June 8, 2008

Things not said while serving as a docent in Frank Lloyd Wright's Dr. Maurice and Mrs. Margaret Greenberg House.

I was too tired last night to write very much about the Frank Lloyd Wright tour. Now, I'm up too early. (How does anyone sleep past 5 this time of year with all the birds chirping?) I'm looking at that picture I took of the Greenberg House again and thinking it looks rather ugly! Perhaps it's meant to be seen from a distance, tucked into the landscape. It was supposed to be made of stone, but Wright changed to brick to lower the cost, and that takes something away from it.

The house makes more sense from the inside, which has a huge living/dining room with two levels of big windows that stretch across a long wall and around half of 2 side walls. These look out into the middle of the trees and — if you stand at the raised floor level — the tree tops. There are terraces at the 2 sides, connected by a walkway that goes in front of the long wall of windows.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Dr. Maurice and Mrs. Margaret Greenberg House

You don't see the bottom third of the forest because the house projects out over the large boulder that Wright made the starting point of his design. The site is beautiful, but it was rejected by other builders because of the big rock. I was serving as a docent explaining things to visitors on the 2008 "Wright & Like" architectural tour, and at some point in the second hour of describing the design, I thought of the Bible verse, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone" (or "cornerstone"). I was talking to a woman and something — I forget what — that she said made the verse spring to mind. In another situation, this could become a conversation, but it was rather obvious that quoting the Bible in this context was inappropriate. Docents are bound by the principle of the separation of church and architecture, are we not? I was not tempted by the seductions of free associating on the spot about Wright and Jesus. I can always go home and blog.

So here's the passage, Matthew 21:42:
Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures:
"'The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes'?"
This is the part I remembered. Looking it up this morning, I see it continues in a darker tone:
"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
Write your own short story where the docent in the Maurice Greenberg house is talking with a woman, impulsively quotes a Bible verse, and everything subsequently goes to hell.

IN THE COMMENTS: First, there's Ruth Anne:
Hmmm....you're up early and quoting scripture on a Sunday. Perhaps you're being nudged to go somewhere?
Then, there's this thread that begins with rhhardin:
He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.

This was before paper and scissors.
And later added:
"Do you know that according to Aristotle a person who dies crushed by a column does not die a tragic death? And yet here is that nontragic death hanging over you."

here
Which prompted UWS guy to say:
Of course, a newspaper writer, were he to be crushed by a column, would have died an ironic death.

Also, I clicked the comment section to read short stories...so man-up ye wordsmiths!
Yes! Man-up ye wordsmiths!

Or — per Ruth Anne — God-up!

32 comments:

rhhardin said...

He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.

This was before paper and scissors.

AllenS said...

Docent: Adam
Woman: Eve

Eve: "Adam take a bite of this apple, and I'll show you what's under the leaf."

Adam: "Eve, cover yourself, the house is made of windows."

According to the Bible, God then had to make Purgatory because men were always to go fall for that line and want to look under the leaf.

AllenS said...

"always to go fall"

That was before proper English was established. Obviously.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allan said...

The verse was in Plalm 118 long before it was quoted in Matthew. See Psalms 118:22-23. Matthew was changing Davis's ode of gratitude to a prophesy against the Jewish establishment.

Allan said...

That should be "Psalm," of course, not "Plalm."

Allan said...

That should be "Psalm," of course, not "Plalm."

AllenS said...

Allen and Allan can't type.

rhhardin said...

``Do you know that according to Aristotle a person who dies crushed by a column does not die a tragic death? And yet here is that nontragic death hanging over you.''

here

UWS guy said...

Of course, a newspaper writer, were he to be crushed by a column, would have died an ironic death.

Also, I clicked the comment section to read short stories...so man-up ye wordsmiths!

Brad V said...

Clearly, the place was doomed from the get-go:

"Unless Yahweh builds the house,
they labor in vain who build it."

- Plalm 127:1

AllenS said...

Docent: Samson
Woman: Delilah

Delilah: "Samson, you need a hair cut."

Samson: "Whatever."

Eventually, Samson's hair grows back, and while on a tour of the Margret Greenberg House, he pushes against the column, and 100 newspaper writers who were also on the tour, perish.

AllenS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

I love Wright's architecture in theory and as art, however as a home to actually live in....not so much. Beautiful concepts where the home merges into and emerges from the landscape but cold and hard inside with way too many windows for comfort.

(How does anyone sleep past 5 this time of year with all the birds chirping?)

