Thursday, 28 November 2013

Writing as a Vocation

My first son Michael is my extra-conscience, advising me softly when he sees me slipping off the rails. When I wrote him I was so eager to read an earlier colleague’s novel, he warned me that the book I had just booked from Göttingen University was not the novel, but a long rant on becoming a successful writer when you were chained to six classes a day at a junior college. What a delicious rant! I was back teaching high school and maneuvering to be an American Studies scholar. Talk about nostalgia’s warm embrace. 

Thank you, Jon Hassler, the late Regent’s Professor Emeritus at St. John’s University, Minnesota. Where, in fact my best pal at Michigan State for three years was none other than Stanley J. Idzerda, Dean of Humanities there. What stimulating company. “My Staggerford Journal” (Ballantine Books, 1999) is a diary of his wins and losses as he painted landscapes and taught English to become a successful writer. Joyce Carol Oates panned it in the New York Times. Gulp. But she has a rep as a nasty critic. Jon didn’t let this stop him dreaming and revising when he could squeeze time enough, as the college tuition of his daughter kept him chained to teaching!

The first episode I most thrilled to was a department meeting to change the way they were teaching GRAMMAR. Ugh. He moans to his pal Dick in this writer’s diary, July 31, “I am not, by and large, thought of as a curmudgeon, Dick. I am basically the same nice, patient, cooperative person you knew at St John’s. There are, however, certain times during the year (maybe five or six times) when the urge to be irascible takes me by surprise and with such force that I hardly think I can be responsible for what ensues. What ensues is probably not all that terrible, usually a nasty, cynical, ironical remark just funny enough to be forgiveable; but it is evidence of some fault or fissure in my psyche, and most likely—nay, destined—to occur during the five or six committees I attend each year. Committees (and that monster spawned by committees: the workshop) call up the worst in me. During workshops I am not only uncooperative, I am downright unmanageable.” 

Jon then describes how he has brought 290 pages of student writing, believing you learn grammar by expressing your ideas under observation. All the other “participants” had idiosyncratic impulses, not ideas. They got nowhere—unless turning the whole problem over to Jon is considered a solution! On their communal directive, they spelled it GRAMMER. Loose vowels, No?

My first chairmanship was as director of the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii. Our mission was to introduce Asian students to American ideals, and the Americans to Asian culture. The State Department gave the U the cash. Which I first learned when the unusually ignorant Ph.D. appointed my assistant without my knowledge had spent his career as a CIA operative! His task was to throw parties to see which students were dangerously Lefties! 

I won’t mention their reducing my salary when I arrived from $13,000 to 10,000, no questions allowed! I loved Hawaii, and wrote a book about it. And I created radio and TV weeklies where I was the host. I quit after a year, to return to Philly as an English chairman where we had recently bought a Louis Kahn house in a pioneer integrated Green Belt Knoll. I dumped chairmanship after eight years because I despised committees!

Jon is most thrilled when he’s visiting the homes of the likes of Emily Dickinson, Thoreau, Twain, and Hawthorne. The ignorant lack of preparation of the local guides shoots him into an air of contempt. It makes him value re-teaching those stars when the press hassle him about vacations. 

If you hanker becoming a writer, his wrestlings with new texts are very educational. I can hardly wait until I can read his “Staggerford” novel. Minnesota libraries are full of all his work. Weimar had never heard of them. They will soon, as I get busy with You’re a kick, Jon. I’d still be a teacher if my colleagues were as hip as your muse!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Near Missus

The Older You Get
The fewer you want to do It with
Reminiscing Golden Oldies
Is more a joyful hour than a miss
Spent evening not really
Together in bodies slowly
Rebelling against TIME lost

The more you try so hard
To remember their names,
Breasts, lips, and soothing old Golden Triangles
Bring us erections
To erect a bedraggled old penis
It’s easier to recall what we did, ate, saw,
Than how we came
Alone or almost together

The first came, at 23 and 20. A
Double failure, all ass at last in
Dearborn Inn, Henry Ford’s Mausoleum,
Not back in Detroit in our own beds
Embarrassing our Virgin Mothers,
Ignorance frustrating simple joys

The second Trial fizzed funnily
It was her first attempted temptation
In our best friend’s house
Guarding our privacy from embarrassment
From his front room TV
At her callow 35 versus his used to 74, she was
More than satisfied with a meagre blessing
Never having felt one before
He never having had so innocent a student
Thinking about his fled first wife
And their now grown children
Loving their own lives.

