Re-making the Matterhorn, by Andrew Ballantyne

This paper is concerned with the cultural appropriation of landscape, and uses the example of the Matterhorn to show how a natural formation can become a cultural entity, and how the patterns of thought that are invested in it can be invested equally in built works. The examples of appropriation move from Michael Frayn’s treatment of the Matterhorn in his novel Sweet Dreams, and Walt Disney’s rebuilding of it in Disneyland, to John Ruskin’s analysis of the Matterhorn in volume 4 of Modern Painters. For Ruskin the landscape and the close observation of geological features had a moral aspect, and that fusion of Interactions is repeated in Deleuze and Guattari’s “Geology of Morals”. The upheavals in geological strata that produce mountains have a parallel in the upheavals of social strata in other events, which are related not just as metaphor but because there are real forces at work that can be described in the same terms. Architects can draw on the same abstract machines, at a more modest scale but with the aim of giving expression to quasi-geological forces. When this happens the resulting designs are not necessarily polished and beautiful, but they can have a raw power and grandeur that comes from their truth-telling and vitality.

Andrew Ballantyne, Newcastle University, UK

Harvard Citation Guide: Ballantyne, A. (2012) Re-making the Matterhorn, International Society for the Philosophy of Architecture, [blog] 13 Nov 2012, Available at: [Accessed: 13 Nov 2012].

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