Till We Have Built Jerusalem: architects of a new city

Book Translation Project, 03/2016-01/2018

Yet when they did flee, days later, at the end of March that year— on a night train, with just a few suitcases and a treasured stamp collection—they still did not point themselves immediately in the direction of Jerusalem.

Instead they wended their way first to Holland, then almost to the south of France where, together with the Dutch architect Hendricus Theodorus Wijdeveld and Ozenfant, Mendelsohn had laid the foundations for an ambitious “European Mediterranean Academy,” which might—had it ever materialized—have emerged as a kind of Bauhaus on the Riviera. Its faculty were to be the founders, along with a group of accomplished international artists including the com- poser Paul Hindemith, the Grozny-born designer Serge Chermayeff, and the eccentrically brilliant British typographer and stonecutter Eric Gill; its advisory committee counted among its illustrious members Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, Paul Valéry, Max Reinhardt, and Igor Stravinsky, and its course of study entailed both intensive hands-on work and more theoretical investigation. As Mendelsohn’s section of the academy’s brochure promised, the curriculum was designed to make the “young architect into a complete builder” by “unifying tradition and the desire for the expression of our own time,” with an eye toward “the formation of the future.” 

But the future was more easily plotted in a theoretical syllabus tha

Though the architectural climate in England was far more conservative than in Germany, and his passionately iconoclastic aesthetic was generally considered distasteful by the purse-lipped British cultural establishment, Erich had been embraced by a group of the more forward-thinking local architects when he’d gone there to raise funds for the academy. They helped arrange for him to live and work in London, and at a sort of coming-out party at the Liverpool Architectural Society, in November 1933, he gave a lecture on his work, and “the famous German architect” was, according to a gushing story in The Manchester Guardian, “interrupted warmly and frequently by cheers.” On this occasion, one of his hosts, the architect C. H. Reilly, announced to the assembled well-wishers that Mendelsohn would now practice in England. This declaration was met by great applause in public, though privately it gave way to real worry for Mendelsohn, as the decision to settle in Britain meant forgoing any hope of holding onto even a part of his substantial German savings. It also entailed the adjustment—or attempted adjustment—not just to the English lan- guage but to the imperial system of measurement, no small thing for a forty-six-year-old architectural maverick, used to controlling every situation in which he found himself. (In his Berlin office he’d kept careful track of how many pencils were used; he also designed all his wife’s evening gowns and insisted on accompanying her to fittings at her dressmaker’s.) Although in British company he tried to blend in and now sometimes went by the Anglicized “Eric” instead of the Germanic “Erich,” English tastes and manners were hard for him to fathom, and came gradually to depress him. As he’d write to an American friend, the critic Lewis Mumford, “I do not feel very happy in England. I cannot breathe in a country without spiritual tension. I cannot work where creative fight is taken as an attack against the ‘common sense.’ ” For bureaucratic reasons, he was—as an alien—forced to enter into a partnership with Chermayeff, a British national. The younger, less experienced designer was himself sympathetic, though the collaboration grated badly against Mendelsohn’s self-declared penchant for autocracy.

Yet given all this difficulty and discomfort, he still he hadn’t picked up and taken himself, his wife, and his practice to the place that struck so many of his European Jewish contemporaries as the most obvious destination. As he tried to explain to a committed Zionist friend, Kurt Blumenfeld, who had questioned his chaotic and ideologically dubious itinerary, “Why not directly to Palestine? Here you touch a tender spot. All those years I envisioned Palestine built up by my hand, the entirety of its architecture brought into a unified form through my activity, its intellectual structure ordered by my organisational ability and striving toward a goal.” But for all his talk of blood and space, race and their somehow cosmic link to his vocation, “Palestine did not call me.” He needed, it seems, to be courted.


