Monday, February 13, 2012

Coffee house salon transcript -- Architecture


[11:04] Aldo Stern: Herr Gandt, please have a seat, my friend

[11:04] Aphrodite Macbain: Yes, let's begin. What is the format of these discussions?

[11:04] Aldo Stern: our discussion is to be upon architecture

[11:05] Mercury Gandt: Another topic I'm shamefully uninformed in

[11:05] Aldo Stern: I shall assist the discussion in moving along, and begin with a few questions to stir the thought processes

[11:05] Aphrodite Macbain: Thank you

[11:05] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta) nods

[11:06] Aldo Stern: first of all...I suspect we may agree that there are many purposes to which architecture may be put...

[11:06] Aphrodite Macbain: nods

[11:06] Mercury Gandt: Buon giorni, Signorina

[11:06] Aldo Stern: the creation of structures is one of our oldest human activities

[11:06] Aldo Stern: and the heart of urban civilization

[11:07] Candace Ducatillon: Oui, buon giorni to everyone :-)

[11:07] Aphrodite Macbain: smiles

[11:07] Aldo Stern: but there are purposes to which architecture may be applied that are more than merely covering the people and livestock, or of defense, or commerce...

[11:08] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): bonsoir a tous

[11:08] Aphrodite Macbain: nods

[11:08] Mercury Gandt: Bonsoir, Comte

[11:08] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta) agrees

[11:08] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): good to see you all

[11:08] Aldo Stern: ah greetings, Signore

[11:08] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): sorry I'm late

[11:08] Aldo Stern: what other functions could, or should architecture fulfill?

[11:09] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): in this age, a means to show the arts

[11:09] Aphrodite Macbain: Well certainly it could be a place of worship or a place to meet and shop

[11:09] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): ach well...architecture , in the public can inspire...

[11:10] Leary Macpherson: shows the soul

[11:10] Aphrodite Macbain: nods, and the most relevant architecture of the day reflects the spirit of its time

[11:10] Aldo Stern: Signorina Wulfride, do you mean they can show the arts inside..or that the structure itself can be a display of the arts?

[11:10] Mercury Gandt: And pleasing the eye, either private or public

[11:10] Aphrodite Macbain: for instance , today we value rationalism and reason

[11:11] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): To me, both.

[11:11] Aldo Stern: ah, all very good purposes

[11:11] Aphrodite Macbain: and so the architecture reflects this interest in rationalism

[11:11] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): Some buildings use facades created by the best craftsmen in their fields

[11:11] Aldo Stern: I think we shall return to Signor Mercury's point about pleasing the eye in a moment...

[11:11] Aldo Stern: but to the baronessa's point

[11:12] Aldo Stern: to inspire...

[11:12] Aldo Stern: to inspire what?

[11:12] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): it can be many things, nein?

[11:12] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): to inspire pride in one's nation and people

[11:12] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): or it can be fear

[11:12] Aphrodite Macbain: well, in the basilicas and churches, to inspire love of god

[11:13] Aphrodite Macbain: of a place beyond the everyday

[11:13] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): an imposing government building can let the people remember that to behave

[11:13] Aphrodite Macbain: nods. they show power

[11:13] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): a bit like the Bastille?

[11:14] Aldo Stern: yes! precisely

[11:14] Aphrodite Macbain: Many churches look like fortresses

[11:14] Aldo Stern: ah a very good point Donna Aphrodite...

[11:14] Leary Macpherson: especially with gargoyles looking down

[11:14] Aphrodite Macbain: though I'm not sure whom they are keeping out.

[11:14] Aphrodite Macbain: Barbarians I suppose

[11:15] Aldo Stern: the architecture of a house of worship may inspire us to look to heaven, to rejoice in the beauty of creation and God's works

[11:15] Aldo Stern: or to fear God

[11:15] Aphrodite Macbain: or contemplation

[11:15] Leary Macpherson: fear the power of the church -

[11:15] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): I am thinking the gargoyles are supposed to keep out the bad spirits..frighten them off, ja?

[11:15] Mercury Gandt: Ah - Signore, welcome to Melioria

[11:16] Aphrodite Macbain: But today, in this age of secularism and rationalism, we are less concerned about god than about man

[11:16] Leary Macpherson: nods. you are right

[11:16] Aphrodite Macbain: To be enlightened is to use our brains

[11:16] Aphrodite Macbain: to find order

[11:16] Aldo Stern: hmm, yes, are not some of the greatest works of architecture these days..the palaces of great men...

[11:17] Aphrodite Macbain: yes indeed

[11:17] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): I think the Salt Works are quite remarkable

[11:17] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): or fortifications..which are practical in the world of well as representing the power of a state..or a monarch

[11:17] Aldo Stern: the salt works, Signore?

[11:17] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): industrial and visionary

[11:18] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): yes, by Ledoux

[11:18] Aphrodite Macbain: The writings of her Winkelmann talk about the ideals of noble simplicity and quiet grandeur"

[11:18] Aldo Stern: ah they are a royal facility?

[11:18] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): as opposed to Palaces, I mean

[11:18] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): yes, they are

[11:19] Aldo Stern: but they can still , though industrial, in their style and decoration say something about the monarch who commissioned them, no?

[11:19] El Eiren: I have never seen them, but they have attracted many artists and have been painted again and again

[11:19] Aldo Stern: then they must be of great interest and visual appeal

[11:19] Aldo Stern: let me ask this then...

