john_j_enright (john_j_enright) wrote,

Architecture and Ayn Rand, revisited

In their contentious tome, *What Art Is*, Torres and Kamhi launch an assault upon architecture's aesthetic merits.

They make a case that architecture doesn't properly fall under Rand's definition of art. On their website they recount a second-hand report that in her later years Rand herself had decided that architecture wasn't exactly art.

That's all as may be. I've argued about it elsewhere, notably in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

But what galls me is their gratuitous assault upon architecture's ability to convey meaning and a sense of life. Rand is very clear that she believes it can.

Torres & Kamhi, for some reason, feel a need to knock down the usual view of architecture as a conveyor of meaning and majesty. They are out on a limb on this position, and they don't have much support except for their own dismissive hand waving. They don't *see* the "Sermons in Stone". So the sermons must not be there. Several millennia of people reporting that some buildings make them feel special and holy... must just be groundless!

They take a stand against reading The Fountainhead in search of Rand's view of architecture. This, after Rand recommended doing exactly that!

Anyway, the issues deserve to be separated. One might logically hold that architecture is not exactly art, but that it DOES convey some of the same emotional-intellectual force of art. After all, Romantic love is not art, but it certainly conveys some of the same effect of art, namely a powerful sense of affirmation of one's own sense of life.

Architecture deserves our admiration, regardless of its exact classification among human artifacts. (And I still say... it's art.)

Rhyme of the day:

Temples and towers
embody our powers.

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