相反他们先去了荷兰,然后几乎到了法国南部,在那儿和荷兰建筑师亨德里库斯·特奥多鲁斯·韦德维尔德(Hendricus Theodorus Wijdeveld)[1],奥占芳一起, 门德尔松为一个野心勃勃的“欧洲地中海学院(The European Mediterranean Academy)[2]”打下了基础,这个学院——如果曾经建成的话——可能会以一种在里维埃拉的包豪斯的形式出现。它的老师将会成为这个学院的奠基者,联同一群卓有成就的国际艺术家,包括作曲家保罗·亨德米特(Paul Hindemith)[3],格罗兹尼[4]出生的设计师塞吉·希玛耶夫(Serge Chermayeff)[5],和英国印刷匠石匠怪才埃里克·吉尔(Eric Gill)[6];它的咨询委员会依仗赫赫有名的成员:爱因斯坦,弗兰克·劳埃德·赖特(Frank Lloyd Wright)[7],保罗·瓦莱里(Paul Valéry)[8],马克斯·莱因哈特(Max Reinhardt)[9],和伊戈尔·斯特拉文斯基(Igor Stravinsky)[10],它的研修课程同时囊括密集的动手实践和更理论的调查研究。正如学院指南里门德尔松的章节所许诺的,在关注着“塑造未来”的同时,通过“将传统和表达我们自己时代的渴望携起手来”,课程是为培养“年轻建筑师成为一个全面的建造者”而设计的。


尽管英国的建筑思潮远比德国保守,以及他强烈颠覆传统的审美时常令恼羞成怒的英国文化组织(British Cultural Establishment)认为俗趣,但当埃里希前往那里为学院筹备资金时,他依旧得到了当地一群更加思想前瞻的建筑师的拥护。他们在伦敦为他安排了生活和工作。1933年的十一月,在利物浦建筑协会(The Liverpool Architectural Society)[11]的一次介绍性舞会(coming-out party)中,他作了一次关于他的工作的讲座。一篇登载在曼彻斯特卫报(The Manchester Guardian)[12]并充满溢美之辞的报道中写道,“这位著名的德国建筑师频繁地被热情的欢呼打断。”建筑师查尔斯·赫伯特·赖利(C. H. Reilly)[13](其中的一位接待人)向聚集在此的祝福者们宣布,门德尔松如今将会在英格兰进行实践。这个宣言在公众中获得了热烈的掌声,但私下里对于门德尔松而言,他的内心却充满了忧虑,因为定居英国的决定意味着他将要彻底放弃保留大量德国积蓄的希望,即使是其中的一部分。这个决定还需要他试图调整——或是调整到——不仅对英语而且对英制度量衡,这对于一位四十六岁的特立独行的建筑师、一个习惯于把控有他在的任何场合的人并不是小事。(在他柏林的办公室里,他缜密地纪录使用过的铅笔数目;他还为他的妻子设计了所有的晚礼服并坚决陪同她到裁缝那儿把衣服裁合身)尽管他尝试融入到英国的公司中,并偶尔使用英语化的名字“埃里克(Eric)”代替德国化的“埃里希(Erich)”,他仍难以理解英国人的品味和习惯,并逐渐感到抑郁。正如他在写给美国的批评家朋友刘易斯·芒福德(Lewis Mumford)[14]的信中所说,“我在英国过得并不十分开心。我无法在一个没有精神张力的国度呼吸。我无法在一个将创新的斗志视为对‘常识’的攻击的地方工作。”因为官僚的原因,作为一个外国人的他被迫与是英国国民的切尔马耶夫缔结合作关系。尽管这位比门德尔松更年轻、更缺乏经验的设计师性情随和,这次合作仍然因为门德尔松自顾自的独裁倾向而消磨殆尽。

