Patsy

In the early 1960’s, gun running was a profitable business.  From Miami to Mexico, this involved organized crime, latin-american revolutionaries, a man in Dallas named Jack Ruby, and a New Orleans man named Lee Harvey Oswald.

In records released in 1989 by the Dallas police department, Mary Le Fontaine, a local reporter, discovered that a man had been jailed next to Oswald on November 22, 1963.  He was picked up in a sweep following the shootings, was released after Oswald was murdered, and then disappeared. In 1964, he surfaced at an FBI office in Tennesee to give “information about the murder of JFK”.  He told that while jailed near Oswald, he witnessed the police bring before Oswald a badly injured man and ask Oswald if this was the man he had seen at a recent motel meeting. At this meeting, money had changed hands, and one Jack Ruby also present. Oswald said ‘yes’.

After arrest, a note was found in Oswald’s personal notebook:

Oct Nov 1,1963

FBI agent (R1-11211)

James P. Hosty

MU 8605

1114 commerce St

Note the license number. Oswald was meeting Dallas FBI agent Hosty in his car, in the months preceding the assassination. Hosty was in charge of militant extremist groups, gun running, and domestic counterintelligence.

Following meetings with Hosty, Oswald took significant actions, like in March 1963, when he opened a post office box, and promptly bought, via mail order, the famous Mannlicher-Carcano rifle from Klein’s Sporting Goods.  At that very time, the mail order gun business – and specifically Klein’s Sporting Goods – was under investigation by Congress. Hearings were about to begin.

Oswald spent the 1963 summer in New Orleans, working with anti-Castro groups, but also publicly posing as pro-Castro. He was exposed – on TV – as a visitor to the Soviet Union who had renounced his US Citizenship.  This served to help discredit the Castro cause. Oswald seems willing to have helped this happen. Around this time, the FBI successfully raided and confiscated an anti-Castro weapons cache at Pontchartrain.

Early in November, Oswald visited the Dallas FBI office, but Hosty was not there.  Oswald left a note. After the assassination, FBI headquarters in Washington ordered this note destroyed. A few days later, in Dallas, a gun deal was foiled by agents.  A man was badly injured in a getaway car – the man brought before Oswald in his cell?

A sincere Marxist, but an FBI informant?  With his tenuous status, trying to find and keep a job, Oswald may have been willing to help the FBI, and infiltrate anti-Castro groups. He did by all accounts believe in Castro. He may have discovered an assassination plot. He may have warned the FBI.

After the motorcade passed, he calmly left the Texas School Book Depository. He may only  then have learned that the assassination had not been thwarted. He went home and got his gun.

He may have known that decoy policemen would be involved.  He killed the first policeman that tried to stop him, unconcerned about eye witnesses. He may have thought he would be safe in custody.

I’m a patsy.

Mathematics Story

I want to know how God created this world.  I’m not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element.  I want to know his thoughts, the rest are details.”  Albert Einstein.

An overwhelming intuition for Einstein was that there is an all-encompassing, intelligible, something, ‘out there’, some unified and unchanging reality behind the ever-changing particulars of everyday experience. This is what he was after, what he called the secrets of the “Old One“.

For Einstein the clues were to be found in the phenomena that are invariant, phenomena that are the same, regardless of manner of measurement, or relative position, or dynamic operation, or observer point of view.  He saw this in the speed of light, which was found to be the same to all observers, regardless of their own motion.  With this, space and time are relative, but space-time is not.  Einstein’s own great insight was that acceleration, inertia, and gravity are equivalent, and therefore, rather than a ‘force’ between two masses, gravity is inherent in all of mass and motion.  It is invariant, and so must be related to space-time, and so he derives his theory of general relativity:

Ruv– 1/2 guvR = 8πTuv

Matter tells space-time how to curve, and curved space-time tells matter how to move.” – John Wheeler.   “an entwined dance of space, time, matter, and energy” –  Brian Greene.    Einstein, Walter Isaacson, 2008

It is really a theory of what isn’t relative. Einstein preferred that it be called the theory of invariants.

