Thursday, 17 April 2014

Kenneth Clark's Civilisation II

While Clark labours a little over the southern Renaissance (with the exception of Michelangelo) he really comes in to his own with the Reformation, with Erasmus, Durer and Luther....then Montaigne and Shakespeare. He brings to mind the terror that necessary ideas bring, and appears almost scandalously adept in his discussion of our northern tribes and the implications to recent history. With the Counter Reformation it's his sheer power you respect, his command of the material. He doesn't like it, but he knows it. This is such a gift to those architectural students who have laboured under our own counter reformation (with phenomenology) being fed Boromini and Guarini as staples of redemption, this makes you sit up straight once more and turn the pages. Nothing is easy here, and Clark, to his credit, makes it look effortless. Deference to Gods will (as opposed to asking questions such as 'does it work?' or even 'does it pay?') is in the end a trade in illusions, and in the great story of things, that just won't do it, ever.

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