ben brady


I guess I have to start thinking seriously about my thesis for next year.  I am really unsure of what i am going to do.  But, I am attracted to really vague ideas of what it means to have a culture or rather a lack of a culture.  I have grown up in a certain context that is pretty much free of a deep historical, ethnic, or religious tradition.  I am not sure if that is bad or not.  It is conceptually great… the melting pot deal.  But there are millions of people in America that also don’t have a lot of stuff to “hold on to”.   This is interesting to me.   I don’t think it is the responsibility of a buiding or even an urban plan to foster a culture or even attempt to deal with such a big thing.   I actually doubt it is possible.  I kind of think buildings should just be good and cool on their own as buildings and when people try to assign them too much responsibility above that, everything tends to become watered down and overly-simplified.  So, I guess while this is an interesting thing to me…I don’t yet know if I can push it into something tangible enough that I will be satisfied with.  I have read this book a couple of times called Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut.  He is amazing and a lot of the stuff he says resonates with me and makes me want to make stuff…

” The things other people have put into my head, at any rate, do not fit together nicely, are often useless and ugly, are out of proportion with one another, are out of proportion with life as it really is outside my head.

I have no culture, no humane harmony in my brains.  I can’t live without a culture anymore.”

-KURT VONNEGUT, in Breakfast of Champions


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4 Responses

  1. If you’re at all interested in Vonnegut, you might like to read my blog: “Writing Kurt Vonnegut” at http://www.writingkurtvonnegut.com


    Charles J. Shields
    And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life (Holt, November)

  2. Hi Ben, for some reason your comment made me think of an old article at Ballardian on “Pacific Fictions.” It’s a bit long and sometimes dense but there’s some really interesting ideas packed into it:


    A quote:

    “For Augé, our world is so saturated by superabundant fictions that it produces a conception of simultaneous time, representative of a homogenous, mediated society. The physical result is non-place, transitional zones detached from history and culture, inorganic, in-between zones where individuals are linked by this superabundance of information and technology rather than community or historical awareness, which paradoxically creates a pervasive sense of inwardness and isolation.”

    Good luck w/ the thesis!

    • bendbrady says:

      Kevin, this is great! Thank you! I think this quote is very in-line with my interests/cynicisms of architectural education and the physical built environment. There is this idea of collective knowledge that is beautiful and interesting but sometimes can be at the expense of the physical world. Basically it makes me think that when you try to make space that is good for everyone you end up probably making grey, murky space good for no-one.

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