It turns out there is a brilliant mathematics of invariants.  It is called group theory. It was invented by Evariste Galois, in France, in 1730. He was refused admission to the elite Ecole Polytechnique institute of mathematics, too advanced for their examiners to understand.   He died in a duel, at age . . . . 20 .

Galois wrote his theory on a mere sixty pages of personal notes, and in a famous letter to August Chevalier just prior to his duel.

My dear friend, In the theory of equations, I have investigated under which conditions the equations are solvable by a formula:  this has given me the opportunity to make this theory more profound, and to describe all the transformations possible on an equation even when it is not solvable by formula.”  The Equation that Couldn’t be Solved, Mario Livio, 2005

This theory is the mathematics of permutations and symmetries, which are patterns of geometry and number that remain unchanged during some defined operation. They are the invariants that mark the hidden unity and relations in disparate sets of phenomena. Imagine an unknown, multifaceted geometric object, unified, and complex, and dynamically changing.  Imagine its sides and corners are ink soaked. Next, imagine this object tumbling across a white sheet of paper.  The ink will create obscure and puzzling markings.  Group theory mathematics, when applied to these markings, will yield the clues to the configuration and dynamics of this mysterious object.

This theory may well be the most profound in all of mathematics.

Einstein stood on the shoulders of giants, . . . and on those of a 20 year old genius.

 

 

 

iGenius

 

A person who finds that he is just never wrong would perhaps now and then be perplexed.  Steve Jobs would be such a person.

We think that computers are the most remarkable tools that humankind has ever come up with, and we think that people are basically tool users.  So if we can just get lots of computers to lots of people, it will make some qualitative difference in the world.  What we want to do at Apple is make computers into applicances and get them to millions of people.”  Playboy Interview, February 1985.

While the MBA’s came into Apple to focus on countering IBM, he went off to create the Macintosh. It was an astounding success. But never mind, Mr. Jobs is a difficult perfectionist and doesn’t know how to manage for profit.

Eventually Dr. [Edwin] Land [founder of Polaroid], one of those brilliant troublemakers, was asked to leave his own company – which is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of. ”  Jobs, 1985 . . .and then . . .Apple lets him go.

Apple’s ten year lead gets ‘managed’ away.

Jobs buys Pixar. He makes Toy Story.  Apple nearly dies. Apple invites him back, as a ‘consultant’.  He brings Next, his from-the-ground-up, unix-based, virus- proof (still) computer software operating system.  After the board turns over – he will not be bit by the same dog twice – Jobs becomes CEO. Never again will he assume he doesn’t know how to manage, and never again will there be naivete’ about the intentions or actions of competitors. He moves quickly to focus Apple, totally, on quality products and the user experience.  Philanthropy is dropped, middle management is cleared, HR is minimized, finance is made secondary, general management is eliminated (managers at Apple are always managers of something), responsibility is clearly defined, (every role has a DRI – directly responsible individual), decisions radiate to and from the top, profit and loss categories are discarded, market research is eliminated.

Attractive products start to sell.

But . . . Disney will bury Pixar!  Sony or Microsoft will crush the iPod! Walmart or Amazon will dwarf iTunes! Nokia and the Blackberry will outdo the iPhone! Expensive laptops won’t compete with Dell!  Apple stores can’t compete with Best Buy! Adobe flash is a must! Google Android will beat iOS!

The petrochemical revolution gave us free energy – free mechanical energy. . .It changed the texture of society. . . this revolution, the information revolution, is a revolution of free energy as well, but of another kind:  free intellectual energy. . . This revolution will dwarf the petrochemical revolution”. Jobs, 1985

Apple, Inc. is about to overtake Exxon Mobil as the largest valued corporation in the United States.  And on Friday, July 29, 2011, Apple, Inc. had more cash than the United States Treasury.

