It’s like Middle America’s nightmare made flesh, an articulate and angry black man first trying to live the American dream, then transcending it, then rejecting it. Rarely has a career followed such a compelling and coherent narrative arc, and if you think the guy following it is just a cashed-up egomaniac, well, you’re putting an awful lot of faith in providence.
Weizman goes on to interview a commander of the Israeli Paratrooper Brigade. The commander describes his forces as acting “like a worm that eats its way forward, emerging at points and then disappearing. We were thus moving from the interior of homes to their exterior in a surprising manner and in places we were not expected, arriving from behind and hitting the enemy that awaited us behind a corner.”
This is how the troops could “adjust the relevant urban space to our needs,” he explains, and not the other way around.
Indeed, the commander thus exhorted his troops as follows: “There is no other way of moving! If until now you were used to moving along roads and sidewalks, forget it! From now on we all walk through walls!”
In fact, I’m reminded of a scene toward the end of the recent WWII film Days of Glory in which we see a German soldier blasting his way horizontally through a house, wall by wall, using his bazooka as a blunt instrument of architectural reorganization—”adjusting the relevant space to his needs,” we might say—and chasing down the French troops without limiting himself to doors or stairways.
In any case, post-battle surveys later revealed that “more than half of the buildings in the old city center of Nablus had routes forced through them, resulting in anywhere from one to eight openings in their walls, floors, or ceilings, which created several haphazard crossroutes”—a heavily armed improvisational navigation of the city.
So why do I mention all this in the context of Die Hard? The majority of that film’s interest, I’d suggest, comes precisely through its depiction of architectural space: John McClane, a New York cop on his Christmas vacation, moves through a Los Angeles high-rise in basically every conceivable way but passing through its doors and hallways.
Over the course of the film, McClane blows up whole sections of the building; he stops elevators between floors; and he otherwise explores the internal spaces of Nakatomi Plaza in acts of virtuoso navigation that were neither imagined nor physically planned for by the architects.
His is an infrastructure of nearly uninhibited movement within the material structure of the building.
What I find so interesting about Die Hard—in addition to unironically enjoying the film—is that it cinematically depicts what it means to bend space to your own particular navigational needs. This mutational exploration of architecture even supplies the building’s narrative premise: the terrorists are there for no other reason than to drill through and rob the Nakatomi Corporation’s electromagnetically sealed vault.
Die Hard asks naive but powerful questions: If you have to get from A to B—that is, from the 31st floor to the lobby, or from the 26th floor to the roof—why not blast, carve, shoot, lockpick, and climb your way there, hitchhiking rides atop elevator cars and meandering through the labyrinthine, previously unexposed back-corridors of the built environment?
Why not personally infest the spaces around you?
For example, Weizman outlines what the Israeli Defense Forces call “hot pursuit”—that is, to “break into Palestinian controlled areas, enter neighborhoods and homes in search of suspects, and take suspects into custody for purposes of interrogation and detention.” This becomes a spatially extraordinary proposition when you consider that someone could be kidnapped from the 4th floor of a building by troops who have blasted through the walls and ceilings, coming down into that space from the 5th floor of a neighboring complex—and that the abductors might only have made it that far in the first place after moving through the walls of other structures nearby, blasting upward through underground infrastructure, leaping terrace-to-terrace between buildings, and more.
If Jason Bourne’s actions make visible the infrastructure-rich, borderless world of the EU, then John McClane shows us a new type of architectural space altogether—one that we might call, channeling topology, Nakatomi space, wherein buildings reveal near-infinite interiors, capable of being traversed through all manner of non-architectural means. In all three cases, though—with Bond, Bourne, and McClane—it is Hollywood action films that reveal to us something very important about how cities can be known, used, and navigated: these films are filled with the improvisational crossroutes that constitute Eyal Weizman’s “Lethal Theory.”
On the other hand, as Weizman points out, this is not a new approach to built space at all:
“In fact, although celebrated now as radically new, many of the procedures and processes described above have been part and parcel of urban operations throughout history. The defenders of the Paris Commune, much like those of the Kasbah of Algiers, Hue, Beirut, Jenin, and Nablus, navigated the city in small, loosely coordinated groups moving through openings and connections between homes, basements, and courtyards using alternative routes, secret passageways, and trapdoors.”
This is all just part of “a ghostlike military fantasy world of boundless fluidity, in which the space of the city becomes as navigable as an ocean.”
