Arcosanti - An Urban Laboratory in the Arizona Desert.

Meeting with Soleri

January 17. 2011

Here is another of Paolo Soleri's many essay's: THE GUN, perhaps a fitting subject for this holiday.

ARCOSANTI: A GUN-FREE TOWN

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
–Article II of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.


THE GUN

Antecedent to blood spilling is the predisposition to kill. In a way, the predisposition is more nakedly violent than the act of killing, since it entails cold “premeditation” and the rationalization, the logic of killing.

That 50 or more million Americans are quietly contemplating killing as self-defense or in the defense of property is a chilling reality. It announces an ethic of disquieting fragility in which killing is not such an extravagant option, vis-á-vis the overriding mandate coming from an interpretation of the aggression that demands no less than the irreversible fact of the aggressor’s death.

Part of the horror is that victim and victimizer are interchangeable in the Russian-roulette game. The gun as self-defense is more than often a delusion, a fatal delusion. As for, “guns don’t kill, people kill!!” —tell that to a mother holding the corpse of her “suicidal” baby, or worse, the baby killed by his infant brother……

The front-loading rifle or gun in the mind of the Founders (to be available to a well-disciplined militia) are of a different “nature” from the automatic or semi-automatic bullet-sprayers of today. But the true tragedy is in the demeaning of a whole society by way of the ‘one human eye for an electronic eye (TV set) the robber is walking away with’-ethic.

It might be worthwhile to establish a gun free zone in which the residents are willing to incur the risk of one-sided deadly violence; a risk far smaller than the full-blooded gun-carrying American might be willing to believe. A lot of killing comes from the fear of being killed, therefrom the gun-carrying. The consequent chain-reaction is generating a squalid sense of community—
250 million Americans are suffering from it, hostage to themselves. That is the shame of the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) and the gun idolatry it perpetuates.

Unless and until the gun icon is perceived as pernicious and brutalizing, the country will remain, in the eyes of the world, violent and mean.


Paolo Soleri
October 30, 1991


January 14. 2011

The "Urban Effect" is a popular topic for School of Thought. Below is Chapter 12 from the book "Technology and Cosmogenesis", published 1986. 

 

[The photos were taken during School of Thought on December 16. 2010.]

More on the Urban Effect.

 

Twenty years ago I proposed that physical, emotional, racial and functional segregation were a greater evil than waste, pollution and environmental destruction. I think that I was on target then and that I am now. It is quite possible that in our neurosis about gasoline shortages we do not see the energy crisis as it is, a blessing in disguise.

 

The energy crisis will force us to do what we should have chosen to do long ago: put some yeast in our city-pancakes so as to thicken the life they can sustain. Such "levitation" will hasten, to a point, what I have referred to as the "Urban Effect", a condition in which the vicarious, cooperative, inventive, social, cultural, creative propensities of wo-man can have a more favorable milieu in which to flourish and at a fraction of the price we now reluctantly pay or refuse to pay.

 

Since the Urban Effect is at the core of life, all life, at our respectable age of 3,500 million years, the Urban Effect, might well become an eschatological stress. The Urban Effect, in any case, is no abstraction. It is not the Almighty; it is not Super-Robot; it is not Big Brother; it is not the Masses. It is the personal, the you and I engaged in that amount of self and collective fulfillment permitted by the context and constraints of reality, the living and self-creating, within the natural order [TAO] of quantum-relativistic physics.

 

The need for myth has been reconsidered recently. We have built the technocratic myth with the automobile as the emblematic image and sacred icon. Together with irrefutable advantages to wo-man, we are also getting disastrous conditions and an inherent fragility; for instance, the real possibility of partial or critical paralysis of our society. But perhaps we don not need myth. We have the universe. In it we have life's evolution running on the food chain storm and we, humans, are on the devastatingly and exhilarating cutting edge of it. In fact, the storm takes us, willy nilly, with itself. It is by now a tidal wave. We are its co-authors and we are thus co-responsible for it.

 

The roaring evolutionary tide is disciplined by the resources available [brain power included]. The resources available are organized and structured by the so-called lows of nature, the electromagnetic, nuclear, gravitational rules. We abide by the rules or we are done in by their very existence. Gravity and thermodynamics are routinely, moment after moment, giving, taking, prodding, padding, smacking us, reminding us of the limits of our extravagances.

 

Then at the top of the physical substructure of resources is the food chain disciplinarian. But this is not a benevolent master. For instance, we butcher hundreds of thousands of animals day in and day out. Then, in a perverted sublimination of the food chain imperative we butcher each other determinedly or, out of tedium on a quasi-metronomic routine.