How has an adopted son of a machinist, who dropped out of college after one year, who never took formal management, or economic, or engineering training, who follows few of the standard or advanced notions of modern corporate management, . . . how has he come to set the standard for leadership of large complex organizations,. . . how has he become the greatest CEO in history?

The iLeader has become the i Master.

 

Evil Contagion

The Nazi and the Psychiatrist“, Scientific American Mind,  by Jack El-Hai, Jan/Feb 2011

The highest ranking captive of the Nazi leadership, Reich Marshal Hermann Göring, Commander of the Luftwaffe, was evaluated at Nuremberg by Major Douglas M. Kelley, MD, from Truckee, California, Chief Psychiatrist of the U.S. Medical Corp.  He found Göring to be forthright, engaging, composed, eloquent, smart, . . . even charming.  And Göring was unapologetic and defensive.  He planned to call Britain’s Lord Halifax as a witness to testify to his [Göring’s] willingness to pursue negotiated settlements before the outbreak of war.”

With the Rorschach inkblot and psychiatric assessment, Kelley diagnosed Göring as . . .normal.  He had no sign of mental illness.  He was sane.

My conscience was named Adolf Hitler“.

Göring displayed “extreme fondness for and tenderness toward his family and friends“, such that Dr. Kelley was moved to help locate and bring to him his wife and daughter. But there were the glimpses of the narcissism and cold calculation of the charming psychopath. Göring spoke of having a close associate murdered. How could he? “Göring stopped talking and stared at me, puzzled, as if I were not quite bright. Then he shrugged his great shoulders, turned up his palms and said slowly, in simple one-syllable words: ‘But he was in my way’ “.

Göring was responsible for the ‘Hunger Plan’, the Nazi plan to starve the conquered eastern Europeans and Russians, in order to feed Germans and depopulate the lebensraum.  He made decisions on execution versus forced labor, as the war circumstances required.  It was he who ordered Heydrich to devise the Final Solution, initially framed as being about forced labor and deportation, but he had to know it was in reality about genocide.

Of course, we rearmed.  We armed Germany until we bristled.  I am only sorry we did not rearm more. Of course, I considered treaties as so much toilet paper.

When asked why he had always been Hitler’s ‘yes man’, he replied: “Please show me a ‘no-man’ in Germany who is not six feet under the ground today.”

Göring was addicted to the narcotic, paracodeine, since just before meeting Hitler in the early 1920’s. Narcotics drugs, it is known, create and enhance antisocial personality. They effectively block feelings of empathy, shame, and guilt for its users. Was Nazi evil deepened by narcotics?  Hitler’s first mentor, and important early supporter, Dietrich Eckart, was a morphine addict.

Göring managed to commit suicide with cyanide, just hours before his scheduled execution.  This was his coup, his final refusal to bow.  How did he obtain the cyanide?  We don’t know.  Dr. Kelley had abruptly left Nuremberg before the psychiatric work was completed, for reasons unclear, taking his papers with him (only recently released by his family for this article).  He became alcoholic, and on New Year’s Day, 1958, at age 45, during a domestic drinking episode, he put a cyanide capsule between his teeth, and threatened to bite down. And then suddenly he did, and he died instantly.  His son was there. He believes it was an accident.

In the time of animals

1.5 million years ago, pre-modern hominids moved out of Africa, migrated across the Levant, into the Caucasus, past the Carpathian Mountains, north of the Danube, and on to the great vast “mammoth” steppe of grasslands, and great herds of animals.  This is where the big brain hominids could hunt and eat the big stomach mammals who lived on the grasses.  This huge savannah, which stretched across Europe and Asia and the Bering Sea land bridge all the way to Alaska and northern Canada, nourished these hominids who eventually became the Neanderthal, who then flourished in the southern temperate regions, north of the alpine mountains, along the north and south valleys of the Pyrenees mountains on the present day border of France and Spain, and west to the Atlantic.  This was the garden of eden. It was the time of the animals.

