such a factual
description seemed little
help pinning down why
Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:
I began word-painting.
Descriptive passages came most readily: the offices were tall; the top of one tower was like a pyramid; it had ruby-red lights on its side; the sky was not black but an orangey-yellow.
But because such a factual description seemed of little help to me in pinning down why I found the scene so impressive, I attempted to analyse its beauty in more psychological terms.
The power of the scene appeared to be located in the effect of the night and of the fog on the towers.
Night drew attention to facets of the offices that were submerged in the day.
Lit by the sun, the offices could seem normal, repelling questions as effectively as their windows repelled glances.
But night upset this claim to normality, it allowed one to see inside and wonder at how strange, frightening and admirable they were.
The offices embodied order and cooperation among thousands, and at the same time regimentation and tedium.
A bureaucratic vision of seriousness was undermined, or at least questioned, by the night.
One wondered in the darkness what the flipcharts and office terminals were for: not that they were redundant, just that they might be stranger and more dubitable than daylight had allowed us to think.
Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.
According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.
As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible 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, hey, I would.