House of Cards, Origami Cities, & Romantic Relationships (The Bus Reprise)

Bryan Berg holds world records for the world’s tallest house of cards, and for the world’s largest house of cards.  He uses no tape, glue, or tricks, and his method has been tested to support 660 pounds per square foot.

A house of cards is a structure created by stacking playing cards on top of each other.  This method relies on nothing more than balance and friction in order to stay upright. Ideally, adhesives or other external connecting methods are not used, and no damage or alterations are made to the cards themselves. The larger the structure, the more tragic its collapse.  Each balanced card supporting the design is something that could potentially go wrong.

Comparable to Berg’s card towers is Wataru Ito’s origami city model, crafted entirely from paper.  Ito finished building the city in the summer of 2009, after working on it for four years.  At one point, the project became so large that Ito had to sleep under a table in his tiny flat.  The breathtaking creation is approximately 7 x 6 feet wide, and 3 feet tall.  It contains a cathedral, school, factory, theme park, airport, and even a castle.

He plans to burn it down.

Similar to these structures are romantic relationships. The balance relied on is the equality between two people.  There must be strength individually and combined to offer the stability necessary to prevent the collapse.  After years of dedication, it can be a beautifully crafted city.  Still, if there is a repressed arsonist in one of the inhabitants, he/she can light the match at any moment.

However, Berg claims that the more cards placed on a tower the stronger it becomes, because the weight of the cards pushing down on the base (increasing friction) allows occasional cards to stumble without the entire structure collapsing. He also claims that proper stacking technique allows cards to function as shear walls, giving considerable permanence to the structure.

Additionally, of his work Ito says, “I am devoted while I am working on my projects but I quickly lose interest when I complete them… I will burn the castle. I thought I could see it rising up from the ashes if I took a video and played it backwards.”

I have made houses out of cards before, and I have been in romantic relationships.  Neither have been strong enough to stand for an extended period of time, and my stacking abilities or neurosis are likely to blame. I want to play it all backwards; I want to watch the sublime and curious beginning of a relationship rise out of the disappointment and heartache of the end.

One time, I let it fall and it buried me.  Last time, I burned it down and ended up choking on the fumes.

I don’t know what I should do this time.  Sometimes, I think I should just stop building.

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Berg working (above), Berg’s tallest house of cards: Cinderella’s Castle (below)


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Ito working on his origami city (above), Ito’s completed masterpiece (below)

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4 Responses to “House of Cards, Origami Cities, & Romantic Relationships (The Bus Reprise)”

  1. Adam Says:

    It’s troubling to think that Ito has the personality type to strike a match at any given point — but then, he’s announced his plans. Especially considering the origami makes the card house look like something one of the Queen of Hearts’s royal guard vomited up after he drank too much fermented toner.
    If only we pathetically romantic individuals could be as fatalistically unattached to the sophomoric (at best) concept of a ‘romantic relationship that lasts’ as Ito. Nothing good lasts forever, not a human life, not an orgasm, not an acid trip or a rollercoaster ride or even a filet mingnon, although beef will do its damndest to make a fool of the idea of impermanence, see diverticulitus…. Consciousness itself is eternal, sure enough, but doesn’t even that sound like a cop-out when the question of whom you’ll be sleeping next to hangs over your poor, sad, lonely head? What is the deal with that? And what is the deal with sabotage? I don’t know, I can’t even get a fucking date right now. The best I got is hentai — another totally Japanese conception — they’ve been doing tentacle porn for like almost 200 years now!!! — and also a tezstament to permanence. Where there are people so helplessly, vainly obsessed with the concept of a partner, totally in denial about just how cold blooded their self centeredness is, there will be some otaku scribbling up pictures of many tentacled rapists from hell conquering the innocence of schoolgirls. And the production value will be quite high. Oh-HO!!!

    At least I didn’t say something about stability and friction as the foundation for a lasting relationship. Darn.

  2. Adam Says:

    PLease frogive the horrible grammar and mechanics of my last comment. I went thru once, I swooped instead of pecking. Not my style. But hey, at least I tried goddammit, at least I did that.

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