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Architecture and Democracy by Claude Fayette Bragdon

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mobile color--an abstract language of thought and emotion which should
speak to consciousness through the eye, as music speaks through the
ear. This is an art unborn, though quickening in the womb of the
future. The things that reflect light have been organized aesthetically
into the arts of architecture, painting, and sculpture, but light
itself has never been thus organized.

And yet the scientific development and control of light has reached a
stage which makes this new art possible. It awaits only the advent of
the creative artist. The manipulation of light is now in the hands
of the illuminating engineers and its exploitation (in other than
necessary ways) in the hands of the advertisers.

Some results of their collaboration are seen in the sky signs of upper
Broadway, in New York, and of the lake front, in Chicago. A carnival
of contending vulgarities, showing no artistry other than the most
puerile, these displays nevertheless yield an effect of amazing
beauty. This is on account of an occult property inherent in the
nature of light--_it cannot be vulgarized_. If the manipulation of
light were delivered into the hands of the artist, and dedicated
to noble ends, it is impossible to overestimate the augmentation of
beauty that would ensue.

For light is a far more potent medium than sound. The sphere of sound
is the earth-sphere; the little limits of our atmosphere mark the
uttermost boundaries to which sound, even the most strident can
possibly prevail. But the medium of light is the ether, which links
us with the most distant stars. May not this serve as a symbol of the
potency of light to usher the human spirit into realms of being at the
doors of which music itself shall beat in vain? Or if we compare the
universe accessible to sight with that accessible to sound--the
plight of the blind in contrast to that of the deaf--there is the same
discrepancy; the field of the eye is immensely richer, more various
and more interesting than that of the ear.

The difficulty appears to consist in the inferior impressionability
of the eye to its particular order of beauty. To the average man
color--as color--has nothing significant to say: to him grass is
green, snow is white, the sky blue; and to have his attention drawn to
the fact that sometimes grass is yellow, snow blue, and the sky green,
is disconcerting rather than illuminating. It is only when his retina
is assaulted by some splendid sunset or sky-encircling rainbow that
he is able to disassociate the idea of color from that of form and
substance. Even the artist is at a disadvantage in this respect, when
compared with the musician. Nothing in color knowledge and analysis
analogous to the established laws of musical harmony is part of the
equipment of the average artist; he plays, as it were, by ear. The
scientist, on the other hand, though he may know the spectrum from
end to end, and its innumerable modifications, values this "rainbow
promise of the Lord" not for its own beautiful sake but as a means
to other ends than those of beauty. But just as the art of music
has developed the ear into a fine and sensitive instrument of
appreciation, so an analogous art of light would educate the eye to
nuances of color to which it is now blind.


It is interesting to speculate as to the particular form in which this
new art will manifest itself. The question is perhaps already answered
in the "color organ," the earliest of which was Bambridge Bishop's,
exhibited at the old Barnum's Museum--before the days of electric
light--and the latest A.W. Rimington's. Both of these instruments were
built upon a supposed correspondence between a given scale of colors,
and the musical chromatic scale; they were played from a musical score
upon an organ keyboard. This is sufficiently easy and sufficiently
obvious, and has been done, with varying success in one way or
another, time and again, but its very ease and obviousness should give
us pause.

It may well be questioned whether any arbitrary and literal
translation, even though practicable, of a highly complex, intensely
mobile art, unfolding in time, as does music, into a correspondent
light and color expression, is the best approach to a new art of
mobile color. There is a deep and abiding conviction, justified by the
history of aesthetics, that each art-form must progress from its
own beginnings and unfold in its own unique and characteristic way.
Correspondences between the arts--such a correspondence, for
example, as inspired the famous saying that architecture is frozen
music--reveal themselves usually only after the sister arts have
attained an independent maturity. They owe their origin to that
underlying unity upon which our various modes of sensuous perception
act as a refracting medium, and must therefore be taken for granted.
Each art, like each individual, is unique and singular; in this
singularity dwells its most thrilling appeal. We are likely to miss
light's crowning glory, and the rainbow's most moving message to the
soul if we preoccupy ourselves too exclusively with the identities
existing between music and color; it is rather their points of
difference which should first be dwelt upon.

