ruminations about architecture and design

Saturday, January 29, 2011

thoughts on the possible revolutions

Events in Tunisia seem to have unleashed pent-up energy in more than a few Middle Eastern nations. I'm wondering if this is a moment similar to the events that came to a head in Eastern Europe in 1989. Or, it may be more similar to the events in Europe in 1848. It bears little resemblance to the events in this country in 1775 and '76. We were much too inconsequential; a minor chess piece in the great game of European Empires.
There is a book in the Boston Public Library that I have been walking past for at least a year now. It is titled "The Last Pharaoh" and it is about Hosni Mubarak. I have not read it, but I am struck by the incongruity of the comparison. The original pharaohs seemed to have been very successful dictators. They understood the value of harnessing the surplus energy of an intermittently employed agricultural labor force by undertaking stupendous architectural projects that had no functional value. Or perhaps, their functional value was in holding a nation together, but what if they had built different things? In any event, public resources can be devoted to building great heaps of stone and cat-shaped statues, or they can be used finance repressive police forces. I hope this does not end badly.

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