[11:20] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): they are a pre-cursor, in a way to his Ideal City, there is a connection, I thought

[11:20] Aldo Stern: we have all these different purposes to which architecture may be put

[11:20] Aldo Stern: when you have something that can be both a work of art, and express ideas or well as a practical purpose

[11:20] Aldo Stern: as a salt works, say

[11:20] Aldo Stern: or a fortrezza

[11:20] Aldo Stern: or a home

[11:20] Aphrodite Macbain: or a church

[11:21] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): buildings can convey meaning in their style - we know at a glance what its intended role is

[11:21] Aldo Stern: which comes first? the philosophical purpose or the practical?

[11:21] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): but they all convey views on society as a whole

[11:21] Aphrodite Macbain: I would presume the philosophical and practical purpose

[11:21] Aldo Stern: yes, but sometimes can't the spiritual or moral purpose interfere with the practical

[11:22] Aphrodite Macbain: for example?

[11:22] Aphrodite Macbain: I feel you have something in mind

[11:22] Aldo Stern: for example, I have read a good bit about Blenheim palace in England

[11:22] Aldo Stern: it is a monument to a great man

[11:22] Aldo Stern: but I understand it functions poorly as a residence

[11:22] El Eiren: I think that depends on the individual. I would imagine that concurrently the cave painters of the Caves in france where accompanied by those building simple huts.

[11:23] Aldo Stern: it is actually apparently an unpleasant place to live

[11:23] Aphrodite Macbain: why, because it is an uncomfortable space?

[11:23] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): it is rather large yes, having been there

[11:23] Aphrodite Macbain: probably hard to heat

[11:24] Aldo Stern: the rooms are built to serve purposes of state

[11:24] Aphrodite Macbain: Personally, I feel that for a work of architecture to be successful, it must fulfill its purpose

[11:24] Aldo Stern: not to live comfortably

[11:24] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): the house reflects two things

[11:24] Aphrodite Macbain: Then it has conflicting purposes

[11:24] Aldo Stern: and should not perhaps, that purpose...the function shape it's form?

[11:25] Candace Ducatillon: Hmmm

[11:25] Aphrodite Macbain: you mean something like, um, form following function?

[11:25] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): form cannot always be a slave to function

[11:25] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): naturally functionality is of most importance

[11:25] Aphrodite Macbain: It can be exquisite and daring and still support the function of the building

[11:25] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): sometimes a building has to be an expression of an idea

[11:26] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): It is a rather rambling building showing off wealth, war trophies and the like

[11:26] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): and if you have to live there, then you do what you have to do and don't whine about it

[11:26] Aphrodite Macbain: then that idea is power

[11:26] Aphrodite Macbain: Then the inhabitants are subservient to the building

[11:26] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): I believe any building, is an expression of social ideas, intended or not

[11:26] Candace Ducatillon: Of late, when I come across architecture that "speaks" to me, I wish to capture it in a painting

[11:27] Aphrodite Macbain: rather than the other way around

[11:27] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): *shrugs* we all have our roles to play

[11:27] Aldo Stern: well Signorina Candace

[11:27] Candace Ducatillon: (gulps)

[11:27] Aldo Stern: that brings us back to Signor Gandt's point about architecture that pleases the eye...

[11:28] Candace Ducatillon: :-)

[11:28] Aphrodite Macbain: Then does it become "picturesque?

[11:28] Aldo Stern: the "preferences" aspect of this discussion

[11:28] Aldo Stern: what do you find appealing that would make you wish to capture a building in your art?

[11:28] Candace Ducatillon: There is an angle or a texture that calls out to me.

[11:28] Candace Ducatillon: A curiosity

[11:29] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): for me, it would be perfect proportions

[11:29] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): ah, ruins. A building thats fallen out of use but yet still forms a function to artists *smiles*

[11:29] Candace Ducatillon: yes, that can be most appealing.

[11:29] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): proportions that compel and impose

[11:29] Aphrodite Macbain: I would be concerned that the materials are extremely important as a means of expression; sometimes a building cannot be expressed as a 2 dimensional painting

[11:29] Candace Ducatillon: Ruins are indeed fascinating.

[11:29] Candace Ducatillon: they speak to a very deep soul, another time

[11:29] Candace Ducatillon: still present, yet gone

[11:30] Aphrodite Macbain: Very romantic concept Madame Candace!

[11:30] Aphrodite Macbain: :-)

[11:30] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta) smiles

[11:30] Candace Ducatillon: I will say thank you.

[11:30] Aphrodite Macbain: Not functional but decorative, charming

[11:30] Aldo Stern: well certainly our architects in this modern day of 1780

[11:30] Aphrodite Macbain: Marie Antoinette felt something similar

[11:30] Aldo Stern: they look back to the ancients for their inspiration

[11:30] Aldo Stern: and their vocabulary

[11:30] Aphrodite Macbain: nods

[11:31] Aldo Stern: and principles...

[11:31] Aldo Stern: they read Vitruvius

[11:31] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta) agrees

[11:31] Aphrodite Macbain: Those ruins at Pompeii, Pastum and Herculaneum are very inspiring

[11:31] Aphrodite Macbain: Pestum

[11:31] Aldo Stern: sometimes they even are inspired by some more recent predecessor who was in his turn inspired by the ancients

[11:31] Aldo Stern: like Palladio or Jones

[11:31] Aphrodite Macbain: You mean like Palladio?

[11:32] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): and Palladio and Scamozzi

[11:32] Aphrodite Macbain: yes

[11:32] Aldo Stern: yes exactly Donna Aphrodite

[11:32] Aldo Stern: he preceded us...but his work would fit very nicely with the work that many architects these days are doing

[11:32] Aphrodite Macbain: It has been very popular in England and berlin as well as in the New World

[11:33] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): indeed

[11:33] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta) nods

[11:33] Aldo Stern: so what is it that we find appealing in buildings like our beloved Villa Vesuviana here?

