Sunday, September 02, 2012


Technological Retrogression

Guy Davenport (1927-2005), "A Letter to the Masterbuilder," in The Hunter Gracchus and Other Papers on Literature and Art (Washington: Counterpoint, 1997), pp. 144-153 (at 151):
With modernity in architecture there came, tied to it, the paradox of a technological retrogression. If a medieval candle went out, one person was in darkness; the failure of a power station plunges a whole city into darkness, halts elevators in their shafts, trains on their tracks. That's the principle. The actuality is far more subtle. The brunt of modernity is in a pervasive convenience and in technological "advances." I put that word in quotation marks because I have come to feel that modernity has marched into a great trap, that the once-balanced paradox has come to weigh more on the side of retrogression.


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