Monday, October 23, 2017

`The Weathered Patina of Age'

I know it was there Friday morning. I drive past it twice a day. We called it the Lincoln Log House. The siding resembled the wooden pieces in that building set, but much larger and painted light blue and maroon. The house was small and boxy looking, with a flat roof. Lately, the grass had gone unmowed. By Saturday morning the house had been replaced by a neat pile of rubble, mostly wood and plaster. Sunday, it was gone. Only a rectangle of concrete remained. It’s a “developing” neighborhood. Postwar houses are being torn down and replaced by bigger, more emphatic structures. In her final chapter, “A Note on New Ruins,” in The Pleasure of Ruins (1952), Rose Macaulay understands such things imaginatively:

“New ruins have not yet acquired the weathered patina of age, the true rust of the barons’ wars, not yet put on their ivy, nor equipped themselves with the appropriate bestiary of lizards, bats, screech-owls, serpents, speckled toads and little foxes which, as has been so frequently observed by ruin-explorers, hold high revel in the precincts of old ruins (such revelling, though noted with pleasure, is seldom described in detail; possibly the jackal waltzes with the toad, the lizard with the fox, while the screech owl supplies the music and they all glory and drink deep among the tumbled capitals). But new ruins are for a time stark and bare, vegetationless and creatureless; blackened and torn, they smell of fire and mortality.”

In Houston, we skip that romantic step in the history of ruin.

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