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Considering that Hemingway was a Castro sympathizer and Orwell was a socialist, I'm not sure this theory has much going in favor of it. I believe in fact it was the Soviets who promoted simple, realistic art and literature in opposition to the decadent modern art of the West, whereas the CIA promoted, in the form of funding, more abstract art, precisely because it was perceived as being more Western.

Recently I heard that the CIA "wrote" The Scorpion's hit song "Winds of Change" about the fall of the Berlin Wall. So they eventually supported a simpler art style, I suppose.

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You mention a theory that the CIA supported a "plain" writing style via writing workshops. I'm not saying you are wrong. I don't know anything for a fact; I'm trying to make an educated guess based upon the evidence.

Is there evidence that a more "plain" style emerged after the CIA supported these workshops? It seems to me that late 20th century writing became all the more complex, with writers like Pynchon, Didion, Eco, Barth, Barthelme, David Foster Wallace...

Now you can argue the CIA failed in that mission. But if you agree they failed, why bring it up? If they had no effect, it doesn't explain anything.

I'm not trying to be rude or argumentative for the sake of it. I'm genuinely interested in the question.

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Frank Gehry's best buildings are inspired by his love of sailboats. His Disney Concert Hall in L.A. is basically a standard box building with a giant shiny abstract sculpture that has a clear sailboat-look placed around it.

It's hard to go too wrong with sails as an artistic inspiration.

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This is random and not productive to the overall conversation, but where does the phrase "Whither [X]?" originate from? My boss used it recently and I didn't get it and felt bad about myself.

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"Whither" is a somewhat archaic word generally meaning "towards where." It's kind of the opposite of "whence," which is a somewhat archaic word meaning "from where."

That's assuming you're asking about the literal definition and not the memetics connotation, haha. That I don't know, but my guess is that it comes from the same direction as "whomst".

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... I'm now wondering why what and that are pronounced differently while the other pairs rhyme, and which one is the "correct" pronunciation

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What and that are from the same paired cognates in latin, but e.g. in norse they are from either specific ( sá, sé, þat) or inspecific (er, which can mean what, which, or when) demonstrative pronouns, and the interogative prnoun hverr is a completely different word altogether. IIRC anglo saxon is similar, although the word hvat ( pronounced "what") is an interjection in AS.

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Cool thanks for the info

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Jan 9, 2022·edited Jan 9, 2022

Dont forget "and yon" hither, hence, whither, thence, thither, thence are from English's germanic roots where words were careful to distinguish between motion and stasis, and in the case of those pairs, direction as to or from.

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This is implicit in your post, but I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that "from whence" (e.g. "return to the X from whence you came") is as redundant as, say, "ATM machine."

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And the silly part is, that it *is* logical: it's additive, not multiplicative. Ain't no one gonna take my intensifiers away, no way no how.

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Just refer to it as an ATMG. ;D

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Redundant but fun... cf 'Ursula Le Guin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Language_of_the_Night or The Illuminati Phalanx 'let them ooze back to the primordial slime whence they came.'

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What's redundant in that quote...?

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Should be "let them ooze to the primordial slime whence they came" since the "back" is covered in whence. It would be like saying "let them ooze back back to where they came from"

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I think I disagree here. "Back" is functioning as an adverb, not a preposition. It indicates something about the manner of their return; one could replace it with "quickly" or "triumphantly" or "slimily." The fact that the adverb and the object refer to the same place doesn't make the sentence redundant or grammatically incorrect. You wouldn't blink an eye at someone who said "I'm going back to my hometown," for example.

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Yeah, who said language was better with less redundancy.

There's an eeriness to whence and wither. Words witches would use.

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Like

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Even better is Adelaide's line from Guys and Dolls:

"Take back your mink, to from whence it came . . ."

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I see that first episode of Monty Python was called "Whither Canada"; I consider it a joke about pretentious journalism.

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"Whither X" served as a parody of old fashioned self-serious foreign affairs journalism: e.g., "Whither Indonesia?" In other words, the implication is that the newspaper's expensive Indonesian correspondent doesn't have any headline news about Indonesia, but he has some thoughts about its future that he's going to share.

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Not sure this was pretentious; recall that the well-educated Victorian had a vocabulary of upwards of 300,000 words.

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Lol

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My guess is that it must have been a fairly common flourish in the nineteenth century, maybe cemented by Trotsky's book "Whither England?" I definitely first encountered it in Monty Python's "Whither Canada?" To be perfectly honest, I still don't know if it means "where, in an abstract sense, is country X going?" or "how do we get to the idealized, perfected version of country X?"

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“Whither thou goest I will goest I will go” is from the Book of Ruth. These things usually start with the Bible or Shakespeare.

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Surely "Whither thou goest, I will go"? Or am I missing something?

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You are right. That was just sloppy typing on my phone.

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John 13:36. In Latin this question reads "Quo Vadis?" which you might have encountered in art. The New Testament verse may well refer back to Book of Ruth, but I'm positive that most citation links go through the New Testament.

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‘ Part of a longer promise of fidelity, spoken by Ruth to Naomi, her mother-in-law. The longer text reads: “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.”’

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/whither-thou-goest--i-will-go

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I’m not claiming expertise here. It’s just what a web search returned.

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The verse from Ruth is not a question ("Whither X?") but a statement, whereas the original question was about the question "Whither X".

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i think you might be ignoring the role of novelty here. like, if youre the sort of person who is very interested in a given art form (say, designing buildings), youre gonna study them a lot, and then get bored of the types of buildings that already exist, and want to see and create new weird buildings. i mean, i agree that its weird and maybe bad that weird artsy buildings have become a thing for government buildings, but i dont think its surprising that the architecture world is interested in buildings that the average person isnt, because the average person doesnt want an interesting or novel building, they just want a good building (a reasonable desire!). its like stravinsky's atonal music. it sounds worse, like, aesthetically, but its very clearly weird and novel, and if you think about music all the time, (maybe) you want that.

but yeah, thats where i think the modern art communities' tendency toward weird unappealing stuff comes from. all the appealing-to-normies stuff got discovered already, and now people are trying to find weird new ways to work in the form

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I don't think modern buildings look more different from one another than traditional buildings do. I just saw the Sagrada Familia today, which seems interestingly different from every other building but still clearly ornate and more in the "traditional" than "modern" camp.

Do other people think modern buildings are more varied?

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i dont think the version of modern architecture that ends up in like, corporate buildings is particularly diverse, but i think the most famous and esteemed architecture of the last 50 years is *extremely* diverse. frank gehry vs frank lloyd wright vs moshe safdie vs zaha hadid look like they come from different planets.

