Tag Archives: White Noise

Maybe Your House Can Be “Most Congenial”

An English Heritage plaque at Hampton Court Palace Gardens. Photo by Elliott Brown via Flickr (CC BY-ND-SA 2.0)

In an essay at White Noise, Richard Wallace considers his chances at being memorialized with one of the blue English Heritage plaques that dot historic homes in London’s (mostly well-heeled) boroughs:

I mostly think money, power and status are chimeras, eliding the serious parts of the human project… Then I periodically remember those English Heritage blue plaques that go on the walls of noteworthy dwellings, and I think: no. Fuck goodness and principle. I want to get so famous they give my house a medal.

Lack of marketable skills aside, an informal of analysis of plaque recipients reveals the real predictor of plaques: class.

There’s a distinct sense that a certain type of people are predisposed to plaque-worthiness, and the reason is probably what class-progressives already know: that it’s so much easier to get recognised for your achievements if you get a good start in life. This shouldn’t diminish the accomplishment of the great; nor should it mollify less affluent mediocrities. But when we look at these plaques, we are forced remember that English history is uniquely bound to inequality, to people ascending the apex of the world on a staircase of hunched shoulders. Repeat, repeat: David Cameron and his Bullingdon brothers, Theresa May and her fields of wheat. Blue Plaque England is not a place where we can all live. Kensington’s too small for everyone. But as unfair as it is, English Heritage plaques merely record history; nobody can argue that class division is not British. The writing is on the wall.

Read the essay

Don’t Fear the Painter, or the Tyranny of Whiteness

the inside of an empty factory building, all painted in shades of white
Photo by Lars Myregrund via Flickr (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

White Noise publishes an excerpt of David Batchelor’s book, Chromophobia, an exploration of color theory and, as he argues, the West’s historical fear of color. In the introduction, he recalls a visit to the home of an art collector whose décor was an aggressive rejection of color—although that’s not how the home’s architect would describe it.

There is a kind of white that is more than white, and this was that kind of white. There is a kind of white that repels everything that is inferior to it, and that is almost everything. This was that kind of white. There is a kind of white that is not created by bleach but that itself is bleach. This was that kind of white. This white was aggressively white. It did its work on everything around it, and nothing escaped. Some would hold the architect responsible. He was a man, it is said, who put it about that his work was ‘minimalist’, that his mission was to strip bare and to make pure, architecturally speaking, that his spaces were ‘very direct’ and ‘very clear’, that in them there was ‘no possibility of lying’ because ‘they are just what they are.’ He was lying, of course, telling big white lies, but we will let that pass for the moment. Some would hold this man responsible for the accusatory whiteness that was this great hollow interior, but I suspect that it was the other way around. I suspect that the whiteness was responsible for this architect and for his hollow words.

Read the excerpt