Monthly Archives: November 2019

RIP Juliaan Lampens (1926 – 2019)

Juliaan Lampens was a Belgian architect whose name has become associated with brutalism.

Photo: detail of one of the Lampens facades. photo by Pirre Pluymers.
Photo: detail of one of the Lampens facades. Photo by Pirre Pluymers.

Brutalism is architecture which makes ostentative use of béton brut (French for raw concrete).

The aesthetic is the last phase in modernist architecture (before the advent of postmodern architecture) and it was heavily criticized by Charles, Prince of Wales, author of A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture (1989).

For lovers of the style, which includes myself, a big part of the attraction is that the imprint of the wood grain from the formwork of the concrete can be seen on the exterior concrete of brutalist structures.

Juliaan Lampens’s most famous building is the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Kapel van Kerselare in Edelare, which I visited in 2014 and 2019.

They also bless new cars there.

RIP Darondo (1946 – 2013)

Darondo  was an American musician who released a couple of singles in the 1970s of which “Didn’t I” eventually became popular in the 2000s.

In view that his compositions never became hits, he was less than a one-hit wonder. However, the current upload of “Didn’t I”scored more than five million listens over the last five years.

Darondo’s voice has been described as a cross between Ronald Isley and Al Green.

In the paucity of his recorded material, he resembles Shuggie Otis and Sixto Rodriguez.

Somehow his death did not appear on my radar back in 2013. These however: Junior Murvin, Lou Reed, JJ Cale, Bobby Bland, Ray Manzarek, Vincent Montana, Jr., Kevin Ayers, Donald Byrd and Cecil Womack, did.

RIP Vladimir Bukovsky (1942 – 2019)

Vladimir Bukovsky was a Russian human rights activist and Soviet dissident.

The Soviet Story (2008), Bukovsky is the one with the bizarre shirt

I am a child of the Cold War and I can still remember where I was when the Berlin wall fell.

I used to be much more sympathetic to the left, growing older has made me lean more to the right. You know what they say:

“If at age 20 you are not a Communist then you have no heart. If at age 30 you are not a Capitalist then you have no brains.” […]

One of the greatest cognitive dissonances of the 20th century is the continuous attraction of communism, this dream of justice and equality (embodied by Sartre (Dirty Hands) , Che Guevara and the hippies) and the paradoxical contrast with the actual gruesome fiasco of the first communist system (and all subsequent communist systems). And yet, it’s not hard to see why communism, this Opium of the Intellectuals, holds such a powerful attraction at a time when the earth, a finite cake, is being greedily devoured which results in polluted air, polluted water and polluted nature, essential resources that should be common and free to everyone. That’s why I call myself a ‘commonist’ sometimes.

Back to the topic. The dissident Bukovsky, the man who wrote a pamphlet with the title Manual on Psychiatry for Dissidents (1974) at a time when thousands of dissidents were locked up in psychiatric hospitals all over the Soviet Union. This manual instructed potential victims of political psychiatry how to behave during interrogation to avoid being diagnosed as mentally ill

Bukovsky is interviewed prominently in the documentary film The Soviet Story (2008), featured on YouTube without subtitles for the parts in Russian language. The film has its flaws I’m sure, and it was financed by a right-leaning grouping of European political parties but it is nevertheless of interest.

There is for example the analysis by George Watson of the Völkerabfälle-episode and there is Françoise Thom‘s dictum that “nazism [is] an ideology based on false biology and communism is based on false sociology“.