Mike Davis about the desire of huge and obsolete machinery
Just found this great interview of Mike Davis by Mark Dery. It's mostly about this great chapter of "Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster" entitled "Beyond Blade Runner: Urban Control". Excerpts that I found curious to me:
"What we need right now is the rigor of a hard, relentlessly realistic future. William Gibson provides us with the best template of the dark future we're building, by extrapolating what actually exists, whereas Blade Runner is just a gothic romance. There's nothing in it that shows you how L.A. will erode into the 21st century because most of this city---its interior valleys---are flat, anonymous plains of dingbats and bungalows and ranch-style homes retrofitted with increasingly ghastly medium-density stuff. (...) and another thing that has to be fitted into this--- and I'm not sure how it works, exactly---is this whole cult of dead tech, this cargo cult of de-industrialization that at least in contemporary L.A. is enormously in vogue on the West side. By this I mean that people whose daily work has almost nothing to do anymore with the worldly production of goods seem to desire huge gears and obsolete machinery. The flotsam and jetsam of the old industrial age is an ambience everywhere; most of the restaurants and bookstores and micro-breweries on the West side have some kind of decor that has to do with industrialization -a kind of Second Machine Age. It's precisely because we've come to the point of de- industrialization that all of this stuff has become perfumed ruins; it has the same relationship to contemporary consciousness that the medieval landscapes had for the Romantics."
Why do I blog this? I agree with the statement regarding Blade Runner but it's the second part quoted here that I find more deep and with lots of implications. That's the sort of description I like finding in Mike Davis' work, these curious parallel about South California (and above all the post-liberal city). Being fascinated myself by machinery (from the time I saw steel foundries as a kid.
I also liked his point about the aesthetics of computation: "I don't think that the computer chip has produced its own aesthetic, a contemporary version of streamlined Deco. It's hard to find an analog between the revolutionary new technologies and the design of the city itself"... and wonder about its influence on future city shapes.