Thursday, June 13, 2013


i have spoken before on here about my love for a certain kind of office or public building- and i realized  today that i was, all along, talking about Brutalist architecture.

its good to name things, so that one can have a shorthand.

Obviously the term "brutalist" implies a coldness, which is the one word that can sum up what many people dislike about buildings like these. There is a hyper-utilitarianism about them, a sense of facelessness. I understand that, but i don't feel the same way.

When I lived in the east with my sister, I fell in love with one particular building in the small downtown area of the city where we lived. I just had a fascination for that building. one time i went inside of it, and to the top in the elevator. it felt like an adventure to me.

it isn't necessarily the modernist aspect of the buildings that get me. i would definitely say i have a deep love of clean lines, and in that respect, i am a modernist. but i also have a bend in my mentality that gravitates towards things that are EERIE. things that for others, would be disturbing, blot out the light.

some of my first and best memories are of hearing ghost stories. my parents were great fans of telling stories about dead relatives calling their name, of the house down the road where a lady could be seen going to the well except she wasn't really there, the sound of a black panther screaming and how it sounded like a woman....and all the while you are with your family and you feel perfectly safe.

just as a sexual fetishist gets a kink in his brain about penny loafers because something sexual melded at just the right time with two seemingly disparate things, so did i become always comforted by being spooked. as i child i used to WISH i could see a ghost, have prophetic dreams, have a UFO land in front of me on the railroad tracks. i remember being completely shocked in second grade when a fellow student who had been sitting listening to my ghost stories approached a teacher to ask her about ghosts, and she said, "there is no such thing". i was just dumbfounded. i really believed that everyone believed.

with a head like that so many of the things i have loved over the years have had this flavor. its why broadcast and the focus group's ep "witch cults" is one of my all time favorite records. anything that takes me there, to that mysterious head of my childhood, where i was also an anglophile and imagined every rainy day I was in England- a place i know i wanted to go to from a very young age because of its claim to be the most haunted place on earth- those are the things i love the best. its why everything in the hauntological aesthetic seems like something taken out of my own private file. i think i have looked at things hauntologically in a very acute way my entire life.

and that's why i love these buildings. there is a sense of woebegoneness, a sense of post-prosperity. and the sense of some of them having been public, meant for public use and empty at night, that just sets off all kinds of switches in my mind. the idea that something can be so BUSY during the day, and so literally forsaken at night.... what is that? Like the fashion district in downtown Los Angeles, a place that, upon discovering it, literally had me panting with excitement. it was like a made some sort of scientific discovery. to find streets that were COMPLETELY DARK in the middle of a huge city- no streetlights, no traffic lights, just row after row of buildings with the shutters pulled down- it just always hits me like a romance.

someone should name that feeling.