Architecture and Social Constructs

Every generation is faced with a terrible conundrum. Since ancient times, people have wanted to reject what came before. But they didn’t want to have to start completely over.

Raw steak

“Forget fire! It’s oppressive. We’ll cook our food with ice!”

So it goes that social constricts are like buildings. The ancient ones are cool. They took a long time to build, and have resisted the great eraser that is time. They have received countless additions and features, but are still the same at the core. You can’t see the pyramids inside the pyramid, but they are still there. People praying in the Dome of the Rock can ignore the history of the temple mount, but it is still there below them. The past silently shapes the future.

Dome of the Rock

What a nice, natural platform for us to build our temple on!

For too many this is an untenable situation. We in the present are far too special, too important, and too new to walk upon ground that has already been tread upon. We have iPads and Facebook, and we are so tolerant and enlightened. Much too good to be influenced by the past. So instead of adding to the old buildings and contributing to civilization, people tear down anything that is old and challenging to them. ISIS destroying temples. Activists removing names from buildings. One of these actions is worse than the other, but they are expressions of the same crime.

New generations seek to tear down the constructs of their ancestors. And then when they succeed, they realize that nothing they build can ever replace what came before. The only way to replace time is by waiting a really long time. Someone will probably ruin what you built before it gets a chance to be ancient.

When people tear down society instead of contributing to it we get self conscious imitations of grandeur. Once we had an amphitheater. It was filled with the echoes of laughter and joy, but also with memories of sadness and hatred. It was flawed, but it was great, and it belonged to us all.

Now we get Mussolini’s Colosseum. Perfect, and boring, and never more than a desperate imitation.

Mosollini's Colosseum

I know you worked really hard, but I think I like the round one better.