Saturday, 24 December 2005

Man, the enlightened being

Excerpts here from Frank Lloyd Wright’s poetic 1953 Christmas message on “man the enlightened being”: “The herd disappears and reappears, but the sovereignty of the individual persists.” [Note that Wright did not understand ‘Democracy’ to mean “a counting of heads regardless of content” as we do at 'Not PC'; by Democracy he simply meant Freedom – he used the two words virtually interchangeably.] The spirit and overwhelming benevolence of his words make them appropriate to post here on this Christmas Eve as this blog closes down for the festive season.

Literature tells about man. Architecture presents him. The Architecture that our man of Democracy needs and prophecies is bound to be different from that of the common or conditioned man of any other socialized system of belief. As never before, this new Free-Man’s Architecture will present him by being true to his own nature in all such expressions. This aim becomes natural to him in his Art as it once was in his Religion.

With renewed vision, the modern man will use the new tools Science lavishes upon him (even before he is ready for them) to enlarge his field of action by reducing his fetters to exterior controls, especially those of organized Authority, publicity, or political expediency.

He will use his new tools to develop his own Art and Religion as the means to keep him free, as himself. Therefore this democratic man’s environment, like his mind, will never be style-ized. When and wherever he builds he will not consent to be boxed. He will himself have his style.

The Democratic man demands conscientious liberty for himself no more nor less than he demands liberty for his neighbor. The way of life he calls Civilization will expand according to his inner vision to develop the integral beauty derived only from self-culture. This man’s own conscience will be is constant concern and aim to correct his social standards in all acts that proceed from him. This constant vigilance constitutes his only guarantee of Freedom.

The true democrat will seek and find ‘safety’ in knowledge and courageous practice of the organic, or interior, laws of Nature, suspicious of all exterior interference or preparation for the use of Force.

Whenever organic justice is denied him he will not believe he can get it by murder but must obtain it by continuing fair dealing and enlightenment at whatever cost. He will never force upon others his own beliefs nor his own ways. He will display his social methods to others as best advantage as critic or missionary only when sought by them. His neighbor will be to him (as he is to himself) free to choose his own way according to his own light, their common cause being the vision of the uncommon-man wherein every man is free to grow to the stature his freedom in America under the Constitution of these United States grants him.

Exterior compulsion absent in him, no man need be inimical to him. Conscience, thus indispensable to his own freedom, becomes normal to every man.

As this vision of Democracy thus clears, man’s powers would naturally increase. The soul of his society – Art and Religion – would gain dignity and range by constant performance until his life became that of a whole man: a wholesome one instead of the fraction the common man is: under-nourished or over-built by exterior controls, especially by those of Education.

Peace would become normal but reform of the World so far as that reform was his concern could only begin with his own reform and proceed from there. Remember the men who gave us our [American] Nation. We have ‘the Declaration’ and our Constitution because they were individualist.

Great Art is still living for us only because of Individualists like Beethoven. We have creative men on earth today only as they are free to continually arise as individuals from obscurity to demonstrate their dignity and worth above the confusion raised by the herding of the common-man by aid of the scribes and Pharisees of his time—quantity ignoring or overwhelming quality.

The herd disappears and reappears but the sovereignty of the individual persists.

Observe the buildings of the world. Uniqueness to Time, Place and Man constitutes the great universality we call the Art of Architecture. It is this appropriation to circumstance – not what buildings possess in common – that is the greatest virtue of all great Art.
RESUMÉ: Winds blow, fires burn, water falls, and the law of gravitation holds but not what all have in common interests us most. Universality is no virtue in itself. It may only be weakness or default.

To the individual we must look for that quality in life we call creative. In the depth of a man’s Faith would lie his true humility, that of the IDEAL MAN. His prayer would be humble only to ever-changing never-ending LIFE.

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