 

To make coherence, equity, dignity and grace slightly less than a dream, we need to put a greater self-responsibility in our actions. Believe it or not, the Urban Effect is the comprehensive mode for that. It is the greatest transformer of dullness, of the resources of mass-energy-time-space, into sensitivity, mind, conscience, anticipation, by way of a compassionate inconsistency with the food chain's impassioned imperative.

 

Since we ignore the physical ruled, thermodynamics, gravity, etc., every time we move into the costly isolation booth of our sub-urban utopias, we are left with pennies and dimes to "buy into the spirit". The continent has the unflattering flavor of a gigantic pawn shop in which we try to buy time and respond to the distress signals of our consciences that are adrift in a distressed environmental sea.

 

Since the quick-fix is no fix at all, it is going to take more time than we are willing to put up with. It takes time and effort to reform our habitat into the sound economy that coherence and sensitivity can construct. It will require time and effort on a scale that our corporate powerhouses can barely anticipate or simulate. But it must be an economy of the real at the expense of an economy of the practical; an economy of the desirable at the expense of an economy of the feasible-marketable.

 

Reality stares us in the face, and its mindless authority and power are unforgiving. We will not cope with it unless we find ways of transcending it while abiding by the rules of the game defined in 20 thousand million years of development.

 

Modestly and imperfectly I am trying to put into concrete and tangible form what I firmly believe is the call of the Urban Effect. It is the triggering of an urban-environmental re-form that is the comprehensive opening of the doors to environmental sanity, pollution and waste reduction, social and cultural enrichment, waning of guilt, effective coping with population inflation, proper and frugal use of our physical, biological and human resources, and last but not least, a tangible and exhilarating contraposition of 'immense' nature and 'intense' humanness. 

 

 

 


January 12. 2011

Most weeks, on Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, there is 'School of Thought' here at Arcosanti. This is a an hour of philosophy, open to the public, discussing the ideas of Paolo Soleri with Paolo Soleri.
Usually there is a theme, one of Soleri's papers, the subject usually picked out by a group of workshop participants.
If you are interested in attending, please call ahead to make sure of the date and time.Most weeks, on Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, there is 'School of Thought' here at Arcosanti. This is a an hour of philosophy, open to the public, discussing the ideas of Paolo Soleri with Paolo Soleri.
Usually there is a theme, one of Soleri's papers, the subject usually picked out by a group of workshop participants.
If you are interested in attending, please call ahead to make sure of the date and time.

[The photos were taken during School of Thought on December 16. 2010. Paolo Soleri and architect and workshop participant from Italy, Massimo Di Francesco]

Here is one of Soleri's papers, written in 1993:

To Re-invent the American Dream.

Paolo Soleri, January 12. 1993.

"I want to call your attention to the catastrophic nature of Home Sweet Home as it is cast by the American Dream — the single family home.
Consider 6 to 10 billion people trying to achieve the American Dream. Consider the asphalt, the concrete, the garages, the basements, the attics, the storerooms, the back porches; consider the back yards and side yards. Consider 4 billion or more automobiles. Would a future space traveler view our society as the “land fill” species in which we were the fill, as the “subdump” society?"

[photo: Paolo Soleri and architect and workshop participant Andrea Speed]

"The agony of our society, the “luckiest in the world,” is just beginning—the sadder because our patrimony of intelligence, knowledge, technology and drive is truly magnificent. Our leaders—economists, financial wizards, politicians, scientists, humanists, philosophers, entrepreneurs, media gurus—are ignoring the basic problem:

Our primary social goal, the American Dream, is inconsistent with the dramatically burgeoning population of Spaceship Earth.
More than three decades spent in researching, experimenting with, and proposing an alternative to the impending catastrophe legitimizes, in my mind, my call to mankind to wake up, to consider where it is we want to be before we begin our journey there. We must redefine the American Dream before we rebuild the infrastructure on which it is based."

[photo: Paolo Soleri and architect, 3D master Young Soo Kim, on staff in the Arcosanti planning department]

"There is an ethical consideration here, too. Americans cannot much longer protect their power to consume five times their share of Planet Earth’s resources. Unlimited consumerism—greed—ultimately is catastrophe unlimited. We, gravity-laden, thermodynamically disciplined, happiness-hungry, must choose whether we wish to continue to purchase our pleasure with the torment of our children, and future generations.

Your participation in the dialogue about the future of mankind is welcome. If you see room for participation in briefings, programs, debates, or other discussions, please contact us."


