the decorative rules by which ornament proliferates on the surface that grasped like ideas by the generative depths become those structures on which whole works are made

We hired bikes and ventured once more into the arena of Gaudi commercialism. Although it took a long time to get to Park Guell.

We went via the Grand Gherkin, where we stopped, hoping to be able to get to the top. Entering through a full security check, we got to see an exhibition on water, the source of all … things? Forms of life, maybe.

It was good. There was an arch made of screens showing the water-life-cycle, with a thunder and rain and adequate accompanying sound. And models of a salt-water molecule and a rain-water molecule. Stills of various sorts and eras. Filters of various sorts, mainly of the modern era. And once through I approached the English-speaking attendant. No, he said. Above is all private, all offices.

So from the Giant Gherkin we learnt about water. Forth onto Diagonal, our old favourite, now taking advantage of the cycle lanes. An Autobahn for bikes, said Q.

Past Sagrada Familia, up and on and on, until we reached the university, where yes there was a park, with a fountain by Gaudi, but not Guell. I checked the map.

It was gone. Must have fallen out before the Gherkin, otherwise I’d have remembered it when I emptied my pockets at the security check. Relying on piecing together our itinerary with the help of two guidebooks’ page-size maps, we ascertained that we were some distance away from our chosen destination. Were quite some way away, in fact.

Back-tracking, we came to Augustus. Up him, to the Traverssera de Gracia, along that to the Torrent of Flowers, upstream to the park. Sounds easy, was largely at the end uphill and by the time we reached the park, three hours had passed. We were also suddenly surrounded by people, busloads, trucking in and out, dumb pedestrians, moving in such numbers they felt they could monopolise the street as well.

The Park Guell experience itself however was exciting and inspiring. And having cycled through so much of the city, one felt attuned to the Modernisme of which it is an expression.

After all, Gaudi’s context might not contain his genius but does provide a clue as to what inspired him to inspire us. If you take on the efflorescence of the decorative arts of the mid-nineteenth century in Catalonia, you might say that this surface proliferation, itself a product of variations in decorative means and modes, forms and materials, was then internalised. By a folding in of the outside to make an inside. Which isn’t yet a satisfying explanation.

Or: By taking what is happening on the surface as decoration, a decorative pattern, for a plan, a structure, the whole becomes decorative. As in, Gaudi’s Modernisme’s place in a decorative movement, which in his work takes a turn to the grotesque: structural elements are made to conform to decorative rules.

That, I hope, better sums up the thought, and explains the proliferation of axiomatic reasons, a whole symbology expressed mathematically, for the decorative rules determining the structures he produced and designed. As if the maths didn’t come first. And possibly just might not. But requires another level of patterning, of self-organising thingness occupying a surface before axioms can be drawn. The rules. And a new code born as it sinks into the folds of the cerebrum.

Such a great technique, putting things together according to decorative rules: whether mundane, rocks, or special, already produced, the collages of patterned-glazed ceramic, and plain-colour-glazed ceramic. Of course, with its commercialisation as a site with an arty aura inflicted upon it, you get, we got, the twee cello and violin duet playing movie themetunes, crowd-pleasers. And the happy duo I’ve snapped.

Park Guell is a happy land. It has a great view too. We walked to the top, having chained our bikes up. And hurried a bit to reach the bottom again, in the warmth of early evening. Downhill all the way to Placa de Catalunya. Through el Born and only one and half hours over time.

Tonight a nice vibe out on the street. There’d been a cool group playing Cuban music down by the marina. Crowds of people out, rambling. So we went out again. For dinner. For lunch, we’d made an emergency stop at a Turkish/Syrian place, part of a chain and eaten up large, halfway up to the Guell: we were not now incredibly hungry.

Hunting down the famous paella of Barceloneta we came to our neighbourhood’s market square. Two dinosaurs were battling. Brilliant mechanisms. A happening. For Halloween.

After that, up and down, back to some grungy places we’d passed and returned to because they promised a bit of life. Under absinthe lights.

One of them was called Absinthe. It was the other that had food. Confusions followed over what dishes we’d ordered, which were the kitchen’s mistakes, which we had to pay for, and what we’d said do not bring now that we’ve eaten the kitchen’s mistakes. Was not that good. I don’t know really what they were set up for. The two waitresses had halfway fuck-you attitude and half-way not. Were reserved and severe and smiley and apologetic, hard and soft. And the atmos was … missing. But in a better way than if we were at one of the many tourist joints down Borba or on the beach. Which latter were by this time practically deserted.

After having eaten, Q. having kicked a ball and been totally seduced by late-night Barcelona life, we went for more rambling around. Bumped into an impromptu Brazilian style percussion band, with horns. People gathered. Girls were dancing. Some guy sprayed beer on everybody. And the local pub brought out a special loving cup which resembled an alembic for the players.

Down on the sand, the sand sculptures were still around, even if most of the sculptors were tucked up elsewhere. Halloween theme guy, whose stuff I didn’t snap – it was kind of boring, except for the flaming eyes of the skulls, which the camera doesn’t really like -, and his girlfriend, had all their gear under a beach umbrella, even though the sign read to please clear the beach by midnight for cleaning to take place.