And then modern humans came, leaving Africa some 100,000 years ago, again traveling thru the Levant and on to the steppe, and then west and east, all the way to Australia.  In southern France and central Spain, about 40,000 years ago, they encountered the Neanderthal, and over next the 12,000 years, as the modern humans flourished, the Neanderthal retreated, first into small areas of France and Spain, and finally to a last stand near Gilbraltor.

We have no archeology of a war.  Neanderthal had bigger brains, and stronger bodies, but modern humans had something else, and that something gave them larger group cooperation, better tools, more successful hunting.  They unleashed a veritable ‘explosion’ of cultural creativity.

In the river ledge caves of the valleys of the Pyrenees, at Lascaux, Chauvet, and Altamira, and many others, there is the luxuriant, compelling art of these pre-historic modern humans.  There are life-size paintings of running, prancing, rearing, and charging horses, bison, tigers and reindeer.  The animals are regal and robust, boastful and healthy, herding and crowding, standing off and mocking.  They are relishing their lives on these great, lush grasslands, with gleaming eyes, suspicion, intention, pride, and fear.  They own the world. Their human artists hold them in awe.

It was the mind’s eye, in these caves, that painted these paintings. Modern humans had something new. They could hold their visual memories, consciously, long enough and intensely enough to recreate the vivid images of these animals in the darkness of the caves.  And not just descriptive details, . . no, also details of salience – posture, emotion, and personality.

Intelligence is the strong use of memory.  It is rich retrieval of memory, conscious analysis of memory, and parsing of the key elements of memories.  This power, the artistic power, the power of the mind’s eye, is the new power that came with modern humans.

Modern humans made success in virtually all of the ecological niches of the world, harvesting the bounty of wild animals.

And then, 10,000 years ago, from the fertile crescent came the farmers, and the Anthropocene, the time of humans, began.

Einstein and Bohr Reality

Like most people, I think that there is something real out there, entirely independent of us and our models, as the earth is independent of our maps.  But this is because I can’t help believing in an objective reality, not because I have good arguments for it.”   Steven Weinberg,  New York Review of Books, February 10, 2011.

Great Scientists today hold that it is an open question if anything is really real, and they are pretty sure that we can never really know. They echo the great debate of their towering forebears – Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein.

At the turn of the twentieth century, science turned its attention to the very small, and found the quantum.  Max Planck, (whose son Irwin was tortured and hanged by the Nazi’s in 1944, for participating in a plot against Hitler) was investigating the strange creation of light from the heating of matter, when he discovered that energy changes always occurred in discrete quantum jumps. These jumps were mysteriously instantaneous, with no travel in space in between.

Subatomic investigations soon revealed the strange fact that matter and light behave both as discrete particles that collide and bounce, and as continuous waves of flow that peak and trough with patterns of interference.  A wave’s mathematical equation seemed to represent the probability of a particle’s location, yet even a single particle was found to act like a wave. Detecting a particle’s location, by measuring its position or momentum,  would mysteriously make a particle appear out of the flow of the wave, and then the wave itself would disappear.  Reality was a strange chameleon.  100 years later this is still so.

Niels Bohr accepted this.  Albert Einstein could not.  For Einstein, an observer-independent reality, and a continuous, uninterrupted causality are fundamentals of truth. The Quantum’s instantaneous ‘jumps’- entanglement “spooky action at a distance”, particles created by the act of measurement, these could not be the full story, there must be “hidden variables”.

God doesn’t play dice.”  “Do you really believe the moon doesn’t exist when you are not looking at it?

In this, and only in this, Einstein has so far been wrong.