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The divergence correlates with mass media, so your theory makes sense. In the 1800s, an elite person had probably only seen a few dozens magnificent buildings in their life. Today, every architect has seen (pictures of) nearly every magnificent building on Earth. So as the pool of comparable buildings has exponentially expanded (from dozens to thousands), novelty has become much more prized.

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Prestige within a creative field is so tightly bound with novelty that it’s pretty much inevitable that ambitious new works must abandon older forms, even when many of the artists and elites may prefer them.

Personally, I think the greatest music ever written was from the Romantic era, specifically Beethoven’s symphonies. Plenty of music critics (classical ones, at least) would agree. And yet, nobody writes in that style anymore, and nobody seems to think anybody should be writing in that style. Romantic music is done, like it or not (I don’t).

If I discovered an unknown symphony by Beethoven, as brilliant as any of his others, and I passed it off as my own work, would I get any traction? I think the same critics that lionize Beethoven would dismiss my symphony as some kind of silly, Beethoven impression. Maybe they would concede that it’s a particularly well-executed impression, beautiful and clever and all that, but nothing that advances art form.

I think it’s interesting that there may be an exception here, albeit a middle brow one. If you want to write Romantic music, make it a film score. You won’t get the same level of elite respect, but everybody will love you (see Williams, John).

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People do write music in that style. It's just that one can't make a living just writing in that style. Of course, a symphony requires a big commitment in time and energy, but getting one's symphony performed by a decent amateur orchestra is often a personal high point and money be damned.

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The only composer I can think of who has had the ego to compose directly in the style of Beethoven is Carmine Coppola, father of Frances Ford Coppola, such as in this scene in "Black Stallion."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdYiJgwzumg

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There's Louise Farrenc. Her music is wonderful and very much inspired by Beethoven, but she's only a little later than Beethoven-- respectable music hadn't turned ugly in her time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv3LXXlmwNs

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I had forgotten about dramatic composers who write music for movies, video and live productions. They don't produce symphonies, but they'll use a lot of the same emotional mechanisms and musical mechanics.

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How about Alma Deutscher?

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There’s an interesting extension in there — parody gets close to this. I enjoy P.D.Q. Bach for the music just as much as I do for the weird musical jokes that require at least serious band geek background if not full on Bach historian reference material. Similarly, some of the stuff from people like Bo Burnam is only good for the humor, but some of it is legit catchy and fun in its own right (note the massive spread of tiktok memes based on the recent Netflix special.)

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Parody works best when the person behind it really knows what they’re doing. I sang some serious choral pieces composed by Peter Schickele, aka P.D.Q. Bach back in college. The piece about Mary Queen of Scots from his “Three Meditations” was one of my favorites.

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I think you are a reactionary.

What on earth is the point of writing music in the “style of Beethoven” only to be overshadowed by Beethoven himself?

He is not lost, just gone before and you can listen to him anytime you want - even different versions of him.

It’s marvelous.

But we must seek new forms mustn’t we?

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No, we mustn't. We may. If we wish to. Or if it was at least as pretty/as good as what came before (or better, though 'better' gets a bit complicated in arts).

But exalting rubbish just because it's novel? What's the point? And, if it takes years of training to see that something that looks/feels/sounds rubbish isn't actually rubbish - well, that's a technical accomplishment, sure but an artistic one? I have my doubts...

Hence my point about fine artists circle jerking.

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"I think you are a reactionary."

Maybe reading too much into things, but something bothers me about this as an argument. Surely being a reactionary is bad if the new development you are reacting against is good, but being a reactionary is good if the new development you are reacting against is bad. Using the word to dismiss someone like this *presupposes* that the modern development is better than what came before. Which may well be true, but it would need to be argued for. And I am not sure that it is all that obvious that modern music surpasses Beethoven.

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The people I knew writing in that style considered it a way to understand the music better. It wasn't about more or better, it was about understanding what was under the hood, so to speak. It was a way of appreciating it. I had a friend who wrote her thesis on using AI to generate fugues in the style of Bach. It was her way of appreciating how good Bach's fugues were.

Personally, I don't "get" music, but I know a lot of people do.

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Even metal bands like 3 Inches of Blood suffered from this, with music critics unable to comprehend they weren't writing heavy metal in the 00's *unironically*.

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Are you familiar with Alma Deutscher? You might enjoy her music.

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Just giving her a listen now. Good recommendation. Chopin- like…at least the piece I’m listening to now.

Are you familiar with Ludovico Einaudi?

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And even better, imo, Carter Burwell.

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Better than Williams I ment.

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I think if you can accept that Beethoven wrote as well in the style of Beethoven as it's possible to write, then a modern imitator could only write *as well* as him, and not better. And since Beethoven's music came first and is heavy with mythology, the modern stuff would never catch on.

However, there are plenty of times when a composer has essentially copied someone else's style, and because the imitator did it better than the original, it's the imitator that we remember. (E.g. J. S. Bach imitating Buxtehude, or Mozart imitating J. C. Bach.)

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Like they say:

Good artists borrow, great artists steal

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Fully agree. I don't think anybody should be trying to sound like Beethoven specifically. I do think there's space for new masterpieces within a Romantic-type style.

And "Romantic" shouldn't be used dogmatically either; if someone wants to add a didgeridoo, go for it.

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Before the Romantic Era, imitating and even shamelessly ripping others off were considered compliments.

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you may find my interview with the neo-romantic composer corentin boissier interesting: https://www.erichgrunewald.com/posts/interview-with-corentin-boissier-romanticism-modernism-composition/

> CORENTIN: Always wanting to experiment further, to move forward, is part of human nature. The use of new chords and more and more complex rhythms in order to express as closely as possible the spirit of the new times has led to the dissolution of tonality. As long as it remained natural, this evolution produced masterworks in which tradition and novelty coexist in infinitely variable percentages. The dosage was sometimes explosive, sometimes tousling, but often successful.

>

> Today, I’m more convinced than ever that there is no natural border between styles. The schools may be opposed but not the styles, which should complement each other. But in the 1960s, suddenly it was all about serialism and electro-acoustic music; there was the quasi-institutional obligation to wipe out the past, and the subsidies only went to what has been called “contemporary music” (the word “contemporary” being abusively linked to a style instead of just meaning “of our time”). Without this political, ideological, and basically non-artistic doctrine, there would have been a natural complementarity between tradition and innovation, in music as in all other arts.

>

> [...]

