On a flight to Boston this morning, I read the new article about Rem Koolhaas in the New Yorker. In previous posts about this “great, horrible, pillock”, I’ve calumniated his good-for-nothing Prada store in Soho, and his headache-inducing EU flag concept. My dislike for his work is wide, as the sky is wide. My contempt for his pre-masticated, facile, fatuous, and lame press announcements is deep, as the ocean is deep. My negative feeling for this enemy of everything Evelyn Waugh ever stood for approaches a pure, holy flame.
I’m not sure why this is. I don’t go around vituperating other self-important, goofy, and wrongheaded media fixtures. Why Rem Koolhaas? Maybe it’s part of the ancestral hatred between grad-school philosophy students and grad-school architects: the philosophy students are almost as uncharismatic and poorly-dressed as the school-of-music students, while the architecture students are whisking around in expensive coats made from natural fibers, with clean jawlines and expensive glasses in dark plastic frames and spouting absolute rubbish about the metaphysical implications of having a lobby shaped slightly more trapezoidal than usual, or whatever. Look, you clowns: the words “teleological” and “concrete” are both fine, good words, representing noble and useful things. But they don’t need to be in the same sentence all the time.
(Waiting in line to get a book at the architectural library at Columbia, you’ll smell cologne and new wool scarves; waiting in line to get a rare book from the philosophy archive, you’ll smell nachos and musty t-shirts.)
Where was I? Oh yes. Rem Koolhaas. Tool. So the article describes his building approach, which actually makes some sense (don’t obsess over the models), and his difficulties in shepherding a project through to completion (which I sympathize with, now), but then quickly reverts to the good, old, let’s-make-fun-of-the-Dutch-guy stuff I love, describing his infantilic hissy fits (hopping into the driver’s seat and zooming off leaving his driver on the curb, since the driver was too slow putting his jacket in the trunk) and his recent hipster book Content with its estupido cover: “Look! Kim Jong Il as the terminator! Hahaha LOLzers!” I actually don’t mind so much that he’s knuckling under to the communists, in agreeing to design a headquarters for China’s heavily-censored TV station — hey, a client is a client — but I find his excuses unpalatable: “oh, but you see, it’s TRANSFORMATIVE!” Because repressive content can’t be created in an editing room with a glass wall, you see. Uh-huh. Tool.