Bohr grasped that science was encountering a fundamental limit of knowledge.  We can only know what is knowable – measurable attributes, which must be either/or essences – like the quantum, like bits. We can only know the information of reality, not its ultimate essence. We can’t know what isn’t measureable.

any property or feature of reality “out there” can only be based on information we receive. . .  the distinction between information and reality is devoid of any meaning. . . information is quantized in truth-values of propositions. . .the quantization in physics is the same as the quantization of information.”  Anton Zeilinger,  Science and Ultimate Reality, 2004

Bohr may not have realized that he was bringing forth the science of information. At a meeting in Europe, he and Claude Shannon crossed paths. Shannon went on to create the modern theory of information, the theory that led to computers.

Einsteinstop telling God what to do!

 

Who was Jack Ruby?

Seth Kantor was a news correspondent in Dallas the day JFK was killed, and he knew Jack Ruby.  At Parkland Hospital, just after the assassination, Ruby tapped Kantor on the back, and said hello. Kantor is absolutely sure of this.  Later, Ruby denied ever being there.

What would make Jack Ruby seek out a news reporter he knew at the hospital on Friday and then, after Sunday, deny having been there?  It’s because Ruby was not involved in a plot to kill anyone on Friday. But by Sunday he was.”   The Ruby Cover-up,  Seth Kantor, 1978.

In 1959, the mob has difficulties with Castro’s Cuba.  A Chicago ‘messenger boy’ –  Jack Ruby, moves to Dallas, which is a ‘border town’, a stopover to Mexico and Havana. Jack Ruby visits Santos Trafficante, who was in comfortable house arrest in a Havana jail.  By 1963 Ruby is heavily in debt. On the same day that Lee Harvey Oswald moves to Dallas from New Orleans – June 5, 1963 – Ruby takes a call from New Orleans, and then promptly travels there, where he has phone conversations with Chicago gangsters. He visits Cuba. On November 11, 1963, he gives power of attorney over his finances to his tax lawyer.  He installs a safe.  He calls associates of James Hoffa, Carlos Marcello, and John Roselli. He meets with a crime syndicate pay master.  He becomes very anxious, and gets prescriptions for tranquilizers. He visits Las Vegas. On November 19, 1963 he tells his tax attorney that his debts will soon be settled.

During the JFR assassination, Ruby is nearby, at the offices of the Dallas Morning News. In the evening, he is trying to get into the interrogation room, with a gun in his pocket, where Oswald is held, but is turned away. That night he is with reporters when Oswald is brought before them. He corrects the District Attorney who misnames the Fair Play for Cuba Committee!  Very late that night he meets with a Dallas police officer, Harry N.Olsen, an officer with a poor record, an officer who rents from the sister of the woman who rents to Lee Harvey Oswald.

On November 24, at 11:17 AM, Ruby is at the Western Union station next to the police station, just before Oswald’s transfer.  A car horn sounds.  At 11:21 Ruby is stepping in front of a policeman to shoot Oswald, the fatal way, into the spleen and across the upper abdomen. He is visibly nervous until he knows that Oswald has died.

In June 1964, Earl Warren visits Ruby, who has been sentenced to die. The transcript is a must read. Ruby talks of things not asked that seem like hints. He asks eight times to be taken to Washington. He is emphatic that his life is in danger. “I can’t say it here . . .why my act was committed”.I have been used for a purpose“.

Ruby fails a lie detector test on questions about his comings and goings in the police station.   He passes on:  no he was not part of a conspiracy, no he did not know Oswald beforehand . . . .and no he was not at Parkland.

Murder Leaders

When criminals take over . . .

The utopias in summer 1941 had been four:  a lightning victory that would destroy the Soviet Union in weeks; a Hunger Plan that would starve thirty million people in months; a Final Solution that would eliminate European Jews after the war; and a General Plan Ost that would make of the western Soviet Union a German colony.”  The BloodLands, Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, Timothy Snyder, 2010.

