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2005 04 01
Empire of Bricks - 3
imageWhen I was a little older probably about 4 or 5 years we moved to a very small town outside of the city, Ajax. Ajax was named most immediately for a famous battleship. The town, founded by its first mayor, and an intelligence officer, began its civic life after its other life as the largest munitions facility in all of North America. On those increasingly rare visits to the big city I remember, as we drove in, that I would glue my face to the window on my side of the car and suck in the whole visual experience. We would enter the city in those days via Highway Two, being the main route into the city. The closer one got to the city centre the more industrial was the scenery. However odd it may seem today, it was definitely a rare and exotic experience for this young suburban. One didn’t even have to open a window or a door to smell the city air. It smelled like a big city, a tar-like sulphurous smell which I realized subsequently was coal smoke, the principal fuel powering industry and heating homes. It seems so Dickensonian in retrospect. The brickwork throughout the city had quite a dark caste to it. At the time I thought of it was simply the colour of bricks in Toronto, a unique local variant. It took years before I made the connection between the choice of fuel and the ‘choice’ of brick colour. I had completely forgotten about this colour of brick and my ‘big city’ associations with it until a very swank in-fill housing project near Strachan Avenue was nearing completion. A sculptor friend had got a very good commission to do a fence enclosure around the entire block. It seemed that no expense was spared on this commission. A thick plate-steel composition with every vertical post capped with a substantial real copper picket or gable-like finial. The commissioned fence reflected the design effort and material finish of the entire residential project. The pitch of the gabling referred very obviously to the Victorian neighbourhood. But the brickwork was the great finishing move. Great care was given to all of the joints and seams. Even the obtuse angle of the brickwork below the bay windows featured specialty shapes to render an imbricated seam rather than the more usual straight seam that is the dead giveaway for contemporary ‘rain screen’ brickwork. And the colour of the brick, Oh the colour! A beautiful dark caste, a reddish brown-almost-blue-black, historically researched, I’m sure, a truly historic Toronto brick colour. Excellent choice.

The story of uniformity, continuity, and homogeneity was the new mode in Greek logic as it was in geometry. Jan Lukasieqicz, in Aristotle’s Syllogistic stresses: “Syllogistic as conceived by Aristotle requires terms to be homogeneous with respect to their possible positions as subjects and predicates. This seems to be the true reason why singular terms were omitted by Aristotle.” And: “This is the greatest defect of the Aristotelian logic, That singular terms and propostions have no place in it. What was the cause?” The cause was the same as in all the Greek seeking of the novelties of visual order and lineal homogeneity. But our analyst has a further note on the inseparable nature of “logic” and the abstract visual faculty: “Modern formal logic strives to attain the greatest possible exactness. This aim can be reached only by means of a precise language built up of stable, visually perceptible signs. Such a language is indispensable for any science.” But such a language is made by excluding all but the visual sense even of words.
[email this story] Posted by Bernie Miller on 04/01 at 08:04 AM

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