[11:33] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): It has a pleasing prospect

[11:33] Aldo Stern: The Conte mentioned proportions

[11:33] Aphrodite Macbain: Frederick the great has been so taken with the style that he built the Knobelsdorff's opera house on the Unter den Linden

[11:34] Aphrodite Macbain: I believe its noble simplicity and quiet grandeur

[11:34] Aldo Stern: ah simplicity

[11:35] Aphrodite Macbain: calm, open, balanced

[11:35] Aldo Stern: may I ask the gentleman back at the last table, Signor Eiren, I discern from your comments so far that you are an artist, yes?

[11:36] El Eiren: To some degree, yes

[11:36] Mercury Gandt: :)

[11:36] El Eiren: I am primarily a curator

[11:37] Aldo Stern: ah you mentioned cave painters..the idea that we embellish our spaces..even in our most primitive state...

[11:37] El Eiren: I was just about to say that what appeals the most to me about this structure is its sense of durability

[11:37] Aldo Stern: ah!

[11:37] Aldo Stern: would you care to elaborate on that?

[11:37] El Eiren: that I might count on to be here in 1000 years

[11:37] Aphrodite Macbain: endurability!

[11:38] Aldo Stern: not unlike the other earlier structures we have scattered around the island which have already been here a thousand years,

[11:38] Aphrodite Macbain: an art in itself!

[11:38] El Eiren: I am not very familuar with all that is here.

[11:38] Candace Ducatillon: there are "caves" in Melioria, within the structure of the Villa I believe.

[11:39] Aphrodite Macbain: Yes, they are very beautiful and mysterious- and filled with ruins themselves

[11:39] Aldo Stern: but durability...that is an appealing thought

[11:39] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): you know what I like about the Villa?

[11:40] Aphrodite Macbain: listens

[11:40] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): that it is beautiful yes

[11:40] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): but also that it is, I am finding, a pretty nice place to live

[11:40] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): yes, it works as our public building

[11:40] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): for meetings and greeting visitors and such

[11:40] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): but the rooms upstairs are very comfortable

[11:41] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): it is both a good place to live

[11:41] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): and stands for who we as residents of Melioria are, I think

[11:41] Aldo Stern: an interesting point

[11:41] Aphrodite Macbain: It must be wonderful to live and work in this community

[11:42] Aldo Stern: the Conte mentioned earlier about our buildings saying something about us, whether we intend them to or not

[11:43] Aldo Stern: you look at a building like Versailles...what do you think it says about the people who occupy and the nation they are a part of?

[11:43] Aphrodite Macbain: There are a variety of styles of buildings here, are there not?

[11:43] El Eiren: well trained in refined detail

[11:43] Aphrodite Macbain: Versailles says power, order,

[11:44] Aphrodite Macbain: love of the arts

[11:44] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): absolute monarchy is written all over that building ;-)

[11:44] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): ach yes

[11:44] Aphrodite Macbain: how ?

[11:44] Aphrodite Macbain: what does absolute monarchy stand for?

[11:44] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta) nods

[11:45] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): basically, Ancien Regime

[11:45] Aphrodite Macbain: nods

[11:45] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): and in particular Louis XIV

[11:45] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): I think it squats upon the landscape, an ostentatious display of huge pots of money having been spent

[11:45] Aphrodite Macbain: no power to the common man

[11:45] Aphrodite Macbain: It is designed to impress other monarchs like Frederick the Great

[11:46] El Eiren: It is amusing in its grandure, or is it grandiosity.

[11:46] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): but what intrigues me is the formal approach of gardening, Man over Matter

[11:46] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): hmmm yet what he builds is the San Souci...a little house for himself and his dogs

[11:46] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): but then it was built as an escape, not as the symbol of who he is

[11:46] Aphrodite Macbain: Le Notre's gardens- a masterpiece of order and geometry

[11:46] El Eiren: But it was a culmination of artistic energies and freedoms only seen in a few epoches.

[11:47] Aphrodite Macbain: Nods

[11:47] Aldo Stern: how do you mean Signor Eiren?

[11:47] Aldo Stern: please elaborate

[11:48] El Eiren: The energies of the Renaissance were waning. Louis the XIV spent huge sums to redevelop the arts

[11:49] El Eiren: Through the genius and energies of Le Brun huge monuments were created

[11:49] El Eiren: These supported many thousands of craftsmen

[11:50] Aphrodite Macbain wonders whether they were paid well

[11:50] El Eiren: It came to an end with the revolution, but for 100 or so years there was a fervor of creativity

[11:50] Summer Serendipity: Please excuse my early departure but I have a meeting at noon I must prepare for .. this has been a most interesting discussion ... thank you all

[11:51] Summer Serendipity: take care and goodbye

[11:51] Aphrodite Macbain: waves goodbye

[11:51] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): au revoir

[11:51] Mercury Gandt: Au revoir, Signorina

[11:51] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): *nods* creativity for the glorification of the monarch who says, l'etat, cest moi"

[11:51] Aphrodite Macbain: Arrivaderci

[11:51] Aldo Stern: thank you for coming

[11:51] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): all the best for your meeting

[11:53] Aphrodite Macbain: Yes, the baroque really ended about 30 years ago followed by the Roccoc I am relieved that buildings are becoming more classical and calm

[11:53] Mercury Gandt: And smaller, Signora - I like the new fashion to build things more intimate

[11:54] Mercury Gandt: Sans Souci was a good example for this

[11:54] Aphrodite Macbain: yes indeed, less grandiose

[11:54] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): What I like about Neo Classical is the the austerity, making proportions all the more important, so a modest cornice takes the place of ornament, though it needs to be positioned in a perfect fashion

[11:54] El Eiren: What exactly are you trying to replicate here?

