Archive for May 23rd, 2005

The End of Temperamental Conservatism

Conservatism as a sort of acceptance of cultural defaults is not conservative now. As observed some thirty years ago by John Prine:

It don’t make much sense
That common sense
Don’t make no sense
No more

Maclin Horton

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I’m trying…

…not to have a knee-jerk negative reaction to the new Oakland cathedral. I mean, it’s true enough that it isn’t in God’s law that the medieval design must be our pattern for church architecture forever. But my instincts keep saying that this is not the right direction.

I have less interest in the visual arts than in the others and not much visual sense, especially as regard architecture. So I don’t necessarily take this as being true for most people, but for me this design has in common with the Los Angeles cathedral a sort of visual muddle, a moebius-like confusion as to how the surfaces fit together. The LA is worse in that respect. This is a harsh thing to say, but my first reaction to it was to think of the Objective Room in C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength.

Indeed, having located a picture of the LA cathedral to refresh my memory, I find this statement on the cathedral web site: "…a dynamic, contemporary Cathedral with virtually no right angles. This geometry contributes to the Cathedral’s feeling of mystery and its aura of majesty".

Well "mystery" and "majesty" are not the words I would use. "Confusion," rather. Or maybe "disorientation." If I remember correctly, right angles were avoided in the Objective Room.

Maclin Horton

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