Thursday, February 15, 2007

From Of the Atmosphere of a Church, 1947

"Really there is no antagonism. The trouble is simply that art, which in its great days was scientific, has today ceased to be so, and one of the requirements for its recovery is that it should become scientific again and thereby be in harmony with the best spirit of the age. The man who sets to work to design an aeroplane or a motorcar has no self-conscious strivings to express himself or his age, like the pathetic architects and artists of today. His one business is to make it go and, if possible, to go one better, and he would not be so mad as to think he could do this without knowing the tradition of all that went before. Moreover, if he fails, there is no question of his failure; he cannot hide it by fine words and theories. Let us apply this to architecture and have an end to humbug. After all, deep in the human heart is the sense of beauty and when a man sees it he will respond unless his eye is hypnotized by words...

"And do we want originality? I quote Dr. Inge: 'What we call originality is generally the power to see old things in a new light - it is the reading of some open secret...' And the correspondent whom I have quoted before sums up: 'What passes for originality today is at its best no more difficult to accomplish and is less original than what a man does who not only has studied the past, but bears the past within him when he is at work on some quite modern need.' "

~Sir J. Ninian Comper

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: