Artistic Hierchy of Scale: The Narcissism of Administrative Law
Above is the White Temple of Uruk from the ancient world of Mesoptamia. One of the oldest and advanced civilzations to have ever existed and proves to Art Historians as a dedication to human intelligence, craft, and the advancement of civilization: a monument to the evolution from a difficult world of scavenging, of hunting and gathering to a new world of settled society, specialized labor and technology.
Yet the birth of settled society instilled a natural instinct in humans in terms of roles of administration and the power that figures of authority should hold. Much of early society sustained itself on Theocratic law: laws that determined that if one wanted to enjoy being a member of society, they would have to follow the "policies" or the laws of a higher being (i.e. The White Temple of Uruk worshipped the sky god Anu).
These buildings were usually largest and located in center of cities on elevated platforms to emphasize on their importance to society. Throughout societies however, no matter what system the society might be ran under, one thing is clear: mankind believed that the hierchy of scale -the more bigger and shinier something is- the more important it is.
In a vain sense, mankind, since the development of society, believed that administrating law was important and should be exclusive only to the most educated and private members of society. The White Temple of Uruk purposely had a bottlenecked staircase to emphasize on the exclusive purpose of this building meant only for the wealthy political class of society despite being one of the largest buildings in the city at the time. The architects purposely restricted the size of enterances such as windows and doors to illustrate the high-standard requirements that needs to be met in order to enter such building of authority and public administration. It was also seen closer to God in the sense, being the tallest building in the community.
The White temple of Uruk was built utilizing Bitumen, a form of water proofing cement that whitened anything in which it was applied and gave it an almost blinding texture. Often applied with Gold, Bitumen was applied to the tops of Egyptian Pyramids and was utilized by the French Aristocracy in sites of important public offices and administration of law. In fact, when combined with the Gold, the structure would be nearly impossible to see. Often times, having bigger buildings meant stronger societies that are less likely to be attacked and more likely to survive longer.
Yet, the the obsession with constructing massive structures to house processes of administrative law, also just tied into simple bragging rights, often fueled by nationalism (or perhaps simple narcissm) that has carried on till today.
The obsession with balance can be seen across all societies - In Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler planned to make one of his administative offices, the Schwerbelastungskörper (shown below) so massive that it would have its own weather inside and illustrate the height of German power. Of course, this project was doomed from the start after the laws of Nazi Germany was squashed after their defeat in WWII and even most Nazi Architects scoffed at this project ever being made possible. Yet, this massive, clearly impossible project, illustrate the primitive narcisstic competitive edge that humans have when it comes to the unquenchable need to display their power. In communist societies, the Brutalist Architecture of Administrative Offices often are made of hard concrete, stone, and steel, to emphasize on the "timeless power" of these societies.
Even in Free Societies, like that of America, the primitive instinct to build massive public offices of administrative law can be seen. Capitalist nations across the world with bounties of resources, utilize what they can to participate in a petty race to see who can build the most tallest skyscraper that will rise all over others. Glossy, and Blinding, these buildings often serve as the commercial hubs of world economics and politics.
In the DMZ between the two Koreas, the public offices participate in almost childish fights: in the 1980s, the South Korean government erected a 323-foot-tall pole in Taesong-dong and flew the country's flag. North Korea responded by building a 525-foot flagpole with a larger flag over Kijong-dong. This skirmish has gone on for years with the apparent goal being to show that one's administrative laws are better than the other.
Of course having taller flag poles show nothing about the nation, its occupants, and its wealth, yet both sides appear to feel comfort in knowing that their flag is bigger and taller.
Since the birth of the first civilized society and the first public office of administrative law, we have also given birth to primitive, almost instinctive form of narcissism, because without this narcissism our ancestors felt that they could not survive. It is an known fact that societies cannot sustain long-term on hunter-gatherer societies without law and order, it was this dependence on law and order that led humans to worship administrative law and doing anything to show its power because without administrative law and the competition for its efficiency humanity could not survive.
Even today, that instinct lives strong within us, which is why we always seek to find monumental things that rank high on the hierchy of scale because we believe that is the only we can find security -the only way for the future generations to know that we preserved a civilized process of administrative law that will ensure survival.
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Ugc. “Schwerbelastungskörper.” Atlas Obscura, Atlas Obscura, 23 July 2009, https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/schwerbelastungskorper.