The Ugliness of Modernity

The past...

... and the present.

Why is it that the modern world is so ugly? Why are modern objects and buildings so dull, compared to the objects and buildings of the past? Why is there so little beauty in them? Compare an intricately decorated Gothic cathedral to a modern church and you'll see what I mean. Or compare a chair built in the 1800s to one built today. Everything now is so tatty and short-lived. This is because beauty is no longer valued as it once was.

Beauty is important - it affirms our joys and consoles our sufferings. This was part of the reason why our ancestors decorated their world with as much beauty as they could manage, because their lives had less joy and more suffering than ours. But we still suffer, and we still need beauty.

Our ancestors had access to far fewer resources than we have today - they could only make buildings so high, out of stone or wood. Yet they created structures which are still unmatched. We can create skyscrapers out of other materials, like glass, which are almost as tall as the sky itself. So why do we allow them to be so plain, like The Gerkhin in London? Why don't we put any effort into making them attractive? We could create a glass skyscraper in a neo-Gothic style if we wanted to; intricately decorated while glistening like a crystal shard. With our modern technology and resources we actually have the power to surpass anything our ancestors built. As for ordinary objects, why don't we put any effort into making plastic objects look nicer? All it would take is a little tasteful moulding. For example, there is a basket in my mother's house which is made of plastic, yet as it is moulded into an archaic floral pattern, it looks idyllic, and not ugly like most plastic objects.

I long for a day when company logos are pretty, when buildings are both futuristic and beautiful, when the smallest piece of artificial plastic packaging is as aesthetically pleasant as anything natural (like a plant or a pine cone). We have the power to make the world a more beautiful place. So why don't we?