[11:54] Aldo Stern: but I think Signor Eiren makes a good point about the craftsmen and artisans employed by great projects...

[11:54] Aphrodite Macbain: well said Signore

[11:54] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta) nods

[11:55] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): but when the great project is done, what is left for them

[11:55] Aphrodite Macbain: I would like to learn more about these craftsmen - I guess they were guilds

[11:55] Aphrodite Macbain: guilds. who worked on many projects

[11:55] Aphrodite Macbain: masons for example

[11:55] El Eiren: Those techniques developed at Goeblins and other foundries, were revolutionary and still live today

[11:55] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): lush ornaments can also obscure a structure

[11:56] Candace Ducatillon: how true

[11:56] Aldo Stern: it is of interest that when Blenheim was being built. a great example of the baroque in england...

[11:56] El Eiren: The techniques used have provided much beyond grandiosity.

[11:56] Aphrodite Macbain: yes, weavers served a functional as well as a decorative purpose in those drafty buildings!

[11:56] Aldo Stern: the Duchess of Marlborough was always complaining that the craftsmen were overcharging her...she argued with the architect and would up getting rid of the first rate artisans and replacing them with less skilled fellows who were cheaper

[11:57] Aphrodite Macbain: sounds very familiar. I would imagine this attitude will persist

[11:58] Aldo Stern: very well then obviously we have some differences of option about perferences and styles...

[11:58] Aphrodite Macbain: Nods

[11:58] Oona Riaxik: Greetings

[11:58] Aldo Stern: but let us conclude by going around the room--I would ask each of you to tell me what is your favorite building (pre-1780 of course) and why it is so?

[11:58] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): bonsoir madame

[11:58] Aphrodite Macbain: Boungiorno Mlle Oona

[11:58] Aldo Stern: hello Oona

[11:58] Mercury Gandt: Buon giorno, Signora

[11:59] Oona Riaxik: Hello Aldo, Dio Candace, Mercury

[11:59] Oona Riaxik: Hello new friends

[11:59] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): Greetings

[11:59] Aldo Stern: let us start with Signorina Wulfride

[11:59] Aphrodite Macbain: Sounds like a fine idea

[11:59] Aldo Stern: what is your favorite building?

[11:59] Oona Riaxik: *curtsies*

[11:59] Oona Riaxik: Hello Comte

[11:59] Leary Macpherson: I must be going. ty for a lovely time

[11:59] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): This is a tough question for me, as I like many

[11:59] Aldo Stern: grazie Donna Leary

[11:59] Aldo Stern: thank you for coming

[12:00] Aphrodite Macbain: waves

[12:00] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): Take care

[12:00] Candace Ducatillon: Those lovely bells ... that is my favorite building at the

[12:00] Aphrodite Macbain: Bells?

[12:00] El Eiren: What a question: Favorite pre 1780 building. I guess I land at the entry to the Oracle Chamber at Delphi.

[12:00] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): If I choose, the Royal Navy academy at Greenwich

[12:01] Oona Riaxik: oh that is a lovely one!

[12:01] Candace Ducatillon: Yes, perhaps the audio has not allowed you to hear them in the background.

[12:01] Aldo Stern: ah two very different examples

[12:01] Oona Riaxik: *thinks hard

[12:01] El Eiren: Be well all.

[12:02] Aphrodite Macbain: I would choose the Pantheon in Rome; it speaks to me of calm and endurance.

[12:02] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): wow, the Pantheon,

[12:03] Aphrodite Macbain: I love the Pantheon- that amazing dome

[12:03] Aldo Stern: very well, yes, the Pantheon, a good answer

[12:03] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): I'm sorry I have to leave, merci beaucoup for this interesting salon!

[12:03] Oona Riaxik: I second the Pantheon

[12:03] Aldo Stern: and what about Wulfride's Royal navy building? why do you like it?

[12:03] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): au revoir a tous

[12:03] Candace Ducatillon: And I, regrettably, need to leave to prepare for another function. I thank you for this Salon.

[12:03] Oona Riaxik: Au revoir, M le COmte

[12:03] Mercury Gandt: Au revoir, my friend

[12:03] Aphrodite Macbain: It doesn't have to win. It is just my favorite!

[12:03] Oona Riaxik: *curtsies*

[12:04] Aldo Stern: thank you for joiing us Signor Conte

[12:04] Hyacinthe de Rigaud (defiennes): my pleasure

[12:04] Candace Ducatillon: Farewell all.

[12:04] Aphrodite Macbain: Bye

[12:04] Aphrodite Macbain: Bye! bye

[12:04] Oona Riaxik: Bye Candace

[12:04] Mercury Gandt: Bye Candace

[12:04] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): It presents us with a display of power, but at the same time a common man does not feel excluded there

[12:04] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): bye :)

[12:04] Aldo Stern: ah interesting

[12:04] Aphrodite Macbain: Yes, what a wonderful observation

[12:05] Aldo Stern: arriverderci Signorina Candace

[12:05] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): It has both form and function

[12:05] Aphrodite Macbain: It is like many of the classical Greek and Roman buildings, serene and reliable!

[12:05] Aldo Stern: and Herr Gandt?

[12:06] Mercury Gandt: I'm really confused what to answer - I like all the contemporary that is cosy - casual - and small and private

[12:06] Mercury Gandt: A bourgeois taste, I know

[12:07] Aphrodite Macbain: but a human one

[12:07] Oona Riaxik: oui

[12:07] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): yes indeed

[12:07] Mercury Gandt: Do you have an example for a building like this?

[12:08] Aphrodite Macbain: Domestic architecture...