即使有这么些困难与不适,他仍然没有收拾行装并带着他自己、他的妻子和他的实践成果离开,前往那个让同时代的欧洲犹太人最显而易见的目的地。当他的朋友库尔特•布卢门菲尔德(Kurt Blumenfeld)[15](一位坚定的犹太复国主义者)质疑这趟混乱不堪且毫无把握的旅程时,他解释道:“为何不直接去巴勒斯坦?这正是紧要处所在。这些年,我一直设想着巴勒斯坦经我之手得以造就,它的所有建筑经过我的行动得以实现统一的形式,它的智识结构因我的组织才干得以梳理并向着目标迈进。”尽管他高谈阔论关于血统、空间、种族以及它们与他职业之间存在某种巨大联系的种种高论,“然而,巴勒斯坦并没有召唤我。”他似乎需要的仅是国家的传召。

[1] Hendricus Theodorus Wijdeveld (1885-1987),出生于海牙,荷兰建筑师、平面设计师

[2] European Mediterranean Academy,三人于1930-1934年期间在法国蓝色海岸(Côted’Azure)共同创办

[3] Paul Hindemith (1895-1963),作曲家、理论家、教师、中提琴家和指挥家

[4] Grozny,俄罗斯车臣共和国首府,位于高加索山北麓

[5] Serge Chermayeff (1900-1996),出生于俄罗斯,英国建筑师、工业设计师、作家

[6] Eric Gill (1882-1940),英国雕塑家、字体设计师

[7] Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959),美国建筑师、室内设计师、作家

[8] Paul Valéry (1871-1945),法国象征派大师,法兰西学院院士

[9] Max Reinhardt (1873-1943),出生于奥地利维也纳,美国剧院与电影导演,戏剧制作人

[10] Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971),俄国作曲家,20世纪现代音乐的传奇人物,革新过三个不同的音乐流派:原始主义、新古典主义以及序列主义

[11] The Liverpool Architectural Society,成立于1848年,是世界上最古老的建筑师协会之一,1987年与英国皇家建筑师协会默西赛德郡分部合并

[12] The Manchester Guardian,现英国卫报 (The Guardian),成立于1821年,1959年更名

[13] Charles Herbert Reilly (1874-1948),英国建筑师、教育家,于1904-1933年期间任利物浦建筑学院院长

[14] Lewis Mumford (1895-1990),美国历史学家、科学哲学家、著名文学评论家

[15] Kurt Blumenfeld (1884-1963),出生于德国,于1911-1914年任世界犹太人复国主义组织总秘书

Since coming to Palestine, he’d learned all kinds of things that fascinated him— about rubble, twig, and packed-mud vaulting; about the various grades and colors of Jerusalem stone and the different styles of its chiseling; about the madafeh (reception room) and the mastabeh (living space) of the traditional peasant home; about modern art and ancient relics, Armenian tiles and the alternating light and dark masonry stripes known as ablaq. He had also learned much more than he would care to know about politics and pettiness and about what he continued to refer to as “propaganda”—“How heartily sick I am of political propaganda vested as aesthetical criticism,” he’d write a close friend in a moment of especially pronounced disgust— and in this top secret case he was well aware that “all kinds of strings will be pulled to prevent me from doing this big job.” Ever a master of scale, he had measured the situation correctly.

It was a big job, the biggest he’d reckoned with so far. Declaring that “the past of Palestine is more important to the world than the past of any other country, and there are no monuments more precious than those which reveal to us the past of this land toward which all civilized people turn with reverence,” the American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., had confidentially pledged $2 million to build an archaeological museum in Jerusalem. Rockefeller had been persuaded by the highly enterprising small-town-Illinois-born, Yale- and-Berlin- educated Egyptologist, archaeologist, philologist, and founder (with Rockefel ler’s funds) of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, James Henry Breasted, that the holy city— and indeed all of humanity—was in desperate need of a new museum. The building that then held many of Palestine’s most important artifacts was a poorly lit, run-down, and overcrowded three-room house, while countless other precious relics simply lay outdoors, exposed to the elements and at risk of damage or theft. And beyond the need to rescue all these local objects and provide them with a proper home, Breasted was intent on establishing a center in the Near East where he might further realize his own life-long dream of a “historical laboratory,” devoted to the study of no less than “the Origin and Development of Civilization.”


