Review Of "Monsters Of Architecture: Anthropomorphism In Architectural Theory" By M. Frascari

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Monsters in the title of this little treatise are visible bodies embodying ideas. Frascari proposes that conceiving architecture is most fundamentally drawing, which is the process of demonstrating (mostrare) as an exhibit (mostra), in the guise of monument (i.e., portent, a cognate from Lat. monere), fancy made visible as a monster (mostro), and thus corporeally construing an imagined world as construction. Memory and metaphor, together with their representation, are thus central in this anthropomorphism, and the author, critical of the mechanistic theory that reigned in architecture for at least a century, invokes G.B. Vico (as opposed to Descartes), explores the little-known Swiftian satire by Zaccaria Seriman, a pupil of Carlo Lodoli, and hails his compatriots--Carlo Scarpa and Massimo Scolari, in particular. The thesis, at times repetitive and convoluted, is nevertheless consistent; and the concluding chapter stating it forcefully, rewards the effort of trudging through the thick of the prose leading up to it. The book, despite its faults, deserves serious attention among the new theories in architecture, and is recommended for all university architectural collections.


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