Our human capacity to plan makes much of the good in our lives and our societies possible. Planning can be for good or for ill. It is a component of autonomy in the domain of thinking.
Because we are autonomous beings capable of imagining what is possible, we can plan actions that can transform our dreams into reality. The ability to plan is an essential part of the human narrative.
Histories of architecture, a discipline of planned function and aesthetics:
- Michael Fazio, Marian Moffett and Lawrence Wodehouse, A World History of Architecture (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2003).
- Alan Colquhoun, Modern Architecture (Oxford University Press, 2002).
- Vitruvius Pollio, The Ten Books on Architecture (first century BCE).
- Mark M. Jarzombek, Vikramaditya Prakash and Francis D.K. Ching, A Global History of Architecture (Wiley, 2010).
- Jonathan Glancey, The Story of Architecture (DK ADult, 2003).
- Paul Discoe and Alexandra Quinn, Zen Architecture: The Building Process as Practice (Gibbs Smith, 2008).
- Leland M. Roth, Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning (Westview Press, 1993).
- Barry Bergdall, European Architecture 1750-1890 (Oxford University Press, 2000).
- Ada Louise Huxtable, On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change (Walker & Company, 2008).
National and military intelligence services exemplify high-level planning:
- Christopher Andrew, The Secret World: A History of Intelligence (Yale University Press, 2018): “ . . . a global history of espionage and spy craft from Biblical times to the Global War on Terrorism.”
- Christopher Andrew, Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of M15 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009): “The Security Service, better known as MI5, is the domestic arm of British intelligence. While its sister organization, MI6, supplies the British government with foreign intelligence, MI5 is responsible for counterintelligence, countersubversion, counterterrorism and security within the United Kingdom.”
- Michael Handel, ed., Intelligence and Military Operations (Routlede, 1990).
- Simon Parkin, A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II (Little, Brown, 2020): how the Wrens (Women Royal Navy Service) helped win World War II.
- James Oakes, The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution (Norton, 2021): Oakes “ describes and analyzes the antislavery constitutionalism that emerged in a dialectical struggle with pro-slavery constitutionalism in antebellum America”, arguing that Lincoln and others used the Constitution to move toward abolition.
Small-scale examples of exceptional planning:
- Margalit Fox, The Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History (Random House, 2021): “ There is no shortage of valor here, but it has less to do with king and country (let alone British control of Persian oil fields) than with the bravery of two friends helping each other get home.”
Documentary and Educational Films
- Man on Wire: Philippe Petit eludes security to string a tightrope from one tower of the old World Trade Center to the other, then transfixes New York City and the world with an extended display of his art
- Festival Express: taking Woodstock on the road did not succeed
Technical and Analytical Readings
Notwithstanding the Great Depression, the past few decades have seen a decline in the American middle class and a loss of the United States’ manufacturing base. Despite our sophistication and empirical support for economic theories, myopic biases still drive national policies. Even the most sophisticated nations still have not developed learn to plan for sustainable futures. Histories of the rise and fall of nations tell this story in the negative.
- Glenn Hubbard and Tim Kane, Balance: The Economics of Great Powers From Ancient Rome to Modern America (Simon & Schuster, 2013): the authors focus on political and economic errors and urge that “American leaders apply human agency, not to bend to timeless principles of economic behavior but to learn from them.”
- Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (Random House, 1987).
- Wassily Kandinsky, Draught for Mural in the Unjuried Art Show, Wall B (1922)
- Wassily Kandinsky, Kleine Welten V (1922)
- Piet Mondrian, Tableau III with Red, Yellow, Black, Blue and Gray
- Piet Mondrian, Composition with Grid VII (1919)
- Georges Seurat, Study for "A Sunday at La Grande Jatte" (1884-85)
- François Boucher, The Dressmaker (1746)
- Georges de la Tour, The Card Sharp with the Ace of Clubs (c. 1620-40)
The attack of the right wing of the French on Papelotte was calculated, in fact, to overthrow the English left, to cut off the road to Brussels, to bar the passage against possible Prussians, to force Mont-Saint-Jean, to turn Wellington back on Hougomont, thence on Braine-l'Alleud, thence on Hal; nothing easier. With the exception of a few incidents this attack succeeded Papelotte was taken; La Haie-Sainte was carried. [Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862), Volume II – Cosette; Book First – Waterloo, Chapter V, The Quid Obscurum of Battles.]
The planning is in the writing:
- Patrick Somerville, This Bright River: A Novel (Little, Brown & Company, 2012): “. . . the novel’s back stories and present going-on finally converge at that cabin in the wilderness”
Film and Stage
- Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut (A Man Escaped): about a POW’s meticulous planning and escape from a German prison camp during World War II
- Rififi (Du Rififi Chez les Hommes): not to endorse safe-cracking but the crime was well-planned, and so was the filming of the robbery
- One, Two, Three: a comedy about what can happen when there is no time to plan; a satire on American cultural imperialism
- The Third Generation, about self-defeating plans of German terrorists
- Big Deal on Madonna Street, a “parody of the French melodrama” in which a curious collection of inept thieves can never get their plans straight
- Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: on the best-laid plans of a ‘toon, inventor of the Bun-Vac
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
- The characters in Händel's opera Ariodante make intricate plans to outwit each other. Remember, planning is a distinction; not every plan is ethical or on a high order (performances conducted by Christie, Minkowski and Bicket).
- In Händel’s opera Rodelinda, a man hatches a plot to save his wife and son, but it also contains blackmail and intrigue. Top performances were conducted by Bicket, Curtis and Harnoncourt.
- In Johann Simon Mayr’s opera Alfredo il Grande (Alfred the Great), the medieval king “Alfred the Great travels incognito, ultimately defeating the enemy and rescuing his beloved Alsvita.”
- Raga Kaushi Kannada (Kaushi Kanada – Kaushi Kannara – Kaushi Kanara – Kausi Kannada – Kausi Kanada – Kausi Kannara – Kausi Kanara) is a Hindustani classical raag for after midnight, which like all ragas denominated “Kannada” may have originated as a Carnatic ragam. “The chief ploy in Kaushi Kanada is to joining of Malkauns to the Kanada kernel. The raga thus crystallized assumes a build and its execution requires considerable forethought and skill.” (Here are links to performances by Banerjee, Rajan and Sultan Khan.)
- Foss, Behold! I Build an House
- Rossini, Le Comte Ory (1828): a young man schemes to win fair maiden, neither well nor successfully (performances conducted by Andrew Davis, Roberto Abbado and Gardiner).
- Lash, Filigree in Textile
- Goebbels, D&C: planning the city’s architecture
- Gotovac, Ero s onoga svijeta (Ero the Joker), a comic opera in which a young man tries every device he can imagine to secure the permission of a young woman’s parents to marry her
For every parcel I stoop down to seize / I lose some other off my arms and knees, / And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns -- / Extremes too hard to comprehend at once, / Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with hand and mind / And heart, if need be, I will do my best / To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall; / Then sit down in the middle of them all. / I had to drop the armful in the road / And try to stack them in a better load.
[Robert Frost, “The Armful”]