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Toward a radical middle

a time for fear
Friday, May 23, 2003  
metal machine

Westminster Station on the Jubilee Line extension swallows you whole as soon as you descend into its vast caverns and tubes, suddenly, you're nothing but a helpless piece of flesh on an enormous conveyor belt, waiting to be crushed alive, cut into strips and put into a can. But you're only going to catch a train! ...and you feel like Chaplin in Modern Times...The architects involved have a great sense of drama, it seems, and also slight irony and cheek mixed in with macho blockbusting. A big box cut into the ground, something like twice the size of Portcullis House that caps it above - the real drama goes on below, carved inside thick and ancient London clay - gutted and knitted into a network of tunnels, platforms, escalator shafts that wrap around you, lose you, humiliate you. It's pretty sublime, actually, the weight and scale of it, the dead, cold, industrial force, concrete and steel power games, what it does to your body, the way it commands you, and your sense of space, simultaneously oppressive, and as awesome and empty as a cathedral. Light is interrupted, cut across, shafts of light slice between escalators and steel tubes and concrete blocks, and on the insides of the escalators themselves, little pools and eddies and dapples of light. Little spots of microfascistic desire...sinister, isn't it? Have you been there?

10:25 AM

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