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Paolo Soleri’s What If? Collected Writings 1986-2000 is a meticulously crafted collection of essays, hypotheses and reflections by one of the most provocative and influential architects and thinkers of the modern era. Encompassing the mature thought of a distinguished career, it is a major contribution to such diverse fields as Philosophy, Religious Studies, Urban Design, Architectural Theory, Ecology, Environmental Ethics and related disciplines and should be on the reading list of any student of these areas. It includes thirty-nine previously unpublished essays divided into two major sections. Book One, “Space”, lays the groundwork for Soleri’s assertion that reality is space and for his Lean Hypothesis, which works around that notion. Book Two, “Esthequity and Religion”, builds on Book One to suggest ways that the esthetic can move us toward self-revelation without the theological delusions which, he argues, have held us back so long.
Soleri writes as both builder and philosopher, illustrating his notion that brain, hand and larynx work together to form the unique creature which is man. His thoughts, and the language used to express them, are consistently intelligent, rigorous and original. But the title What If? reminds us that these are hypotheses, meant to pose questions and not to answer them.
The composition and design of What If? is as distinct and inventive as the monumental cities proposed by its author. The text is accompanied by a four-color marginal commentary, pulled from Soleri’s daily writings, which emphasizes, illuminates – and sometimes calls into question – the arguments presented in the body of the work. Soleri’s trademark diagrams and illustrations provide a visual entryway to the ideas within, while additional sections delve still deeper, through personal journal entries and a thorough glossary, into such essential Soleri ideas as Arcology, Complexity, Miniaturization, Duration, Frugality, Better Kind of Wrongness, The Omega Seed, Howness and The Urban Effect.
A foreword by Harry Rand, of the Smithsonian Institution, on Soleri the artist and an extensive introductory essay by Ron Anastasia on the relationship of Soleri’s work to modern scientific thought and theory serve to contextualize the writings and their significance in today’s world. The selection and organization of the materials are a result of editor Kathleen Ryan’s knowledge of the author and the acumen of her intellect. In What If? Soleri has given us a profound tapestry of analyses, reports, hypotheses and ruminations that will provide a philosophical framework for the architectural and social projects of future generations.
It is currently available exclusively from the Cosanti Foundation, at Arcosanti, Cosanti, through mail order and over the internet. All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Foundation, whose chief project is the ongoing construction of Arcosanti, a prototype city and laboratory for many of the ideas discussed in What If?
by Paolo Soleri
Format: Hard Cover, 9″x12″, 400pp.
Publisher: Berkeley Hills Books
Publication Date: July 2002
Edition Description: First Edition (Qty: 1385)
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