Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More interesting Mumford ideas:

Lewis Mumford - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Necessary to the construction of these megamachines is an enormous bureaucracy of humans which act as 'servo-units', working without ethical involvement. Technological improvements such as remote control by satellite or radio, instant global communication, and assembly line organizations dampen psychological barriers inherent in every human against the end result of their actions, according to Mumford. An example which he uses throughout his works is that of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi official who conducted many of the logistics behind the Holocaust. Mumford collectively refers to people willing to carry out placidly the extreme goals of these megamachines as 'Eichmanns'.

The clock as herald of the Industrial Revolution

One of the better-known studies of Mumford is of the way the clock was created by monks in the Middle Ages and subsequently adopted by the rest of society. He viewed this device as the key invention of the whole Industrial Revolution, contrary to the steam engine, writing: "The clock is a piece of machinery whose 'product' is seconds and minutes."

Urban civilization

In his influential book The City in History, which won the National Book Award, Mumford explores the development of urban civilizations. Harshly critical of urban sprawl, Mumford argues that the structure of modern cities is partially responsible for many social problems seen in western society. While pessimistic in tone, Mumford argues that urban planning should emphasize an organic relationship between people and their living spaces.

Mumford uses the example of the medieval city as the basis for the "ideal city", and claims that the modern city is too close to the Roman city (the sprawling megalopolis) which ended in collapse; if the modern city carries on in the same vein, Mumford argues, then it will meet the same fate as the Roman city."


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