The Diaries of L’Obscurier

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Dear All,

I have been advised by Unbound that now might be a good time to “do a shed post” as the brilliant Moose Allain has produced a lovely poster for one of my pledge levels. This tediously lengthening paragraph is, technically, a way of persuading people to “upgrade their pledge levels” or to “spread the word”.

I mean, I could urge people to tell other people to pledge for Epic Space and get a lovely poster but it seems more comradely and fitting to urge people to tell other people to pledge for I Wonder What I'm Thinking About? by Moose Allain, who is a lovely person and deserves your affection much more than I, a poisonous misanthropic fucklump, ever could.

So. That’s that, then. I’ll be honest, I find the rhythm of this crowdfunded publishing business quite odd. It’s four weeks of shrieking at people until the thing’s funded, then months of nothing. I mean, I could do more “shed posts”, but does anyone actually read them? I know when I get an email alert telling me that some bastard’s posted a new item in their “shed” I instinctively delete the email and congratulate myself on clawing back five wasted minutes.

But now I’m here I feel obliged to post something so here’s a summery item. Years ago I invented a character called L’Obscurier, who is both an analogue and an anagram of Le Corbusier. Each snippet ends with him going for a possibly fatal swim. Here he is being masterful on the beach. The illustration is by Hanna Melin.

 

The Diaries of L’Obscurier

The hugely influential artist, architect, sculptor, painter and social engineer L’Obscurier completely revolutionised the way we think about the built environment and then drowned in the Mediterranean.

Translated by Ian Martin from the original haughty French.

August, 1956

I am currently presenting a lecture entitled ‘Must ALL New Architecture Be Authoritarian, In-Flexible and Simplistic?’ (NB this is neither a sarcastical nor a rhetorical question; the answer is Yes.)

I refuse to commence my lecture until members-of-the-audience are properly arranged, sitting attentively at equi-distant intervals. Last night alas, one member-of-the-audience had a horribly asymmetrical face and had to be removed.

*

I have formulated a Modern Numbered Thesis as follows:

01.01 Architecture’s purpose is to impose order.

01.02 Architecture’s purpose is to defeat chaos.

02.01 Life is not chaos, but order.

02.02 Life’s purpose is to submit to architecture.

The Ancient Greeks understood this, but did not have the benefits of mass production and jazz. Now, in the 20th-Century, only one man can synthesise eternal truth and cheap building methods. I, L’Obscurier!

Of course my lecture is very up-to-date and incorporates a sequence of camera-slides to illustrate my Numbered Thesis. The Pyramid of Cestius. A motor car. A tortoise. A cement manufacturing plant. A… a picture of myself in a bathing costume on the beach!

What is the meaning of this? Who is behind this shameful plot to undermine my authority? Quite clearly, the culprit had access to my camera-slide library, and must therefore live under Maison L’Obscurier’s flat, rational roof.

There is an intolerable outbreak of casual laughter among some of the coarser members of the audience. I will not stand for it. Casual laughter is a decorative art, and MUST BE EXTINGUISHED.

*

Imagine. I am conducting a glorious morning on the beach, devising some new theories in my new, rational swimming-trunks.

All is calm until lunchtime, when my reverie is disturbed by a large chattering family bearing buckets, spades and a picnic. After an hour or so of unstructured ‘merriment’, the parents inform their disgusting brood that they will retire for a while to the hôtel bar and that the children are to remain in situ.

Intolerable. And our social commentators wonder why young people today lack discipline, and prefer the kinema and foot-ball to the fine arts!

The four children - circa five to 12-years-old - are making sandcastles. It is unbearable to watch, and after 10 minutes or so I am compelled to intervene. ‘Morons! These structures are feeble, and nauseating!’ I shout. I offer firm guidance on the principles of silicate cohesion, the correct matrix (8 x sand : 1 x water) and an appropriate architectural theory - Modernist.

The youngest begins to cry. I warn her, in no uncertain terms, that she is trying my patience, and shake a spade at her. All four urchins run away, screaming. So much for the resolve of youth!

A little later, I see them returning. Leading the way is the father, who is red-faced and shouting something. I cannot quite hear the words, but it is unpleasantly nuanced.

I decide to take a constitutional swim. As I pull further away from the shore his ranting becomes less audible, although I can make out the word ‘drown’. Ah, the travails of genius. NB which these days seem to include a tingling sensation in my left side.

*

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Published
Publication date: March 2017
123% funded
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