[12:08] Oona Riaxik: hmmm interesting question

[12:08] Aphrodite Macbain: unfortunately not often addressed in the history books but I believe there are a number

[12:09] Mercury Gandt: Maybe the smaller country villas for the gentry, that follows the palladian tradition

[12:09] Aphrodite Macbain: yes- the palazzi in Venice?

[12:10] Aphrodite Macbain: as well

[12:10] Aldo Stern: something like perhaps the one called Chiswick?

[12:10] Aldo Stern: small, palladian style

[12:10] Aphrodite Macbain: yes

[12:10] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): I think an English vicarage would be close

[12:10] Oona Riaxik: good example

[12:10] Mercury Gandt: :) An English vicarage... charming

[12:10] Aphrodite Macbain: Campbell's Wanstead House

[12:10] Oona Riaxik: kisses!

[12:11] Oona Riaxik: Must run!

[12:11] Oona Riaxik: my apologies for such a short visit

[12:11] Mercury Gandt: Goodbye, Donna Oona

[12:11] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): Good day to you Oona

[12:11] Aphrodite Macbain: It was nice to meet you

[12:11] Aldo Stern: good to see you Donna Oona

[12:11] Oona Riaxik: very rude of me but I really wanted to be here

[12:11] Oona Riaxik: Does anyone have the log?

[12:12] Aldo Stern: it is quite allright

[12:12] Oona Riaxik: TY

[12:12] Aldo Stern: we understand

[12:12] Oona Riaxik: Arrivederla!

[12:12] Aldo Stern: we will keep it and post it somewhere

[12:12] Aphrodite Macbain: I must go too. I have very much enjoyed this discussion!!

[12:12] Oona Riaxik: Grazie Mille Herr Stern

[12:12] Aphrodite Macbain: Thank you so much Professore for facilitating the discussion

[12:12] Oona Riaxik: Hope to see you ladies again

[12:12] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): Auf wiedersehen

[12:12] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): :)

[12:13] Aphrodite Macbain: Bye

[12:13] Aphrodite Macbain: Bye! bye

[12:13] Mercury Gandt: Bye :)

[12:13] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): take care

[12:13] Aldo Stern: well then, our last arrivederci

[12:13] Aldo Stern: well then our last person to offer your favorite

[12:14] Aldo Stern: Barnessa

[12:14] Aldo Stern: ?

[12:14] Mercury Gandt: :)

[12:14] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): hmm

[12:14] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): I like San Souci, but it is a bit overdone and feels out of balance a bit

[12:15] Mercury Gandt: So the proportions are attractive, but the decoration is too much, right?

[12:15] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): yes exactly

[12:15] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): all those damn sculptures

[12:15] Mercury Gandt: I agree

[12:16] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta) nods

[12:16] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): I have only seen pictures of it, but I do very like Salisbury cathedral

[12:16] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): I shall have to go to England someday to see it

[12:16] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): ah yes, a beautiful place

[12:17] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): May I recommend looking at Chesterfield's cathedral

[12:17] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): Chesterfield? I shall look into it, Fraulein Wulfride

[12:17] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): famous for its unusual spire

[12:17] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): but as for my favorite structure, I think I shall have to say Neuf Brisach

[12:17] Aldo Stern: the fortress town?

[12:18] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): ja, the last great work of Marechal Vauban

[12:18] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): utterly practical

[12:18] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): yet the gates are elegant and tasteful

[12:18] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): the angles are all perfect

[12:18] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): there is not a single bad point in the fortress from a standpint of defense

[12:19] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): there is no weak point

[12:19] Mercury Gandt: Sounds interesting

[12:19] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): *smiles*

[12:20] Diogeneia (diogenes.kuhr): and on that note, I am afraid I must excuse myself

[12:20] Mercury Gandt: Me too, I'm afraid

[12:21] Aldo Stern: this has been very interesting

[12:21] Wulfriðe Blitzen (ancasta): All the best, Bis Spater!

[12:21] Mercury Gandt: It was nice to see you all again

[12:21] Aldo Stern: I hope you all enjoyed it

[12:21] Mercury Gandt: Thank you for the event, professore

Monday, January 9, 2012

The joys of participatory entertainment: Coffee House salons resume


After a busy holiday season, activity has resumed in Melioria. A recent open house was well attended, and this last Saturday, the coffee house salons started once more.

You may find them a bit dry, or perhaps historically implausible. That's ok, if you do--I tend to loathe things that other people enjoy, like shopping or watching sports. But I do love these discussions.

Aldo usually provides us with intriguing period readings to look at beforehand, and we all seem to do some preparation in advance. We assemble at the coffee house at a given time and then we engage in the amusing mental exercise of having a discussion while taking on the perspectives of relatively informed and enlightened people of the 1780s. Are we discussing things from the perspective of a typical 18th century person? No, not really. But it's fun, and we keep learning things. For example, most of my adult life I knew who Rousseau and Diderot were, but I never actually read any of their stuff. Now I have, and it's pretty cool.

I look on this is as an excellent example of what I think is the most common and dynamic form of educational process that takes place in virtual worlds: "cooperative self-directed learning." A group of interested, interesting people develops a collective reason (or excuse, if you will) for doing individual reading and study, then they get together to share what they have learned. They encourage each other, and they motivate each other, but ultimately, what they get out of is pretty much equivalent to what they put into it.

In the end it is about amusing ourselves and being entertained. But it is entertainment in which we actively participate.

The following is a Melioria Salon partial Transcript:

“In Sickness and In Health”

January 7, 2012

Attending: Aldo Stern, Diogeneia Kuhr, Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud, Oona Riaxik, JJ Drinkwater, Serenek Timeless


[13:13] Aldo Stern: The subject matter is, of course a question of science, but one that affects us all...