We new two
Feeling each other up
And down, recalling their recent
Being married on the main steps
Of San Francisco City Hall
Almost 4,000 miles from the first debacle
We would never learn
To be perfect lovers.
But good enough is more than great!

Monday, 25 November 2013

America's "Bauhaus" / The Mystery of International Reputations

I got interested in the German Bauhaus because of Gropius’s ambition to found an art school that would bring good design to the working classes. Philip C. Johnson, the American architect who mocked this ideal when he first studied architecture under Gropius at Harvard in 1938, corrupted professional conversation over the social importance of the art for the rest of the twentieth century. (He lived to be a 105!)

My interest in the Cranbrook Academy of Art, the American Bauhaus, began as a student of University of Detroit American Lit professor of C. Carroll Hollis. He supplemented his meager salary summers by running the shop of the Detroit Golf Club, on the road to Cranbrook. There was a historic confrontation of the two Bauhauses in 1941 when Albert Kahn, the greatest American architect of the twentieth century, sponsored a conference at the University of Michigan in 1941 for architects seeking commissions for defense factories, as America started participating in World War II. Gropius and Mies, brand new American citizens, were there, along with the Saarinens, Eliel and Eero, father and son. 
Kahn openly mocked Gropius and Mies, sneering at them as “the Glass House boys”, more interested in splashy form than in effective function in building design. He proudly asserted that architecture was 90 percent business, 10% art. (The Bauhauslers reversed that ratio.) Kahn had the buildings to prove it: many major buildings at the University of Michigan, diversely Europeanized villas in Grosse Pointe for the new automobile aristocracy, and innovative commercial structures like my favorite, the Fisher Building (1927) born the same year as me, and great factories like the Henry Ford Highland Park array, which I passed every school day en route to the University of Detroit, and especially his Dearborn complex.

The biggest difference between the German and American Bauhauses was the tactical simplicity of the American. Gropius rounded up a half dozen major painters for his art teachers, an idiosyncratic grab bag of famous talent always more committed to their status and prestige than humdrum teaching. It was Mies’s same failing tactic of choosing 17 internationally famous architects to build Weissenhof (1927). Eliel had his wife Loja, a talented fashion designer, the Swedish sculptor Carl Milles, and his increasingly brilliant son Eero. 
But the real “founder” of Cranbrook was George Booth, publisher of The Detroit News. He was inspired by a visit to the Academy in Rome. Detroit was then a hick town faced with the multiple tasks of becoming an overnight metropolis. The Finnish master Eliel had achieved instant American notoriety by coming in second in the 1924 Chicago Tribune architectural competition. That led to a visiting professorship at the University of Michigan; Booth’s son Harry had Eliel as a teacher there who knocked his socks off. George hired him as the head of Cranbrook.

The biggest difference between German and American Bauhauses was that the former was big on aspirations and very small on products. I’ll always remember my first visit to the William Wagenfeld Museum in his hometown Bremen where I read on the last wall about Gropius’s grief at how few Wagenfelds his school had produced. All talk. Little achievement. Cranbrook was the opposite: small on self publicity, great on achievement.

Consider the talent gathered over the years: Harry Bertoia, Minoru Yamasaki, Victor Gruen, Ed Bacon, and most famous of all, the creative couple Charles and Ray Eames, whose multiple achievements started at Cranbrook. Their grandson Eames Demetrious (!) has summarized their artistic contributions in “an Eames primer” (New York, Universe Publishing, 2013) a new edition timed with the current “Essential Eames” exhibition at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore curated by their grandson. (

Booth bought 120 acres, beginning with a home for his family and another for Kahn. Then a Greek theatre (1915), Christ Church (1928), Boy’s School(1928),Girls (1931),Academy (1932),Art Museum and Library (1942). It is of course sad for a former Detroiter to think of their current bankruptcy. From 2 million population when I went off to Graduate School in 1949, to 800,000 in 2013, it’s going to take all the idealism of Cranbrook to rescue Detroit from self destruction.

The German Bauhaus died in 1928 when Gropius gave up and fled to Berlin, turning the school over to the Swiss Communist Hannes Meyer, effectively ending their dream.(He taught the first Bauhaus architecture in 1927!) When Mies took over in Berlin at an abandoned telephone factory, he had to explain to Hitler’s propaganda master Alfred Rosenberg why his first achievement was a Denkmal to Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg (1926), the founders of the German Communist Party. He had no believable answer! By a marvelously serendipitous encounter in 1970 I met his Azubi in the last class--Bertrand Goldberg, the Chicago Jew who soon fled to Paris after his year with Mies.

