and his philosophyof architecture were motivated by the same drive to aesthetic purity and the will to power over all else, shouldn’t we begin to ask if his architectural legacy is still all fun and games? Schulze’s revelations seem to have changed little. Johnson’s legacy is still venerated worldwide . Since this spring, an image of the architect has smirked down on pedestrians at Berlin ‘s former Checkpoint Charlie to announce the construction of a mixed-use residential and office building designed by and named after him. Apparently, even at a site of such historical rupture, cynical amnesia and the deification of the celebrity win out. Perhaps in Johnson’s smirk we can find the key to his phi­losophy . I would like to suggest that Johnson’s smirk is a manifes­ tation of what Peter Sloterdijk, in his Critique of Cynical Reason, has identified as the dominant mood in contemporary culture: cynical reason. “Discontent in our culture,” Sloterdijk explains, “appears today as universal, diffuse cynicism. “(74) Johnson’s trade­ mark cynicism is not simply a personality trait but rather an alle­ giance to a worldview with a theoretical expression linked to his and Eisenman’s Nietzscheanism . Whereas Nietzsche’s exposure of a will to power behind evety will to know is a defining moment in western thought, Sloterdijk points out that Nietzsche accompanied it with a new way of acting: of thinking first and foremost about oneself and using whatever means necessary to survive and if pos­ sible, advance.(75) “Nietzsche’s cynicism (cynicismus),” Sloterdijk writes, “offers a modified approach to ‘saying the truth’: It is one of strategy and tactics, suspicion and disinhibition, pragmatics and instrumentalism-all this in the hands of a political ego that thinks first and foremost about itself, an ego that is inwardly adroit and outwardly armored.”(76) With Nietzsche’s explanation that “knowl­ edge is power” in our hands, we can go either way. Today’s cynic knows that the age of naïvete is over but is able to keep working. The modern cynic understands what false consciousness is, Sloterdijk explains, but uses that knowledge to pull a fast one. Acting fundamentally in their own self-interest, cynics “see to it that they are not taken for suckers.” The traditional critique of ideol­ ogy is helpless in the face of cynicism, serving only to bolster the case of the cynic by pointing out the weak points in the cynical facaden. What to do then? How do we operate after the knowledge about Johnson and the knowledge that the foundations of architecture are unsafe? If we choose to do nothing and not face cynicism, then we are nothing more than cynics ourselves. By excusing Johnson and Eisenman’s role in the cynical mentality or by saying that they are just part of architecture and we cannot do anything about it, we do nothing more than legitimate cynicism. How do we proceed if ideology critique only strengthens the cynic? Just as someone finally had to say that the Emperor was not wearing any clothes, the noncynic discloses the public secret. Cyni­cism, Sloterdijk points out, is a corruption of classical kynicism. The ancient kynic recognized and exposed the impossibility of Truth, instead of using it for material gain, as the later cynic would. As opposed to ideology critique, which tries to expose delusions, the kynic exposes that the cynic is not deluded, but rather knows pre­ cisely what he or she is doing, “surviving” at others’ expense. The continuing diagnosis of the cynical mentality is an essen­ tial project in formulating a kynical strategy of resistance. The no­tion of the death of the author was a useful fiction for the sixties, but today we can no longer abandon such a clear-cut division be­ tween text and biography and between theoretical structure and disciplinary power structure.(78) In a kynical analysis of architecture as discipline, we must ask how the cynical mentality operates and how its power structures are formed. Cynicism is a way of stepping away from reality, of deferring its consideration for another time. This deferment cannot be endless. By exposing the operations of the cynic, we learn more about the fictional nature of our discipline, and based on this knowledge, we can make our choices. Although our choices are still within ideology, we will find that some choices are better than others: Not every choice has to be cynical.


Blodgett, Geoffrey. “Philip Johnson’s Great Depression.” Timeline June-July 1987):2-17.

Dennis, Lawrence. The Coming American Fascism. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1936.

Johnson, Philip. “Aliens Reduce France to an ‘English Colony.”‘ Social Justice, July 24, 1939: 4.

Johnson, Philip. “Are We a Dying People?” Today’s Challenge, June-July 1939): 28-37.

Johnson, Philip. “A Dying People?” Examiner 1-3 (Summer 1938): 305-20.

Johnson, Philip. “Inside War-Time Germany.” Today’s Challenge (Nov.-Dec. 1939): 17-25.

Johnson, Philip. “London and Paris-Midsummer 1939.” Today’s Challenge (Aug.-Sept. 1939): 19-26.

Johnson, Philip. “Mein Kampf and the Businessman.” Exam­iner, 2-3 (Summer 1939): 291-96.

