Saturday, January 28, 2006

Intricacy and Ornament

"Intricacy is that which is given from the beginning, the birth-right, and in intricacy is the hardiness of complexity that ensures against failure of all life. This is our heritage, the piebald landscape of time. We walk around; we see a shred of infinite possible combinations of an infinite variety of forms." -Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Reading Architecture and Ornament (see 3 posts down) has made me think about why modernist have abandoned ornament. The world, the architecture of God, is incredibly intricate and detailed, the shape of a branch mirrors the shape of a tree and the shape of the 'veins' in a leaf. There is infinite detail all the way down. The shape of the parts reflect the shape of the whole. (they call this sort of thing a fractal in math) Ripples between waves look like the wave. Molehills that adorn mountains look like mountains.

The universality of ornament in all the various schools of pre-modern architecture reflect the way God made the world, there is beauty and detail all the way down. There was a mars hill audio tape somewhere where they talked about how if any architecture could be described as "puritanical" it would be Frank Loyde Wright's (see above). Ornament is submitting to the world God made, modern lack of it is to go against the grain of creation, and so it is ugly.


Blogger Chestertonian Rambler said...


Intricacy and Ornament sounds like something I'd love to read sometime. Keep updating on how it goes!

1/29/2006 1:37 PM  
Blogger Stejahen said...

The book is called Architectural Ornament, but he doesn't really talk about it in terms I used, those are just my thoughts. It is a great books though.

1/29/2006 1:56 PM  

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