Treated as an architectural premise, Die Hard becomes an exhilarating catalog of unorthodox movements through space.
space and time and fictional realities(via winneganfake)
The Strange Lovecraftian Statuary of Puerto Vallarta
(pinched by me from http://www.wired.com/table_of_malcontents/2007/02/the_strange_lov/)
Reader Preston sent us a wonderful email about the strange Lovecraftian statuary overlooking R’lyeh by the sea of Puerto Vallarta.
His email is so enthusiastic it would be a shame to do anything except turn this post entirely over to his delectable ravings…
“Two Christmases ago (2005), my family and I travelled to PuertoVallarta, Mexico to exchange the gray, wet misery of a PacificNorthwest winter for a polluted, humid and stinky (though warm) twoweeks amongst the foolish and idle rich.
PV is actually very nice, by and large, though for whatever reason itdid not agree with my constitution. One day I strolled the lengthybeach-front boardwalk (the “Malecón”) in an effort to adjust and takein local color. I was pleased with the non-touristy things, mostlydisgusted with the tourist-targeted nonsense, and greatly impressedand surprised with the copious amounts of statuary dotted along itslength.
And then I reached a particular installation, and was simplyflabbergasted…
Known as “La Rotunda del Mar” (“The Circle of the Sea” in my poor,
poor Spanish), this installation by artist Alejandro Colunga featurescreatures/beings straight out of Innsmouth and Lovecraft’simaginings. Fabulous!
Sunset at Rotunda of the Sea [Photo Gallery]
A quote describing it from somewhere:The whimsical sea inspiredhigh back chairs are the work of Guadalajara native AlejandroColunga. This installation made its debut on the Malecón in 1997. Onechair is crowned by an octopus and another by what may be a seahorse.
One of the original chairs surrendered to the forces of HurricaneKenna and was replaced with a stunning replacement that appropriatelypays homage to the strength of the sea. Colungna studied varioussubjects in the university, but he is a self-taught artist. Stop andhave a seat on one of the whimsical chairs inspired by the sea. Youwill often see performance artists in the area and the publicenjoying the mystical seating created by “La Rotunda del Mar.”
Besides the Malecón you can find Colunga’s work throughout Mexico,
the US, Europe and South America.
These chair/statues are *brilliant*, and despite their (for me)
creepy (might I even say…eldritch?) presence, incredibly popular.
It was very difficult to take any photos of the statues withoutpeople (natives and tourists both) swarming all over them. Here’s adecent one of my favorite:
Look at the feet! The robe, with the “hands” folded in a religious-
like pose over the chest. A detail of the head/face:
Here’s someone’s (not mine) Flickr with a couple of photos. And here’s some other crummy images that I took…”
I think we all know where the first official meeting of ToM’s Order of the Tentacle must be held… on the tropical shores of Puerto Vallarta. We will drink margaritas and chant prayers to the Elder Ones until a mist settles on the sea and the clammy fishmen drag themselves from below and carry us down to our slumbering god.
Needless to say, Renaldo, this is incredible. Thanks so much for sending this in!
Aren’t these just fabulous? Also, eldritch, blasphemous and cyclopean. IA!!
credit where credit is due
I work in social media and it is very rare that I have a kind word to say about campaigns or brand managers but whoever is running the Denny’s tumblr is a god damn genius.
Q:I was like, how did you, being from privateer press, find my post with the book, and then I remembered the tag. It was a good, solid first book. So now my question is, will there be books that will be more current with the timeline?
Accompanied by her personal guard of Clockwork Angels, Aurora flies into battle at the vanguard of the Convergence army, striking its enemies with swift precision alongside her mechanikal allies. Aurora is blazing a new way forward for the Convergence, proving herself a peerless warrior and visionary inventor. A beacon of inspiration to all within the Convergence of Cyriss, Aurora sweeps aside any who would impede the Great Work, continually seeking to prove she is ready to transcend the flesh and be set into an immortal clockwork vessel.
So, as I mentioned recently, I’m the marketing coordinator at Privateer Press. As part of our award-winning miniatures games WARMACHINE and HORDES we make tiny toy soldiers to assemble, paint, and then marshal on miniature scale battlefields. I just launched our official tumblr with a new warcaster from our about-to-be-released clockwork faction, the Convergence of Cyriss. Aurora’s pretty cool, and so are her buds.