[13:14] Aldo Stern: matters of disease, theories of how it spreads...modern treatments for it...and if we have time...the responsibilities of us all to foster good health among the public

[13:15] Diogeneia: if I may begin with a comment...

[13:15] Diogeneia: you know I mentioned my brother...

[13:15] Diogeneia: and being wounded...

[13:16] Diogeneia: you know what the doctors wished to do for him, once thy bandaged his leg...was of course to bleed him

[13:16] Diogeneia: it is for many still the standard, to try to adjust the humors within the body...

[13:16] Diogeneia: but he said it made him feel weaker...

[13:17] Diogeneia: and so he subsequently avoided the surgeon whene'er he saw the poor man coming...

[13:17] Diogeneia: and he healed quite nicely without the benefit of bleeding...

[13:17] Oona Riaxik: To my mind, he had already been bled by the wound. Perhaps leeches should be reserved to internal maladies

[13:17] Diogeneia: better perhaps, he thinks

[13:17] Diogeneia: what may I ask do you my friends think of the practice?

[13:18] JJ Drinkwater: Of bleeding?

[13:18] Diogeneia: ja,Fraulein Oona, she has a good point, he already did the bleeding with the wounding

[13:19] Aldo Stern: yet the surgeon wished to take more, no?

[13:19] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: I've always been skeptical about this practice

[13:19] Aldo Stern: indeed Signor Conte?

[13:19] Sere Timeless: It is my understanding that the medicine of Galen, the balance of the humors, and the value of bleeding is much out of favor with those who do the most healing ...the battlefield surgeons.

[13:19] Oona Riaxik: was this a local physician or one acquainted with war hospitals?

[13:20] Oona Riaxik: Precisely, this is what I hear of war surgeons as well. Which makes me wonder if they brought in a local doctor to care for your brother

[13:20] Oona Riaxik: or news reaches the colonies too slowly

[13:20] Diogeneia: the surgeon of the regiment died of a fever some time ago

[13:21] Diogeneia: so the doctor my brother was seeing was a civilian ... an American

[13:21] Oona Riaxik: well then he simply wanted to effect your brothers end!

[13:21] Oona Riaxik: by bleeding him to death

[13:21] Diogeneia: Ach, no, it was a loyalist ...

[13:21] Sere Timeless: I wonder where this American doctor was trained. Or if he was trained.

[13:22] JJ Drinkwater: Surely the latest medical thinking does not reach the Americas quickly

[13:22] Oona Riaxik: they have not seen enough of war *sigh* to make this observation

[13:23] Aldo Stern: perhaps...although they do have great scientists such as Dr. Franklin...but I do not know if any of their most forward looking thinkers do so in the field of medicine

[13:24] Sere Timeless: The difficulty, I think, in discontinuing ineffective medical practice is that we know so little of the mechanisms of disease we cannot invent more effective practices.

[13:25] Diogeneia: Well the King of Prussia when he was wounded in the 7 years war, I know they bled him...but for my brothers sake, I am glad the thinking changes...I have never felt very good after bleeding, and so I avoid it

[13:26] JJ Drinkwater: We have begun to understand that health is a sign that the mechanism of the body is functioning correctly, but what that mechanism comprises is still largely a mystery, is it not?

[13:26] Aldo Stern: to a great extent yes...but we have made great strides beyond merely saying, "here is what the ancients thought, so it must be correct"

[13:27] Oona Riaxik: the mechanisms are but we still have so much information about the course of the disease

[13:27] Oona Riaxik: that we can study it progression and learn form this

[13:27] JJ Drinkwater bows "You are quite correct, signorina"

[13:27] Aldo Stern: there is some very interesting thinking I have seen, for example in Diderot's encyclopedia...

[13:28] Aldo Stern: and I note that often conclusions .. or theories at any rate, are based upon actually examination and autopsies

[13:28] Oona Riaxik: well, sickness occurs in living bodies! yet another practice that needs revision

[13:29] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: but recognizing an effective remedy, doesn’t necessarily mean we comprehend the mechanism behind, a lot is intuition, trial and error

[13:30] JJ Drinkwater: So we have begun by casting off old certainties, and admitting our need of knowledge drawn from examples

[13:30] Oona Riaxik: We cannot wait to treat until we understand the mechanism, we have only trial and error - and critically, observation to aid us.

[13:30] Aldo Stern: so are you arguing, Signore Conte and Lord Twilight, that the body is not unlike a machine...with predictable mechanisms at work?

[13:31] JJ Drinkwater: That is the most modern medical thinking, as I understand it

[13:31] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: some could be predictable, provided we had proper insight

[13:31] Sere Timeless: We have known for over a century from the work of Dr. William Harvey that blood flow, for example is a very mechanistic process.

[13:31] Oona Riaxik: and the spread of disease is also looking predictable

[13:31] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: oh yes

[13:32] Aldo Stern: *smiles* then we may rule out such factors as demons and curses

[13:32] Sere Timeless: Which would lead one to suspect that other mechanical and causal principles are at work in our bodies.

[13:32] JJ Drinkwater: Are we not, after all, composed of matter? And does matter not behave according to certain laws?

[13:33] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: so true, but these laws seem so intricate

[13:33] Diogeneia: ja, even the madness....or melancholia, it may seem to the uneducated that there is no mechanistic cause, but if you do enough observation, eventually one would surely find there is some rational reason for irrationality...

[13:34] Diogeneia: too much bile, a fever in the brain, not enough of something, rather than a supernatural cause

[13:35] Aldo Stern: *nods*

[13:35] Oona Riaxik: well the church will not like to hear this thinking!