Mies became a Nice Nazi sucking up to Albert Speer unsuccessfully until in 1938 Gropius got him a commission for a millionaire’s summer home in Yellowstone, Wyoming. Goldberg is the greatest architect to come out of the Bauhaus. Meanwhile what I sneer at as the current Bauhustlers have just published a brochure dubbing themselves “the Triennale” (Weimar, Dessau, Berlin), anticipating the centennial in 2019.

I’m eager to learn what they mean by establishing workshops for children 12 years and up fighting “Hateful Propaganda” against the Bauhaus. Hmmm! Wonder whom they mean? Or is it just more betrayal of Gropius’s idealism about helping the working classes: content to fake the sad true Bauhaus agenda by building more museums for middle class tourism instead of his true ideal of building for the poor German immigrants as well as the underhoused millions outside Germany. Architecture for Humanity and Habitat for Humanity both keep alive the real Gropean idealism. 

Heh! Last word: the German Architecture Museum in Frankfurt has just opened an exhibition, THINK GLOBAL/BUILD SOCIAL. Maybe the demented era of Bauhustling is over. I hope so. So would Goldberg, who has never had an exhibition in Germany even though he’s the greatest Bauhaus architect-ever and swore to me his undying compliance with Gropius class idealism when I last talked with him in Chigago, two years before his death in 1997!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Intellectual Prisoner

I should preface my comment on Kile Smith's message by telling you I was the intellectual prisoner from age 3 to 13 of the German Catholic nuns at Holy Rosary Academy, Bay City, Michigan. They even told us to cross the street away from the Lutheran Church opposite the city public library. But my virtual mother, Sister Mary Felicia, the first grade teacher, was as sweet and civilized as any woman I ever met. But Luther vs. Pius XII was a bloody fight in my youth!

I'm certain the stability of German families and political stability I admired so much stems from its Lutheran heritage—unlike the loosey-goosey Catholicism of Italy, Spain and Portugal. Kile seems to be eager to de-theologize that tradition, secularizing civilized artistic and moral behavior. Luck to him. Pope Francis I may very well humanize those sloppy Catholic countries. I love his style, sneer at his theology. But we need to succor all possible sources of ethical behavior.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Curriculum Very Vita / "Dumb Irish Luck"

This outline of my life so far lived is a pleasure to inscribe. 

My father Harry’s abandonment of me at three (1930) left me psychically edgy. My mother May had to go to work, teaching at a middle school in Hamtramck, the Polish “suburb” of Detroit. My brother Harry, Jr. born in 1920, as soon after our parents’ marriage in 1919 in Pinconning, Michigan was as soon as it was possible, Catholicly. Harry Senior, had made Captain in Black Jack Pershing’s American Expeditionary American Force. He was also gassed and spent a long spell in Paris where the plentiful whores houses would make it very difficult for her to please him sexually. 

Notice I was born seven years later (February 8, 1927). My brother was in the same hospital with infantile paralysis. The Nurses dubbed him “Mike” (a Pat and Mike joke that stuck) Harry became a furniture salesman in Battle Creek, where I was born. I tease Germans who have never heard of that minor burb that my mother had found me in an empty Rice Krispies carton. Holy Moses, there was no river to cast by. Harry senior passed through Jackson dealer dealer (somewhat bigger than BC) to Detroit where he fled with his secretary Ruth, to eventually become a wealthy real estate dealer in Vegas.

I still remember with painful recollection my next contact with him when he died. I was a 34 year old assistant professor in the new Annenberg School of Communication I designed as the only Mass Media specialist around. (I taught History of Media.) But I had been, faute de mieux, the only qualified man to be a “gofer”. Go for this. Go for that. I had maneuvered so that Gilbert Seldes would be the first Dean because he had been my first mentor after Marshall McLuhan. His pioneer book, “The Seven Lively Arts” (1924), was the first in the subject, antedating Marshall’s “Mechanical Bride” (1951) by a generation. So becoming the Dean’s “gofer” was a Big Deal. He was too old and tired to travel much. (He died in 1970.)