I put a pillow over my head. We have a very talented and extremely obnoxious Mockingbird living in the tree by the bedroom window. This too shall pass and soon he/she will be gone.

AllenS said...

Docent: Noah
Woman: Mrs. Noah

Mrs.: "Noah, you need to help me clean all of these windows in the house, before that Althouse woman and her entourage shows up."

Noah: "Can't. I have this unbelievable urge to build a big boat, and go fishing with two of my friends. Besides, it looks like rain."

AllenS said...

Ok, I get it now.

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone

This was before the Margaret Greenberg House was built.

Chip Ahoy said...

While explaining the use of brick instead of stone, she had been asked, after all, a thought suddenly sprung to mind and the docent, without really thinking, spontaneously blurted out Genesis 11:3.

"They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar."

"So Wright felt perfectly biblically vindicated in using bricks instead of the more expensive stone, which was his first choice and would have been 100% better suited to this location." Then a thin, pale, reedy woman shrill of voice and looking like she hadn't had animal protein in years shot back, "Why are you quoting scripture on a Frank Lloyd Wright tour, Bitch? If I wanted religion shoved down my throat I'd have gone to church! I'm leaving. Then stormed out. This threw the other tour visitors into confusion and cast an unfortunate pall over the remainder of the tour. The docent never fully recovered from the incident and it tended to interfere with the remaining tours and lunch wasn't nearly as pleasant as it otherwise would have been. Still the intrepid docent carried on and with chin held firmly in place, finished her stint as guide and returned home, thinking the driving rain and encroaching tornados the perfect ending to her unfortunate engagement.

Beth said...

I quote scripture all the time in class. I don't see how anyone can study literature without including scripture in their mental bookcase, along with a host of other sources. I'm actually saddened to think that it was inappropriate for you to have raised the image provided in that verse as a means of exploring the home's design.

LutherM said...

Rather than trying to compose a tale of scripture, rock and Wright, why not just re-read "A Perfect Day For Banannafish" ?
http://www.freeweb.hu/tchl/salinger/perfectday.html

Meade said...

It would probably do me good to take Elizabeth's class and learn more literature and scripture. Meanwhile, here's a FLWright quote that, as a garden designer, has always appealed to me:

“A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.”

Some have said Wright (who, by the way, disapproved of organized religion) had a god complex. Could be. Look up "vine" in the Bible and the first citing has God advising Noah to plant grapevines (Genesis 9:20). As Noah went on to live something like 900 years or so, one would have to agree that it wasn't bad advice. Thank god for resveratrol but more of Wright's clients could have stood to follow his advise.

Mrs. Mabel Candleberry said...

Instead of a docent for Frank Lloyd Wright, why don't you become a Caddie for the PGA?

You'd meet a wealthier class of people, and you do need to network .

Ralph said...

You should have told the owners about that verse so they could write it over the mantel. Give next year's docent something to talk about.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph said...

the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes

Isn't this the verse Elizabeth I quoted in Latin when told that she was queen?

Ann Althouse said...

beth said..."I quote scripture all the time in class. I don't see how anyone can study literature without including scripture in their mental bookcase, along with a host of other sources. I'm actually saddened to think that it was inappropriate for you to have raised the image provided in that verse as a means of exploring the home's design."

If it was my own class and it fit with the readings, of course I'd feel free to talk about it. But it wasn't the place to be individualistic and expressive. I wasn't lecturing, just pointing out a few things (and guarding the property). I was friendly with everyone -- welcoming. But it would have seemed wrong to free associate about things, and if I'd done that with scripture, the tourgoer might have felt uncomfortable. It could have been offputting.

Beth said...

"and guarding the property"

That sounds fierce.

dick said...

I am surprised that the ACLU doesn't get after you for proselytizing in class by quoting scripture.

Kirk Parker said...

Ann: "...and guarding the property"

Beth: "That sounds fierce."

Me: Whoa, did Ann get one of the super-secret retired-law-enforcement-only Wisconsin Concealed Carry permits while no one was looking?

Beth said...

I am surprised that the ACLU doesn't get after you for proselytizing in class by quoting scripture.

Are you actually surprised? Why?

Freeman Hunt said...

guarding the property

Hadn't thought of that aspect. Have you ever had to lay down the law with people? Have you had to tell them to keep their greasy mitts off of things? Have you ever seen a visitor do something particularly rude?

Meade said...

"Have you ever seen a visitor do something particularly rude?"

Just Trooper York. She caught him peeking in windows he wasn't supposed to be peeking in.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.