>

> ERICH: I know some great American composers, like Arnold Rosner and Harold Shapero, have spoken of having felt alienated in American music departments, due to the dogmatic serialism there. In your experience, have the conservatoires of Paris been more accepting of 19th-century idioms?

>

> CORENTIN: Absolutely not – quite the contrary! Western Europe, and France in particular, has spearheaded this systematic destruction of all artistic tradition, of any style that could be related to the past. The conservatories have been forced to practice a clean slate policy. This undermining action, well supervised by the institutions and the media, has had the disastrous result that, for several decades, composition – in the original sense of the word – is no longer taught in the conservatories. I did all my musical courses at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique (CNSM) of Paris. I obtained five Prizes … but I was not able to attempt the “Composition” Prize since this Prize is only for composers of so-called “contemporary” music, that is to say “experimental”.

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Thank you. Very interesting and right on topic!

On the other hand, there goes my Saturday. Now I have to read the rest of your blog!

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In the 1800s, elite people went on tours of Europe specifically to see the magnificent buildings and works of art: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Tour

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Some of them even came back and made pastiches of them. See e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stourhead#Gardens_and_monuments

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Obviously there’s no right answer, but FWIW Gaudi is generally considered a modernist icon, and that seems very right to me. Sagrada Familia to me seems far closer to something in the 20th century than e.g. Notre Dame, the U.K. parliament.

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Gaudi was a unique representative of the general trend in later 19th Century taste toward Art Nouveau, which was a decorative style based on flowers and other living things.

Art Nouveau was succeeded by Art Deco (e.g., the Chrysler Building), which is similar but based on rectilinear shapes without as many biological references.

Both were beautiful but expensive. Art Deco took a hit with the stock market crash of 1929, which accelerated the trend toward streamlining. The small number of buildings put up in the 1930s, such as the Rockefeller Center, are quite elegant.

But WWII changed elite tastes in favor of cheap-looking buildings in the name of egalitarianism and a general we-don't-deserve-beautiful-buildings self-loathing. On college campuses, for example, the good old buildings are generally from the affluent and tasteful 1920s, then the really ugly buildings are from c. 1950-1980. After that, many colleges tended to try to put up buildings that look rather like the old buildings that everybody likes, often just with bigger windows.

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That last part must be an American thing, possibly because the people who donate buildings to colleges are the sorts of people who like that sort of thing.

In my country where nobody donates money to universities, new university buildings look like new office buildings, which means a bunch of glass in a more or less interesting shape. They give the impression of a slow and incomplete recovery from the awful-in-every-way buildings of the 1950s-70s.

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Architects like to distinguish themselves professionally by developing a new look. For example, the New York Times just raved about Swiss architect Valerio Ogliati's "Architecture that Makes the Case for Discomfort." Ogliati builds houses out of concrete that look like opened cardboard boxes that you would need to stomp flat to fit it in the recycling bin.

https://www.unz.com/isteve/nyt-architecture-that-makes-the-case-for-discomfort/

Lots of architects have built ugly concrete houses before, but Ogliati has come up with a way to make them more expensive. So Kanye West is hiring him to build an underground artist's colony for him in Wyoming.

In contrast, until about 2000, even though I follow architecture a little, I never even heard of the man who had been Architect to the Stars in my hometown of Los Angeles in the 1950s, a black architect named Paul Revere Williams. Creative people like Frank Sinatra would call him up and tell him he wanted a house in, say, Japanese modern-style with world class acoustics for his hi-fi.

But despite this great back story of a black man making it to the peak of the home architecture pyramid in postwar Hollywood, I never heard Williams talked about by architecture critics because he didn't propound a new look or a new theory. He was dismissed because he designed homes in whatever style Lucy & Desi or his dozens of other famous clients wanted.

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That man should be institutionalized, not employed.

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On Ogliati --

> Ours, he believes, is a globally mashed-up era with no meaningful shared references or objective truth. And so buildings, he says, must stand on their own. … takes his own inspiration, for example, from the monolithic rock pile structures of the Aztecs, for which historians cannot find an antecedent.

Art is the refuge for philosophers who can't stomach rebuttals, so I'll just say we seem to have different worldviews.

Paul R. Williams sounded familiar, he should be more famous, I heard about him from 99pi:

https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-architect-of-hollywood/

Much respect for the artist who can work in any style. I think in F is for Fake they talk about the forger often having phenomenal technical skill, because they can fabricate or source the equipment and mimic the stroke style of many other great artists from different periods. Yet if properly attributed, their works are often worth nothing.

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Make sure you see Parc Guell, impressed me far more than the Sagrada Familia. The Dali museum in Figueres is also a really extraordinary experience - it's not a museum so much as a single giant work of art.

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you're writing blogposts during your holiday to Barcelona? egad man, take a break!!!

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Would you tell Gaudi to take a break from drawing buildings because he was on vacation? What's wrong with you?

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To the extent that new building methods have arisen (and living in New York City) I think architecture has really taken a turn. But like any other human endeavor it has cycles.

I think it is important to remember how many buildings people put up that fell down immediately because they didn’t really have a clue about what keep, building up. Flying buttresses were an engineering necessity before they became an aesthetic fetish.

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That number was virtually zero. People might not have had as much theoretical knowledge about what keeps buildings up as they do now, but they knew what kinds of structures were sound.

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That number was not zero at all. People learned what kinds of structures were sound just like we learned everything else, the hard way.

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I am reminded of the Code of Hammurabi: "If a builder has built a house for a man, and has not made his work sound, and the house he built has fallen, and caused the death of its owner, that builder shall be put to death."

That wouldn't need to be in there if there wasn't at least the perception that badly-designed buildings that collapse on their occupants were a problem worth legislating against.

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Something can be common enough to be worth legislating against whilst still being very uncommon. Modern countries all have building codes, but it would be false to suggest that modern buildings keep collapsing because nobody knows how to make them structurally sound.

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The legislation is probably necessary not because builders didn't know how to build good buildings, but that you can make a lot of money by building a deficient one and charging the client for a good one.

The client often can't tell the difference, so you make the builder liable for failures.

I can do a design of anchors in concrete, but there's very little chance you'd know if I did it wrong--not because you couldn't understand it, but because ACI 318 Chapter 17 is a pain in the dick and few people who don't design anchors for their job will put in the effort. (Indeed, even if it *is* your job, you'll learn to do it, then use software provided by manufacturers thereafter.)

