Rhizome Skyline

by Stuart Blazer

From an essay by Henry Gould on on Stuart Blazer’s Rhizome Skyline:

Rhizome Skyline is lofted under the aegis of architecture. The central characteristic of architecture is its quality of embodiment. Architecture is an exploration of physical materials in terms of their resistance: the aim is to produce a structure both useful and beautiful, which can counteract the destructive or entropic forces of time, weather, violence, and gravity. The architect applies imagination to the shaping of physical materials into a form, which embodies a balance of these force-resistant qualities. Some implications for poetry emerge when we consider its affinities with architecture in the light of the philosophy of Polanyi: if all human knowledge involves an irreducible aspect of personal achievement, then we can recognize a kinship between the architect’s absorption in materials, in weight and measure, with the poet’s allegiance to actuality, to experience in time and space. The poetic word discovers its own weight and measure, as it seeks an adequate response to the embodied, experiential life that we all know and share. This affinity is paralleled — symbolized — on a more basic level (noted since ancient times) in the analogy between the measures and proportions of a building, and those of the human body. And Rhizome Skyline illustrates this matrix of relations in at least two ways.

First, the book is retrospective, a kind of selected poems; as such, Blazer’s work displays a time-resistant, weathered quality. Many of these poems were written in the 1970s and ’80s, yet they remain vivid, they still “stand.” The experiences they report and evaluate cannot be consigned to the archive of “dated” (outdated) records in an obsolete idiom: they are alive. Second, and more importantly, Blazer — in both his extended introduction and in the poems themselves — reflects upon, thematizes, and evokes the connections between persons, the human body, the natural world, and the beautiful works of artifice (buildings, ships, paintings, dance, music) with which humanity builds a home in nature (a supremely “Acmeist” theme). The title, Rhizome Skyline, epitomizes the playful way Blazer fulfills this task. With a nod, perhaps, to the ideal of social interaction defined by Deleuze and Guattari (“the rhizome”), Blazer’s title suggests a new form of the city, produced by the myriad spread of underground roots — an organic connectivity, celebrated in metaphor (uniting “sky” with “ground”).

Rhizome Skyline opens with an image of origami:
Space origamied into dimension
moves walls: if you stare
long enough, eyes tear,
attention drifts.
         Just to see
is allegorical.

From there, the book unfolds, further and deeper, into ribs and curvature of painting, music, dance, landscape, the sea, the shore — and within all, wistfully-merrily marrying all, the human form, the human heart:

where is the building
if not first within the builder?

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Spring 2017 Events

  • February 23, 6:30 PM Brett Schneider, Guy Nordenson and Associates & RISD Architecture
  • March 2, 6:30 PM at RISD Auditorium Petra Blaisse, Inside Outside, Hosted with INTAR, Textiles, RISD Museum
  • February 27, 6:30 PM Jeanette Kuo, Karamuk*Kuo
  • March 13, 6:30 PM Allan Wexler, Allan Wexler Studio, Hosted with ID
  • March 16, 6:30 PM Jarrett Walker, Jarrett Walker + Associates
  • April 3, 6:30 PM Kunle Adeyemi, NLÉ, Yoder Lecture
  • April 24, 6:30 PM Nader & Katie Faulkner, NADAAA, Shoemaker Lecture
  • May 11, 6:30 PM Shumi Bose, Central Saint Martins & Architectural Association

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