Making Dystopia: James Stevens Curl Exposes Totalitarian Modernism and the Falsification of History | The Cave of Apelles

Professor James Stevens Curl is the author of the book “Making Dystopia: The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism”. He dissects the modernist ideology as a historical phenomenon, which is not independent of the authoritarian social forces that surround it. On the contrary, Stevens Curl demonstrates that modernism became an authoritarian aesthetic ideology from early on, which eventually characterized the whole of Western culture.
Where many academics in Western Europe have taken a nihilistic approach to the dystopian urban landscapes that have risen after the Second World War, James Stevens Curl chooses a firm position. As he sees it, modernism is a deeply immoral and a socially destructive project, which should be actively combated.
Curl has also written extensively about Victorian architecture. Architecturally, the Victorian era was a rich era, with great building activity and saw the construction of many beautiful churches. In his newest book “English Victorian Churches”, Curl explains how the European political currents of the time, British religious policy, and local engagement played a significant role in realizing this rich and beautiful architectural period.”

James Stevens Curl & Carl Korsnes

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Chapter markers:
00:33 Intro
01:48 Architecture and the surrounding landscape
05:12 “Making Dystopia”: how modernism came about
10:35 Gropius, Miese and Le Corbusier
12:41 Pevsner: “modern architecture should be totalitarian”
16:06 Totalitarian mindset and the Nazi connection
25:42 Modernist bullying and idolatry
32:38 Abandoned churches and falsification of history
44:04 The gothic style
48:33 The language of classical architecture
51:06 Defining beauty
56:56 Modernism: a disaster in every way
1:00:16 Good examples
1:07:03 Modern architecture and sculpture
1:10:26 Modernism and corruption
1:14:24 “Making Dystopia” and Curl’s students
1:20:04 The role of architectural history and King Charles
1:26:42 Not just one style

This episode featured James Stevens Curl & Carl Korsnes and was filmed and edited by Bork Nerdrum.
The centerpiece was, on the left: a brown high-rise building
under clear blue sky (photo: Dids) and on the right: St Mary’s Church, Studley Royal Deer Park.
(photo: Nicks-2017)

Fergus Ryan
Matthias Proy
Børge Moe

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  • Apelles was asked why he touched and retouched his pictures with so much care, to which he replied:
    "I paint for eternity"