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*Image: Architectural Fragment (sculpture) by Petrus Spronk, 1992 [Swanson Street, Melbourne, Australia]. In situ:

By Anthony Esolen, The Catholic Thing, Sept. 10, 2020

Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. Among his books are Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and Nostalgia: Going Home in a Homeless World, and most recently The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is a professor and writer in residence at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts, in Warner, New Hampshire.


Anthony EsolenSuppose you have homes falling to pieces everywhere in your town. You could look at the walls, that you concede are sometimes made of chalk. You could look at the roofing, because you sometimes notice a strange sag up above the eaves. But instead you fix upon the foundations. You notice that they are made of mere clay, and that groundwater riddles them with holes, so that some houses sink into the earth on this side or that, and sometimes people wake up in the morning to find that they have no house at all.

But when you cry out to the builders and the inspectors, they laugh at you, and say that you are a single-issue repairman, or they accuse you of not caring about people whose roofs shed water into the living room. In vain do you urge them to see that nothing that lasts can be done unless the foundations are solid.

For a long time, you assume that the builders and inspectors are daft or inattentive. Then you discover that they have begun to insist that diversity of construction is a positive good. It is right that no walls should be plumb and no floors should be level. It is exciting to hear studs groaning against the nails as the house lists.  …

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