And if I specify adhesive anchors, those are *very* sensitive to proper installation. But it's cheaper for the contractor to do it wrong, because one major requirement is doing a good job cleaning the hole after its been drilled. (Dust left in there will dramatically reduce strength.) It's very unlikely you would catch a contractor who did it wrong, and once the epoxy hardens you have no way to tell if it was done wrong other than pull testing, which is very expensive--it can hold well enough to survive casual effort, but still be too weak for the design-basis load.

While this exact example is modern, the dynamic it describes hasn't changed in the past 3,000 years, hence Hammurabi's dictum putting the onus on the builder.

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There's a Chinese robber problem going on here. Given the vast number of buildings constructed throughout history, it's easy to find examples of ones that collapsed. That doesn't mean that the percentage of buildings which collapsed was a particularly high one.

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It doesn’t have to be common. It just Hass to be. It was when people tried to build buildings higher that they ran into trouble. Minarets and such. It took trial and error

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Alternatively, _To Engineer Is Human_ by Petrowski. The theory is that new ideas in engineering are built much stronger than necessary. As time goes on, the reserves of strength are pared back until there's a disaster. Things are then built more carefully. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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FWIW, I would have put the Sagrada Familia in the modern camp. But modern as in the Gaudi/neo gothic/art deco ways of the 1920s. EDIT: just checked Wiki. "Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (/ˈɡaʊdi/; Catalan: [ənˈtɔni ɣəwˈði]; 25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926) was a Catalan architect known as the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism."

So definitely "modern".

I think Summer is on to something. Personally, that's why I dislike almost all paintings/fine art post the impressionists/art deco/1920s. It gets to be rubbish very fast, mostly because (imho) fine artists are just jerking each others off.

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Bassed on some reading I did related to this post, I think Gaudi doesn't actually count as "modern" in the contemporary usage of the term. "Catalan Modernism" basically corresponds to Art Nouveau, which comes earlier than what's called "Modernism" in other contexts ("Art Deco" comes between the two.)

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I'm surprised you don't think of Sagrada Familia as the perfect example of a "beautiful building with modern technology". I thought it was more beautiful than any of the old cathedrals I've seen, Haga Sophia, Notre Dam and the likes included.

I mean, just the sheer amount of detail in every corner and the almost-pattern present everywhere, not quite symmetrical but still satisfying, meant to keep your gaze slowly moving.

It was genuinely psychedelic, it's a building, it's static, but I could swear it was moving and "breathing" while looking at it.

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It's fantastic. But visiting it does tend to both provoke and immediately answer the question of "Why don't we build things like this any more, with the exception of this one actual thing?" Because it took 150 years to build and it's not finished yet.

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I remembered this comment from nine months ago, so I came and found it to say that it has stuck in my mind and that has to say something good about it.

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The Sagrada Familia is an outlier. It is plausibly the weirdest large religious building in over 2000 years of Christian history.

It's also one of my all-time favorite religious buildings (alongside the Pantheon and Hagia Sophia). Gaudi, in his strange and very individual way, was an absolute genius. And until his architecture became a symbol of Catalan nationalism, it was absolutely loathed by much of the contemporary public.

So I have no idea how Gaudi fits into a discussion of popular versus elite taste.

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In some cities they totally are (think Singapore, Abu Dhabi, even Chicago has some pretty unique buildings). One aspect that drives some of the lack of purely ornate architecture (I'm guess) is the shift from noble wealth to commercial wealth. Google needs to continue to be profitable which constrains the amount they are willing to spend on a new building (and how long they are willing to wait for it) while the King can just jack up taxes or the Pope can sell indulgences and steal all of the marble in the Colosseum.

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I guess there's a risk with equating modern with minimalist. Whereas minimalist, suggest reducing to a simple (single) form, there's no such limit on modernism. Considering the variables: colors, materials, shapes, structures, etc. there are infinite possibilities for exciting/inspiring modern design. Perhaps we're just in the mud hut period of modern design and it hasn't yet evolved.

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Sagrada Familia IS a modern building, at least as Cathedrals go

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I think modern architects try very hard to be varied, and if you score them on their own terms they contain diverse shapes, visible surfaces, historical references, etc.

But that type of score-keeping may not make much of an impression on somebody who thinks modern buildings are all ugly, leaky, and built to be torn down as soon as the 39 year depreciation schedule has run.

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This is how I interpret really out-there fashion shows, too. But, at the end of the day, the fashion industry has to sell clothes at Target, so all the designs have to be reinterpreted back down to reality.

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Great line about this in the movie (and I guess the book) “The Devil Wears Prada”. Paraphrasing here but Streep’s character says to the young assistant who doesn’t understand the subtle differences in sweater color tones something along the lines of “You know how many years of research, trail & error went into that particular shade of green that you randomly snatched from an isle at JC Penny? Many fucking years!”

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The trouble with that is if it was a randomly chosen shade of green, or just the same green as they sold back in '78, it would also be fine and everyone would be just as happy.

Sorry, that justification has always bothered me.

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The Anna Wintour-character in The Devil Wears Prada has total recall of every change of fashion of the last half-century and a strong knack for discerning whether the world is ready or not to bring a particular old look back into fashion.

The real Anna Wintour got to where she is because she really has that kind of brain.

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If you want an uber-nerdy analysis of the role of novelty-seeking in the arts, there's a book by Colin Martindale called The Clockwork Muse that tries to fit equations of novelty to poetry, paintings, etc. I don't think it's really baked (too many parameters given the data), but it is a very interesting cut at the issue.

https://www.amazon.com/Clockwork-Muse-Colin-Martindale/dp/0465011861

Review by someone interested enough to take it seriously, but ultimately not sold:

https://awritingguide.com/2016/06/14/review-the-clockwork-muse-by-colin-martindale-1990/

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This is my interpretation of free jazz. "Why bother with rhythm or melody" sounds bad/weird to normal people but if you've spent your childhood and professional life playing highly structured music, maybe it's more appealing.

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I've often thought of a notion of stylistic saturation, that once an art form has more (premium and varied) content than any human being could experience in a lifetime, the drive within the field for further development largely ceases. While no one writes like Beethoven, as a cellist I can say that many many musicians still play his music, and many audiences still appreciate it.

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> Maybe our civilization is still on probation after a multi-decade-long mass murder spree and we need buildings that carefully avoid inflaming our emotions. I don’t think anyone has ever claimed this seriously, but it makes a certain kind of moral sense.

people have ABSOLUTELY claimed this seriously, so so much postwar art is exactly about this, clearly and explicitly. please read some midcentury criticism or like any art history or theory

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Theodore Adorno famously said "It is barbaric to write poetry after Auschwitz."

