Lost in Dislocation by ProQuest


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									54   revieWs

 go back to men professionally inured            Mumford’s writings on tall build-      Beckett to Spalding Gray wrote plays
 to keep awake, to minding signals, to       ings are dated now not just for their      and monologues that questioned the
 facing sudden emergencies.... If the        aesthetic opinions, but because they       dignity of modern life. The Builders
 Futurama program wins out, it should        are so colored by his leftist political    Association, a New York–based theater
 do more to undermine the individual         views. When Mumford was writing, it        group, adds to this theatrical genre
 use of the motorcar than the most           was the norm for critics to let their      with their latest piece, Continuous City
 drastic reductions in railroad fares.”      personal politics guide their aesthetic    — but with a multimedia twist. In the
 Apparently the notion that America          preferences — that is, to see architec-    21st century, when we ask ourselves
 would tolerate 40,000 traffic fatalities    ture largely through the prism of what     not “Why am I here?” but “What is
 a year did not occur to Mumford.            it represented. That kind of critique,     my Facebook status?”, Continous City
     Some of Mumford’s aesthetic prin-       especially when it comes to corporate      suggests that man’s essential crisis is
 ciples are dated as well. Although he       architecture, is hardly in vogue these     less existential than technological.
 was a fan of Modernism, he was decid-       days. Maybe it will return. Clay Risen         The short but sweet 80-minute
 edly anti-skyscraper. He viewed the         recently argued in Democracy, a center-    production focuses on four characters:
 buildings as oversized corporate egos       left political quarterly, that “starchi-   Mike, a globetrotting Internet
 in physical form, manifestations of cap-    tects” should not take commissions         consultant; his daughter, Sam; her
 italism run amok. Mumford described         from oppressive regimes such as the        nanny, Deb; and an Internet mogul,
 the skyscraper as “the businessman’s        Chinese government. Lewis Mumford          J.V., who has employed Mike to
 toy, his plaything,” a structure used       would have been pleased.                   promote a social networking Web site,
 to “foster and reap a financial harvest                                                Xubu (tag line: Why Lose Touch?),
 from congestion.” As the Depression         Theater                                    that will unite friends and families
 set in, Mumford predicted, “The sky-                                                   separated by distance.
 scraper period is fast coming to an end,
 and the skyscraper, as we knew it dur-
                                             Lost in                                         While the impending launch of
                                                                                        Xubu drives the plot and sends Mike
 ing the past fifty years, has pretty well
 reached the peak of its development.”
                                             Dislocation                                everywhere from Africa to China, the
                                                                                        production’s intrigue is really the
 Whether or not Mumford’s views had          By Diana Lind                              irony of online communication and
 merit, he has long since lost the argu-                                                the dislocation that comes with it. To
 ment. It would be hard to imagine a          continuous city     Throughout the        get this point across, the production
 New York architecture critic today who       The Builders        20th century,         transcends a theater’s traditional
 thinks buildings taller than ten stories     association         playwrights           boundaries of stage and seat.
 are inherently suspect.                                          from Samuel           Characters deliver their lines by phone

 “Experimental geography” is a term 
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