When the World’s Fair re-opened in 1940, Poland’s pavillion did not re-open. Nazi Germany had invaded Poland. Was this the blessedness they had spoken of? Was this the good life, the “brave new World built by united hands and hearts and hearts.” where “brain and brawn, faith and courage, are linked in high endeavor as men men march on toward unity and peace.” that the Democracity narrator had told us about?
According to the Bible the whole exhibit should have been prefaced with a big “If God wills” -“ [Y]e know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil” (James 4:13-16). It had happened as the Bible says: “We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!” (Jeremiah 8:15).
But how different was the World’s Fair’s vision from the Nazis? They both preached unity. It seems as if cleanliness was going to be godliness in the fair’s World of Tomorrow. At least there was no mention of God in the Democracity “the city of man in the world of tomorrow” exhibit. White saw a lot of flawless odourless cleanliness at the fair; glass coverings were not only found at the girl show. In the General Motors simulation of travel in 1960, while “going 100 miles an hour around impossible turns ever onward toward the certified cities of the flawless future”, he “passed an apple orchard and saw the trees, each blooming under its own canopy of glass.” This future man dreams of is not righteous, it is merely clean. The oldest professions: farming and prostitution, now updated to glassy, sleek, sanitation.
E.B. White wrote in July of 1940 of how a New Yorker told him “that he thought perhaps the Nazi Ideal was a sounder ideal than our our constitutional system ‘because have you ever noticed the fine alert young faces the German soldiers have in the newsreel?’ He added: ‘Our American youngsters spend all their time at the movies-they’re a mess’”
Americans might have been a mess, but there was a brutality behind Germany’s fine front – those fine alert faces. What might men do in cleaning up today to bring in the “flawless future?” I read that presently 90% of babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome in the womb are killed. Presently. Right now.
When man was building the City of Man in unity back at Babel, “The Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” (Genesis 11:6)
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Tower of Babel.
What can withhold humanity from following its vision of what we should become?
Let me explain it like this: I think our brains edit out a lot of what we see. If one has a “gothic ruin” aesthetic he edits out the cheery yellow walls and household mess around him and only focuses on the black leafless branches blowing in the wild wind outside the window. If I have a “Carl Larsson Swedish farm” aesthetic do I try to edit out the laptops and phones in my house?
But what about how people have and will continue to physically edit and build their surroundings? According to what vision? Interestingly in Old Town St. Helens it is easier for me to hold to my worldview than it is up by the highway. The old town architects’ metaphysic was probably more similar to mine.
You can say to someone “Your vision does not fit with the earth, with dirt and rainbows and spiders and trees and birth and death and fire and sheep and sleep!” But what if their vision includes changing all that? Changing the human and all those things. Or, if some things cannot be changed, then hiding them. Would Truth change if the whole face of the earth were plated over with smooth stainless steel? NO! The Truth transcends. Our Metaphysic should not change just because we get indoor plumbing and all this smoothness.You and the present company, are made of the same dirt as everyone else in every other place – in every other time.
I am still not sure if I should get my tooth fixed. On the one hand it is a defect from the original form of Man; on the other hand, defects testify of the true state of existence and the world beyond. These are the kind of things I want to talk about when the dentist has his tools in my mouth.