the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

quotes: sebald on comfort and building

Posted by rigorousm on June 28, 2012

… unlike birds, for instance, who keep building the same nest over thousands of years, we tend to forge ahead with our projects far beyond any reasonable bounds. Someone, he added, ought to draw up a catalogue of types of buildings listed in order of size, and it would be immediately obvious that domestic buildings of less than normal size– the little cottage in the fields, the hermitage, the lockkeeper’s lodge, the pavilion for viewing the landscape, the children’s bothy in the garden– are those that offer us at least a semblance of peace, whereas no one in his right mind could truthfully say that he liked a vast edifice such as the Palace of Justice on the old Gallows Hill in Brussels. At the most we gaze at it in wonder, a kind of wonder which in itself is a form of dawning horror, for somehow we know by instinct that outsize buildings cast the shadow of their own destruction before them, and are designed from the first with an eye to their later existence as ruins.

— Sebald, Austerlitz, 18-19

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