Lewis Mumford - architectural critic, theorist of technology, urbanologist, city planner, cultural critic, historian, biographer, and philosopher - was the author of more than thirty influential books, many of which expounded his views on the perils of urban sprawl and a society obsessed with "technics." Featuring a new introduction by Casey Nelson Blake, this classic text provides the essence of Mumford's views on the distinct yet interpenetrating roles of technology and the arts in modern culture. Mumford contends that modern man's overemphasis on technics has contributed to the depersonalization and emptiness of much of twentieth-century life. He issues a call for a renewed respect for artistic impulses and achievements. His repeated insistence that technological development take the Human as its measure - as well as his impassioned plea for humanity to make the most of its "splendid potentialities and promise" and reverse its progress toward anomie and destruction - is ever more relevant as the new century dawns.
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(210mm x 133mm x 13mm)
Columbia University Press
Publisher: Columbia University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
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. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Lewis Mumford
Lewis Mumford (1895-1979) was the author of numerous important books on American culture, technology, architecture, and urban life, including Technics and Civilization (1934); The Culture of Cities (1938); The City in History (1961); Myth of the Machine I: Technics and Human Development (1967); and Myth of the Machine II: Pentagon of Power (1970).Casey Nelson Blake is professor of history and American studies at Columbia University and the author of Beloved Community: The Cultural Criticism of Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank, and Lewis Mumford.