Articles of Faith

If there is a consistent thread throughout this book, and indeed Kwinter’s entire intellectual output, it is a fear of the remorseless routinization and rationalization of modern life. Surveying and probing the contemporary urban environment in order to reveal where and how its generating forces might be engaged and redirected, abstaining from positivist, empirical research in favor of a kind of abstract anthropology, he implicitly rebukes the bad faith of those architects who present their designs as irrefutable outcomes of statistical analyses and external exigencies. At the same time, he cautions against the blind faith in the voodoo of self-organization that purports to nurture the inherent vitality of cities, yet so often enables the animation of unwelcome zombies (whether the insidious injustices of laissez-faire economic development or the spontaneous formation of slums). Perhaps it is not so much that Kwinter believes the city has died, but that inattention or complacency is causing plausible, preferable alternatives to remain forever unborn, shimmering in virtual limbo at exponentially increasing distances along the paths not taken.

Thomas Daniell, Introduction to Requiem for the City at the End of the Millennium, by Sanford Kwinter

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