[13:35] Aldo Stern: even the ancients did not simply say, "oh well the gods are ill favored today and so they make us sick"

[13:36] Aldo Stern: they made observations such as the influences of swampy areas on the health of their people...they noticed a connection to fetid water and decaying matter, and so either did not build near swampy ground, or they built their great drains to carry off the dampness

[13:37] Aldo Stern: *smiles* something that we can learn from, especially for those who believe in the miasmatic theories of disease

[13:38] Sere Timeless: And so is it the nature of human thought to be able to infer that there must be a causal connection even if we cannot explain the mechanism?

[13:39] JJ Drinkwater: The causes, as M. le Comte has observed, are intricate

[13:39] Aldo Stern: I think that was part of the Conte's point ... that even if we cannot be sure of the exact mechanism at work, we should act as best we can, based on our best understanding and observations

[13:40] Oona Riaxik: agreed. So again,

[13:41] Oona Riaxik: why does the practice of bleeding persist - is so accepted even when many in the field

[13:41] Oona Riaxik: know of its deleterious effects - is this to make the patients feel that they are getting care in spite of our lack of knowledge?

[13:41] Aldo Stern: well going back to how doctors are trained

[13:41] Aldo Stern: most after all do not attend a school of any sort, they study with an experienced doctor

[13:42] Aldo Stern: and follow him as an assistant until they feel they know enough to practice

[13:42] Aldo Stern: consequently, old habits and ideas will be passed on, no?

[13:42] JJ Drinkwater: A valuable opportunity for observation, if they will use it

[13:42] Oona Riaxik: surely however if ones sees patients grow faint after bleeding, why recommend it? to collect coin?

[13:42] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: but some convictions are so difficult to eradicate, even if they have been proven to be wrong. We like continuity, and not be in uncertainty

[13:43] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: ...and so maintain our old beliefs

[13:43] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: but that's not the way forward

[13:43] Diogeneia: maybe they don't like to admit how little they know, and fear business will diminish if they do too much experimenting and observation

[13:43] Oona Riaxik: it would be considered a poor doctor to be called to treat and not treat with something... rather than say, "bleeding will not help you, I do not know the cause, so just rest."

[13:43] Aldo Stern: so may I all here are very forward thinking and enlightened people...what sorts of treatments for various maladies do you think are of value?

[13:43] Aldo Stern: I myself, have observed how much better I feel after imbibing several cups of this excellent coffee...I may conclude from that that the chemicals in the mixture have some beneficial effect upon my internal mechanisms

[13:44] Aldo Stern: *smiles* so I shall continue my experiments with great enthusiasm

[13:44] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: mmmm, nicotine, where are you? I have some experience on that

[13:44] Sere Timeless: And certainly liquor produces the same feeling of well-being, at least for awhile.

[13:44] Diogeneia: ah, there you go...the tabac as a potent medical herb...

[13:44] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: oooh, tell me, smiles

[13:45] Diogeneia: my other brother ... the one who is a trader among the Indians of northern America...he has written me about how the natives use tabac as a medicinal

[13:45] Sere Timeless: And yet, do we truly believe that tobacco and liquor are good for the body?

[13:45] Oona Riaxik: yes, funny how readily we adopt new cures and yet loathe to be rid of the old... We see how effective these medicines are, tobacco and coffee.

[13:45] Diogeneia: they inhale the fumes for lung troubles, they make poultices of the leaves to put on wounds

[13:45] Diogeneia: I myself am happy just to smoke it...

[13:46] Oona Riaxik: We see that they are good but to a point

[13:46] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: I feel so lucid after actually inhaling

[13:46] Oona Riaxik: the Conte's intricacies come into play here - a fine balance is necessary with these drugs

[13:46] Aldo Stern: ah a good observation signorina Oona...

[13:47] Aldo Stern: there is perhaps a balance of the chemicals that must be maintained...

[13:47] Aldo Stern: and that even a good substance in too much quantity can be bad for the body

[13:47] JJ Drinkwater: Indeed, it stimulates the mechanism....but how much stimulation will the mechanism bear?

[13:47] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: that's a good point, the doses, can be decisive also

[13:47] Diogeneia: but that is true with any medicinal, ja? you take too little and it does no good...

[13:48] Diogeneia: but too much, and maybe you get sicker

[13:48] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: if I drink much more coffee, I get all shaky

[13:48] Aldo Stern: an excellent point

[13:48] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: and I have to vomit, if I inhale too much nicotine in whatever way

[13:48] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: so we're back to balance

[13:48] Oona Riaxik: and we all know the ill effects of too much wine

[13:49] Oona Riaxik: so we can establish this balance - a measure of how much is beneficial and how much becomes toxic

[13:49] Aldo Stern: but might not that vary from individual to individual?

[13:50] Oona Riaxik: this could be easily determined by a little experimentation

[13:50] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: yes, it made a whole empire vanish, too much wine, lead in the vases

[13:50] Oona Riaxik: we could do it now!

[13:50] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: *grins*

[13:50] Aldo Stern: obviously there are things that are poisons...

[13:51] Oona Riaxik: perhaps the poison comes form the dose and not the drug?

[13:51] Aldo Stern: there are poisons that must be kept out of the water the people drink ... even the air they breath

[13:51] Oona Riaxik: as we see with coffee nicotine and alcohol as with belladonna

[13:51] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: I like that idea, of the dose/balance

[13:51] Oona Riaxik: and arsenic

[13:51] Aldo Stern: going back to miasmas...what is in the air ... does that need balance as well?

[13:51] Oona Riaxik: ahhh you bring up a difficult one!