So, for example, NBC wanted to know what we up to, so I flew to LA where the entertainment programs were centered. The day I came the press person meeting me at LA International said that Polly Adler’s brother was opening a new restaurant today and if I was interested I was welcome. Having majored in FREEBIES at the Jesuit University of Detroit. My companion at Lunch was Pollay Adler! (As the leading Madam in Tinsel Town: her biography is entitled “A House Is Not a Home” she had upped her opportunities by finishing an Associate in the Arts degree at LA Community College. Apparently her major was professor evaluation since throughout lunch she lobbed questions that tested whether I was a Good Guy or a Horse’s Ass. Luckily I fought off the animal as she embraced me in the omnivorous LA style whereby the Contaflex around my neck bumped her full on in the Boobs. She screamed, softly, “Patrick, You look like a Goddam Tourist!” Boyscoutishly, I quietly replied,”Polly I AM a Goddam Tourist whereat the honoree brother let a whoop of delight that could have been heard in Philly on a really cold night.

After my interview on the emerging Annenberg I asked them to drive me to LA International I had decided to overnight in Vegas—after No Show 30 years. I asked the Vegas taxi driver if he knew where Harry Hazard’s Real Estate was. “Hell, everyone knows where Hap works!”, and promptly drove me there. I asked the doorman if Harry Hazard was in today, and he pointed to a nearby door. I knocked like I was taught in the Boy Scouts. And a affably smiling emerged. “Are you Harry Hazard from Battle Creek?” The smile disappeared, and he looked like he was pissing his pants! You see, my older brother Mike had become a drunkard gambler and often gray-mailed Harry the Bigamist to dissolve his debts. Harry got me in his Buick as fast as he could and drove me to Hoover Dam, the greatest tourist attraction. 

He relaxed as my questions revealed I was just a professor with curiosity.I asked him if he wanted to meet them at the Montreal World’s Fair. He declined, gratuitously promising he’d put them all three through college. I skipped the overnight, asking him to drop me off at McCarran Airport , named after the Democrat Senator he helped getting elected. Some years later I was romancing a graduate student at UCLA when word of his death broke my date. 

At Vegas his bigamist “wife” Ruth explained that Harry had a secret political secretary who had organized a Democratic Womans Day tomorrow. “Would you like to come?” I couldn’t attend the funeral for fear of her bigamy’s being revealed! First there was Veep Hubert Humphrey: “ Aw, Hap was a great guy. We’ll miss ‘em.” 

Then Nevada Senator Bible: “It’ll be hard as hell replacing that guy.” (Heh, Tell me!)Finally as the mayor shook my hand softly and funereally, I thought: "Should I ask what a SOB he had really been to us,” but the Dominican nuns of Holy Rosary Academy, Bay City, Michigan prevailed. I flew back to Philly wondering what I would do with the $150,000 he left us, not to forget the further $100,000 left us, to debigamize herself. 

Mary soon demanded a divorce in Juarez because Adultery was the only justification in Pennsylvania. Huh? God knows I wandered as her father’s sexual abuse and incarceration in Jackson State Prison for Detroit politics disqualified her in bed for me. Detroit politics She ran off to New Jersey with the psychology professor Zuckerman next door. Oh, hell I called her ZUCKER FUCKER in my empty head, and celebrated the country’s Bicentennial by having my balls clipped. Des Gustibus Non Est Demostrandem!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Frank Lloyd Wright's Best Student Ever

Holy Moses! I thought I knew everything significant about America’s most visible architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Until this morning when I made my weekly scrutiny of the newest books in the Anna Amalia Library. To my utter surprise and equivalent joy, I started riffling through Vincent L. Michael’s “Barry Byrne: Taking the Prairie School to Europe” (University of Illinois Press, 2013) . Barry Byrne (1883-1967)? Huh? Who he? FLW’s greatest student? 
Who, I then discover, not only didn’t go to an architecture school. Or college? Or high school? 

Migod, when a Minnesota university offered him a professorship, they had to withdraw that honor because he didn’t even have an elementary school diploma. OK, so Wright let him observe the master work (1902-1908) in his studio in Oak Park, Illinois.

And that’s just a beginning. He was, like me, a radical Roman Catholic! His closest intellectual pal was Dorothy Day! Me too. And when the Depression bankrupted his own office, he wrote art criticism for the Catholic layman’s weekly” Commonweal” and the Jesuit biweekly “America”. (They paid him $10 per essay!) A generation later, as a philosophy major at the Jesuit University of Detroit, I read every issue of both magazines. 

