Monday, January 16, 2006

As a Wannabe

I can't quite call myself a Modernist. It's just too expensive to be a full fledged Modernist today. However, I am a fan of the Modernist aesthetic and strive to achieve it in whatever I do. The reason I may seem apologetic for my leanings is because I live in a city that has not embraced the future in a long time. St. Louis has a glorious past and rests on its laurels far too often. It tries to replicate its golden age rather than update its look for today. St. Louis boomed at the turn of the 20th century. The clay deposits found in St. Louis allowed it to build itself out of brick. Given these 2 elements St. Louis is a brick city with a Victorian look.

To call yourself a Modernist in St. Louis is to move beyond this red brick past. It is a term misunderstood by most everyone in this Midwestern city. People assume that you are one of those people in favor of tearing down the
Century building to put in a parking garage. That you would rip the "character" out of a historic home and replace it with suburban blandness.

On the contrary, I want to respect the past by not trying to duplicate it. I don't want to see a single brick building torn down. It's just that if there is an empty lot why should you build something that tries to replicate a days-gone-by look? Build something from this century to tell a tale to future generations of who we were and what we were capable of doing. Putting a modern home, and I don't mean post-modern nothingness of vinyl siding and fake columns, but a real modern home next to a historic home shows one how valuable the historic home is and that we should preserve it.

Vibrant cities that have either stayed current (London) or revived themselves (Toronto) know how important it is to stay contemporary. They build modern adjacent to historic and know that this is part of the urban landscape that is interesting to people.

Maybe one day I will be able to proudly call myself a Modernist in a Victorian city and not be hurled insults?


337is said...

Alright then, here's a few more quotes I dug up on the subject:

Modernity is the transient, the fleeting, the contingent; it is one half of art, the other being the eternal and the immovable.
Baudelaire, Charles

You are born modern, you do not become so.
Baudrillard, Jean

I am prisoner of a gaudy and unlivable present, where all forms of human society have reached an extreme of their cycle and there is no imagining what new forms they may assume.
Calvino, Italo

A modern man has nothing to add to modernism, if only because he has nothing to oppose it with. The well-adapted drop off the dead limb of time like lice.
Canetti, Elias

Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!
Carroll, Lewis

Our own epoch is determining, day by day, its own style. Our eyes, unhappily, are unable yet to discern it.
Corbusier, Le

By Modernism I mean the positive rejection of the past and the blind belief in the process of change, in novelty for its own sake, in the idea that progress through time equates with cultural progress; in the cult of individuality, originality and self-expression.
Cruickshank, Dan

Don't bother about being modern. Unfortunately it is the one thing that, whatever you do, you cannot avoid.
Dali, Salvador

It is a tribute to the peculiar horror of contemporary life that it makes the worst features of earlier times -- the stupefaction of the masses, the obsessed and driven lives of the bourgeoisie -- seem attractive by comparison.
Lasch, Christopher

It is only the modern that ever becomes old-fashioned.
Wilde, Oscar

337is said...

One more!

A modern, harmonic and lively architecture is the visible sign of an authentic democracy.
Gropius, Walter