4.7.2021 – aristocracy

or democracy, openness
over arrogance?

Adapted from the book, The Architecture of Happiness (2009, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

However, there might be a way to surmount this state of sterile relativism with the help of John Ruskin’s provocative remark about the eloquence of architecture.

The remark focuses our minds on the idea that buildings are not simply visual objects without any connection to concepts which we can analyse and then evaluate.

Buildings speak – and on topics which can readily be discerned.

They speak of democracy or aristocracy, openness or arrogance, welcome or threat, a sympathy for the future or a hankering for the past.

What Ruskin is quoted as saying is:

‘A day never passes without our hearing our architects called upon to be original and to invent a new style,’ observed John Ruskin in 1849, bewildered by the sudden loss of visual harmony.

What could be more harmful, he asked, than to believe that a ‘new architecture is to be invented fresh every time we build a workhouse or parish church?

According the The New York Review of Books, this is “A perceptive, thoughtful, original, and richly illustrated exercise in the dramatic personification of buildings of all sorts.”

What I find irrestible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, I would.

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