Contra Design

“A Long Island, New York, woman is suing Apple for $1 million. Evelyn Paswall, an 83-year-old woman, believes the design of the Apple store is dangerous. Paswell broke her nose when she walked into the glass doors of the sleekly designed building.
The Story

Tah Dah! Millions are spent so some 21st-cenury architect follower of the Bauhaus Silver Prince can specify a building to be built all of glass, like the post-WWII science fiction everyone with his own jet pac fantasies I grew up with, the building’s extensional reality is camouflaged, some old woman bumps into the world, and Apple gets sued!
(Check out all of that history, read up on Gernsbach, Gibson, Mies van der Rohe, check out Tom Wolfe …)

Frank Lloyd Wright wanted to design with the real world. Ian McHarg warned us of consequences for designing in ignorance of reality. But of course we’ve gone right on ignoring our best advice.
(God doesn’t send advice to save us, but to give us no excuse at damnation!)

But you know, despite Wright, and McHarg … Bateson, Fuller … GBS, Illich, and pk … it’s not easy, it’s not possible, for mere kleptocrats to know good advice from bad. How can people follow Darwin to wisdom if people don’t know how to read? the Bible let alone Darwin!?
(We’ll need to see God and this universe judged by some higher god in some higher universe before we could begin to have a clue whether or not God’s wisdom is very wise!)

Harvard spent money, lots of it, remaking its campus safe for the handicapped. Sections of curb were replaced with ramps, rest rooms made room for wheel chairs … and the blind people, who’d been trained to navigate the Harvard campus with their canes, were walking out into traffic like never before! Before that they’d stayed home, known they were handicapped, hadn’t been kidnapped by Polyanna. Harvard didn’t mean to abandon the blind when it embraced the handicapped: not all consequences can be seen, not even by Shakespeare.

One guy designs an air-tight bottle that’s easy to open. Pharms use them for meds. Then somebody else injects cyanide into soda pop, puts acid in the candy … and the law demands that the pharm replace all the easy open bottles with bottles that no one can open.


(My favorite memory of Watergate was the White House maid finding a bottle of asperin in Nixon’s bathroom in the morning: the bottle had been knawed! but remained unopened.
Not just child-proof; Nixon-proof!
Remember, that’s the same son of a bitch who once claimed that he had never had a headache!!

Look at my bottle of mouth wash. It’s so handy, so easy to open! But the company has wrapped it in plastic, utterly defeating its good design.

Except that nothing is a good design in a world that doesn’t know itself.
You can’t have fair taxes and also have a black market. (Between government, and black market, I’ll take the black market.)

We design a society that’s good for Republicans, but don’t account for labor.
(When we redesigned the society so it would be good for labor — smart Marx and his stupid Communism, it wasn’t good for anybody, not labor either!)

We redesigned the society so Democrats could yak about how to spend public funds, but no one bothered to think about the wetbacks! Who’s gonna pick the fruit? And already no one had bothered to think about all the dead Indians, about ruined Sutter and his ruined mill … about pk, stolen stuttering, then censored anyway!
(I’ll smother this grouping next time.)

Institutions are generally dumber than individuals, and individuals can be stunningly dumb. But smart individuals, and normal individuals, can make enough mistakes to keep the species mortal for some time to come. A dear friend has a beautiful home: with a sunken living room, a raised dining room … the studio is separated from the dining room and from the living room by sliding glass doors. Now I could walk into her glass doors any time: if they’re closed but they’re so clean I don’t see them: I would think anyone could; but she has walked into her own doors! after she was the one to close them! knocked herself dizzy!
Her living room I know I’ll sprawl headlong into one of these days, my skier’s-dancer’s legs finally snapping like matchsticks, forgetting the steps down.

Beautiful house: I love it, but not a Wright house, certainly not a good Wright house.

“Contra” Design scrapbook

London was the first city to have lighted streets not just for brothels. In the same way London was the first city to have paved streets: so the beer wagons could deliver the heavy barrels reliably. It wasn’t government, it was beer, that cobbled certain streets, the routes to their customers. But then London made it easy for Hiter to know where to drop the bombs. So London became the first city to forbid its citizens to have so much as a fish tank heater burning!

London cobble stones

London Cobble Stones


Budweiser’s beer wagons
recall the old London days

The lights were designed, the pavement had been designed … was Hitler designed? Well, not quite with the same obviousness.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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