(some correspondence between Peter and I about Paul Shepheard that seemed worth hyperlinking)

Have you read it? It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on it.


Dear Peter,

First of all I should start with an apology, since my thoughts on your Fred Brooks entry about software architecture still haven’t made it from my brain into the computer. It inspired me to go back to some of Peter Eisenman’s writing, as it felt as though Brooks’ definition of software architecture seemed to have a similar quality to Eisenman’s ideas about ‘interiority’. Eisenman, however, is rather difficult to read. A few weeks ago the Architect’s Journal printed a quote by Libeskind that said Eisenman was ‘…a hateful person and a terrible academic…’ I can’t comment on whether he is hateful, but I fear that Libeskind may be right about his academic skills. His writing is almost inpenetrable. You bounce off the surface of each sentence with exactly the same momentum as the last, the rhythm never changing. I shall have to try harder to find my way below the surface.

Luckily I was helped along the way by the book on postmodernism that I promised to send you. After digging it out of one of the boxes that I still haven’t unpacked since we moved house nearly two years ago I decided I should read it again before I mail it to you. It proved to be quite timely since the lead figure through most of the book is the infamous Jacques Derrida. He died the week I finished it. I was sat in a Starbucks coffee shop at the time (see attached picture). This seemed quite fitting; the reinvention and re-presentation of a drink that has been with us for centuries, repackaged and delivered as new via the application of some careful branding, skimmed milk and Fair Trade decaffeinated coffee. The postmodern drink. Perhaps this is why I was met with such hostility on the architecture forum at tribe.net when I posted a link to his obituary – people blame Derrida for making all their coffee houses the same.

Perhaps they’re right. I’ll send you the book later today and you can decide for yourself.

I haven’t read any of Shepheard’s work, but from the quotes you posted on your site it looks like fascinating reading. Something about the cover of the book gives me a sense of deja vu; either I’ve looked at in a book shop before, a lecturer has shown it to me or I’m remembering the time I used to live near an airport and would see the Red Arrows perform every year at the air show. Although this is a little odd as there were never any Egyptian burial tombs in the rural East Midlands when I was growing up.

I particularly enjoyed his comment about the ‘…the unimpeachable natural world.’ It reminds me of something we were discussing previously when I said ‘…There are certain immovable forces in architecture, such as the laws of physics and building control inspectors.’ I think Shepheard and I would get along quite well. It has been duly added to my Amazon Wish List.

The problem with blogging is that I keep promising things and then running away. Based on past commitments I still owe my blog (and/or Aq) some words on usability vs. beauty, a write up of Compton Verney, a half baked idea about IT and koans and of course the aforementioned Mr Brooks. The list, like the one at Amazon, gets ever longer.

Hope you are well.



p.s – I enjoyed your webstats assessment. It was infinitely more useful than my bad poetry. The interesting thing about posts like that is that they are iterative, I’ve been wondering whether I should carefully mould the results by reposting occasionally and introducing a new word each time.