Architecture and Democracy eBook

Claude Fayette Bragdon
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 128 pages of information about Architecture and Democracy.

Now that “twilight of the world” following the war perhaps will witness an Avatara—­the coming of a World-Teacher who will rebuild on the one broad and ancient foundation that temple of Truth which the folly and ignorance of man is ever tearing down.  A material counterpart of that temple will in that case afterward arise.  Thus will be born the architecture of the future; and the ornament of that architecture will tell, in a new set of symbols, the story of the rejuvenation of the world.

In this previsioning of architecture after the war, the author must not be understood to mean that these things will be realized directly after.  Architecture, from its very nature, is the most sluggish of all the arts to respond to the natural magic of the quick-moving mind—­it is Caliban, not Ariel.  Following the war the nation will be for a time depleted of man-power, burdened with debt, prostrate, exhausted.  But in that time of reckoning will come reflection, penitence.

            “And I’ll be wise hereafter,
  And seek for grace.  What a thrice-double ass
  Was I, to take this drunkard for a god,
  And worship this dull fool.”

With some such epilogue the curtain will descend on the great drama now approaching a close.  It will be for the younger generations, the reincarnate souls of those who fell in battle, to inaugurate the work of giving expression, in deathless forms of art, to the vision of that “fairer world” glimpsed now only as by lightning, in a dream.

[Illustration]

ESSAYS

ORNAMENT FROM MATHEMATICS

I

THE WORLD ORDER

No fact is better established than that we live in an orderly universe.  The truth of this the world-war may for the moment, and to the near and narrow view appear to contradict, but the sweep of human history, and the stars in their courses, show an orderliness which cannot be gainsaid.

Now of that order, number—­that is, mathematics—­is the more than symbol, it is the very thing itself.  Whence this weltering tide of life arose, and whither it flows, we know not; but that it is governed by mathematical law all of our knowledge in every field confirms.  Were it not so, knowledge itself would be impossible.  It is because man is a counting animal that he is master over all the beasts of the earth.

Number is the tune to which all things move, and as it were make music; it is in the pulses of the blood no less than in the starred curtain of the sky.  It is a necessary concomitant alike of the sharp bargain, the chemical experiment, and the fine frenzy of the poet.  Music is number made audible; architecture is number made visible; nature geometrizes not alone in her crystals, but in her most intricate arabesques.

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Architecture and Democracy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.