With regard to the British Guardian, I generally hold ambivalent, tending toward moderately disdainful, feelings. Via Arts & Letters Daily, though, I discovered a stupendously honest, spot-on piece, from Germaine Greer, lamenting the grotesqueness of the (European) homes that herald modern prosperity and “escape” from the drudgeries of Arcadia.
Vernacular building had the advantage that it had to be done with locally available materials, which pretty much guaranteed that it would harmonise with the landscape.
[ . . . ]
Houses grew uglier as the proportion of architects in the population and their share of the new-build budget grew. New houses are now universally horrible, and eco-houses are the most horrible of the lot. The builders of eco-houses accept as a given the basic shape and dropsical proportions of the two-storey suburban villa, with pitched roofs, end gables, front porch, picture windows, chimneys, and so forth. This may be because local planning authorities demand that they be “in keeping”, even though there is little aesthetic merit in what they are expected to be in keeping with
As evinced by the results adduced by Mistress Greer respecting architecture, as well as the works of Frank Gehry; by the persisting mediocrity of American presidents in the times of un-challenged universal suffrage; and by the distressingly un-impressive results of wide-spread public education(:
[W]hat really counts is what all these people are to read once they have learned how to read. Nor do they seem to have asked themselves whether the standardized educational system by which illiteracy is eradicated was always favorable to a wise choice of reading matter. “The average Englishman” reads garbage “while in Portugal, the state with the highest rate of illiteracy in western Europe, the reading of serious books and journals, per head of population, is much higher than in enlightened England. . . . ” (Russell Kirk, Beyond the Dreams of Avarice [Chicago, 1956], 303-304) – Wilhelm Röpke, A Humane Economy, page fifty-nine.),
that the doctrine of progress has categorically — or, even equivocally –benefitted man-kind, most assuredly, is fact, beyond challenge. If these examples fail to convince the reader of the undeniable benefit of the race to the future, doubtless, that, Sunday after-noon, two of my five companions at a late lunch found their iPhones to be more engrossing than the party’s conversation buttresses the claim sufficiently.