Let us accordingly consider the characteristic differences between
the two sense-categories to which sound and light--music and
color--respectively belong. This resolves itself into a comparison
between time and space. The characteristic thing about time is
succession--hence the very idea of music, which is in time, involves
perpetual change. The characteristic of space, on the other hand, is
simultaneousness--in space alone perpetual immobility would reign.
That is why architecture, which is pre-eminently the art of space, is
of all the arts the most static. Light and color are essentially
of space, and therefore an art of mobile colour should never lack a
certain serenity and repose. A "tune" played on a color organ is only
distressing. If there is a workable correspondence between the musical
art and an art of mobile color, it will be found in the domain of
harmony which involves the idea of simultaneity, rather than in
melody, which is pure succession. This fundamental difference between
time and space cannot be over-emphasized. A musical note prolonged,
becomes at last scarcely tolerable; while a beautiful color, like the
blue of the sky, we can enjoy all day and every day. The changing hues
of a sunset, are _andante_ if referred to a musical standard, but to
the eye they are _allegretto_--we would have them pass less swiftly
than they do. The winking, chasing, changing lights of illuminated
sky-signs are only annoying, and for the same reason. The eye longs
for repose in some serene radiance or stately sequence, while the ear
delights in contrast and continual change. It may be that as the eye
becomes more educated it will demand more movement and complexity, but
a certain stillness and serenity are of the very nature of light,
as movement and passion are of the very nature of sound. Music is a
seeking--"love in search of a word"; light is a finding--a "divine

With attention still focussed on the differences rather than the
similarities between the musical art and a new art of mobile color,
we come next to the consideration of the matter of form. Now form
is essentially of space: we speak about the "form" of a musical
composition, but it is in a more or less figurative and metaphysical
sense, not as a thing concrete and palpable, like the forms of space.
It would be foolish to forego the advantage of linking up form with
colour, as there is opportunity to do. Here is another golden ball to
juggle with, one which no art purely in time affords. Of course it is
known that musical sounds weave invisible patterns in the air, and to
render these patterns perceptible to the eye may be one of the more
remote and recondite achievements of our uncreated art. Meantime,
though we have the whole treasury of natural forms to draw from, of
these we can only properly employ such as are _abstract_. The reason
for this is clear to any one who conceives of an art of mobile color,
not as a moving picture show--a thing of quick-passing concrete
images, to shock, to startle, or to charm--but as a rich and various
language in which light, proverbially the symbol of the spirit, is
made to speak, through the senses, some healing message to the soul.
For such a consummation, "devoutly to be wished," natural forms--forms
abounding in every kind of association with that world of materiality
from which we would escape--are out of place; recourse must be had
rather to abstract forms, that is, geometrical figures. And because
the more remote these are from the things of sense, from knowledge and
experience, the projected figures of four-dimensional geometry would
lend themselves to these uses with an especial grace. Color without
form is as a soul without a body; yet the body of light must be
without any taint of materiality. Four-dimensional forms are as
immaterial as anything that could be imagined and they could be made
to serve the useful purpose of separating colors one from another,
as lead lines do in old cathedral windows, than which nothing more
beautiful has ever been devised.

Coming now to the consideration, not of differences, but similarities,
it is clear that a correspondence can be established between the
colors of the spectrum and the notes of a musical scale. That is,
the spectrum, considered as the analogue of a musical octave can
be subdivided into twelve colors which may be representative of
the musical chromatic scale of twelve semi-tones: the very word,
_chromatic_, being suggestive of such a correspondence between sound
and light. The red end of the spectrum would naturally relate to the
low notes of the musical scale, and the violet end to the high, by
reason of the relative rapidity of vibration in each case; for the
octave of a musical note sets the air vibrating twice as rapidly as
does the note itself, and roughly speaking, the same is true of the
end colors of the spectrum with relation to the ether.

But assuming that a color scale can be established which would yield
a color correlative to any musical note or chord, there still remains
the matter of _values_ to be dealt with. In the musical scale there is
a practical equality of values: one note is as potent as another. In
a color scale, on the other hand, each note (taken at its greatest
intensity) has a positive value of its own, and they are all
different. These values have no musical correlatives, they belong to
color _per se_. Every colorist knows that the whole secret of beauty
and brilliance dwells in a proper understanding and adjustment of
values, and music is powerless to help him here. Let us therefore
defer the discussion of this musical parallel, which is full of
pitfalls, until we have made some examination into such simple
emotional reactions as color can be discovered to yield. The musical
art began from the emotional response to certain simple tones and
combinations, and the delight of the ear in their repetition and

On account of our undeveloped sensitivity, the emotional reactions
to color are found to be largely personal and whimsical: one person
"loves" pink, another purple, or green. Color therapeutics is too
new a thing to be relied upon for data, for even though colors
are susceptible of classification as sedative, recuperative and
stimulating, no two classifications arrived at independently would be
likely to correspond. Most people appear to prefer bright, pure
colors when presented to them in small areas, red and blue being
the favourites. Certain data have been accumulated regarding the
physiological effect and psychological value of different colors, but
this order of research is in its infancy, and we shall have recourse,
therefore, to theory, in the absence of any safer guide.