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Adorno later revised and took back his opposition to poetry after Auschwitz (mainly because of Paul Celan‘s poems about the Holocaust).

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With all due respect to Jews, that's bullshit. If it wasn't barbaric to write poetry after the destruction of Troy by the Achaeans, after Athenians subsequently to the famous dialog had killed every male Melian and sold their women and children into slavery, after Romans had utterly destroyed her sworn ally Carthage and sown her fields with salt, after Temuchin's coalition defeated the Tartars and killed every single male taller than a wain's wheel hub etc. etc., then it's not barbaric to write poetry after Auschwitz, and vice-versa.

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Nothing boils my blood more than seeing an author stifle the flow of his own post to express epistemic humility i.e.

> I am sure you will link me to great resources about this in the comments. Until then, some speculative responses that one might give...

Only for comments like yours to then chastise the author for a lack of deep reading. Suggesting a book that sheds light on the subject of the post makes sense, but your tone is unnecessarily dismissive. The author's hedging statements are specifically for people like you, and given that I find those statements slightly kill the experience as a reader, I would hope that their target audience would take them seriously.

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lack of deep reading is not a big problem unless your entire point is that people within a system are thinking wrong but then you make it clear you have no idea what they’re thinking

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if you’re going to be reactionary and contrarian, you’re gonna get different responses to flagrant ignorance than otherwise

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I agree that deeper reading would shed light on much of this post, however I want to know, from a strategic perspective, do you think that using an uncharitable tone to deliver that message to the author is better than a charitable one?

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you sure are making a lot of assumptions about what I’d like to accomplish here

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Yeah it was inappropriate of sscer to mindread your comment as attempting to be helpful, in retrospect this is obviously dumb.

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What are you trying to accomplish, aka?

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so we're not allowed to speculate on something unless we're expert on the topic? Damn, I'm going to have to shut up... :)

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Given that this was just a casual remark that wasn't part of any argument being made in the piece the "please read some..." manages to come across as an attempt to deligitimize any criticism or suggestion that maybe modern art isn't special and valuable made by anyone who hasn't proved they agree with you by wasting (insofar as they don't enjoy it) a bunch of time learning about 20th century art.

Im sure you didn't intend this but it comes across like an astrologer saying: how dare you question astrology when you don't even know what it means when Venus is retrograde and Jupiter is in Leo or whatever.

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the whole “argument” is a weird combination of speculative narrative detached from reality/the historical record, and half-baked aesthetic theory about what’s valuable in art and why people like the things they do. I mean imagine using a single uninterrogated figure from a suggestive survey question to ground your opinion that this is all bullshit and spending the rest of your time trying to figure out why the elites could be so wrong. also zero awareness of practical considerations like resource constraints, relevant events in economic history, engineering, etc. it’s fine to critique it on the grounds that it’s wrong and un-rigorous by pointing to an especially egregious example of obliviousness.

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the book that I recommended was written by a major defender/popularizer of jackson pollock so, you know, relevant evidence

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if you’re gonna try to explain why people who listen to astrologers behave as they do and the way that that might have changed over time, you better have some knowledge of what astrologers actually say and what people behaving according to their advice take them to mean

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Nice, the most reactionary post on this blog in a while, and yet it probably won't anger anyone.

I'd say the apocalypse did happen - we know it better as WWI, WWII, the New Deal/progressive governance, and the rise of the Soviet Union and the Third World.

What does the 20th century look like to you?

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>the most reactionary post on this blog in a while

Or: the clearest example in a while where reactionaries happen to share the correct opinion? I mean it's unlikely that reactionaries are wrong about _everything_. They must get _some_ things right.

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IMO the architecture thing is somewhere where (as elsewhere) reactionaries have correctly identified a problem but don't get at the core issue, instead hazily blaming a perceived group of "elites".

The big issue is cars. We destroyed a great deal of our cities to make way for cars and the resulting infrastructure is bleak and ugly, and so now our cities are bleak and ugly. The most encouraging recent trend for beauty in our built environment is cities that are reducing the amount of space that is given over to cars, and making room for mass transit, pedestrians, and greenery (COVID-related outdoor dining is a part of it but the trend was happening before). A kinda plain building on an inviting street with people and trees is way better than a super-awesomely-ornate building surrounded by parking lots and highways where it feels dangerous to walk around.

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The gap in reasoning is from "modern buildings aren't as pretty" to "we should abolish modern society in its entirety".

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It's hardly just reactionaries who dislike modern architecture. Here are some socialists making the same case:

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/10/why-you-hate-contemporary-architecture

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Honest question: what makes this article reactionary?

I didn't get right-wing vibes from it, or left-wing for that matter, which was refreshing.

I'm sure people with different political ideas could agree on the same points given by the article.

I mean no offence, but maybe we need to be careful not calling someone a reactionist because he likes old architecture.

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Agreed. I think the more entertaining conspiracy form of this is the idea there was an apocalypse in the 300-600ya range that has been covered up.

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That sounds fun to read about. Any recommended article/link?

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My go-to for Tartarian History (though I've never seen him use the term) is AgarthanSchwab, on Twitter. Unfortunately, he's deleted many of his most relevant threads for this topic (such as one proposing that the Hindenburg was sabatoged and that the media was in on it), but this is the kind of rationale he uses as to how apocalypses could be collectively forgotten.

https://twitter.com/AgarthanSchwab/status/1438695049726861312

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That was interesting. He seems to have it all lined up in his head as a nice theory. It's a good job that all women are primarily concerned with social standing and conformity though, because if they weren't there would be a gaping hole in his suggested compliance mechanism. Still compliance to the norm being what it is explains why I'm typing this in the religious (Church of England naturally) and moralistic society of the modern United Kingdom and not in some secular, tolerant society where women might have the vote and homosexuals be tolerated, or even worse socialists tolerated in polite society.

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I prefer the idea that there was a prior civilization on this planet before the Permian extinction (which they obv caused). It's just plausible enough to feel real despite being super unlikely.

One day I'll write a story about them leaving us some records or info...maybe stowed on moon.

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Was there ever any doubt that the fash have the best aesthetics? It's the bulk of their appeal, isn't it?

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The fash might have better aesthetics than the commies, though there are people who are surprisingly fond of socialist realism.

I think the relatively free world still wins on quantity, quality, and variety.

Nobody is winning on architecture.

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Actually, what did fascist architecture look like? There aren't exactly many surviving buildings from that era in modern Germany for me to look at...

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Spain has a lot of surviving fascist art. It's basically just neoclassical art. Good example is the Valle de los Caidos (super controversial within Spain, of course): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_of_the_Fallen

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That gives me art deco vibes.

