A Copy of A Copy: Ruskin’s The Seven Lamps Of Architecture

During a reading in Denver, CO, poet Gary Snyder remarked, “You don’t have to understand architecture to walk into a building.”  That struck me as fascinating and truthful.  No one needs to completely understand engineering, carpentry, or craftsmanship to be able to use the product of all that knowledge.

However, perhaps knowing about all the energy, time, and effort that goes into a product would help people hold it more sacred.  This carelessness is at the heart of John Ruskin’s complaint.  Instead of preserving, humans attempt to restore.

After several restorations, can we still call something original?  When does an original become not so?  A restored entity is much like a copy of a copy, either in terms of photocopies or CDs (or even cassette tapes–yes, dating myself).  The newer versions corrupt the original piece in quality and even in spirit.

As Atlas and Lowenthal noted that we cannot recreate the aura of a quote, and therefore cannot convey true reality, Ruskin believes that the original spirit of architecture cannot be reproduced.  Therefore, restoration, according to Ruskin, is destruction, and the need to restore is really the need to destroy.

The solution here is then preventative care.  Instead, we need to maintain so that we do not need to restore.

As for the faultiness in a copy of a copy of copy, I give you a scene from Multiplicity:

Ruskin, John. “The Lamp Of Memory.” The Seven Lamps Of Architecture. 1880.

Advertisements

About Christina M. Rau

Poet, blogger, writer, editor, professor
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Copy of A Copy: Ruskin’s The Seven Lamps Of Architecture

  1. Pingback: American Memory: Thelen’s “Memory And American History” | Rediscovering Brooklyn: A Local Tour De Force

  2. Pingback: Preserving NYC: Loflin, et al: “Historic Preservation…” | Rediscovering Brooklyn: A Local Tour De Force

  3. Pingback: 2010 in review | Rediscovering Brooklyn: A Local Tour De Force

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s