Most insulting to my ignorance was the fact that his most interesting new buildings were a seminary and cathedral across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario! Now my closest pal, Hank Maloney, and I were fanatical fans of two CBC radio comics we just had to visit often. Indeed while I stopped being a Catholic in the Navy, most of their work appeared throughout the American Midwest and increasingly in Europe as his idiosyncratic modernism bloomed. I’ve never seen such “sui generis” architecture anywhere in history. Most of the photos in this book are by the author and a formerly unknown to me, one Felicity Rich. I just discovered FR was BB's grandaughter! “Felix” means “happy” in Latin and her pix of BB’s buildings turn me on like I have never felt before!

He also writes clearly and passionately about his commitment to devise buildings that further the religious ideals of his coreligionists. Indeed, he is a unique human. Before reading the essays by Professor Michael, look at these photos. Carefully. Then read both writers. They’re very different, but both are great teachers. Now you know why every Monday I scan the five levels of new books. You’ll never forget the experience. It’s that powerful.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Internationalizing the Bauhaus

Bauhaus/Dessau in presenting "Das Bauhaus in Kalkutta: Eine Begegnung Kosmopolitischer Avantgarden“ unsuccessfully tries to make a mountain out of a molehill" (Hatje Cantz, 2013.) It is surely significant to publicize the intellectual ambitions of the future Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and his innovative University with world culture intentions. But Kandinsky, Itten, Feininger, and Klee do not represent the German Bauhaus in any significant way. And the Indian commentary on Kandinsky’s experimental abstractions is more Indian local than Bauhaus global and utterly unconvincing: Kandinsky, the Russian painter has been for more than ten years the herald of the “Spiritual in ART2".

His power of abstraction is unswerving, put into action as it is by the fervor of a mysticism which has no other name but that of Russia. He was the first to paint pictures without any subject matter. /God help us!/ He avoided all allusions to literature and nature and so made himself free to infuse his inner experience into mere lines and mere colours which are organized into compositions of intoxicating Harmony.” (pp. 2-3.) "De gustibus” but this Indian “thinker” needs to visit Gabriele Münter’s Murnau home where Vladimir glorified their furniture with rural iconography as he tried so hard to feel like a farmer! And then he absconded to Russia with Nina, leaving poor Gabriele to wait in vain for him in Stockholm! Artist’s blather is just that, not to be believed forever.

Indeed, in my Albert Kahn-influenced judgment the Bauhaus was a real Floperoo, a failure that post Nazi guilt has created a laughable myth. Gropius gave up on the Bauhaus in 1928, when badgered by his hot shot faculty into calling them “Professors” not the idyllic “Masters” as the budget reduction hit them hard. A local journalist was harassing him for “double dipping”—one salary as Director and another as Törten Junker suburb! It’s even whispered that Herbert Bayer was pursuing his second wife Ilse. Remember, the first architecture course was in 1927, taught not by Gropius, but the Swiss Communist Hannes Meyer. That was the end of the Bauhaus! Pious and Marianne Brandt fled to Berlin to create Siemenstadt.

Gropius knew that appointing a Communist the Bauhaus director was the end of the Bauhaus—as Dessau’s City Hall slithered to Naziism. But Meyer and several of Commie students fled to Moscow in 1930 where Kruschev had cancelled Stalin’s “Wedding Cake architecture” (It was too expensive!). The modern “Bauhaus” buildings Meyer and his former students built so impressed Holland’s most innovative architect arrived as a journalist to report and he recently revealed that it turned him into an architect. 