Johnson, Philip. “Poland’s Choice between War and Bolshe­vism Is a ‘Deal’ with Germany.” Social Justice, Sept. 11, 1939: 4.

Johnson, Philip. ‘This ‘Sitdown’ War: Heavy Engagements of the Fortnight Have Been on Economic and Moral Front.” Social Justice, Nov. 6, 1939, 9.

Johnson, Philip. “War and the Press.” Social Justice, Nov. 6, 1939: 12.

Schulze, Franz. Philip Johnson: Life and Work. New York: Albert A. Knopf, 1994.

Sloterdijk, Peter. Critique of Cynical Reason. Minneapolis: Universiry of Minnesota Press, 1987.

Sorkin, Michael. “Where Was Philip?” Spy (Oct. 1988): reprinted in Exquisite Corpse: Writing on Buildings. New York: Verso, 1991, pp. 307-11.


I. On the silence surrounding Johnson’s fascist past, see Michael Sorkin, “Where Was Philip?” Spy (Oct. 1988), reprinted in Sorkin, Exquisite Corpse, pp. 307-11; Franz Schulze, Philip Johnson: Lift and Work (New York: Albert A. Knopf, 1994), pp. 143-44; and my dissertation, “The Spectacle of the Innocent Eye: Vision, Cynical Reason, and Conspiracy and the Discipline of Architecture in Postwar America” (Cornell University, May 1994). This article draws on research conducted during that project.

2. Ortwin de Graef, Serenity in Crisis: A Preface to Paul de Man, 1939-1960 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1993), p. 179.

3. Elaine S. Hochman, Architects of Fortune: Mies van der Rohe and the Third Reich (New York: Fromm, 1990).

4. Geoffrey Blodgett, “Philip Johnson’s Great Depression,” Timeline 4/3 June-July 1987): 2-17.

5. Sorkin, “Where Was Philip?” p. 311. See also Schulze, Philip Johnson, p. I44.

6. Schulze, Philip Johnson, pp. 89-90.

7. On Dennis and American fascism, see Alton Frye, Nazi Germany and the American Hemisphere, 1933-1941 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967); Morris Schonbach, Native American Fascism during the 1930s and 1940s (New York: Garland, 1985); and Ronald Radosh, Prophets on the Right (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975).

8. Lawrence Dennis, The Coming American Fascism (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1936), p. xi.

9. Lawrence Dennis, “Portrait of American Fascism,” in Daniel Aaron and Robert Bendiner, eds., The Strenuous Decade: A Social and Intellectual Record of the 1930s (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970), pp. 327-28.

10. Dennis, The Coming American Fascism, pp. 245-46.

11. “Two Quit Modern Art Museum for Sur-Realist Political Venture,” New York Herald Tribune, Dec. 18, 1934: 1, 17.

12. Dennis quoted in Sheldon Marcus, Father Coughlin: The Tumultuous Lift of the Priest of the Little Flower (Boston: Little, Brown, 1973), p. 276.

13. “Two Forsake Art to Found a Party,” New York Times, Dec. 18, 1934: 23; and Schulze, Philip Johnson, pp. 110-16.

14. “Two Quit Modern Art Museum,” p. 17.

15. Schulze, Philip Johnson, pp. I 18-19.

16. See Peter Blake, No Place Like Utopia: Modern Architecture and the Com­pany We Kept (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), pp. 104-5 and David H. Bennett, Demagogues in the Depression: American Radicals and the Union Party, 1932-1936 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1969), p. 228.

17. Marcus, Father Coughlin, p. 276. On Coughlin, see also Bennett, Dema­gogues in the Depression. Charles J. Tull, Father Coughlin and the New Deal (Syra­cuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1965) is somewhat useful but is neither as complete nor as critical. The more recent Alan Brinkley, Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982) is unconvincing in its attempt to downplay Coughlin’s anti-Semitism.

18. Bennett, Demagogues in the Depression, p. 248. 19. Schulze, Philip Johnson, pp. 122-26. 20. On the rally, see the Chicago Tribune, Sept. 7, 1936: 1, 4; and Marcus, Father Coughlin, pp. 127-30. On Johnson’s role in the rally, see Schulze, Philip Johnson, p. 126.

21. Schulze, Philip Johnson, p. 133.

22. Ibid., pp. 135-36.

23. On Father Coughlin’s deceptive practices, see Alfred McClung Lee and Elizabeth Briant Lee, The Fine Art of Propaganda: A Study of Father Coughlin’s Speeches (for the Institute for Propaganda Analysis) (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1939). On anti-Semitism and support of the Nazis by Coughlin and in Social Jus­tice, see Marcus, Father Coughlin,pp. 146-207 and Leonard Dinnerstein, Anti­ Semitism in America (New York: Oxford Universiry Press, 1994), pp. 115-27. See also George Britt, The Fifth Column Is Here (New York: Wilfred Funk, 1940), pp. 105-9. Johnson is mentioned briefly on p. 106.