One of the theories which may be said to have justified itself in
practice in a different field is that upon which is based Delsarte's
famous art of expression. It has schooled some of the finest actors
in the world, and raised others from mediocrity to distinction. The
Delsarte system is founded upon the idea that man is a triplicity of
physical, emotional, and intellectual qualities or attributes, and
that the entire body and every part thereof conforms to, and expresses
this triplicity. The generative and digestive region corresponds with
the physical nature, the breast with the emotional, and the head
with the intellectual; "below" represents the nadir of ignorance and
dejection, "above" the zenith of wisdom and spiritual power.
This seems a natural, and not an arbitrary classification, having
interesting confirmations and correspondencies, both in the outer
world of form, and in the inner world of consciousness. Moreover, it
is in accord with that theosophic scheme derived from the ancient and
august wisdom of the East, which longer and better than any other
has withstood the obliterating action of slow time, and is even now
renascent. Let us therefore attempt to classify the colors of the
spectrum according to this theory, and discover if we can how nearly
such a classification is conformable to reason and experience.

The red end of the spectrum, being lowest in vibratory rate, would
correspond to the physical nature, proverbially more sluggish than the
emotional and mental. The phrase "like a red rag to a bull," suggests
a relation between the color red and the animal consciousness
established by observation. The "low-brow" is the dear lover of the
red necktie; the "high-brow" is he who sees violet shadows on the
snow. We "see red" when we are dominated by ignoble passion. Though
the color green is associated with the idea of jealousy, it is
associated also with the idea of sympathy, and jealousy in the last
analysis is the fear of the loss of sympathy; it belongs, at all
events to the mediant, or emotional group of colors; while blue and
violet are proverbially intellectual and spiritual colors, and
their place in the spectrum therefore conforms to the demands of our
theoretical division. Here, then, is something reasonably certain,
certainly reasonable, and may serve as an hypothesis to be confirmed
or confuted by subsequent research. Coming now finally to the
consideration of the musical parallel, let us divide a color scale of
twelve steps or semi-tones into three groups; each group, graphically
portrayed, subtending one-third of the arc of a circle. The first or
red group will be related to the physical nature, and will consist of
purple-red, red, red-orange, and orange. The second, or green group
will be related to the emotional nature, and will consist of yellow,
yellow-green, green, and green-blue. The third, or blue group will be
related to the intellectual and spiritual nature, and will consist
of blue, blue-violet, violet and purple. The merging of purple into
purple-red will then correspond to the meeting place of the
highest with the lowest, "spirit" and "matter." We conceive of this
meeting-place symbolically as the "heart"--the vital centre. Now
"sanguine" is the appropriate name associated with the color of
the blood--a color between purple and purple-red. It is logical,
therefore, to regard this point in our color-scale as its
tonic--"middle C"--though each color, just as in music each note, is
itself the tonic of a scale of its own.

Mr. Louis Wilson--the author of the above "ophthalmic color scale"
makes the same affiliation between sanguine, or blood color, and
middle C, led thereto by scientific reasons entirely unassociated with
symbolism. He has omitted orange-yellow and violet-purple; this
makes the scale conform more exactly with the diatonic scale of
two tetra-chords; it also gives a greater range of purples, a color
indispensable to the artist. Moreover, in the scale as it stands, each
color is exactly opposite its true spectral complementary.

The color scale being thus established and broadly divided, the next
step is to find how well it justifies itself in practice. The most
direct way would be to translate the musical chords recognized and
dealt with in the science of harmony into their corresponding color

For the benefit of such readers as have no knowledge of musical
harmony it should be said that the entire science of harmony is based
upon the _triad_, or chord of three notes, and that there are various
kinds of triads: the major, the minor, the augmented, the diminished,
and the altered. The major triad consists of the first note of the
diatonic scale, or tonic; its third, and its fifth. The minor triad
differs from the major only in that the second member is lowered a
semi-tone. The augmented triad differs from the major only in that the
third member is raised a semi-tone. The diminished triad differs from
the minor only in that the third member is lowered a semi-tone. The
altered triad is a chord different by a semi-tone from any of the

The major triad in color is formed by taking any one of the twelve
color-centers of the ophthalmic color scale as the first member of
the triad; and, reading up the scale, the fifth step (each step
representing a semi-tone) determines the second member, while the
third member is found in the eighth step. The minor triad in color is
formed by lowering the second member of the major triad one step; the
augmented triad by raising the third member of the major triad one
step, and the diminished triad by lowering the third member of the
minor triad one step.


These various triads are shown graphically in Figure 18 as
triangles within a circle divided into twelve equal parts, each part
representing a semi-tone of the chromatic scale. It is seen at a
glance that in every case each triad has one of its notes (an apex) in
or immediately adjacent to a different one of the grand divisions of
the colour scale hereinbefore established and described, and that the
same thing would be true in any "key": that is, by any variation of
the point of departure.