Incidentally, my Detroit hero Albert Kahn faced with a depression in Detroit worked several years in Russia. He returned to Detroit because the Soviets were slow to pay him. Back in Detroit, he held a Conference at the University of Michigan in 1941 (where he had made many of the major buildings) for architects who wanted to build defense factories: Present were both Gropius and Mies as well as the Finnish giant Eliel Saarinen, director of Detroit’s Bauhaus, The Cranbrook Academy of Art, along with his brilliant son Eero. 
Kahn greeted Gropius and Mies teasingly as “the Glass House Boys” and lectured them that architecture was 90% business and only 10% ART. He chided them about fancy facades when they should be assessing the factories’ programs and build to achieve those aims. The Germans got no defense assignments.
Meanwhile other Bauhaus students went to Palestine where they eventually made Tel Aviv into the greatest Bauhaus suburb in the world. Back in Berlin, where Mies became the third director of the Bauhaus kicked out of Dessau. He dismissed the Communist students who hadn’t followed Meyer to Moscow and rented an abandoned telephone factory for the failing school. He had an immediate problem: his first building (1926) a Denkmal in a Berlin Cemetery for Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg attracted the attention of Alfred Rosenberg, Hitler’s propaganda chief. He asked Mies what the hall was he doing praising the founders of the Germany Communist Party who had been assassinated by right wing soldiers. GULP. Mies became instantly a Nice Nazi! And spent the next eight years unsuccessfully begging Albert Speer for commissions—until Gropius, by then Dean of Harvard’s architecture school, got him in 1938 a commission for a millionaire’s summer home in Yellowstone, Wyoming. (Mies was first considered for the Deanship but he couldn’t speak English!)
Mies had an inferiority complex from being the blue collar son of an Aachen stone mason. In 1910 whe he was one Azubi of four for the great AEG architect Peter Behrens: the others were Corbusier, Gropius and his future silent partner, Adolf Meyer. Mies bitterly resented having to report to upper class Gropius. Unhappily for him, the parvenu Clevelander Philip C. Johnson (1900-2005) made Mies his protégé in America. Johnson was an unbalanced gay man who dropped out of Harvard several times as he pursued historical studies. He had a German nanny so he gladly chased other gays in Berlin in 1926. His other mission was to be the architecture scout for the future director of the Museum of Modern Art, planned for a 1928 opening. Johnson excitedly phoned him to come to Dessau where he declared their glassy HQ the greatest modern building. 

Alas, the professors and students grumbled that that they froze in the winter and sweated in the summer! Johnson turned Nazi as he partied in Berlin.He returned to America bleating anti-Semitic blather for the Catholic radio preacher Charles Coughlan who fumed that FDR created a “Jew Deal”. Johnson promoted FDR’s opponent in the 1936 election, Huey Long, the governor of Louisiana. When Long was assassinated, Johnson quit politics and entered Harvard, where he studied architecture for the first time—under Gropius. He wrote hateful letters accusing Gropius of being obsessively in pursuit of housing for the working classes. That indeed was the original ideal of the Bauhaus!
Incidentally, I serendipitously became the “student” of the greatest architect to come out of the Bauhaus, Bertrand Goldberg, a Chicago Jew in the last 1933 class. When the Bauhaus folded he became Mies’s Azubi until he fled Berlin for Paris and Chicago as Hitler took over. Until he died in 1997, he was my mentor. To his dieing day he was proudly faithful to Gropius’s working class ideal. Peter J. Blake, a pseudoname for a Jew who became an American journalist, declared in his obituary of Johnson that he corrupted for a century a serious dialogue about the social importance of architecture. And Mies went along with him. The real internationalization of Bauhaus ideals is ignored, from ignorance and malice by the Bauhaus Triennale organized in 2013 to prepare for hoopla for the school’s centennial in 2019. 
They should be ashamed, not only for their glib ignorance of the Bauhaus’s true history but for the secret scandal of banning me from their press lists. While Mies was a Nice Nazi the triple brass has descended into Nasty Nazism for blacklisting me: Beruf Verbot is evil. Gropius deserved better. Though he was confused at the end of his life. When the putative successor to the Bauhaus, the Ulm School of Design was threatened with closure, the students swarmed about Gropius as he gave a final speech there. He denied to support the students. “There is no connection between Art and Politics!” Oh, Pious, what a comedown. It’s tome for the Bauhustlers who have darkened his name to talk truthfully about the Bauhaus and its history. The Kalkutta essay is, sadly, “poudre aux yeux.”

Gropius deserves better, in spite of all his errors.”

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Regarding If I Had a Hammer

I should preface my comment on Kile Smith's message by telling you I was the intellectual prisoner from age 3 to 13 of the German Catholic nuns at Holy Rosary Academy, Bay City, Michigan. They even told us to cross the street away from the Lutheran Church opposite the city public library. But my virtual mother, Sister Mary Felicia, the first grade teacher, was as sweet and civilized as any woman I ever met. But Luther vs. Pius XII was a bloody fight in my youth!

I'm certain the stability of German families and political stability I admired so much stems from its Lutheran heritage—unlike the loosey-goosey Catholicism of Italy, Spain and Portugal. Kile seems to be eager to de-theologize that tradition, secularizing civilized artistic and moral behavior. Luck to him. Pope Francis I may very well humanize those sloppy Catholic countries. I love his style, sneer at his theology. But we need to succor all possible sources of ethical behavior.