September 26, 2021

Are you, too, a Heretic in the Cult of New?

A followup to F*ck MinimalismF*ck ModernGive me Joyously ClutteredAntiqueUpcycledRepurposed.

I’ve been in Paris for nearly three weeks, for the second visit of my life. I’ve never been to Europe, much, and never anywhere else that prizes historic preservation. So it’s striking, here, looking about, and up, and finding joyful built details in homes and subways and parks, everywhere I look. I am filled with that joy. A joy for all of us, not just the very rich. There’s a term for that: commonwealth.



All of Paris is this demonstration of craft and excellence and beauty…that just slid in the 50s and then fell off a cliff thereafter.
The Louvre is a perfect example of this…jawdropping beauty and woodwork and plaster…that fades into drywall and drab colors and bland paneling circa an anywhere-USA underfunded 1982 library in the newer wing.

But it’s not just seen in royal or renowned contexts…the classic, dense, tall, many-dormered apartment buildings are exquisite homes for the imagination, warmth, fresh air and light, and real lives…whereas the newer ones are as awful and soul-crushing as anything you’d see in Ft. Lauderdale.

I am all for modernism or au courant art (of which I’ve enjoyed some diverse and bold examples) or technology (velib and protected bike lanes, bio or vegan restaurants and boulangeries, charging stations for electric cars, wifi) if it’s done with intent, or caring craft, if it contributes, but current incentives don’t seem to reward patient delight in craft, eco-responsibility, or beauty and utility both, for we the people, in our commons.

And there is a cult for “new,” an insecurity even in the midst of classic splendor, that says “change for the sake of change,” even when that change is cheap and regrettable.

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Waylon Lewis  |  Contribution: 1,549,685