Posted by Paul Malo on September 21, 2002 at 07:31:43:
In Reply to: Re: the extinction of the nuclear family of the 50's -the disappearance of the front porch - technology what is happening? posted by BRUTUS on September 21, 2002 at 06:39:16:
The larger cultural trend that I see is from orthodoxy to liberalism, for better and for worse. As I said, in the main I think that liberating the human spirit is preferable to enforcing conformity to cultural tradition.
The 'fifties were a time of relative orthodoxy. We didn't recognize this so much at the time, but conformity to narrowly prescribed behaviors was the norm. This was true in architecture, when there was a "right" way of designing in the Modern mode, just as there was a "right " way of living. Because of prevailing sense of righteousness, we didn't even see, let alone be concerned, about grave inequities in our society due to our accepted biases.
The mood of the 'fifties was conveyed by Robert Browning's lines (although written earlier);
The bird's on the wing,
The snail's on the thorn,
God's in his heaven,
All's right with the world.
Of course, much was wrong with the world, which has changed in the past half century. Is architecture better? I could hardly argue that it is, but much as I complain about the more bizarre work today that seems a mockery of serious architectural values, it's a case of, "I disagree with what you say, but respect your right to say it."
Personally, I rarely look at TV or spend much time in shopping malls but (having kids who do so) I can't say that that these diversions are ruinous to health or communal welfare.
The shopping mall, although conventionally derided by right-thinking architects, is really the community center these days. It's where the action is, and I can see why it draws young people and people-watchers of all ages. Yes, I would prefer a table on a Parisian boulevard for my people watching, but given our local weather and lack of beautiful boulevards, the climate-controlled avenue of the indoor mall serves the purpose.
Even as considered as architecture, not all shopping malls are so bad as many critics generalize. We have a huge one here that has indoor trees growing in natural light throughout the winter, has a carousel for children, and a welcome ambiance. Although I'm not a recreational shopper, I don't dread go to the mall.
I'll agree that our consumerist culture may not be the most healthful. There are far too many people in my town that are overweight, getting little exercise (other than walking the malls to buy more stuff to pack into overstuffed houses). The waste of resources is apalling and the consequences on the environment ominous. But people really are healthier, living longer, and have more freedom to overindulge or design crazy buildings--which is not a bad thing.
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