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'Was Franco's Spain fascist?' Is a whole historical debate in itself.

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Is it? I've never heard the opposite view. Who regards them as not fascist?

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founding

Their whole shtick is to imitate stuff to bring back the great era. So they basically do art to imitate whatever origin myth they feel like they have, with their megalomaniac/overexpressed/righteous twist of course.

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I don't know which group of embalmed cadavers voted "Three Dancing Figures" San Francisco's best public art, but they haven't got a clue. The correct answer is obviously the Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge. If you relax the "public" requirement, the Serpent Mother was made here and is on a completely different level than "three dancing figures".

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The Serpent Mother was mostly made in Oakland.

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Interesting - I thought it was SF due to FLG's association with the Box Shop.

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I'm open to correction, but I thought it was largely made at the Crucible rather than the Box Shop.

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AFAIK construction costs (specifically contractor prices) and building codes are a huge deal with why all buildings look the way they do today. Even the billionaire's house didn't involve a hundred artisans painstakingly sculpting around all doorways etc and would cost a lot more if it did. Also there's a lot less supply today of construction workers who can do intricate wood carving so even if you wanted to have carved sculpted doorways it'd be hell to source them, so unless you really really care about it you might as well just get nice airy construction filled with natural light.

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That makes sense on its own terms but doesn't explain the similar de-ornamentation of clothing, poetry, statues, etc.

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Poetry no, but it would explain clothing. The thing about the ornate clothing of past eras s that you generally needed a servant (or two) to help you gets dressed.

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I have an outfit that looks a bit like this: http://www.muslimmarriagecenter.com/site/muslim-groom-in-bangalore . It is pretty easy to put on and comfortable, but I never wear it except for costume purposes because people would think I was insane. I cannot think of any labor-related reason why people don't wear outfits like that one anymore.

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People certainly wear clothes like that in India, and presumably in other countries too, for special occasions like weddings. I think this must be culture-specific, with American/Western influence slowly making it spread to the east - the image of the Chinese high-status man in a Western suit made me think not of how Chinese men's tastes must have simplified a lot, but of how businessmen in Asia today feel the need to dress in Western clothing, perhaps to appeal to Western business partners (along with colonial influences, etc.).

Perhaps this gives more strength to the Protestantism/Catholicism hypothesis, as something that applies to the West more than the East?

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iirc there was also a gender aspect to how Western clothes got so plain. In the industrial era it came to be viewed as foppish and unmanly for men to prettify themselves, so for a long time in the nineteenth century you had this situation where women were still heavily ornamented while men were walking around in plain black all the time. The in the twentieth century, women took on more masculine-looking clothing as a way to reject Victorian sex roles.

Just why ornamentation came to be viewed as unmanly is another issue, but I suspect it had something to do with the shift in power from the aristocrats to the business class.

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It was Regency era, not industrial era, and it was literally because of one bitchy guy, Beau Brummel.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beau_Brummell

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Men's clothing simplified in the Victorian era when England was at the height of its political, military, scientific and industrial power. I know that by mid-century, men's formal wear was getting darker and simpler. Maybe the English decided that they ruled the world, so they didn't need fancy clothes to show off, just the Union Jack a regiment and a battleship or two. I'm guessing Queen Victoria's widow's weeds after Prince Albert died cemented the style.

People copy the rich and powerful. It's the idea of cargo cults and sympathetic magic. When Olga of Kiev converted from paganism to Christianity, she issued commemorative coinage with Allah Akbar in Arabic impressed on it. Why a Muslim religious slogan? Because Islam ruled the Mediterranean in her day. When Japan opened to the west, its leaders adopted Western garb just as their armies adopted Western rifles and cannon and its industries adopted Western technology and processes.

When there is a "forward" power in the world, it becomes culturally powerful and people and nations tend to copy it. That's why modern men's clothing all around the world was borrowed from the Victorians and later the Americans. When China was a rising power in the East, nations like Japan and Korea adopted its symbols, methods and writing. It was similar with Greece and later Rome in the West.

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If you want to do the Victorian theory, the short version of it goes, George IV was a flamboyant embarrassment. The new queen's policy of modesty was intentionally reactionary. The rest was mimetic desire.

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I'm from Canada, and now live in the UK, but lived in India for a bit in-between. I *loved* getting dressed up formally for weddings etc whilst I lived there - I have never before or since felt so aesthetically beautiful.

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Wearing a jacket like that wouldn’t demonstrate anything. Showing up to a meeting at Goldman Sachs in a ratty t-shirt and sweat pants? That’s power.

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Nah. There's a considerable difference between signalling that you are dressing differently but have put effort in (generally more acceptable) and signalling laziness (even if you'd actually never normally wear such an outfit).

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THE book on this is: On Human Finery by Quentin Bell.

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Is it machine washable?

I believe the invention of the electric washing machine was a *huge* revolution in domestic life, and ended up causing similarly large changes in how people dress. Women still have some fancy clothing that isn't machine washable, but not that much.

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I'm not sure this is as important as you think.

For guys machine-washability is almost everything. But a lot of women's clothing is not machine washable, either because of delicacy (eg attached rhinestones) or because of the fabric (ie requires dry cleaning).

I think at least part of what's going on is one has to disaggregate what clothes "do".

One job is "show off", and, as I pointed out for St Johns, that mostly now requires subtlety rather than showiness. Creating a garment that *looks* fancy is easy; creating a garment that *has* to be expensive because it involves constructions that few (and very expensive) machines can perform, or is obligate human-manufactured, is now how you show off.

Alternatively the job of the garment is "protect from weather" or "do exercise" or suchlike, and for those we now have vastly superior technology (eg gortex for cold, spandex for many purposes) BUT a side effect of that is that we now want to optimize for functionality.

If the only thing you can wear, no matter what you are doing, is some uncomfortable poorly-fitting woolen thing, maybe you try to compensate via decoration. But if the garment can be improved along functionality dimensions, that begins to be where you put much of your effort, both as manufacturer and as consumer.

And so women might buy $15 amusing sneakers with rhinestones on them, in the expectation that they are for wearing on weekends while doing errands, and will last a year then fall apart; but if they are hikers they will also buy serious walking boots which are optimized to the heck for walking -- and with no fripperies like rhinestones.

As I've said, I think we also have this with private homes.

Busy decoration is cheap (we all have that grandmother or aunt whose house is overflowing with knicknacks and collectibles) and is no signal of anything.

