David Byrne on Philip Johnson

Likhit just reminded me of my assertion that I do history, not art appreciation. I think I miss a lot that way. I think it might even be a blind spot of mine: an unwillingness to deal with the perspectives of individuals on their times.

Anyway, this is an interesting piece on  American modernist architectural prime mover Philip Johnson by that inkyo* of high popular culture, David Byrne. I’ll have more to say about it when I have more leisure to do so.

* it’s possible that this is a made up term – I ran across it in GURPS Japan and googling it reveals nothing useful – but it’s such a handy one that I’m propagating it anyway. It means one who retires from the office of Emperor in order to become even more powerful and authoritative. As a sage, living the simple life in his garden, the inkyo stands as an unquestionable purveyor of advice. As a semi-mythical fount of wisdom he can overturn even the Emperor’s decisions, but as someone who has withdrawn from the dirty business of running the Empire and the ritual business of being Emperor, he’s fundamentally not accountable. So he embodies both the established political authority and the potential for revolution. Which is a pretty sweet seat to occupy, even if it is unpaid.


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