Cities, Virtue, and Corruption

A trio of reads to share with you this Eclipse Monday. (Can’t you tell how cheery they are from the post title?)

Whatever this cost...

Masonic Temple of Springfield, Ohio.

First, a review of the new book Rethinking Modernism and the Built Environment, a collection of essays edited by Almantas Samalavicius. As you likely know, I’m not a fan of modern architecture, and in fact would consider myself an enemy of its inhumanity.

As Samalavicius sees it, the challenges cities face are not only “unprecedented levels of urbanity,” but the homogenizing effects of “economic globalism” and how they have reduced or erased local and cultural diversity. Moreover, this is not a new, 21st-century phenomenon.The large-scale reconstruction of Europe after World War II, he says, “demanded cheap and functional buildings, and that was what architectural Modernism seemed to be able to offer.”

…as summed up by Nikos Salingaros, author of Principles of Urban Structureis that “By removing urban complexity, the simplistic Modernist model has destroyed our cities.”

A brief review, but worth reading. If you’d like another (less pricey) read along the same lines, Thomas Wolfe’s From Bauhaus To Our Haus is quite worthwhile indeed.

Architecture influences those living around and within it, and our own hearts, of course, influence architecture (as it is out of human hearts that building designs spring). So I can’t help but see this excellent Daniel Greenfield piece, Virtue and the Moral Fall of Civilization, as related to the modern state—and small, if increasing rebellion against—of architecture.

A civilization is not a mechanical endeavor, but a moral one. The virtues that uphold a civilization, the ability to reason, to work hard, to study how to solve a problem, to sacrifice now for future gain, to cooperate with those outside the tribe, to value truth, beauty and goodness for their own sake are individual, but they are also social. A society that cultivates these virtues in people can prosper. As society loses these virtues, it grows dysfunctional. It loses winnable wars, it squanders vast wealth, it loses its work ethics, its ability to cooperate and to plan for the long term. It slowly dies.

Barbarians are not savages because they wear loincloths or bones through their noses, or even because they lack the majority of these virtues, but because they lack the ability to appreciate them. A barbarian who appreciates civilizational virtues can become civilized, but a civilized barbarian may wear a suit and tie, but is still a savage because he cannot even appreciate the virtues of his ancestors.

As a civilization declines, it becomes barbaric.

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Century Mark, Plus Happy Garden Stuff

Hey, last week I finally managed to put 100 items in the shop! Considering all we’ve been through and all that has gone on over the past several months, it was a big deal to me, anyhow.

Not one to ignore milestones, I made sure it was a favourite:

Packard 900-Series Light Eight Coupe Roadster

This handsome (almost remarkably so, considering the car is unrestored) ’32 Packard remains one of the most memorable automobiles I’ve ever photographed. She was a lucky find at the end of a very long day!

One of my other loves being gardening, this morning I was overjoyed to find the first zinnia of the season blooming away. Hurrah! (Alas, the lens on my phone was apparently quite smudged, but life goes on. You get the idea, and I was/am so happy.)

Carousel Zinnia

Since we moved in so late in the year, we got the garden going even later (mid-June); with lots of unused space therein due to this fact, I decided to fill said space with flowers. Continue reading

But my drea—!

Right now, my hometown pizza favourite, Little Caesar’s, is airing a terrifically funny commercial.

I actually do laugh out loud every time we see this. Also…Is anyone else wondering if the practical, thoughtful, and smart Mike Rowe was the inspiration for this ad?

The Government We Deserve

Last week, I was listening to (the marvellous) Paul W. Smith broadcasting from my hometown while doing some morning work. At one point he began discussing the news that yet another Michigander, Kid Rock, was considering a run for Senate*, with (if I recall correctly) Free Press writer Kathleen Gray, and comments from still another Michigander (we’re everywhere, bwah ha ha!) political consultant Tom Shields:

…Shields said nothing surprises him about politics anymore.

…It wouldn’t matter that the rocker has a boatload of baggage, from frequent crude insults to a brief marriage to bombshell actress Pamela Anderson, to a picture he tweeted out just a few hours before his Senate tease, showing him flipping an unseen person the bird.

“Normal political baggage does not apply here. You’re not going to beat him because he dropped an F-bomb somewhere,” Shields said. “Traditional political rules don’t apply.”

Paul W. suggested the possibility—and he may not be far off the mark—that we may be entering an era in which only celebrities run for office, because normal people aren’t especially keen on having our lives aired out on every source of media 24/7. Continue reading

Writers Write.

Ohio Beauty

It’s an old saying, and a true one. The unspoken second part of this, though, may well be that a writer who isn’t writing is a writer beginning to go a bit antsy. That has been yours truly for a couple of years, after the whirlwind sale of our house (in 24 hours, with several offers) and moving (within 30 days) while looking for a new home (nope) ended up with our living in a windowless (almost entirely not kidding) apartment “for only about six or eight months, until we find something”…Six months that turned into two years. The best-laid plans…! We ended up buying acreage and building a carriage house, which we settled into by mid-May. But you can imagine that so much upheaval isn’t really conducive to writing (particularly the no windows bit, and again, that’s not completely hyperbole. What are architects about these days, anyhow? Certainly not human beings).

Our spring has been most eventful. The most eventful thing is something I’m simply not sure I’m ready to write about here—though if you know me, you know that I’ll probably decide I’m ready next week. (Women, right?) But even before we moved and everything else that has happened, I found myself thinking it was time to write again, that it’s something I, personally, simply need to do. After all, I’ve been wordsmithing since childhood. My husband agrees this will probably be a good thing for me to do, too.

So here we are! But some notes first.  Continue reading

Preparing to weigh anchor…

The Winged Lady

The Winged Lady

Well, the time is finally near—a week from tomorrow (Friday), we are putting our current house on the market! Despite my natural Felix Unger-like tendencies, that has meant a lot of throwing stuff out, a lot of packing, a little decluttering (mostly de-personalizing, really, as I’m violently allergic to clutter), and some extra-deep cleaning (happily, due to my previously noted proclivities, this is not actually difficult in any way; being mildly obsessive-compulsive has its benefits!).

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