The way I see it,  plagues, storms and wars are products of the same blind force, sometimes operating through unconscious microbes, sometimes through unconscious waters and thunderbolts, and sometimes through unconscious men. For me, the difference between an earthquake and a massacre is like the difference between murdering with a knife and murdering with a dagger. The monster immanent in things, for the sake of his own good or his own evil, which are apparently indifferent to things, is equally served by the shifting of a rock on a hilltop or by the stirring of envy or greed in a heart. The rock falls and kills a man;  greed or envy prompts an arm, and the arm kills a man. Such is the world – a dunghill of instinctive forces that nevertheless shines in the sun with pale shades of light and dark gold.

(Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, tr. Richard Zenith)

This is essentially how i see the destructive force in our world – whether it is a meteor landing on your head, cancer, a cold-blooded or frenzied killer, a car swerving onto the pavement, the basic force is the same, it is a manifestation of the same destructive impulse. Sociology, psychology, mechanical cause & effect, biology, these are superficial – the force itself is metaphysical. In a Christian world we would say it is Original Sin; i would say merely that the world is fundamentally flawed.

Reading Theodore Dalrymple’s essay on Le Corbusier, i reflect that people like Le Corbusier, Tony Blair, Foucault, Judith Butler, are simply manifestations of that same destructive force. They are human but they are also vessels for “the monster immanent in things”, and the more effective for their own self-righteousness – they did not, i suppose, sit in smoke-filled rooms offering toasts to evil and the destruction of beauty and goodness – rather they believed they were clearing away a rotten civilization. However, when Dalrymple writes of Le Corbusier’s “hatred of the human”, this holds true and will be seen to be the case by all in due course. This could stand as a figure for all that Foucault and Blair and their ilk have achieved:

The only city Le Corbusier ever built, Chandigarh in India, is another monument to his bleak vision. In the London exhibition, pictures of it were shown to the sound of beautiful classical Indian music, as if some intrinsic connection existed between the refined Indian civilization and ugly slabs of concrete. Le Corbusier’s staggering incompetence—the natural product of his inflexible arrogance—was revealed, no doubt unintentionally, by pictures of the large concrete square that he placed in Chandigarh, totally devoid of shade. It is as if he wanted the sun to shrivel up the human insects who dared to stain the perfect geometry of his plans with the irregularities that they brought with them.

In every time the vacuous and deceitful and destructive are adored and cried up. Our time, perhaps, is worse than others; but because Le Corbusier and Foucault, Derrida and Butler, Blair and Emin and Hirst  (and so on) cannot produce beauty, cannot illuminate or ennoble, they will fairly quickly be regarded as just one more example of the lunacy of our age, when the monster was worshipped in the guise of a machine.

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