edison and his concrete houses, cinema wallpaper, a defense of the f-word

Thomas Edison Also Invented the Concrete House, Says NJIT Researcher

“Edison’s “Single-Pour System: Inventing Seamless Architecture” illustrated how Thomas Edison invented and patented in 1917 an innovative construction system to mass produce prefabricated and seamless concrete houses. Typically most people associate this style of architectural design and type of building technology with the European avant-garde of the early 20th century.

Unknown to many people, however, is that many Edison houses remain standing in towns surrounding West Orange, New Jersey, where Edison’s factory was located and is now a National Historic Park.  On the park grounds is even a prototype of Edison’s concrete house.

“Edison’s one-of-a-kind system was patented for the purpose of building a single, repeatable structure without any parts, with a single act of construction,” said Burgermaster, “And, remarkably, 100 years later many of these houses remain standing.”

[  ]…By physically integrating all interior and exterior building components and their associated functions of structure, enclosure, and infrastructure within a single, monolithic concrete cast, all aspects of assembly were eliminated. It was a whole without any parts—a building without joints.

This radical proposition – a seamless architecture—was built by Edison before it was conceptualized by the European avant-garde (such as Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus) with whom it later became associated. While they imagined concrete as a material without a history or author—one well-suited to industrialized modes of production—and aestheticized such autonomy and anonymity as a material truth, Edison’s single-pour system matter-of-factly proposed an alternative causal relationship between material and form.

Edison's concrete house

The Industrial Revolution was well under way in the U.S. by 1917. Poured concrete was not just about convenience and functionality, but about design. The U.S. and Europe had transitioned from thinking of the hand-made craft as the supreme design into thinking of precision made machine parts as the pinnacle of design and the precision of a new age. Edison’s perfectly molded building would mirror that infatuation with the lines and angles of machines in architecture.

Even as a minimalist I can’t say that I’m crazy about what looks like a concrete bunker pictured above. Some of the others were more the kind of retro-modernism one thinks of when you think of Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus. Frank Loyd Wright (Fallingwater House) used poured concrete in the way Edison probably envisioned but lacked the artistic vision to push to its esthetic potential.

movies, film, modern

cinema wallpaper

Ode to a Four-Letter Word

For as long as some people have fretted about expletives in literature, others have seen fit to laugh at them. Here is Cole Porter, mock-lamenting the profanity of writers back in 1934: “Good authors, too, who once knew better words?/?Now only use four-letter words writing prose?/?Anything goes!” That was sometime after James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence, and sometime before Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, and Erica Jong. Yet the idea persists that the use of swear words by writers is fundamentally uncreative and indolent—that the lazy man’s “Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” is “Fuck this shit.”

Writers don’t use expletives out of laziness or to shock. We use them because sometimes the four-letter word is the best one.

This idea rests on the assumption that “bad” words really are bad—and ditto writers who use them without exceptional justification. In crime fiction, foul language is justified on the ground that it is lifelike. (Art just imitates that shit.) In Go the Fuck to Sleep, foul language is not simply justified but justification: The whole book is about the taboo status of the word fuck. By contrast, outside of books like Jesse Sheidlower’s The F-Word or Harry G. Frankfurt’s On Bullshit, it’s difficult to justify profanity in serious nonfiction.

I am mostly posting this because I loved the essay itself. The way it weaves literary history, family history, popular attitudes about propriety and art. I tend to self censor because I am aware of different sensibilities on the subject of language in communicating. Those sensibilities have less to do with politics, I suspect anyway, then the current zeitgeist would have us believe. Amid the real chatter and roar are people who for their own reasons – religious based, gender based, family instilled, fidelity to some literary guidance from a teacher about profanity equating with a lack of imagination – just do not like profanity. And they think it is always wrong to use in writing even if they use the words daily – and yes even under your breath counts. Our Friend in the Sky can hear you. I do have a semi-argument against the use of profanity, especially the f-word. Used at the right time, right place – it can have a powerful effect. It can be like relieving a knotted muscle to the user and can be verbal blow to the listener. Which can help keep a bad situation from escalating, or the opposite. In at least one of the examples in the essay it can even be poetic. The problem is using the f-word or a couple of others as the first resort. And using them frequently. Both practices make something steely and exact into something impotent, an annoying grind and yes sometimes it revels that the user has a vocabulary of about a hundred words. Over use is draining the f-word in particular of its power. F**k becomes a substitute for not using your words and being too lazy to imagine others.

Some linkage:

After Calling Social Security A ‘Pyramid Scheme’ Twice, Rep. Joe Heck Claims He Wants To Protect It

Our Economy’s Best Chance. An interesting if wholly fantastic approach to creating jobs and reliving some people of their underwater mortgages. I heart the concept, but in all practicality, aint’ gonna happen. Anyone who is looking for an interesting topic for a blog post could get into the legal hurdles involved.

Bully illustration (part 3) as in people who try to dominate and humiliate others. Great art work with a social commentary aspect.

Orphan diseases, ones which are rare, and difficult and expensive to treat are often caused by gene mutations.