Meanwhile those who have owned a home for a while realize the joy of optimizing the home for functionality. Busy decorations built into a wall are nothing but a magnet for dust and form a space that cannot be modified as desires change. Whereas a turntable in the garage, or a heated pool, or very quiet variable speed AC system, continue to delight day after day, decade after decade.

In a way this is the triumph of Le Corbusier "a house is a machine for living" but (when you look at it) optimized along the dimensions people care about.

ie I don't think there's a question here of "why do the commoners choose the clothes and homes they do"; it's almost ALL in

- why do the artists and architects reward and judge as they do?, plus

- why do (some fraction of) the rest of us accept this in (some) architecture as we do?

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Yes, this sounds very right.

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If the explanation were "creating a garment that *has* to be expensive because it involves constructions that few (and very expensive) machines can perform, or is obligate human-manufactured, is now how you show off," then rich people would walk around in garments crocheted from fine silk thread, since crochet is easily distinguishable from any other form of cloth-making, and has not yet been automated. Nalbinding would be an even more extreme version of this and would have the advantage of making the garment more durable instead of less. But as far as I can see, crochet and nalbinding have essentially zero presence in high fashion or even business suits. A Brooks Brothers suit might cost US$1500 but it's machine-woven and machine-sewn.

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I did wear a Muslim shirt at work one time (I work in IT), quand people did think I was crazy. They thought it looked ugly and told me as such. To my Muslim relatives, this was on the contrary a very niece piece of clothing. The difference in appreciation was striking.

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I have this pink sunset silkscreen dragon shirt I wear to martial arts practice sometimes. It gets about 50/50 "that's awesome/that's horrible" reactions.

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Haute couture / art fashion is extremely ornamented - in fact, the more common criticism of art fashion is that it's /too/ over the top. Some high status people do wear such ridiculously over-ornamented art clothing, as eg the Met Gala red carpet demonstrates, but the types of people you've chosen as emblematic of high-status aren't them. The average political leader or business person just doesn't wear high fashion clothing, they wear sensible, well made, expensive but essentially normal clothing.

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I think an interesting part of this is the gender divide - most men wore simple black and white suits to the Met Gala, as well.

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Why is a Western suit "sensible"?

Outside of British-type climates it is completely ridiculous and nonsensible.

Yet they wear it in Thailand and Indonesia and Japan and the American South and.....

....then just swelter or rely on massive amounts of air conditioning.

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Only when it's made out of the wrong materials.

An off the rack suit made from spun woven plastic is all of ridiculous and nonsensible. A property structured bespoke suit made out of the right foundations and the right weight of wool or linen always looks good ("it makes fat men stout, and skinny men imposing"), plus pockets, all the useful pockets.

And very very rich men and powerful statemen like them because the jacket foundation can be thin armor plate.

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I think that if you look at how much less there was to do or read or whatnot, how many fewer things there were to buy or invest in, etc, then you see that the opportunity costs of the time and labor that go into good poetry and good statues are much higher today than they were say 500 years ago or even 150 years ago.

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The common denominator between all of these examples is that they're labor-intensive and labor becomes more expensive over time. We're materially more wealthy than earlier civilizations for mass-producible goods, but not for hand-made, for Baumol effect reasons.

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Ornate clothing could be mass-produced. A formal suit in an interesting color could certainly be mass-produced. Ornaments on buildings could be mass-produced, unless you insist on each ornament being unique.

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Yes, and Menard's sells a white plastic Federalist doorway. Federalism for Dummies, a brick box with some white kinda-Greek pillars and a doorframe stuck on, works great for one through maybe three story buildings. Smart people can make a real Federalist Style work a little beyond that, but you look at the White House and it's stretching things. If the damn thing was twice as tall everyone would laugh. What can you do with a twenty-floor skyscraper? It's too far off the human scale. You might as well just make it a glass box, the Yale Box if you can afford it, and shrug.

I like arching walkways though. Maybe something could be done.

Poetry on the other hand got swamped by all the students taking and retaking Bonehead English over and over. No really good poetry can be taught to people who just can't read well, so they might as well do whatever fad is 'teachable'. And once women started getting real jobs outside teaching, the quality of teachers tanked.

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Ornate clothing IS mass produced. We just don't think of it as "ornate" for cultural reasons. For example quite a lot of outdoors-wear has a billion stringy tie-pulls, pockets, hoods, hoods that roll up into more pockets, layers of unobtanium to keep you cool in summer and warm in winter, etc. We don't perceive this as ornate-ness because it is justified with practical value, but if you took it back to the 11th century they'd assume it was some symbolic artistic display of wealth.

Another example: t-shirts often have very ornate and unique designs on them. We don't think of t-shirts as ornate clothing because the underlying fabric is designed for practicality and mass production, but people find lots of ways to express all kinds of complex artistic sentiment with them.

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This is a good point - I get shirts from threadless.com, and they are often very beautiful and ornate designs. Which is interesting that this only finds a market on low-status clothing (t-shirts).

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I think it matters that nearly all modern clothing has an important design feature of being machine-washable.

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Interesting colors can easily be mass-produced. But I believe that for buildings, that isn't exactly true. My understanding is that if you're making a building out of hand-carved stone blocks, then hand-carving them into ornate patterns isn't that much more work than hand-carving them into a flat block. But if you're making it out of drywall and a wooden or steel frame, then making that drywall or frame ornate is going to take a lot more labor than making it flat (even if both are much less than the labor involved in making flat hand-carved stone blocks).

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Lace is an interesting example. For a while, it looked as though people had an insatiable and possibly innate desire for lace. After it could be mass-produced, it was used less and less, except for vestigial amounts on women's underwear. And now even that seems to have pretty much faded out. Not gone completely, but not the most common thing.

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I don't think lace does well in washing machines, and now that we have washing machines, convincing someone to wear something that isn't machine-washable has a much higher bar to meet.

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It probably depends on the type of lace-- there are types of lace which stand up to machine washing.

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It machine washes pretty well, if you have a front loader washing machine, andor can trust everyone doing your laundry to use a washing bag. I'm seeing more and more lace again on young women, mostly on dresses they buy from or sourced from Taobao. Taoboa merchants care about what people want to buy, and care zero about what the "high fashion" industry wants to sell this season.

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I think higher ratio of cost-of-labor to other costs and lower amount available of specialized artisan labor explains at least a lot of the consumer goods side (like for example making clothes with lots of sequins and patterns industrially is harder, and making a nice taylored suit is still ~hours of work by a taylor while earlier ornamental clothing was much more labor intensive). This doesn't explain poetry, but can explain statues.