[13:52] Aldo Stern: obviously there are always certain "particulates" in the air: the effluvia that is given off by stale, standing water...

[13:52] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: indeed, I find that concept so hard to comprehend

[13:52] Oona Riaxik: it would seem to hold true - the cure, so to speak, may be to change or improve environment rather than dose

[13:52] Aldo Stern: well. it seems obvious that decaying plants and animals

[13:52] Aldo Stern: the wastes of men and beasts...

[13:53] Aldo Stern: as they decay, they give off impurities...

[13:53] Aldo Stern: obviously such things cannot always be avoided

[13:53] Aldo Stern: they are part of the cycles of life

[13:53] Aldo Stern: but it is when there is an imbalance that disease may result it seems...

[13:53] Oona Riaxik: they can be managed like a dose - the ancients managed these things very well

[13:53] JJ Drinkwater: But how are we to examine these particulates, when they are so subtle? How are we to gain knowledge of them?

[13:53] Oona Riaxik: how have we lost this knowledge?

[13:53] Aldo Stern: Again, is it not enough to start with the genereral observation, that when a city sits on a swampy field with rotting plant life...

[13:53] Oona Riaxik: *sigh*

[13:54] Aldo Stern: or one is on a battlefield, the many dead decaying...

[13:54] Aldo Stern: there is then too much of the effluvia and disease results?

[13:55] Diogeneia: Lord Twilight has a good point...if you cannot see such things as the noxious gases given off by decaying can we capture and study them?

[13:55] Oona Riaxik: this seems apparent - but many more soldiers die of sickness than the injuries of war -

[13:55] Aldo Stern: yes, and we observe that a city that wallows in its own wastes and has dirty water about ... and the people get sick often and in large numbers

[13:55] Oona Riaxik: so what mechanism is at play?

[13:55] JJ Drinkwater: il Professore has partly answered me: we may know them by their effects

[13:57] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: identifying and quantifying gets us halfway already, could that be?

[13:57] Oona Riaxik: we compare healthy tissue and unhealthy tissue to see what differences lie therein

[13:57] Oona Riaxik: or to use Herr Sterns example, we compare water in healthy cities and unhealthy ones

[13:57] Diogeneia: or at least gives us a strategy to follow until we do understand better

[13:57] Oona Riaxik: Si, one must know what to treat in order to treat it

[13:58] Diogeneia: like in the days of the plague, when the nobles left the cities and went to their country estates...they were getting away from the contagion as best they could

[13:59] Sere Timeless: Is there anything to be gained from studying those who remain healthy even in the midst of unclean situations and rampant disease and contagion?

[13:59] Oona Riaxik: Signora brings an excellent question

[13:59] Aldo Stern: an interesting idea Signorina might one approach such a task?

[13:59] JJ Drinkwater: Signorina Timeless, what would we study about them?

[14:00] Sere Timeless: That is precisely my question, Signore.

[14:00] Sere Timeless: Presumably there is something about them that renders them immune to disease.

[14:00] Aldo Stern: or if we are looking at this purely as a mechanistic issue

[14:01] Sere Timeless: What I have noticed is that those who have survived a disease such as the pox, do not seem to contract the same disease again.

[14:01] Aldo Stern: there is something they do, something about how they live, what they eat, or something that keeps them from giving into the contagion

[14:02] Aldo Stern: and...yes..there...having had the disease ... or something similar

[14:02] Aldo Stern: renders a person less likely to get it again...

[14:02] JJ Drinkwater: Perhaps Herr Van Leeuwenhoek wonderful device would tell us more, if we examined their tissues....although it is a grisly thought

[14:02] Aldo Stern: a rational explanation, even we do not precisely understand the mechanism that makes it work so

[14:03] Oona Riaxik: Yes van Leeuwenhoek's work is very compelling

[14:04] Oona Riaxik: allowing us to see those differences between healthy and non healthy tissues

[14:04] Oona Riaxik: theses cells as he calls them

[14:04] Oona Riaxik: seem to undergo many changes

[14:05] Diogeneia: there is much o be said for understanding the exact mechanisms of why something works as a treatment...or why an organ or healthy tissue becomes diseased...

[14:05] Diogeneia: but for the most part I think the higher priority is to share information on what works, based on experience and observation...

[14:06] Diogeneia: if we see that a poultice of tabac helps a wound to heal, then use it and worry later about why

[14:06] Oona Riaxik: on this we agree

[14:06] JJ Drinkwater: But what if it seems to help in some cases and harm in others?

[14:07] Oona Riaxik: the colleges should come together with government to set some standards

[14:07] Aldo Stern: that is why I think it is important for there to be publications like the encyclopedia of share the information about what helps and what causes harm

[14:08] Sere Timeless: It would be well enough if the medical colleges would simply systematize the knowledge they already had about the efficacy of various cures.

[14:08] Oona Riaxik: It does seem to help in some and not in others - with open community of physicians, these experiences should be shared to

[14:08] Oona Riaxik: determine better treatments

[14:08] Oona Riaxik: and be implemented more universally

[14:08] Oona Riaxik: Very true Ms. Timeless

[14:09] Aldo Stern: then let us do some sharing...what do each of you think is one of the most important ideas in health and medicine to be discovered ... or agreed recent years?

[14:09] JJ Drinkwater: Assuredly the circulation of the blood

[14:10] JJ Drinkwater: For if blood circulates, may not other essential fluids, at whose existence we now only guess?

[14:11] Aldo Stern: that is interesting

[14:12] Sere Timeless: I regret to say, my friends, that I need to attend to some other matters at present. It grieves me to have to leave such an interesting discussion.

[14:12] Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud: au revoir Madame

[14:12] Aldo Stern: thank you for joining us Signorina