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JimM, I agree with you completely! The Fellowship was little more than a rejiggering of the office system that FLW had used since 1893. Olga's role in "saving" Wright is grossly overstated. One source told me that the only reason he stayed with Olga was that he was just too old and tired to go through another divorce. He also raged against turning Taliesin into a center for a Gurdjieffian cult.
For a real eye-opener, read Svetlanna Ailiuleva Peters' account of her brief and expensive encounter with the Taliesin Horde. Since she had a front row seat to the goings on back in the USSR and a personal history with Josef Stalin, her evaluation of the situation and the parallels she draws between Olga and Joe are revealing and unsettling. I would be inclined to believe anything about Olga of a negative nature, and very little that would flatter her. I met her; she was the principal reason I did not go to Taliesin.
Everything comes out eventually, there are no enduring secrets. Even Deep Throat revealed himself. So if this book reveals some of the vast amount of dirty laundry to be found in Taliesin's shadowy corners, that is not a bad thing, salacious or not.
It is being marketed as a volume that "will forever change how we think of Frank Lloyd Wright and his world". A grand statement, I was'nt aware of a world wide love fest (meaning the all encompassing acceptance of Wright, and his world) that needed to be exposed and brought down. This is the tone that I perhaps wrongly detect. As i explore the authors background, more and more begins to make some sense. All his writings are available on most of the Gurdjieffian websites. His bent seems to be a fascination with *, religion, and politics. Well, there we have the three things, not recommended for idle chat around the water cooler, and a * topic indeed. Of course in the world of academia, it is publish or perish.
Roderick Grant wrote:I met her; she was the principal reason I did not go to Taliesin.
Having been so influenced by Frank, it has always been uncomfortable feeling critical for so long, and not quite "getting" something about Olga. My instincts have been similar to yours (though I never met her). I have tucked away my application for Taliesin from 1974. Reading through it, something didn't jive for me. While contemplating summers in Switzerland, apparent indentured servitude, etc., the light finally came on. At about the same age as the original apprentices, I asked myself: why in the world would I want to jump through the hoops at Taliesin, when the only acceptable reason for being there had already been dead for 15 years? For Olga?
As I learned more over time, Olga appeared to have made Frank's final years less than tolerable, as opposed to the spin of bliss still perpetrated by the surviving sycophants. The newer tidbits coming out continue to confirm what I have always suspected. How sad that Frank often had to flee TW to David's house, needing to escape Olga and her whirling dervishes.
Olga no longer surprises (until I read that book at least!), but what sticks in my craw these days is the state of his "fellowship". Sci-Arc styled elitist pinheads giving knee jerk reverence to Frank while practicing architecture which would have him rolling in his grave....if Olga had allowed him to stay there.
The info about Olgivanna in the "Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man" was really interesting. And Wijdeveld's influence on the Fellowship charter was really exciting--very important within the whole canon.
And then there were the letters between Wes and Svet (never guessed--and I never, ever would have guessed that Yen Liang had a problem with the old man); and the details about the upbringing of Iovanna and Svetlanna; and FLW's violence; and the anti-Semitism and homophobia from so many people.... And all the other stuff (although, after all the publicity, the "* Clubs" chapter was almost a letdown).
But, yeah, do you think that the authors (or proofreaders) could have agreed on the ages of Olgivanna and Svetlanna at any point? And what about FLW? They say he's 66 in 1932. And Olgivanna and Svetlanna's ages fluctuate--is Svetlanna 8, 9, 10? In 1927? It's a toss-up!
Is it "Armenian" or "American"?
Is it "Davison" or "Davidson"?
Robert Bishop - "We discussed at length his inability to have close friends, and he 'confessed' that his worst weakness, and the most conscience-pricking, was his unconcern for others as people in their own right, to be cherished and remembered, and befriended."
What happened to Mr. Wright to cause such a sad defect?
I'm about 3/4 done. Its been interesting. The notes are fairly solid, and frankly, it all makes sense to me some of the craziness that happened in those years, given the personalities involved. Indeed we are still seeing the remnants of the ills of the Fellowship today.
I am even more convinced that there is no purpose to having a Fellowship now, perhaps even since Wright died. The affairs at Taliesin won't ever get to a semblance of order and prosperity until the old guard dies off.
I also found it interesting to learn about the present status of Iovanna. With her parents, I get the impression that she never had a chance in real life. Olgivanna was sure a piece of work!
I thought they dismantled the practice a few years ago???
If so the fellowship is not much more than an alumni club. One that will never have any new members.
There were a large number of historians who discounted and pooh pooh'd the Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemings controversey, saying that such behavior was below Jefferson and a founding father would never do such a thing. And guess what? They were dead wrong, as modern day DNA tests have shown. Its much the same here. There are a ton of negative aspects to FLLW's life, much of it mired in that instituition known as the Fellowship. This book (and to a lesser extent, the Ken Burns film) merely brings these aspects to life.
If * was an undeniable current in the Fellowship, then it is what it is. We cannot deny it. If Olgavanna was an overbearing manipulative dictator, we cannot deny it. If there are some people who would rather not face the truth and need to view Wright "with the bark on", without all of the facts, then they are not being honest with themselves or their subject. I prefer to not stick my head in the sand when examining a subject.
A ring of truthfulness does not qualify as being the truth. Twisting of facts to support the perspectives of the authors does not qualify as the truth. The major players in all of this are dead. Dead people do not sue for defamation. Just because something is published that does not hardly merit it as being truthful or factual. I am accepting of the truth in whatever form it takes. What I question is the manipulation of the facts to support the point of view of the authors.EJ wrote:I guess I can understand Paul's point, but if the facts are what they are (and until someone get sued for defamation and the notes in the book line up we can assume the facts are, at the very least, have a ring of truthfulness) then, oh well.
And, for that matter, how they are manipulated.
Perhaps I should stop reading about anyone who is dead and concentrate only on those who are alive. Only then I can know what truth is.
Forgive my absence while I throw out my entire library of history books.