Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Dwell's editor in chief preaches a pluralism that would sound strange to her forebears: "We think of ourselves as Modernists, but we are the nice Modernists. One of the things we like best about Modernism - the nice Modernism - it its flexbility." She tweaks the puritanical doctrines of Adolf Loos - "one crabby Modernist" - whose influential 1908 essay "Ornament and Crime" proclaimed decoration degenerate, the amoral indulgence of children and barbarians. To a contemporary reader, Loos sounds like a racist, pleasure-hating totalitarian. In the twenty-first century, ornament is not a crime. It is an essential form of human self-expression.

Virginia Postrel, The Substance of Style (14)

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