Amerika

Return to beauty

Our society has focused on utilitarian aspects for too long: what the average person wants, how to compromise and get along, what will not offend anyone, what one size might fit all, and what sort of standard allows the average person to succeed.

The result is that we have forgotten beauty.

Unlike function, beauty does not deconstruct. If you take one pixel of a great and famous artwork, you get a color of some dubious shade — it will not be, by itself, beautiful. With several million of its compatriots, it forms an image which emerges from the effect of the colors taken as a whole.

However, managerial society does not like taking many details together as a whole. It likes simple and straightforward: deconstruction to isolate a single factor, then comparing different methods of achieving that factor, then finally making an industrial process to make that factor increase in quantity.

The other option, then, is quality.

One of Edmund Burke’s famous quotes from Reflections on the Revolution in France sums up the contemporary official attitude to architecture and planning: “I cannot conceive how any man can have brought himself to that pitch of presumption, to consider his country as nothing but carte blanche, upon which he may scribble whatever he pleases.” This is the universal versus the particular.

I am promoting a Conservative view of architecture and town planning which advocates the design of new buildings by developing from the traditional styles that already exist in diverse towns and cities rather than forcing incongruous buildings into a round hole: the exploitation of cities across the world for a Global style of architecture. There is enough disjuncture in British urbiscapes as it is after the Second World War blitzes and sixty years of depredations by local councils without adding incongruous excrescences to it.

It is difficult to get a hearing for a non-orthodox idea. The Liberal-Marxist online journal Spiked would not use an article I wrote as an alternative view to an article praising The Shard. They complimented it but asked me to chop it down and send it as letter! Why suppress a different point of view? – New English Review

Universalism is deconstruction. In order to make something fit into every situation, it must be wholly generic and without any unique characteristics. This means simplifying, standardizing, utilitarian redesigning, dumbing down, averaging, conformity, uniformity and loss of distinct features. Boring.

However, universalism is “fair” because each individual likes to think of himself or herself as a universal. They want to be able to fit anywhere, and so they think there should be no obstacles. They know the world entirely through their minds, so the inability to fit into the mental construct they have of the world in any way strikes them as paradoxical.

The problem with universalism is that with the loss of these unique traits we lose everything but the utilitarian. All is function; all is isolated, considering as if in a laboratory in a single abstract moment with no thought to the consequences.

If you wonder why our world has become ugly, and slave like and functional, this is why.

As conservatives we defend free markets and capitalism against the onslaught of socialists and their deranged managed economy brethren. This does not mean that our ultimate goal is capitalism by itself. Our ultimate goal is a sane society, of high quality and producing people of high quality.

We know too well that without such a society, markets take over. Just as when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail, when an economy or government knows nothing but itself, it soon dominates everything. Ideas do this, trends do this, and even our social systems (like economics) can do it.

The economist Richard Layard is one of many who claim that unemployment is one of those misfortunes, like divorce and chronic pain, that most affect long-term happiness. Work is good, he says, because it gives people meaning, self-respect and the chance to make a contribution; unemployment is bad because it robs them of all this.

But unemployment is by no means the only work issue to affect mental health. Any significant discrepancy between our wished-for and actual work reality can be corrosive to our wellbeing. Some find their work soul-destroying but don’t have ready alternatives, while others flit from job to job in search of “the one”. Since the perfect blend of fulfilling and well-paid work is not always attainable, many people face the challenge of concocting the next best thing.

It may help to remember that paid employment is not the sole provider of purpose, self-worth and engagement. A job can work against us if it is experienced as tedious and irrelevant. Even Layard qualifies his praise by saying that work is vital if that is what you want, and if it is fulfilling. Tying too close a knot between meaningful activity and paid employment can be perilous, as we know from people who lose all sense of meaning when they retire. – Financial Times

Certainly we did not set out to make an empire of slavery, and in fact, we tried hard not to.

However, by making all individuals equal, we created an intense competition for resources. Nothing is given except to those who are used ruthlessly by our commerce; thus, we all compete by packing off to work. The old style jobs, where you inherited a role and unless incompetent kept it, are gone.

The resulting instability makes a society constantly at war with itself. True, it’s in the name of a good cause — but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Despite population growth, the number of Americans with jobs fell again last year, with total employment of just under 150.4 million — down from 150.9 million in 2009 and 155.4 million in 2008. In all, there were 5.2 million fewer jobs than in 2007, when the deep recession began, according to the IRS data.

The figures are just one more indication of the toll that the worst downturn since the Great Depression has taken on the U.S. economy. – The Washington Post

If you add more people to a society, competition becomes more difficult and good jobs more scarce.

Since 1965, we have imported people from impoverished countries to be our cheap labor, and we have outsourced much of our own cheap labor to other countries.

The result is a concentration of wealth toward the top. However, we did this in the name of equality, fairness, morality and “freedom.”

Could it be that motivating ourselves by deconstructed ideas like “freedom” ends up making a cheapened, spread-too-thin, broken down and mediocre version of our past society?

It seems like that’s what we are living in now.

Let’s do away with these linear ideas, and replace them with complex ideas like beauty, honor, adventure and quality.

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