April 22, 2024


One of the odd joys of citation is coming across a footnote that cites something you don’t remember writing. From John Hartley, How We Use Stories And Why That Matters: cultural sciences in action, New York: Bloomsbury, 2020 p. 102.

[Footnote] 15. An unusually direct statement of this tension can be found by Mark Bernstein, an editor of The Victorian Web: ‘Classical architecture is a universal architecture of precision, planning, and control. Each element has its proper place and size, and each is subordinated to the greater plan. In antiquity, classicism was the architectural language of empire; in the nineteenth century it was the language of manifest destiny and of a Republic taming the wilderness; in the twentieth century, it became the language of fascism. Ruskin expounded an (admittedly ahistorical) vision of the Gothic in opposition to the Classical, emphasizing savageness and changefulness as the touchstones of the Gothic. Changefulness refers to continuous change, as the vaulted rib has no single radius of curvature but changes continuously as it flies. Savageness refers to clean breaks, to asymmetry, to unique work expressed by different hands where structural constraints allow such variation.’

I rather suspect that “unusually direct” here serves as a tactful way of saying “foolhardy.” Still, it’s fun. Hartley found this through a 2014 blog of René Merle, which is flattering in itself. Alas, that weblog seems to be lost.