In their Hunger Plan, the Nazi’s planned to feed German soldiers and German civilians by intentionally starving the millions of Soviet citizens they would conquer. They would destroy the cities, and the industry in Ukraine and Southern Russia, and “the terrain would be returned to natural forest“. They particularly wanted the forests of Poland, for hunting. The eastern Soviet Union and Ukraine would be returned to a preindustrial state, and Germany would become “a massive land empire in Europe” to eventually “rival the British and the Americans“.  They would do to the Ukraine, for Germany, what Stalin had already done, for Bolshevism, – starve the population of that valuable bread basket nation.  A Leningrad, starved “from the face of the earth”, would be given to the Finn’s.  This was directed, in writing, on May 23, 1941.

As time fades, there can be a temptation to think of the Nazi’s as like other conquering leaders in history, albeit brutal, sort of like we think of Genghis Kahn. But no, they were, from the beginning, vicious Ted Bundy killers, bent on murder. And murder they did.

To recount, only partially, in the East, in 1941, and these are civilians, not soldiers, mostly shot point blank outside of their homes:  72,000 at Ponary, Lithuania, in Latvia, 69,750, in Estonia, 5,000, in Bialystok, 1000, 19,655 in Eastern Poland, 13,778 between Belarus and Ukraine, 23,600 outside of Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine, 33,761 from Kiev at Babi Yar, 12,000 at Dnipropetrovsk, 10,000 in Kharkiv, 6,000 in Mahileu, Belarus, 14,000 in Riga, 17,000 from Rivne, Ukraine, in the Sosensky woods. In 1942, the remaining 10,000 of Rivne, at Kostopil, Ukraine, 10,000 at Hirka Polonka, from Kovel, 14,000 near Kamin-Kashyrshkyi, 6,624 and then another 5,000 from Minsk, at Tuchinka.

Notes are found.  “My beloved Mama!  There was no escape.  They brought us here from outside the ghetto, and now we must die a terrible death.”  “One wants to live, and they won’t allow it.”  “I am strangely calm, though it is hard to die at twenty“.

Himmler is treated to ‘show’ executions in Minsk, and this is made into a movie, for enjoyment back in Berlin.  Another 3,412 are shot in Minsk.  German SS try to kill all Jews ‘in their territory’ by April 20 to honor Hitler’s birthday.  A ‘death facility’ built in Minsk kills 40,000, and 208,089 are killed in Belarus, 30,000 alone by one monster SS Commander, Oskar Dirlewanger .

As many Soviet prisoners of war died on a single given day in autumn 1941 as did British and American prisoners of war over the course of the entire Second World War“.

As the war against Russia failed, the Hunger Plan became the Final Solution.  Murder became the whole point of the war.  “A war to destroy the Soviet Union became a war to murder the Jews.”

Warning the Tsar

In 1914, Petr Durnovo, police chief and interior minister of Russia, wrote a letter to Tsar Nicholas II. He foresaw the disaster that World War I would be for Russia, and he urged the Tsar to change course. It was not meant to be.

In the early 1900’s, in America and in Europe and Russia, material progress was improving quality of life.  People were living better, and populations were growing. But productivity was not increasing as fast.  And so nations needed land, and access to colonies for food and resources.  And they went after them. And this led to war.

Durnovo foresaw that the continental empire of Germany would seek to extend its power into the seas, where it would clash with England.  As each would not have the power to overcome the other, both will build alliances with others, a world war would follow. Russia was allied with France, and had normally been friendly with Germany.  Since the Russ0-Japanese War, however, Russia renounced its “traditional policy of distrust of England” and created the Triple Entente with France and England against Germany. This was the looming disaster for Russia, for Russia would bear the brunt of any continental assault on Germany. Petr Durnovo knew the state of modern armaments and “military technique“.  He could foresee the ghastly results.

Durnovo was sure Russia would lose.  She was not adequately prepared, weakened as he saw it, by the Tsar’s naive political liberalization. “The fault lies, in a considerable measure, in our young legislative institutions, which have taken a dilettante interest in our defenses, but are far from grasping the seriousness of the political situation arising from the new orientation which, with the sympathy of the public, has been followed in recent years by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs“.  “Every previous war has invariably been followed by something new in the realm of military technique, but the technical backwardness of our industries does not create favorable conditions for our adoption of the new inventions.

