Lewis Mumford, KBE (October 19, 1895 - January 26, 1990) was an American historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and literary critic. Particularly noted for his study of cities and urban architecture, he had a broad career as a writer. Mumford was influenced by the work of Scottish theorist Sir Patrick Geddes and worked closely with his associate the British sociologist Victor Branford. Mumford was also a contemporary and friend of Frank Lloyd Wright, Clarence Stein, Frederic Osborn, Edmund N. Bacon, and Vannevar Bush. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)
A day spent without the sight or sound of beauty, the contemplation of mystery, or the search of truth is a poverty-stricken day; and a succession of such days is fatal to human life.
By his very success in inventing labor-saving devices, modern man has manufactured an abyss of boredom that only the privileged classes in earlier civilizations have ever fathomed.
Every generation revolts against its fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers.
Every new baby is a blind desperate vote for survival: people who find themselves unable to register an effective political protest against extermination do so by a biological act.
Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends.
However far modern science and technics have fallen short of their inherent possibilities, they have taught mankind at least one lesson: Nothing is impossible.
I'm a pessimist about probabilities, I'm an optimist about possibilities.
It is our utopias that make the world tolerable to us: the cities and mansions that people dream of are those in which they finally live.
Mechanical instruments, potentially a vehicle of rational human purposes, are scarcely a blessing when they enable the gossip of the village idiot and the deeds of the thug to be broadcast to a million people each day.
Nothing is unthinkable, nothing impossible to the balanced person, provided it comes out of the needs of life and is dedicated to life's further development.
One of the marks of maturity is the need for solitude: a city should not merely draw men together in many varied activities, but should permit each person to find, near at hand, moments of seclusion and peace.
Our national flower is the concrete cloverleaf.
Sport in the sense of a mass-spectacle, with death to add to the underlying excitement, comes into existence when a population has been drilled and regimented and depressed to such an extent that it needs at least a vicarious participation in difficult feats of strength or skill or heroism in order to sustain its waning life-sense.
The chief function of the city is to convert power into form, energy into culture, dead matter into the living symbols of art, biological reproduction into social creativity.
The clock, not the steam-engine, is the key-machine of the modern industrial age.
The settlement of America had its origins in the unsettlement of Europe.
The way people in democracies think of the government as something different from themselves is a real handicap. And, of course, sometimes the government confirms their opinion.
Today, the degradation of the inner life is symbolized by the fact that the only place sacred from interruption is the private toilet.
Today, the notion of progress in a single line without goal or limit seems perhaps the most parochial notion of a very parochial century.
War is the supreme drama of a completely mechanized society.
We ask a thousand minute questions about the mechanisms and the institutions that surround us; the one question we do not dare to ask is: What is our true nature?
We effectively became time-keepers, and then time-savers, and now time-servers with the invention of the clock.
We have created an industrial order geared to automatism, where feeble-mindedness, native or acquired, is necessary for docile productivity in the factory; and where a pervasive neurosis is the final gift of the meaningless life that issues forth at the other end.
What plethora of material goods can possibly atone for a waking life so humanly belittling, if not degrading, as the push-button tasks left to human performers?