24. Schulze, Philip Johnson, p. 130.

25. Telegrams by Hans Thomsen, charge d’affaires in the German embassy to the United States, to the German Foreign Ministry, Nov. 21, 1939, published in United States Department of State, Documents on German Foreign Policy (Wash­ington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1954), Series D, Volume XI, p. 362 and Volume VIII, p. 433.

26. On Sombart and anti-Semitism see Jeffrey Herf, Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (New York: Cambridge Universiry Press, 1984), pp. 130-55.

27. Werner Sombart, We!tanschauung, Science and Economy (New York: Veritas Press, 1939), p. 59.

28. Philip Johnson, “A Dying People?” Examiner 1/3 (Summer 1938): 308.

29. Ibid., p. 318.

30. That the earlier American eugenicists inspired Nazi racial theory has been demonstrated in Stephen Kuhl, The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Rac­ism, and German National Socialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).

31. Daniel J. Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity (New York: Borzoi, 1985), pp. 71-72, 164-75.

32. Philip Johnson, “Mein Kampf and the Businessman,” Examiner (Sum­mer 1939): 296

33. Philip Johnson, “London and Paris-Midsummer 1939,” Todays Chal­lenge 1/2 (Aug.-Sept. 1939): 26.

34. Philip Johnson, “Aliens Reduce France to an ‘English Colony,”‘ Social Justice, July 24, 1939: 4.

35. Schulze, Philip Johnson, p. 136.

36. Philip Johnson, “Poland’s Choice between War and Bolshevism Is a ‘Deal’ with Germany,” Social Justice, Sept. 11, 1939: 4.

37. Schulze, Philip Johnson, p. 135.

38. Philip Johnson, “Inside War-Time Germany,” Today’s Challenge 1/3 (Nov.-Dec. 1939): 20.

39. Haskel Lookstein, Were We Our Brother’s Keepers? The Public Response of American Jews to the Holocaust, 1938-1944 (New York: Vintage, 1988), pp. 37-45.

40. William L. Shirer, Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1941), p. 213.

41. Philip Johnson, “War and the Press,” Social Justice, November 6, 1939: 12.

42. Blodgett, “Philip Johnson’s Great Depression,” p. 25.

43. “Forum Speaker Feels the U.S. Will Be in War within Year,” Springfield Evening Union, Jan. 27, 1940: 8.

44. Schulze, Philip Johnson, p. 139.

45. Henry H. Adams, Years of Deadly Peril (New York: David McKay, 1969), p. 150.

46. Schulze, Philip Johnson, pp. 142-43. Dale Kramer, “The American Fascists,” Harper’s (Sept. 1940): 380-93.

47. Philip Johnson, “House at New Canaan, Connecticut,” Architectural Review 108 (Sept. 1950): 152-59, reprinted in David Whitney and Jeffrey Kipnis, eds., Philip Johnson: The Glass House (New York: Pantheon, 1993), pp. 9-15. On the historical method of the photo essay and its importance, see Jeffrey Kipnis, “Introduction: Throwing Stones—The Incidental Effects of a Glass House,” in Whitney and Kipnis, Philip Johnson, p. xiii.

48. Peter Eisenman, “Introduction,” in Robert A.M. Stern and Peter D. Eisenman, eds., Philip Johnson. Writings (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 25.

49. Philip Johnson in Hilary Lewis and John O’Connor, Philip Johnson. The Architect in His Own Words (New York: Rizzoli, 1994), p. 33.

50. Philip Johnson, “Whither Away-Non-Miesian Directions” (speech at Yale University, Feb. 5, 1959), reprinted in Stern and Eisenman, eds., Philip Johnson, p. 227.

5I. Charles Jencks, “Philip Johnson: The Candid King Midas of New York Camp,” Architectural Association Quarterly(Winter 1973), reprinted in Charles Jencks, Late Modern Architecture (New York: Rizzoli, 1978), pp. 146-59.

52. lbid., pp. 157-58.

53. Ibid., p. 158.

54. Ibid., p. 159.

55. John W. Cook and Heinrich Klotz, eds., Conversations with Architects (New York: Praeger, 1973).

56. Ibid., p. 38.

57. Ibid., p. 39.

58. Vincent Scully, “Foreword,” in Cook and Klotz, Conversations with Ar­chitects, p. 7.

59. Johnson quoted in Kurt Andersen, “Philip the Great,” Vanity Fair 56/6 (June 1993): 154.

60. Ibid., p. 151.

61. Ibid., p. 132. This quote was repeated in the popular media; for ex­ample, see “Overheard,” Newsweek (May 17, 1993): 23; and Vancouver Sun, May 7, 1993: C6.