He  reasoned that Russia didn’t need land, didn’t need colonies, and so didn’t need to go to war. He knew that Russia was on the precipice of social upheaval as the masses awakened. “An especially favorable soil for social upheavals is found in Russia, where the masses undoubtedly profess, unconsciously, the principals of Socialism. . . The Russian masses, whether workmen or peasants, are not looking for political rights, which they neither want nor comprehend. . . The peasant dreams of obtaining a gratuitous share of somebody else’s land; the workman, of getting hold of the entire capital and profits of the manufacturer. . .Beyond this they have no aspirations.”  He knew a great war would break the nation’s finances, and its frail political cohesion.

A defeated Germany, too, would degenerate. “The effect of a disastrous war upon the population will be too severe not to bring to the surface destructive tendencies, now deeply hidden.”  The widespread suffering “will offer fertile soil for anti-agrarian and later anti-social propaganda by the Socialist parties.”

And so after World War I came the Nazi’s and the Bolsheviks.

Architecture Artist

“. . a building has to start in the unmeasurable aura and go through the measurable to be accomplished. . . . the only way to get it into being is through the measurable. . . . in the end when the building becomes part of living it evokes unmeasurable qualities.”   Louis Kahn

Aesthetic creation invariably entails combined, patterned arrangements of essential elements, in spatial and temporal form, that evoke sensual and emotional and thoughtful experience.  There arises, in some mysterious way, joy and meaning.  People differ in their capacity for aesthetic enjoyment.  There is music, visual art, sculpture, literature, drama, and even food.   And there is place – architecture. Louis I. Kahn was an artist of architecture.

This small, strange man with a burn-scarred face practiced architecture in Philadelphia, and taught at the University of Pennsylvania. In the documentary film, My Architect, his son Nathaniel tells us his story. Louis Kahn had three separate families. . . simultaneously, . . .and he never owned or drove a car. He died a lonely, premature death in a Philadelphia train station.

In the early 2oth century, building materials – steel, glass, and other metals – became available in stronger and more diverse components, and this had a sudden and dramatic impact on the possibilities of architecture.  These materials made possible a quick and easy facade design, with artificial size, space and suspension.  The result was, well, . . . Modern . . . architecture: buildings that were new, dazzling, and original, but so quick and easy as to be able to hide structural methods and ignore thoughtful human purpose and scale – which they often then did.

Louis Kahn visited the ruins of ancient Egypt, and Greece, and Rome, and found inspiration. He saw in the ancient buildings that architecture could have “a sense of eternity, of timelessness, and of unchanging perfection.” He called this Monumentality.  Buildings could have gravity, and architects could deliver more than just what seems needed:  “Need comes from the known.  Supply only what is lacking brings no lasting joy. Did the world need the 5th symphony before Beethoven wrote it?”  “Give spaces as much nobility as possible, change corridors into galleries, lobbies into places of entrance”.

Above all, for Louis Kahn, buildings should reflect how they are made, and materials should be used in compliance with their natural character, revealing the methods of the builder.  Support and weight should be visibly sensible.  “No space is an architectural space unless it has natural light“. Architecture should enhance human community.  He lost an early battle to keep the automobile out of central Philadelphia design.

At the Kimball Art Museum . . .the Salk Institute . . .the Bangladesh National Capital . . .the Fisher House, one can feel Louis Kahn’s enduring gift, a timeless aesthetic of space.

the Bangladesh National Capital at Dhaka possesses a monumentality unlike anything to come before in the history of architecture – at once ancient and modern, literally hand-built largely of modest, locally produced materials, . . .its spaces are scaled to the highest aspirations of humanity.”  PhaidonLouis I. Kahn, Robert McCarter, 2005.