Friday, June 18, 2010

The Hideousness of Modern Life (as explained by an Original Orthodox Rebel)

The following is an excerpt (pp. 20-21) from Dale Ahlquist's Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chesterton. Here Ahlquist quotes Chesterton's remarks on the most key feature of modern life: its ugliness.

I think it may be cheerfully admitted that one of the strangest, largest, and most fundamental problems of modern life is...its ugliness. The world has grown richer and more complex, and more industrious and more orderly; upon the whole, it has grown more emancipated and more humane; but when all is said and done, upon the whole it has grown more ugly.... What can be the reason for this? [...]

I believe that the great source of hideousness of modern life is the lack of enthusiasm for modern life. If we really loved modern life we should make it beautiful. For all men seek to make beautiful the thing which they already think beautiful. The mother always seeks to deck out her child in what finery she possesses. The owner of a fine house adorns his house; the believer beautifies his church; the lover lavishes his lady; the patriot reforms his country. All these men improve a thing because they believe it is beautiful....

We do not make modern life beautiful precisely because we do not believe in modern life.... If we regarded the engineering of our age as the great Gothic architects regarded the engineering of their age we should make of the ordinary steam engine something as beautiful as the Christian cathedral.... 


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