62. Since the Vanity Fair article, outside of architecture, Johnson has occa­sionally been slammed by the media for his sympathies for Nazi Germany and his system of patronage. For example, see Richard Grenier, “Hollywood Cadre Super­stars,” Washington Times, June 2, 1993: G3.

63. Lewis and O’Connor, Philip Johnson, p. 175.

64. Johnson quoted in Peter Eisenman, “Introduction,” in Stern and Eisenman, eds. Philip Johnson, p. 10; originally in Philip Johnson, “The Seven Crutches of Modern Architecture” (informal talk to students, School of Architec­tural Design, Harvard University, Dec. 7, 1954); also reprinted in Stern and Eisenman, eds., Philip Johnson, p. 140.

65. See Albert Speer, Leon Krier, and Lars Olof Larsson, Albert Speer: Archi­tecture, 1932-1942 (Brussels: Archives d’Architecture Moderne, 1985). Although the forms of Speer’s architecture do not, in themselves, contain an ideology, as I have at­tempted to show in this essay, we live in a socially constructed world. The forms of Speer’s architecture carry specific meanings to our post-World War II society.

66. Peter Eisenman and Leon Krier, “My Ideology Is Better Than Yours,” in Andreas C. Papadakis, ed., Reconstruction/Deconstruction: An Architectural Design Profile (London/New York: Academy Editions/St. Martin’s Press, 1989), p. 18.

67. See Fritz Neumeyer, The Artless Word: Mies van der Rohe on the Build­ing Art (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991), p. 53. In setting a context for Mies van der Rohe’s philosophical writing, Neumeyer goes through an essential prelimi­nary investigation of the pervasiveness of Nietzscheanism in modern art. For an ex­cellent examination of the implications of Nietzscheanism in recent theory, see Geoffrey Waite, “The Politics of The Question of Style’: Nietzsche/Holderlin,” in Mario J. Valdes and Owen Miller, eds., Identity of the Literary Text (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985), pp. 246-73; and also Waite’s article on “Nietzche’s Baudelaire, or The Sublime Proleptic Spin of His Politico-Economic Thought,” Representations (Spring 1995): 14-52.

68. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner (New York: Vintage, 1967), p. 52.

69. See Neumeyer, Artless Word, p. 61; also Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy, p. 52.

70. See Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Re­production,” in Hannah Arendt, ed., Illuminations: Essays and Reflections (New York: Schocken, 1969), pp. 217-52; also Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, “The Aestheticization of Politics,” in Heidegger, Art, and Politics: The Fiction of the Po­litical (Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell, 1990), pp. 62-76.

71. Peter Eisenman, “Misreading,” in Peter Eisenman, ed., Houses of Cards (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 170, 172.

72. Schulze, Philip Johnson, pp. 372-73.

73. Paul Goldberger, “The Man in the Glass House,” New York Times Book Review (Nov. 27, 1994): 14; and Brendan Gill, “Philip the Bold,” New Yorker (Nov. 14, 1994): 132-41.

74. Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), p. 88.

75. Ibid., pp. xxvii-xxix.

76. Ibid., p. xxix.

77. Ibid., p. 5.

78. On the theoretical question of the author see Sean Burke, The Death and Return of the Author: Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault, and Derrida (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1992); and Paul Smith, Discerning the Subject (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988).

Quartzsite, Revisited

No posts yesterday since AUDC was in Quartzsite, taking photographs and doing research for publications soon to appear in ACTAR’s upcoming book on the desert, the next issue of Cabinet Magazine, and AUDC’s first book (also with ACTAR and due out later this year), the Stimulus Progression. Quartzsite, of course, is the town of 5,000 in the summer that swells to up to 1.5 million in the winter due to an influx of snowbirds.

More on Quartzsite at the AUDC site.

Some preliminary images from our helicopter ride:

aerial of Quartzsite

aerial of Quartzsite

aerial of Quartzsite

aerial of Quartzsite

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Programming Cities

Social Fiction presents a provocatively-titled workshop: Programming Cities. From the description: “Programming for Cities” is a workshop that reinforces a long existing link between code and architecture.

“Many fine buildings can be reduced to a few lines of code, and a quick glance backward in time shows that is a consequence of architectural theory.

This workshop will start with a short but broad overview of this longstanding connection between programming and architecture. After this the basic elements (about 6 of them) of programming will be discussed. The main part of the workshop will be consisting of a hand-on approach to design a city from code.”

This sounds like a fascinating project… If only there were more!

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