ART AND TECHNICS by Lewis Mumford


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In a series of lectures delivered in his usual full-bodied style, Mumford investigates and attempts to present a solution to the contemporary clash of man and the machine. Reminding us that Orpheus as well as Prometheus was a friend to man, that man was a creator before he was an operator, he says the creative, vital, subjective man -- the human being -- is today in danger of becoming a slave to the tools and techniques which should actually serve to free him. This theme is not new, but some of the insights the author gives are. With the invention of mass production, machines printing, photography, the phonograph man has been bombarded with images, reproduced and standardized: art loses its uniqueness, symbols are degraded, man becomes passive. To escape submersion by the flood of symbols, man must choose the images he wishes to assimilate ""choosing is creating."" Mumford points to architecture as the logical meeting-ground of symbol and function. He comments on the present state of architecture, pointing out that in functionalism the machine has become an idol while human values are neglected. The book is fairly meaty, and the author draws from his copious knowledge at will. A comfortable and solid dwelling upon ideas we would do well to consider. The author's plea for balance and wholeness in a human life, based upon human rather than mechanical values, will appeal to many thinkers.

ISBN: 0231121059
Publisher: Columbia University Press