Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Monticello - Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello did much to bring Palladio to the New World -- both for good and for ill. Sited on the very brow of its Virginia hill so as to overlook and be a part of the space below (a brow unfortunately now far too overgrown in the photo below), and yet to spill onto the plateau on which it is sited - in a similar manner to Palladio's Villa Rotonda on which it was modelled - Monticello encapsulated the Enlightenment ideal of being both above and a part of nature (and filled with innovations, some of which worked) and in all its flawed genius it shows us what a home of, by and for an Enlightenment-era Atlas might be like.

You can explore the house in 3d on your computer at the Monticello website.


  1. It's easier to become an 'Atlas' when you're born into the landed gentry and keep over 150 (not a few but 150+!) slaves because of simple financial self-preservation even though you proclaim it's wrong.
    Even great men such as him tired of shrugging.

  2. Pearls before ...

    Thanks for posting this PC - this was a cherished part of my US tour two years ago (even if I crashed my van on the way home from the place of his mate Madison that night).

  3. oink! I guess that's me.

    I propose that Hagiography is for religious blogs Andrew. Given that Jefferson was labled 'Atlas' here, shouldn't we discriminate and appreciate his contradictions?

    The other point I oinked at was the accumulation of familial human capital that Jefferson enjoyed, i.e. landed gentry.
    Doesn't Rand call the family a soul killing prison? Yet here the 'Atlas' flourishes on the riches of family.

  4. Greg B. ...
    Is it obvious that rich heirs become "Atlases"? Is that what Paris Hilton and many like her demonstrate?

    Of course, if one has the moral fibre to rise, then starting from a height is a huge help. To pooh-pooh Jefferson's ideas, based on his background, is to admit that you, Greg, don't think either, but simply parrot the spin of your social class. In other words Jefferson and you would simply be parrots, neither culpable of anything.

    Jefferson had faults. However, before you shoot your mouth off, you need to research the illegalities of setting slaves free, and the types of the options that slaves would have in the event of being set free.

    Next, you'll be claiming that Luther is defined by the fact that he was Roman Catholic and that Jesus is defined by the fact that he was a Jew!


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