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Showing posts from July, 2012

Israel/Palestine: Day 16-18

Sunday, June 3rd and Monday, June 4th

On Sunday we agreed to get up early to try to beat the heat, but only three of us made it out to Petra - my roommate decided to sleep in and ended up sleeping all day.  That was probably the healthy decision, but I was determined to see as much as possible!  So my two traveling companions and I went on to Petra, arriving around 9a.  Our plan: make the trip up to the Monastery, requiring a hike up a rocky, unshaded mountain trail.  My friends decided to take the offer of a Bedouin youth we had met the day before to ride donkeys up and down the trail, and then were picked up by his friend and driven back to the park entrance.  The reason to drive back rather than walk is that it takes hours, literally, to walk from the start of the trailhead to the entrance.  I decided to walk the whole way.  It turns out that our two trips took almost exactly the same amount of time - I arrived back at the entrance only a few minutes after my friends!  Partly this …

Book Review: De Architectura (The Ten Books of Architecture)

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, The Ten Books of Architecture (De architectura), trans. Morris Hicky Morgan (1914) with 68 illustrations drawn from a variety of earlier translations of the text (page numbers from the Dover 1960 edition).

For summer reading, I doubt this is high on anyone's list, but I found it interesting enough!  I picked up the ever-so-famous Ten Books when I started auditing Mark Wigley's lecture on architectural theory this past semester; Dean Wigley is the dean of GSAPP and a flamboyant and provocative speaker who can somehow make even architectural theory seem interesting and controversial.  Of course, the semester begins with Vitriuvius and De architectura, as this is the earliest (at least, earliest complete) treatise on architecture to have survived.  Wigley, in his inimitable fashion, waved the book around throughout his lecture, in which he instructed us all to read the preface, maybe the first chapter on the education of an architect, and nothing else.  …

Book Review: Brunelleschi's Dome

Ross King, Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture (2000).

In this brief and generally entertaining book, Ross King describes the building of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence with much deference to the genius of chief architect Filippo Brunelleschi.  For those already familiar with the story, there are many additional anecdotes about Brunelleschi's designs for the machinery used in the construction, his ill-fated military work, and his similarly ill-fated attempt to build an amphibious vehicle to transport marble blocks.  For those who are new to Renaissance architectural history and the history of Florence in particular, King describes the process of building the cathedral and dome clearly and with an eye to the important economic, social, and political factors.  Those who have read Vasari's account of Brunelleschi will recognize most of the stories, but not all, and it's helpful to read a less-biased modern view of some of …

Israel/Palestine: Day 15

Saturday, June 2nd: Off to Petra

I felt much better after getting nine hours of sleep, although I wished I could have felt better sooner to give everyone a proper good-bye!  We left the hotel around 6am to catch a shuttle to the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan.  Our plan, cobbled together from internet suggestions and the recommendations of other travelers, was to take a shared shuttle to the Allenby Bridge, cross into Jordan, then take a taxi for the long ride to Petra.  We had originally hoped to have a driver from our original tour company, but their offer was much too expensive.  In the end, our plan worked fine and was cheaper.  With taxis both ways and shuttles from the bridge to Jersualem (and then further to Tel Aviv on the way back), transportation (including exit taxes and bus fees) cost me $220 round trip.  It can definitely be done for cheaper, but we opted for convenience over cost since there were four of us traveling together.

Many accounts of the process of going …

Israel/Palestine: Day 13-14

Thursday, May 31st

On Thursday and Friday we were able to observe perhaps the entire spectrum of Israeli thought about the occupation in the course of two days, without really intending or planning to do so.  We spent the morning on a tour led by Ruth Edmonds of ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions.  ICAHD is a radical left-wing Israeli group that participates in direct action to end the occupation - that is, group members sit in front of bulldozers to prevent houses from being demolished, and assist homeowners with rebuilding their (illegal) homes.  Ruth was a self-proclaimed Jewish Israeli anarchist and a strong opponent of the occupation.  She directed our bus driver to various sites around the city: to a view over land that's slated to be settled by another illegal Israeli settlement; to a demolished apartment building; to the Wall where it cuts off the road to Jericho, dividing a Palestinian neighborhood in half; to Ma'ale Adummim, the third-largest se…