I keep getting anonymous messages from the NSA, who congratulate me on my posts. These people are intelligent, educated and civil. They assure me that there are practically no more readers in total of the RedStateEclectic-blog than the few that show up in the counter. But they tell me not to worry, as my following at their agency is large. While initially forced to read the blog, typically agents soon enjoy the task and even become eager to introduce co-workers to the treat.
In a recent message, some of my friends at the NSA suggested I should take up again the habit of posting pieces concerned with architectural issues. Topically, some orientation is needed, they tell me, for those among them involved in a dispute over the aesthetic qualities of the agency's premises.
I am happy to oblige, and so, let's set foot in the pantheon of the God's of architecture, and visit the great Le Corbusier.
Le Corbusier was born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret in 1887, in the small French-Swiss town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, where his father was an engraver of watchcases and his mother a musician. His father wanted him to follow in his footsteps; but as an adolescent, Le Corbusier showed precocious artistic ability, attended the local school of fine arts for a time, and then wandered Europe for several years in a program of aesthetic self-education. His extraordinary abilities were evident in the brilliant draftsmanship of his early (and conventional) drawings and watercolors. He also made furniture of great elegance before the bug of intellectual and artistic revolutionism bit him.
Le Corbusier adopted his pseudonym in the 1920s, deriving it in part from the name of a distant ancestor, Lecorbésier. But in the absence of a first name, it suggests a physical force as much as a human being. It brings to mind the verb courber, to bend, and, of course, Le Corbusier was a great bender of townscapes to his own will. It also brings to mind le corbeau, the crow or raven, not a conventionally beautiful bird in plumage or song, but one that is simple and unornamental in both and therefore, metaphorically speaking, honest and undeceiving, as Le Corbusier claimed his architecture to be. In French, le corbeau has a further meaning: that of a bird of ill omen—and perhaps that is the architect’s little joke upon the world. He was certainly of ill omen for the cities of Europe and elsewhere.
Read more of Dalrymple's essay on le Corbusier at the source.