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To mass produce a brocade 17th jacket for $199 would be fairly easy. But when any Tom Dick and Harry can wear a fancy jacket - the real power players wear a hoodie.

When making things “fancy” becomes cheap the rich got for simple. There is also a status game - yes I’ve come to this meeting in my pajamas. You got a problem with that?

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This is probably true and also infuriating. Beauty no longer serves a signaling purpose, so now everything has to look like shit.

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You think those clothes make him look like shit?

https://images.wsj.net/im-195104?width=1280&size=1

The other status marker is wearing things that only look good when you have a personal trainer and a personal chef.

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His clothes are bland in both style and color, and the zipper on the sleeve clashes with the rest of the jacket. (And my own wardrobe is no better.)

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We (=the First World collectively) are the richest society in the whole of human history, if people in ancient Rome or the middle ages -- or heck, even the 19th century -- could afford to build beautiful buildings, we certainly can.

Also, it's just false to suppose that nice-looking buildings have to be ornate and expensive. I've seen plenty of attractive buildings made almost entirely of plain bricks.

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I've been thinking about this point too.

If the minimum wage today is 10x some sort of bare subsistence level, then someone with a given level of wealth in the past could have gotten labor 10x cheaper. But we surely have more than 10x the wealth of the past.

Maybe it's a question of relative rather than absolute prices? Whatever you were trying to do with ornamentation in the past (signal something, make yourself happier to be in a space) there are cheaper ways to do it now, since labor is the good whose price has decreased the least?

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Instead of getting ornamentation on your mansion (which, if you are going to do it tastefully may actually require you to train a bunch of people or to hire out the only 2 or 3 people in the country/world that are experts in what you are looking to do, I dunno), you could start a space travel company.

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Right, but we're trying to explain why there are only 3 people in the country who can do that now when *everyone* in Florence or wherever could.

Also, I think there's a spectrum of build-able buildings and we don't seem to be maxing out at the more traditional side of it.

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There are only 3 people in the country because there is more opportunity in other fields/pursuits and because, with the set of possible goods to choose from being much more vast than in the past, people prefer computers, cars, appliances, etc to fine arts.

These 3 people are the few obsessives who became fascinated with some niche skill and also had the business/entrepreneurial ability to be able to provide for themselves. Most people don't obsess over a trade when they could instead make a much easier living or an easy enough living in some other industry.

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I knew a guy who travelled all over the country just restoring historic Spanish tile. Living like a high end corporate lawyer jsut being "nation's leading Spanish tile guy".

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In a hypothetical world in which we are as wealthy as we are now but in which communication is slower and markets aren't able to operate well over large geographical spaces, couldn't one imagine that there would be more people willing to try out making a space travel company? Having the most ornate mansion in the surrounding 100 miles in that counterfactual world means something, whereas having the best space travel company in the surrounding 100 miles is fairly meaningless in our world.

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Architecture has run into diminishing marginal returns. Over the last 10,000 years, most of the potential good building styles have been tried, so most of what is left for an ambitious architect who wants to come up with a novel look are bad building styles.

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Isn't this just Baumol's cost disease again? The productivity of factory workers went up a zillion times, while the productivity of Florentine woodworkers stayed constant because they're carving stuff by hand (and if you did find a way to mass produce it out would be considered tacky instead of fancy), and the result is that Florentine woodworkers become massively more expensive relative to a factory worker's output.

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It's because back in Florence, society was mostly divided into peasants (with no money) and rich elites (with tons of money). If you wanted to make it big, financially, you had to cater to the elites.

In the modern world, society is dominated by the middle class. Catering to rich elites can still earn you some nice cash, but you will never make it rich that way. As I said above, it's the difference between making the Emperor's coronation dress for $1M, and running a T-Shirt factory that makes $1M per day. Thus, virtually all of the modern artisans are trained to optimize mass-production, not to create bespoke decorations.

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Let me see if I understand you correctly - in Florence, buying power in the economy was dominated by rich elites so the things that got made and to a lesser extent the things which became popular were things that satisfied them. In now, buying power in the economy is dominated by the middle class, so the things which are made and become popular are things which satisfy them. Ornate decorations and monuments satisfy rich elites, space flight companies satisfy the middle class? That seems like it still leaves us back at the original question of why we get the kind of buildings the (current) middle class claims not to prefer doesn't it?

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Mansions, business buildings, and public buildings are three separate spaces with different incentives. When it comes to mansions, you can absolutely see ornamentation side by side with (very expensive, but plain looking) special wall finishes. Look at any wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood!

In that space two issues are

- you don’t want to look TOO a different from every else bcs resale value, and the neighbors will complain (probably always true), and

- there are different things to spend money on. That mansion with fancy ornamentation has terrible insulation (temperature and sound), imperfectly straight lines (still hard to get right, especially high up) and lousy plumbing. Today I can spend that money on a three-head shower and a hot water

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recirculator pump and have a much nicer house.

Seriously, I suspect in the private space this is most of what is going on — “better” things to spend the money on.

Now commercial and public buildings, that’s a different dynamic.

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I'm sure there is a cost desease effect going on, which would explain why your average building is much less intricately ornamented than Sagrada Familia. Still, at the high end, there should be intricately ornamented mansions.

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Behold Donald Trump's apartment in Trump Tower:

https://preview.redd.it/y5owp0astdy41.jpg?width=960&crop=smart&auto=webp&s=39be7d0ee67b7d181dec8e5f96e94bcf20112b80

This stuff definitely still does exist, it's just rare. Much as I agree with Donald Trump on many things, I don't think I'd want to live in his apartment, I would genuinely prefer a simpler and cleaner approach to interior design.

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Agreed, some of people who are rich enough to pay for it, actually choose to decorate their homes this way (although this particular example will strike most as extremely tacky).

Now, most heavily ornamented places (even the ones I find beautiful) tend produce in me a sensory overload effect, that makes me not want to have my house decorated that way. I wonder whether that is just a product of a culture that doesn't reward heavily ornamented places, or a more fundamental cognitive/psychological effect.

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I look at that and I say "New York City". And I mean it, whenever I've stayed in a NYC hotel or visited someone in a nicer NYC condo or townhome, there is a certain heavy baroque ornateness to everything that I would see *only* in NYC.

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That's true, but the forms themselves aren't too bad - it's the monomaniacal obsession on gold that ruins it. The Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi has a similar issue, at least in the public areas I got to gawk at. Lots of gold and marble, but it's so monotone it gives everything this offputting air. If they'd done more contrasting designs it might've been better. A gold and white monotone isn't it.

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