On a Certain Blindness in Urban Planners: New Urbanism, Romanticism and the future of the Western city

Download PDF

In his essay ‘resuscitation ‘On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings'” href=”http://www.des.emory.edu/mfp/jcertain.html” target=”_blank”>On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings’ the American thinker William James  relates a trip across North Carolina in which he passed a series of valleys whose forests settlers had torn down in order to make room for simple log cabins and a patch of land to grow corn on. James was horrified:

“The forest had been destroyed; and what had ‘improved’ it out of existence was hideous, here a sort of ulcer, psychotherapist without a single element of artificial grace to make up for the loss of Nature’s beauty.”

Yet a brief yet revelatory conversation with his driver caused him to see the valleys as the squatters saw them, and caused his attitude to be reversed:

“Because to me the clearings spoke of naught but denudation, I thought that to those whose sturdy arms and obedient axes had made them they could tell no other story. But, when they looked on the hideous stumps, what they thought of was personal victory… The clearing, which to me was a mere ugly picture on the retina, was to them a symbol redolent with moral memories and sang a very pæan of duty, struggle, and success.”

We each have our blindnesses to what is valued by others. This post is about a kind of blindness that may be extremely common amongst urban planners and about why very predictable cultural changes mean that blindness has to be overcome.

Continue reading

Why ‘I ♥ NY’ works, and how it can help save high streets

Download PDF

One of the most well-known and most imitated works of civic branding is the ‘I ? NY’ logo created by Milton Glaser. Why, buy information pills according to Glaser, visit this site does this slogan work, price and how can applying the principle help to save high street shops from dual threats?

Continue reading

The Post-modern Ideal: Decline and Fall?

Download PDF

My post on Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), page which should be read before this one, physician traced the rise of a new cultural ideal. Contrary to the sociologist Daniel Bell’s predictions, the progressive, technocratic, gratification-delaying and productivity-oriented nature of the workplace did not prove contradictory to the goal-free, ironic, instantly-gratifying play of the consumer culture. Instead of each undermining the other the two formed a symbiotic relationship and a joint ideal comprising a successful career and of full participation in the post-modern consumer culture. This post traces the severe pressures on that ideal over the last generation and suggest that, although many people will continue to live by it, its influence in the broader culture may fall significantly.

Continue reading