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Institutions of Higher Burning > Reparations & Antonio Gaudi

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message 1: by Tentatively, (last edited Apr 02, 2009 05:57AM) (new)

Tentatively, Convenience (tentativelyaconvenience) | 128 comments Mod
Do you ever think about Reparations? I'm hardly an expert on this subject (the one video I have on it is currently lost in my overflowing world of info input) but what little I understand of it I'm all for. The basic idea being that there're companies whose wealth is based on a foundation in slave exploitation & the time has come to render some economic justice by having these companies spread the wealth amongst the descendents of the exploited. Seems fair to me. Why shd only the descendents of the exploiters benefit? It's like a retroactive wage correction: the slaves shd've been pd (to put it mildly) so it's time they got their retroactive due.

But why stop there? Let's get some reparations from the church - specifically the Catholic Church. After all, for at least 400 yrs, the Catholic Church tortured, executed, & stole from people purported to be heretics (as if that's a good reason!!). Certainly such a heinously sustained institutional barbarism deserves to be ranked among slavery! The Catholic Church is a prime holder of real estate throughout the world. Wd it've been able to attain such a position if it hadn't been for its prolonged reign of terror? Of course not!

Imagine that most of the ultra-rich have left a trail of death & destruction behind them. Now imagine that they finally have to pay for it. Reunified Germany has at least made an attempt to restore property to the descendents of the victims of nazism.

I'm reminded of a 'friend' I had in BalTimOre. She was a lesbian abstract painter who lived off a trust fund, a million dollar trust fund. She believed that people shd "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps" - meaning that people shd improve themselves by their own efforts. She was also an adviser to pregnant women at Planned Parenthood. &, oh yes, she hated abstract film. Ok, the "lesbian abstract painter" part is largely irrelevant to my thrust here but it does add detail.

"People shd pull themselves up by their own bootstraps"?! Easy for her to say. She'll never have to work, EVER. One way for a poor person to "pull themselves up" wd be to rob & kill her. Chances are her own family's wealth was based on a similar sense of initiative. Somehow, I don't think that's what she had in mind. Reparations are a much more gentle way of going about things.

Why is Antonio Gaudi in the topic heading for this? I just witnessed Hiroshi Teshigahara's excellent 1984 documentary about Gaudi. One of the opening shots shows the bullet-hole riddled wall of a bldg - perhaps one that Gaudi designed. Most likely the bullet-holes are from the Spanish Civil War.

Gaudi is certainly one of my favorite architects. His bldgs are fantastically original & vital. &, yet, how cd this man make CHURCHES in good conscience? How cd he design CHURCHES that he knew wd be awe-inspiring KNOWING that the history of the church is rooted in brutality - esp IN SPAIN where Gaudi worked - where the SPANISH INQUISITION was the biggest offender?

I quote from "Daithai C"'s blog about Gaudi's final 'masterwork'

"There are two things to be said about the Sagrada Família. Firstly it is a miracle that it exists at all let alone become a great symbol of Barcelona and Catalan identity for this is a city which lived through a troubled and often anticlerical 20th Century. Tragic Week (in Catalan la Setmana Tràgica, in Spanish la Semana Trágica) (July 25-August 2, 1909) is the name used for a series of bloody confrontations between the army and the working classes of Barcelona and other cities of Catalonia, backed by the anarchists, socialists and republicans. Many of the rioters were antimilitarist, anticolonial and anticlerical. The rioters considered the Church to form part of the corrupt bourgeois structure whose sons did not have to go to war, and the flames had been fanned against the Church by anarchist elements within the city. Thus, not only convents were burned, but sepulchres were profaned and graves were emptied, with many of the rioters dancing with the corpses taken out of them."

As much as I love Gaudi's architecture, I agree w/ the anarchists who revolted against it (& destroyed Gaudi's model for it in the hope that the Sagrada Familia, still under construction, wd never be finished). Why does such a monument have to be a CHURCH? B/c the CHURCH has the funds for such a gigantic project. & why does the CHURCH have the funds? B/c it's enslaved & destroyed all who oppose it whenever possible. Just like the STATE - its competitor in constructing monuments. As one of my mottoes goes: "Before deciding against the hand that feeds you, ask why it has so much food in the first place." In other words, are you hungry b/c the person giving you 'charity' stole yr food in the 1st place?!

Remember the 3rd Reich? How long was it envisioned to last? A thousand yrs? Megalomaniacs & despots always envision their dominance as lasting as long as possible. But only the church has succeeded to match the hopes of the nazis.

Hence my mixed feelings about Gaudi. Not sorry, but I despise religion & the Catholic Church in particular. Nonetheless, I love Gaudi's work (& he was a devout Catholic) & the work of 20th century composer Olivier Messiaen (& HE was a devout Catholic). This isn't to say something like: Oh, gee, maybe there's something to this religion business after all! Nope, it's to say that life's complicated.

To quote Wikipedia: "On 7 June 1926 Gaudí was run over by a tram. Because of his ragged attire and empty pockets, many cab drivers refused to pick him up for fear that he would be unable to pay the fare. He was eventually taken to a pauper's hospital in Barcelona. Nobody recognized the injured artist until his friends found him the next day. When they tried to move him into a nicer hospital, Gaudí refused, reportedly saying "I belong here among the poor." He died three days later on June 10, 1926, at age 73 half of Barcelona mourning his death. He was buried in the midst of La Sagrada Família."

Now I can certainly relate to the "Because of his ragged attire and empty pockets, many cab drivers refused to pick him up for fear that he would be unable to pay the fare."! Just last yr I was refused service in an Adams Morgan restaurant in DC b/c I looked ragged & they were afraid I'd skip out w/o paying after eating my meal. (Making it more idiotic was my highly hypothetical suspicion that the owner was probably a coke dealer.) Ah, yes, the good bourgeoisie slavers appalled by the scruffy likes of Gaudi & myself. (Of course, cabbies are hardly the epidome of the bourgeoisie so I'm running rough here).

message 2: by Tentatively, (new)

Tentatively, Convenience (tentativelyaconvenience) | 128 comments Mod
Another tangent: the word "gaudy" meaning, according to :

"1. Excessively showy or ornamented in a tasteless or vulgar manner."

& etymologically explained in this way:

"Etymology 1

1. Possibly from Middle English, gaude, meaning ornament or trinket, itself perhaps from Old French gaudir "to rejoice".

2. Folk etymology attributes origin as stemming from the name of the Catalonian architect, Antonio Gaudí (1852-1926)."

So it's complicated, eh? If there's any truth to the folk etymology & Gaudi has been judged "excessively showy or ornamented in a tasteless or vulgar manner" - presumably by the ruling class most likely to use such 'tasteful' criteria & given that Gaudi had his feet planted in both the ruling classes & the impoverished ones, his case isn't so simple.

Still, in the end, what I seem to come to is the question of scale: ANYTHING MADE LARGER THAN INDIVIDUAL HUMAN SCALE RUNS THE RISK OF BECOMING AN OPPRESSOR OR A TOOL OF AN OPPRESSOR. Wd you want to live in a Gaudi apartment bldg? I might for a little while - but the overwhelming aesthetics of it wdn't leave much rm for my individuality. Nonetheless, I'm glad the Gaudi bldgs exist.

AND, who maintains these fantastic bldgs? The amt of work that must go into just keeping them in one piece & all shiny n'at must be mind-boggling! Reparations? One version of reparations might have the pope doing the janitorial work for the Sagrada Familia from here to eternity - while someone like myself has free rein to make sex movies there.

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