? School of Thought is a weekly hour with Paolo Soleri, usually Wednesday afternoons at 3pm, where public visitors, workshop participants, volunteers and staff can ask Paolo about his architecture and philosophy. ? School of Thought is a weekly hour with Paolo Soleri, usually Wednesday afternoons at 3pm, where public visitors, workshop participants, volunteers and staff can ask Paolo about his architecture and philosophy.
Each week has a suggested subject and this afternoon the subject was on excerpts from the "Vatican Paper", a paper written by Paolo for his upcoming visit at the Vatican.
[from left] Director Mary Hoadley, next to Paolo is Matteo Di Michele who will accompany Paolo to Rome, and Erin Jeffries, our new Public Relations person.


? Paolo was invited to Rome, Italy, as a speaker for the April 14. - 16. 2008 conference "Building Well To Live Better". This conference was organized by the Roman Catholic Church to address sustainability and the environment.
As a major international real estate owner, the Catholic church can play a key role in sustainable architecture and design.


? Most participants at this conference will be priests involved with restoration projects and new developments.
The three main topics of discussion will be the connection between human development and environmental protection; examples of sustainable building and eco-architecture; and guidelines for intervention on existing buildings to increase comfort and energy efficiency.

A quick mention, the Sunday "School of Thought" sessions at Cosanti have been canceled.


? It's very cold, with icy winds.
The first workshop of the year started this past Sunday, with participants from South Korea, Mexico, Columbia, Norway and the US. Workshop photo will post on Friday.
Today was the groups first meeting with Paolo Soleri, during the usual Wednesday session of School of Thought.
This is a forum, open to the public, where Paolo answers questions and discusses his philosophy. ? It's very cold, with icy winds.
The first workshop of the year started this past Sunday, with participants from South Korea, Mexico, Columbia, Norway and the US. Workshop photo will post on Friday.
Today was the groups first meeting with Paolo Soleri, during the usual Wednesday session of School of Thought.
This is a forum, open to the public, where Paolo answers questions and discusses his philosophy.


? The session this afternoom was followed by a web-cast from the 2010 Imperative, titled "FACE IT - There is a Solution to Global Warming".
The web-cast is still available at Architecture2030.
School of Thought is usually on Wednesday afternoons at 3pm, in the Red Room, and each week has a suggested subject for discussion. This weeks topic was "Complexity, Miniturization, Duration".
Next weeks topic will be "Arcology".


?

School of Thought is a weekly open dialogue with Dr. Paolo Soleri examining his writings and philosophies. It is intended to provide both people passing through and those living and working at Arcosanti with a foundation to think about and discuss Arcosanti and Arcology.
[Photo & text: sa]

?

School of Thought is a weekly open dialogue with Dr. Paolo Soleri examining his writings and philosophies. It is intended to provide both people passing through and those living and working at Arcosanti with a foundation to think about and discuss Arcosanti and Arcology.
[Photo & text: sa]



?

The main purpose is to study and seek to define "The Lean Alternative", especially as it manifests itself in Arcology Theory and Soleri 's hypotheses.
[Photo & text: sa]



?

Writer and publisher Michael Sarda visited School of Thought. The subject under discussion was Time. Michael Sarda is gathering material for an upcoming book, 'THE MIND GARDEN', which is a series of interviews and coversations with Paolo Soleri.
[Photo & text: sa]



?

The continuing exchange with Paolo Soleri during School of Thought provides clarifications for what is being attempted at Arcosanti. "Don't curse the darkness, light a candle." [Paolo Soleri]
[Photo & text: sa]


March 01. 2006

Skytheater's large steps forming the roof of the Colly Soleri Music Center provide seating for an expansive view of the daytime desert or star constellations in the clear night sky.

[Photo & Text: T]

A terrace surrounding those big steps provides a pedestrian crossroad leading to various venues.

[Photo & Text: T]

Sometimes the space is used for Frugal Soup, one of few Arcosanti rituals. Here we share a bowl of soup and our thoughts on world hunger and related topics.

[Photo & Text: T]


April 23. 2004

?

SCHOOL OF THOUGHT is a weekly dialogue with Paolo Soleri, open to the public, held at Arcosanti every Wednesday 4 - 5 pm. Every week a different subject is discussed. Topic papers are available at the session or on-line at <legacy.arcosanti.org>.
[Photo & Text: sa]

?

SCHOOL OF THOUGHT is a weekly dialogue with Paolo Soleri, open to the public, held at Arcosanti every Wednesday 4 - 5 pm. Every week a different subject is discussed. Topic papers are available at the session or on-line at <legacy.arcosanti.org>.
[Photo & Text: sa]



?

Paolo Soleri, at 84, is still very fond of philosophical discussion.
[Photo: Peter Waldenberger & Text: sa]



?

Moderator Jim Huth [middle, next to Paolo], prepares and reads topic papers, and adds a sparkle of humor to the conversation.
[Photo & Text: sa]



?

Paolo Soleri.
[Photo: Peter Waldenberger & Text: sa]