这是一个大项目,他迄今为止接到最大的项目。美国慈善家小约翰·戴维森·洛克菲勒(John D. Rockefeller, Jr.)[16]秘密捐赠了两百万美元,要在耶路撒冷建造一个考古博物馆。洛克菲勒曾宣称,“相比于其他国家的历史,巴勒斯坦的历史对于这个世界更加重要。那些向我们展现这片土地——这片所有文明人都报以敬意的土地——的过往的历史遗迹,比其余的遗迹都更加珍贵。”洛克菲勒的慷慨解囊,源于詹姆斯·亨利·布雷斯特德(James Henry Breasted)[17]的劝说。布雷斯特德出生于伊利诺伊州小镇、受教于耶鲁和柏林,很有事业心,是一名埃及学家、考古学家、语文学家以及位于芝加哥大学的(洛克菲勒捐资的)东方研究所(Oriental Institute)[18]的创始人。他对洛克菲勒说,这座圣城——事实上是所有人类的圣城——极度需要一个新的博物馆。当时容纳许多巴勒斯坦最重要古物的建筑,是一个光线很差、破败且过于拥挤的三室房子,无数珍贵的文物简陋地陈列在室外,暴露于恶劣天气中,冒着被损坏或偷窃的风险。并且,布雷斯特德除了要拯救这些当地文物并给它们提供一个适宜的陈列环境,更决意在近东创立一个中心,因为在那儿,他也许能进一步实现自己拥有一个“历史实验室”的梦想,献身于“文明的起源与发展”等研究当中。

[16] John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960),美国慈善家、洛克菲勒家族的重要人物。是标准石油公司创办人、亿万富翁约翰·洛克菲勒唯一的儿子和继承人。

[17] James Henry Breasted (1865-1935),出生于美国伊利诺伊州的罗克福德,考古学家和史学家,是第一个获得埃及学博士学位的美国公民。

[18] Oriental Institute,成立于1919年,是芝加哥大学考古博

However he pictured the future of the building, he can’t possibly have conceived that the same room would become world-renowned in the 1950s as “the Scrollery,” the long, light, and airy Jordanian chamber in which the Dead Sea Scrolls would first be pored over and parsed. The ancient past would have a famous future here, even as his own modern moment would already be fading from view. “What I am afraid of is that one day someone from the Secretariat or elsewhere will have a brilliant idea & I shall be asked to have a stone ready within twenty-four hours or less & as I am rather sensitive about lettering, I should consider this disastrous.”

He might not even recognize his architectural handiwork in what will become the cubicle-and-tin-shelf-crowded Israeli office where, more than another half century after the fragments of the scrolls are arrayed under glass across long tables here, I find myself typing his words into a computer file to the sound of Hebrew telephone chit- chat and the synthetically sweet smell of hot instant coffee.

Which details will be remembered? Which will fade? Disappear?

无论他如何绘制这一建筑的未来,他根本无法料想到,在1950年代,这个房间将会以“经卷室(the Scrollery)” [19] 闻名于世——那狭长、明亮且通风的约旦风格内室,在那里,《死海古卷》(Dead Sea Scrolls)[20] 首次被仔细研读、分析。在这里,古老的过去将会有一个辉煌的未来,即便属于他自己的现代时刻行将渐渐从视野中消退,成为过去。“我所担心的是,有一天某个来自秘书处或别处的人将萌生出一个绝妙的主意,要求我在24小时或更短的时间里备好石块。由于我对刻字相当敏感,这种事情对于我而言是灾难性的。”



[19] Scrollery,1953年《死海古卷》的大部分内容被移到该博物馆,学者在此翻译研究古卷,此后该房间以‘经卷室’闻名。

[20] Dead Sea Scrolls,是为目前最古老的希伯来文圣经抄本,除了《圣经·以斯帖记》以外的《旧约全书》全部内容都能在死海古卷中找到,还含有一些虽然已经得到天主教承认、但仍被新教视作外典的经卷,此外,当中也包含一些不属于《圣经》的文献。

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