Why tuples use parentheses ()'s instead of something else like <>'s?

Alex Martelli aleaxit at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 31 01:09:13 CET 2004

Carl Banks <imbosol at aerojockey.com> wrote:

> Alex Martellix wrote:
> > I think a tiny minority of today's
> > architecture and sculpture can rightfully be compared with the
> > masterpieces of millennia past.
> Not that I disagree with your overall point, but I suspect a tiny
> minority of the architecture and sculpture from millenia past can be
> rightfully compared with the masterpieces of millenia past.

True.  Most forgettable architecture has fortunately crumbled to

Still -- there's more of that from millennia past than one might think.

I was walking back from grocery shopping today (my daughter having
borrowed my car, I had to walk to the market and back), and I noticed a
new display in a familiar courtyard.

Finally, over 90 years after the original discoveries, they've built a
display showcase of the two major pre-Etruscan necropolises -- San
Vitale and Savena -- which were discovered before WW 1, when
urbanization was first done on the neighborhood I was born in, the same
place I currently live in.

About 3000 years ago, with little beyond dried mud (the Bologna region
was never rich in anything but clay, as building materials go -- and at
that time they didn't fire-bake clay into bricks, not regularly,
anyway), and wood long since rotten, some unknown, unsung architects put
together a small town for the dead, right below the sidewalks I thread
every day.

My breath was taken away by finally seeing some of their work on display
in its rightful place, my birthplace and residence, as opposed to the
museums (several blocks away) where it's generally gathering dust in.

Have you heard of Villanova, often named as the birthplace of Italian
civilization?  That's about 15 km away, where I generally go for major
grocery shopping at a hypermarket when I _do_ have a car.  San Vitale
and Savena were way older, more primitive, more essential -- no jewels
of gold and amber to gawp at, yet... the pre-Etruscans,
pre-Villanovians, still hadn't managed yet to get in gear with the
system of commerce and European- and Mediterranean-wide exhanges which
later made Etruria the beacon of arts and culture.  Within the
constraints of a still rather poor material culture, the necropolises of
Savena and San Vitale nevertheless exhibit the kind of limpid, geometric
symmetry, spiritual balance, and minimalistic play of emptiness and
fullness, that _defines_ worthwhile architecture to my soul...

How many more jewels like this one are still buried under the soil of
Italy (to name just one place, albeit a rather fecund one for that kind
of thing)?  Nobody knows -- basically, every time you're excavating
something, be it to lay foundations for a warehouse or whatever, among
your risks as a developer is that the first few shovelfuls will reveal
*yet one more* previously unsuspected architectural and archeological
treasure, so that your development will be blocked and stalled for
years, decades, while the duly appointed officials salvage all that's
there.  Why, even when you're restoring an already well-known
architectural masterpiece from the Renaissance, you STILL risk finding a
well-preserved marble amphitheater from Roman times that the Renaissance
architects used as part of their _foundations_... happened downtown in
Bologna just over 10 years ago -- and Bologna was a somewhat marginal
provincial town 2000 or so years ago: just imagine what it must be like
as you move southwards through Tuscany towards the heart of Roman
culture in Lazio...!  ((Being Italian, I tend to focus on the way things
are here -- but I heard the projects to restore the city walls in
Instambul, aka Bizantium, came upon exactly the same kinds of problems
over the last 20+ years... Italy certainly has no monopoly on having
layers upon layers upon layers of great architecture and civilization!))

> Then again, millenia past didn't have Frank Gehry (i.e., the Perl of
> modern architecture).

Uhm -- I count the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao among the _successes_ of
modern architecture... yes, it IS rich and redundant and wild and self
complacent... it _should_ be, much like (say) the Pantheon or Saint
Peter's in Rome, or Saint Nicholas in Prague (and other masterpieces of
Flaming Baroque, "Il Barocco di fiamma")... not ALL great art is
minimalistic and spare and understated!  _Some_ of the time, an artist
manages to overwhelm you with perfect mastery of overflowing richness...
like, say, Bach's Matthauspassion's richness, wrt the spareness his Art
of the Fugue... all I'm saying is that material or formal constraints
can HELP art, not that they're necessarily _indispensable_ to it...


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