Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Downard's example

Back in the early 90’s I became quite interested in the works of James Shelby Downard through various Feral House publications. While the vast majority of his writings flew over my twenty-something head, I was still able to comprehend that Downard was tapping into certain methodologies that could be used by anyone on any subject. Want to know why watching TV can make you feel depressed? Pay closer attention to the real nature of what you are watching and you will find out why you feel so rotten. Understanding the nature of TV broadcasting forces you to use some of Downard’s methodology such as understanding the language and use of symbols and words, the etymology of words, the way we really communicate and the way we truly perceive. Downard even saw the lay of the land, geography, as a form of communication.

If you have lived or spent any good length of time in Atlanta you probably know a set of high-rise office buildings on the north end of the perimeter known as the King and Queen buildings. I’ve driven by them for years, even lived within viewing distance of them and could see them out my bedroom window for years. Imagine my surprise recently as I was stuck in traffic on 400 southbound and saw them for the first time in a new light. The official name for the buildings is the Concourse Towers. Locals know them as the King and Queen buildings due to their unique open beam construction at the top of the buildings, which makes them look like King and Queen chess pieces. Downard probably would have found the symbolism and place marks of his trade in a matter of moments, for me it took years to open my eyes.

The beam structures at the top of these two buildings are white and if they were lined up on a chessboard, the white player would be facing south, with the Queen to the left of the King. I wondered, “Who is playing chess and who is their opponent?” The black opponent, it would seem, would be the city of Atlanta itself.

There is no such thing as accidental design in architecture. All aspects of a building’s design are well thought out from the colors to the shape and there is meaning behind these and many other things on large structures. Look at the very old buildings in your city and look closely for details the architect placed into them. The idea that an architect or a firm commissioning a design for a multi-million dollar building would throw symbolism into a design with no real meaning behind those designs is absurd. Symbolism is a form of communication; even a company logo is a form of communication. Even if the logo’s real meaning is to simply elicit an emotional response in the public it is still there by design. It was talked about, thought out and debated by a group of people.

Let’s look at these buildings and the overall lay of the land in Atlanta. The buildings themselves are known as the Concourse Towers and they sit immediately on the outside center of the I-285 perimeter interstate and immediately east of the GA 400 toll road which bisects 285. If we look at the opposite end of I-285 and to the immediate west of where I-75 bisects 285; just inside the perimeter is Hartsfield-Jackson airport. There is a northern “concourse” and a southern “concourse” represented in these two locations. There is the coming together or merging of the rural, suburban, exurban and urban at the perimeter.

But there are no chess piece representations of these two buildings around the airport. The King and Queen buildings are figurative representations of a chess game being played by the northern end of Atlanta against the city of Atlanta itself. Well known as a city represented by, led and governed by African-Americans, the black chess pieces are the leadership base of the city itself. It is the white suburbs against the black inner city.

Where are the other chess pieces? This one is a bit more awkward as there is not even a grid style layout to Atlanta streets. You can still see symbolic relationships to chess pieces if you look at other landmarks around the city.

To the west of the Concourse in the position for King’s Rook you will find the Dobbins Air Reserve base and the main Lockheed aircraft assembly plant where the F-22 fighter is built. In King’s Knight position you will find the location where the Chattahoochee River makes an L-shaped bend, similar to the move that that Knight can make. In Knight’s Bishop you will find two very interesting places just a few thousand feet apart, Arlington Cemetery and the Sandy Springs Masonic lodge #124.

So, beginning in the west we have a military base and a major Military-Industrial Complex facility representing the Rook, the Castle, the Siege Tower. Three miles to the east of that facility we have a natural landmark where the river bends in an L-shape like the move made by the Knight, the only piece from the back row that can be moved before the Pawns (people), and in light of our recent water woes in the southeast where the movement of water is at issue, it is interesting to note this idea. Three miles to the east of the bend in the river we have Arlington Cemetery and the Masonic lodge representing the Bishop. Two miles to the east of the Bishop are the King and Queen buildings.

Atlanta has had it’s black King; the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. His tomb at the King Center represents the black King in this game of chess; the queen is the tomb of his late wife, Coretta Scott King. His Queen’s Bishop is represented by his church, Ebenezer Baptist Church, to the west. His Queen’s Knight could be symbolically represented by I-75-85 at the “Grady Curve” which makes a long arcing turn around the east side of downtown Atlanta, somewhat similar to the L-shaped move of the Knight. His Queen’s Rook would be the Auburn Ave. district, a “stronghold of black culture in Atlanta. If his late wife is buried to the west of his body at the King Center, I would not be surprised. This is something I would like to investigate in the near future.

Even more enlightening is to take a map of Atlanta and mark the King Center and the Atlanta Masonic Temple and draw a line between the two. If you look to the west of the King Center you will see Washington Park. Draw a line between the King Center and the park and then draw a line between Washington Park and the Masonic Temple. You now have a triangle. If you turn this triangle into the All Seeing Eye and look to the center of the eye you will find the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology. The exact center of this eye is the corner of 4th Street and Fowler Street. If you look at a map of the Tech campus you will see that this is the center of Greek housing on campus - the fraternities.

Atlanta sits on the 33rd degree of latitude. 33 being a major number with Freemasonry and leads to all sorts of interesting ideas. The main Masonic Temple of Atlanta sits on the north side of I-85 at the Brookwood interchange, across the street from the Atlanta Amtrak station at the corner of Deering Rd. and Peachtree St. If you take 85 north it is impossible to not see the temple. Fraternal orders, secret societies, hidden symbolism..it is all-present even in my city.

Look around your town a bit, look for the odd and unusual but by all means, please keep your eye out for the obvious. Sometimes secrets are best told by leaving them completely in the open, where all can see the plans of the Grand Architect.

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