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  • Mumford

    1. 1. Lewis Mumford “the last of the great humanists” Trudy Katz February 2005
    2. 2. And.. <ul><li>Architectural critic, theorist of technology, cultural critic, historian, biographer… </li></ul>
    3. 3. The Man <ul><li>1895 Born in Flushing, NY </li></ul><ul><li>1909 Enters Stuyvesant High School </li></ul><ul><li>1912 Decides to become a writer, enrolls in City College of New York </li></ul><ul><li>1915 Discover writings of Patrick Geddes, his mentor; becomes a student of the city and surveys New York on foot </li></ul>
    4. 4. The Man (continued) <ul><li>1921 Marries Sophia Wittenberg (met her in 1919) </li></ul><ul><li>1925 Son Geddes is born </li></ul><ul><li>1931 Joins the staff of The New Yorker </li></ul><ul><li>1935 Daughter Alison is born </li></ul><ul><li>1936 Moves to Amenia, New York </li></ul><ul><li>1941 Ends friendship with Frank Lloyd Wright and others over American neutrality </li></ul><ul><li>1944 Son Geddes is killed in WWII </li></ul>
    5. 5. The Man (continued) <ul><li>1964 Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom </li></ul><ul><li>1967 Publishes The Myth of the Machine </li></ul><ul><li>1970 Publishes The Myth of the Machine II: The Pentagon of Power </li></ul><ul><li>1972 Awarded the National Medal of Literature </li></ul><ul><li>1986 Awarded the National Medal of Arts </li></ul><ul><li>1990 Died in Amenia, New York at the age of 94 </li></ul>
    6. 6. Medal of Freedom <ul><li>“in the name of sanity, he has constantly worked to rescue and extend the qualities of urban life that will preserve and stimulate the human spirit of western civilization” </li></ul>
    7. 7. Urban Civilization <ul><li>Critical of urban sprawl </li></ul><ul><li>The structure of modern cities is partially responsible for many social problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Urban planning should emphasize an organic relationship between people and their living spaces. </li></ul>
    8. 8. View of Cities <ul><li>“Cities have some of the human attributes of personality. That they show character, moods, visible gestures of welcoming or rejecting is something that men have know almost since they began to live in cities.” </li></ul>
    9. 9. The Endangered City <ul><li>Robert Moses had a comprehensive plan for NY and unprecedented power to carry it out; Lewis Mumford was one of those critics most responsible for preventing him from driving that plan to completion. </li></ul><ul><li>Mumford called Moses the unbuilder. Displacing neighborhoods and communities. </li></ul>
    10. 10. The Endangered City (continued) <ul><li>In 1958 Moses threatened to build a four-lane highway through Washington Square and Mumford opposed him. Koch said Mumford was a deciding factor. </li></ul>
    11. 11. New York City <ul><li>“The New York express highways would be admirable if they were related to anything except the desire , on the part of the more prosperous, to get out of New York as fast as possible; actually, their function …pile up such a load of decaying properties in the center as to hasten the final exodus”. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Mumford’s Critique of the World Trade Center, 1970 <ul><li>“characteristic example of the purposeless giantism and technological exhibitionism that are now eviscerating the living tissue of every great city” </li></ul><ul><li>Port Authority executives “their duty to funnel more motor traffic into the city, through new bridges and tunnels, than its streets and its parking spaces can handle..” </li></ul>
    13. 13. On Culture <ul><li>“ And as the machine itself became, as it were, more active and human, reproducing the organic properties of eye and ear, the human beings who employed the machine as a mode of escape have tended to become more passive and mechanical. Unsure of their own voices, unable to hold a tune, they carry a phonograph or a radio set with them even on a picnic: afraid to be alone with their own thoughts, afraid to confront the blankness and inertia of their own minds, they turn on the radio and eat and talk and sleep to the accompaniment of a continuous stimulus from the outside world.” </li></ul>
    14. 14. Rethinking Priorities <ul><li>“ a need for a conception of what constitutes a valid human life, and how much of life will be left is we go on ever more rapidly in the present direction. What has to be challenged is an economy that is based not on organics needs, historic experience, human aptitudes, ecological complexity and variety, but upon a system of empty abstractions: money, power, speed, quantity, progress… </li></ul>
    15. 15. Myth of the Machine <ul><li>A review of the book called it, “Erratically organized book filled with genius and moralizing.” </li></ul><ul><li>No computer can make a new symbol out of its own resources </li></ul>
    16. 16. Myth of the Machine <ul><li>This is a fully developed historical explanation of the irrationalities that have undermine the highest achievement of modern technology- speed, mass production, automation, instant communication and remote control. These have brought about pollution, waste, ecological disruption and human extermination. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Myth of the Machine <ul><li>He claimed that the evolution of language was a key factor that separated humans from other animals. He claimed the evolution of language was far more important to early human development than the evolution of physical tools. </li></ul>
    18. 18. Myth of the Machine <ul><li>He asks the eternal question. Why had technological progress brought with it such catastrophic ruin? He was a witness to the worst 20 years of humankind, Hitler and Hiroshima, and he wanted an explanation of what went wrong. Was the modern association of power and productivity with mass violence and destructiveness merely coincidental? </li></ul>
    19. 19. Technics and Civilization <ul><li>Polytechnic – different modes of technology providing a complex framework to solve human problems </li></ul><ul><li>Monotechnic – technology only for its own sake, which oppresses humanity as it moves along its own trajectory. An example of monotechnic is the modern American transportation network. Reliance on cars which become an obstacle to walking, bicycle and light rail. </li></ul>
    20. 20. Megamachines <ul><li>Large hierarchical organizations are megamachines, a machine using humans as its components. </li></ul><ul><li>Some examples of megamachines, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Buildings of the Pyramids </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Armies of the world </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Pentagon of Power <ul><li>Powerful symbol that allowed him to vent some of his most profound concerns about the incongruity between technological potential and societal woes. </li></ul>
    22. 22. Pentagon of Power <ul><li>He emphasizes the electronic computer’s insidious impact on personal privacy and autonomy. To him the computer is merely another overrated tool, vastly inferior to the human brain; in the wrong hands, however, an extraordinarily dangerous one. </li></ul>
    23. 23. Human Feelings <ul><li>“The test of maturity, for nations as well as individuals, is not the increase in power but the increase of self-understanding, self-control, self direction and self-transcendence. For in a mature society, man himself, and not his machines or his organizations, is the chief work of art”. (written later in life) </li></ul>
    24. 24. Ending Quote <ul><li>I would die happy if I knew that on my tombstone could be written these words, “This man was an absolute fool. None of the disastrous things that he reluctantly predicted ever came to pass!” </li></ul>
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