Have you noticed how ugly most of our communities are, all the strip malls, concrete boxes, offices, and even churches, void of aesthetic touches?
Have you noticed that this is a relatively new phenomenon?
Yes, it certainly is.
Compare a modern shopping center to, say, the marketplace of Arles in Provence — it is now called the Place de la République — and the falling-off is incontestable. Where the Old Western man created beautiful forms instinctively, as a matter of course, we New Westerners as reflexively create ungainly ones. The Old Western man, the historian Johan Huizinga observed, insisted on having artistic beauty “in the midst of life”; the New Western man has “set art apart from life.”
If the New Western man delights to heap up, in his art mortuaries, fragments of Old Western plastic art — scraps of frieze and pediment, flèche and portico — he does not emulate his forebears by introducing this spatial poetry into his own everyday life; his schools, offices, and shopping centers are inartistic.