As the tiger is to space,
So sex is to time,
Apparition of savage grace,
The prelude to crime,
A loss of all face,
A rending tear in the fabric
Stitched together by some joking maverick
Demented demiurge blind
The only thing on your ravaged mind
Is where to find
The pot to piss and shit in
Which is, all things considered, rather fitting.
We’re near the limits of the I,
But I is another,
A discontinuity of cries,
All passion is other,
Into the emptiness we sigh,
Signs descend into parody,
Eggs eyes and testicles a chain of analogy.
I meet God, a lazy whore
Lolling on a bed,
Don’t you want some more?
As she opened her legs she said:
I needed her tender and raw
So I could penetrate the mystery,
Plumb the void of the coruscating divinity.
The architectural Brutalist style enjoyed a brief heyday from the mid 1950’s to the late 1970’s across the globe, but particularly in the UK and the Soviet aligned countries of Eastern Europe. Frequently employed in state sponsored buildings: social housing, libraries, universities, and hospitals, Brutalist architecture become immensely unfashionable from the 1980’s onward, the subject of widespread scorn and derision due to its associations with totalitarianism (both Fascist and Communist), urban decay and perceived ugliness, which led to many notable examples of the style falling prey to the wrecking ball and demolition.
Brutalism derives its name from Béton brut (raw concrete), the material most frequently used in construction, however it cannot be denied that it was also brutal in the purest sense: hard, raw, severe, and monumental. Brutalist architecture is always serious, austere and intellectually rigorous, it is never twee, whimsical or ironic. Brutalism aims for the sublime, not the merely beautiful. Unrelentingly experimental and modernist Brutalism makes no concessions to good taste or common sense or timid sensibilities. Brutalism is a defiant middle finger raised against God, Nature and the small-minded.
As happens with most styles when they are on the verge of completely disappearing from the landscape, Brutalism has undergone somewhat of a resurgence in the last decade, with writers, photographers, artists and architects intent on rehabilitating its reputation. Below I have selected examples of Brutalist architecture, starting with the Atlantic Wall bunkers built by the Nazi’s during WWII, Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation in Marseille, London social housing projects, war memorials and buildings in the former Yugoslavia, up to the present day collages of Neil Montier and Nicholas Moulin. Hopefully they capture one essence of Brutalism, as noted by the critic Jonathan Mendes, a sheer joylessness that thrills.
Somebody should have told you That there was never any future In lying supine, Idly dreaming Of your lost glory days The vanished grandeur of your imperial passage When you subdued the very waves And subjugated the nations of the world With boots pressing downturned faces Further into the mud until they choked, Striking accords and treaties Then perfidiously reneging Carrying cargo requiring whips and chains A-looting and a-raping Destroying and acquiring Wholesale pillaging But you know, all for their own good A civilizing mission of course Truth be told it was all a bit of a burden But somebody had to do it and who better than us? Quite quite but can you see the future In dreaming of a past that was actually a nightmare And how it poisons your present Making your current decline Take on the bouquet of a corpse Your empire resulted in beaucoup bad karma And a backlash that reverberates and echoes Not only did you oppress and degrade the colonized But we dehumanized ourselves in the process Turns out that your manifest destiny Was to be exceptional only in dissembled aggression Yet you still wrap yourself in the flag Butchers apron, a filthy bloody rag While cultivating a loathsome air Of detached superior nonchalance, Fundamentally supercilious Undermining any attempts at seriousness With a deadly withering irony A scornful reproach of all decency Yet we are still surprised When we encounter all the hate Displayed by neighbours and others Further a-field, all over in fact Can’t they see what we did for them All those ungrateful so and so’s Can you believe that they think of us as some Stricken beast too stupid to know that its dead? Well we will show them one day If only the enemy of the people Those traitors and bleeding hearts Would stop talking us down If only we could rouse and wake up Then we might dream Of starting over again, though this time We would make sure that the sun Never ever never sets
Sometimes I am overcome with the suspicion That I am a stranger on this earth Descended from a peripheral order of beings An alien on this planet come from a distant star, Faraway galaxy, parallax dimension Some shape of a castaway, convict or changeling Perhaps just a forgetful idler who slept passed their stop And shuffled off at the end of the line
But the trick is to be at ease
Of course I have on occasion demanded to see the manager But that was met with shrugs and sighs conveying Studied confusion, blank indifference or downright hostility Nobody seemed to know anything and cared even less Initially I thought well what is the point of them? But maybe they were feigning ignorance Covering their tracks, keeping secrets, hiding truths About myself however banal they turned out to be
Surely you realise that this is not the way to go about things I think we may have a situation You are clearly not at ease with yourself and your surroundings
Surrounded by screens bombarded by images and text Deluged with data indices statistics and factoids Which I passively absorbed hoping to later sift and sort Through the theories ideologies conspiracies and revelations Perhaps somewhere in this sewer of misinformation I can decipher a message from a distant dimension A faraway star, a parallex galaxy my lost Home that I fell from those forgotten aeons ago
You know we have ways of making you feel at ease And you have, despite our repeated warnings Persisted in persisting You leave us no choice so… You are at ease You are at ease in yourself and your surroundings You are at ease You are at ease in yourself You are at ease in your surroundings You are at ease You are at ease in yourself and your surroundings You are at ease in yourself You will be what we want you to be Feel what we want you to feel Say what we want you to say Think what we want you to think Be what we want you to be You are now at ease in yourself and your surroundings
As long as I do not remember certain moments Incidences or sensations that elicit strong reactions Then I will be alright, I will be at ease with myself I doubt it ever happened that I shot my cuffs, Lifted my finger signaling for you to come over, Bend over my knee and lift up your skirt That only happened in my non-existent home Vanished star, imploded galaxy, voided dimension
They have promised me that when I feel completely At ease in myself and my surroundings That I will be granted a vision of the birds of paradise Descending down from the vast unreachable heavens Onto these somnolent suburban streets and gardens Setting hearts and minds ablaze with motion and colour To carry us away toward a richer more vibrant realm A distant galaxy, faraway dimension, parallax star.
I touch your skin with a hope of palpating your heart To cause an excitation within your mind that travels Down and around towards the tenderest target zones Leading to an exultation that abolishes all barriers Just for a moment a confusion reigns as to where I stop And when do you start to begin once more again
Ever constricting circles nearing the vanishing still point The ever eluding aim the shimmering illusionary goal Of my hesitant groping then more assured stroking As you strain to reach those regions unknown to me Still I long for and hasten your complete surrender Emptied and spent experience blank devasted serenity
I touch your skin unsure whether this repetition is a curse Or some form of blessing preceding a final absolution