Sunday, February 9, 2020

Building for a Smaller Future

Is it really a good week for the president when the highlight is that he's been acquitted by the Senate on an impeachment charge?  And then he does his best impression of a the Night of the Long Knives on Friday, purging the members of his administration who saw what he was doing with Ukraine and though it wrong. The bar is lying on the ground, my friends.

But just in case you thought that the president could rise above the petty politics he practices and appeal to a wider swath of Americans, along comes a proposal that is truly frightening and perhaps more devastating to our way of life. That's right; I'm talking about the proposed Executive Order that would establish a classical architectural style as the default for all new government buildings. Inspired by Greek and Roman styles, these buildings would not just be confined to Washington, but would apply to federal buildings throughout the country.

And who would be one of the arbiters? Mr. Architecture himself, the president.

It's bad enough that he uses vile language and demeans people with offensive nicknames. Now he wants the Trump aesthetic to be the defining artistic movement of the 2020s. Can you say shortsighted with a straight face? I'm sure we all know about regimes that attempt to define what is art and language and who belongs to appropriate ethnicities and how to think and what to write. Are we headed in that direction?

We're already in the car and on the road.

I can understand that many people in the United States have trouble with some modern art because some of it is not outwardly aesthetically pleasing. It's there to make us think. To consider our definitions of beauty and form and structure and why we would use certain materials to express ourselves. But to say that it's all ugly and confusing and that a nice Roman or Greek column would look better in front of every government building is the very definition of small-mindedness, anti-intellectualism, ethnocentrism, and fear of the unknown.

Yes, we have more pressing problems, but this is one that can grow into something far bigger.

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