My brother, his wife Sabrina and her two sons stayed a stretch in Germany for treatment of the two sons’ Lyme disease – successful treatment, by the way. They were in Stuttgart when Tony, a noted philosopher of the mind/body/nature continuum, had the following thought, which he passed along to his brother:
It occurred to me, while looking at this building in Stuttgart, what a feeble attempt this little ornament was, to distract us from such a sterile monstrosity. Walking further in this same neighborhood, I remarked that the apartment buildings were unattractive – cement high-rises with random-looking balconies. … I had a political epiphany.
To keep people from gathering, fraternizing, plotting, such buildings keep people inside, apart, and weak. But the internet, Facebook, Twitter, and all that, turns it literally inside-out. So it occurred to me that a traditional revival, along the lines that you dream of – inspiring people to be outside – might find political support simply because it keeps people from their computers. As well, a riotous mob might be less inclined to destroy a cityscape that they find lovable.
Anyway, I thought you might get a kick out of these musings.
Tony, you may be onto something. Being surrounded by beauty while rallying to support beauty might be helpful. Whatever the issue at hand, beautiful buildings generate political support, providing incentive to gather as folks rally to their beliefs instead of staying inside to gaze at their screens. Who wants to destroy a lovely environment? Citizens of Paris and Stuttgart might not have minded in 1848, as they knew a damaged building would be repaired or rebuilt in an equally lovely way. Today, who cares, since so many buildings are so ugly? People stay inside to avoid the inevitable angst of the built environment outdoors. But if they go outside, they may bring their screens along – but at least they will be able to see and join the multitudes who receive their texts.