I hope I can be forgiven for being brief today, I am working on a masterpiece, an essay of such significance and profundity that it will alter the way people in the future understand the words growth and development. Absolutely. Watch this space! (I might be exaggerating a little.)
In the meantime I have a question about Brutalism which I will illustrate via my experience with a popular Spanish dessert. I hate flan. But there’s an interesting flan paradox, or “flanadox” that I’ve recognized over the decades. The more legendary the flan, the longer the recipe for the viscous gelatinous melange that is flan has been passed down through the generations of flan-makers the worse the flan. If Ximene herself served this very flan to Rodrigo of Vivar, then it is very likely to be the most disgusting thing I have ever eaten. On the other hand, if someone picked up a box of insta-flan at the Simago, or purchased a few single serving cups of Snack Pack grade flan (In Spain, it exists) at the tienducha on the corner, it might be palatable.
The better the flan, the worse it is, the worse the flan the better it is, and therefore what makes a great flan is just how nasty and repugnant it is.
The same may be true of Brutalist architecture. While it could simply be that my love for my hometown is such that I have a hard time seeing such an important building as the Hampden County Hall of Justice as ugly, it could also be the case that it is actually an attractive building. It is an example of Brutalism: “the striking repetitive angular geometries, and…(the) concrete revealing the texture of the wooden forms used for the in-situ casting.” It has the horizontal windows Kunstler tells us are disrespectful to homo sapiens, it doesn’t have the “base-middle-top” division architect Steve Jablonski says gives a building comprehensibility. But somehow it works. It doesn’t eviscerate its environs, it doesn’t suffocate its surroundings. So does that make it good Brutalism because it works so well in its environment, or bad Brutalism for the exact same reason?
Look how well it frames a small corner of the delicate outdoor room which is Court Square!
If it’s Brutalism, then it’s the kind of Brutalism a masochist could understand.