I has blog up on the Independent today. Took a break on feministing (I STILL HEART YOU FEMINISTING) and wrote about… erm, buildings having twitter accounts. And sentient lives. And romances.
As you do.
Battle of the Buildings: If These Walls Could Talk…
At last count, I am following 16 buildings on Twitter. Sixteen! How did this happen? Buildings didn’t used to be something I had to worry about the interior thoughts and feelings of; I was more concerned with, well, their general interiors. Now it seems like every block of flats and its stairwell has an opinion on the latest celebrity divorce, the situation in the middle-east and whether or not the Olympics is a good thing for Britain or not.
From what I can tell of the Shard’s Twitter feed, for example, he (for something so enormously phallic must be a he) is very keen on photography, and the architecture and writing of Jean Nouvel. The Southbank Centre’s Singing Lift is a big fan of the arts (this is presumably why it applied for the job in the first place), and has sadly been under the weather this week with a nasty bout of ‘silencing lift pox’. The Pembury Tavern in Hackney seems, perhaps unsurprisingly, to be a bit of an old alcoholic with a penchant for real ales.
And then you’ve got the jobsworths, who do simply what they’re supposed to do, day in and day out – @big_ben_clock, studiously booming out over the Twitter -sphere on the hour every hour, and @twrbrdg_itself, whose steady rhythm of opening for a boat, closing for a boat, opening for a boat, closing for a boat, marks the ebb and lull of the passing days.
Suddenly, I feel like I’m walking through a sentient landscape of structures that peer down on little old me going about my daily business, judging what I’m wearing and perhaps chucking me a cheeky retweet every now and again. Nelson’s Column lists its twitter bio as “keeping an eye on London”, which can either be taken as strangely reassuring or strangely ominous, depending on your worldview – but no matter which way you tend, it’s definitely strangely strange. There’s almost something panpsychist (the view that all matter has a mental aspect, a unified centre of experience or point of view) about it; or, if you’d prefer, we’re all just taking our obsessive anthropomorphism to new and ludicrous levels.
Still, if we are going to welcome buildings into the sentient universe, then here’s what I want to see:
1. Some existentialism
What’s it like, being a building? I’ve never been a building. I once wrote a poem about being a lift, but it’s hardly the same. What’s it like, that static existence? Do we look like ants to them? Do they envy or scorn our vitality? Do we move faster, with our tiny concerns, living and dying like mayflies as they watch?
2. A thrilling romance
Because, come on, who doesn’t ship the Southbank Centre with Cleopatra’s Needle? Imagine the looks of longing across the Thames; destined to forever glimpse each other’s frontages but never touch. Those stolen moments of quiet in the sunrise, before the rest of London has woken up. And you just know that the Globe Theatre and the Gherkin have been exchanging filthy DMs behind our backs.
3. A Twitter spat
No time spent on Twitter is complete without a thorough public falling-out – the properly juicy kind, where everyone can pick a side. I want write-ups in the Daily Mail and fevered speculation in the gossip blogs. I want endless discussions about it in the office and on the bus. I want to see people wearing “TEAM HADRIAN’S WALL” t-shirts.
Of course, if we are to forge a collaborative future, there are going to be human rights issues arising – should the equality of buildings be enshrined in law, for example? What’s the Church’s stance on all of this? No, not that Church – I’m talking about the actual church itself. If they are denied equality, we must bear in mind that they are – broadly speaking – much bigger than us. They could crush us with one flick of a girder.
I, for one, welcome our concrete overlords.