[Update: please see comments for a response from Mr. Roth and a bit of an apology from me.]
I received a note in our mailbox from the lady that runs Arcosanti's guest services (in English, she's my boss when I give tours). Seems a "journalist" (to be fair, this was her term; the writer as far as can tell makes no such claim) came visiting last week and got a few wrong impressions of us. As you might expect, I have a few thoughts on the matter:
First of all, Mr. Roth was given some bad, or at least misleading information on his tour. There have been several new tour guides (including yours truly) and the training is somewhat lacking. Mostly you follow around a few tours and read some printed material, then someone is supposed to follow you around to make sure you don't give out bad or misleading information. In my case, I was doing tours before I followed any because the person I was going to follow couldn't do the tour at the last minute, and I have yet to have anyone follow me. What can I say other than "We're working on it."
Mr. Roth's first two sentences about Arcosanti are: "For Arcosantians, Paolo Soleri is the sun. As if to prove it, our guide pronounced his Christian name much like Apollo." Uh, that might be because that's how his name is pronounced. Talk about reading way too much into nothing.
Anyone who calls Paolo's home luxurious has obviously never been to Cosanti. Paolo lives in a small ranch house that was on the property when it was purchased in the 1950's. Emphasis on the "small".
Most residents don't even bother to attend School of Thought, not alone "flock to hear him [Paolo]." And the ones that do attend are far from slack-jawed worshippers at the feet of the Master. Paolo is frequently challenged, argued with, shouted down, and even booed on occasion. There may be uncritical worshippers of Paolo somewhere, but you won't find them here.
Mr. Roth says, "The name [Arcosanti] is said to mean 'against material things' -anti-cosi - thought quite obviously it was meant to suggest a sacred ark as well." It was meant to suggest no such thing. First, Cosanti is a word Paolo made up by combining anti (Latin for "against") and cosa (Italian for "things") and is meant to convey the idea of 'against material things'. Arcology is a work Paolo made up by combining "architecture" and "ecology" and is stands for a style of architecture that is designed to fit into the local ecology instead of in opposition to it. Arcosanti is the combination of "arcology" and "cosanti". Mr. Roth links to the Wikipedia entry on Consanti which clearly explains all this. No suggestion of a "sacred ark" other than in the author's own imagination.
No one pays Paolo to have him sketch them in the nude. If Mrs. Roth could have checked her "horror" long enough to read the leaflets that were sitting directly in front of her while she was leafing through the portfolio, she would have known that.
I could go on and on (no, we don't all huddle around a ringing phone breathlessly hoping it's Paolo; no, our TV wasn't stolen; yes, the five school-age kids here ride a bus seven whole miles to school just like millions of other kids) but that probably amounts to beating a dead horse.