This certainly satisfies the mind in that it suggests variety in
unity, balance, completeness, and in the actual portrayal, in color,
of these chords in any "key" this judgment is confirmed by the eye,
provided that the colors have been thrown into proper _harmonic
suppression_. By this is meant such an adjustment of relative values,
or such an establishment of relative proportions as will produce the
maximum of beauty of which any given combination is capable. This
matter imperatively demands an aesthetic sense the most sensitive.

So this "musical parallel," interesting and reasonable as it is, will
not carry the color harmonist very far, and if followed too literally
it is even likely to hamper him in the higher reaches of his art,
for some of the musical dissonances are of great beauty in color
translation. All that can safely be said in regard to the musical
parallel in its present stage of development is that it simplifies and
systematizes color knowledge and experiment and to a beginner it is
highly educational.

If we are to have color symphonies, the best are not likely to be
those based on a literal translation of some musical masterpiece into
color according to this or any theory, but those created by persons
who are emotionally reactive to this medium, able to imagine in color,
and to treat it imaginatively. The most beautiful mobile color effects
yet witnessed by the author were produced on a field only five inches
square, by an eminent painter quite ignorant of music; while some of
the most unimpressive have been the result of a rigid adherence to the
musical parallel by persons intent on cutting, with this sword, this
Gordian knot.

Into the subject of means and methods it is not proposed to enter, nor
to attempt to answer such questions as to whether the light shall be
direct or projected; whether the spectator, wrapped in darkness, shall
watch the music unfold at the end of some mysterious vista, or
whether his whole organism shall be played upon by powerful waves
of multi-coloured light. These coupled alternatives are not mutually
exclusive, any more than the idea of an orchestra is exclusive of that
of a single human voice.

In imagining an art of mobile color unconditioned by considerations
of mechanical difficulty or of expense, ideas multiply in truly
bewildering profusion. Sunsets, solar coronas, star spectra, auroras
such as were never seen on sea or land; rainbows, bubbles, rippling
water; flaming volcanoes, lava streams of living light--these and a
hundred other enthralling and perfectly realizable effects suggest
themselves. What Israfil of the future will pour on mortals this new
"music of the spheres"?



Due tribute has been paid to Mr. Louis Sullivan as an architect in
the first essay of this volume. That aspect of his genius has been
critically dealt with by many, but as an author he is scarcely
known. Yet there are Sibylline leaves of his, still let us hope in
circulation, which have wielded a potent influence on the minds of a
generation of men now passing to maturity. It is in the hope that his
message may not be lost to the youth of today and of tomorrow that the
present author now undertakes to summarize and interpret that message
to a public to which Mr. Sullivan is indeed a name, but not a voice.

That he is not a voice can be attributed neither to his lack of
eloquence--for he is eloquent--nor to the indifference of the younger
generation of architects which has grown up since he has ceased,
in any public way, to speak. It is due rather to a curious fatality
whereby his memorabilia have been confined to sheets which the
winds of time have scattered--pamphlets, ephemeral magazines, trade
journals--never the bound volume which alone guards the sacred flame
from the gusts of evil chance.

And Mr. Sullivan's is a "sacred flame," because it was kindled solely
with the idea of service--a beacon to keep young men from
shipwreck traversing those straits made dangerous by the Scylla of
Conventionality, and the Charybdis of License. The labour his writing
cost him was enormous. "I shall never again make so great a sacrifice
for the younger generation," he says in a letter, "I am amazed to
note how insignificant, how almost nil is the effect produced, in
comparison to the cost, in vitality to me. Or perhaps it is I who
am in error. Perhaps one must have reached middle age, or the Indian
Summer of life, must have seen much, heard much, felt and produced
much and been much in solitude to receive in reading what I gave in
writing 'with hands overfull.'"

This was written with reference to _Kindergarten Chats. A sketch
Analysis of Contemporaneous American Architecture_, which constitutes
Mr. Sullivan's most extended and characteristic preachment to the
young men of his day. It appeared in 1901, in fifty-two consecutive
numbers of _The Interstate Architect and Builder_, a magazine now
no longer published. In it the author, as mentor, leads an imaginary
disciple up and down the land, pointing out to him the "bold,
upholsterrific blunders" to be found in the architecture of the day,
and commenting on them in a caustic, colloquial style--large, loose,
discursive--a blend of Ruskin, Carlyle and Whitman, yet all Mr.
Sullivan's own. He descends, at times, almost to ribaldry, at others
he rises to poetic and prophetic heights. This is all a part of his
method alternately to shame and inspire his pupil to some sort of
creative activity. The syllabus of Mr. Sullivan's scheme, as it
existed in his mind during the writing of _Kindergarten Chats_,
and outlined by him in a letter to the author is such a torch of
illumination that it is quoted here entire.

A young man who has "finished his education" at the
architectural schools comes to me for a post-graduate
course--hence a free form of dialogue.

I proceed with his education rather by indirection and
suggestion than by direct precept. I subject him to certain
experiences and allow the impressions they make on him to
infiltrate, and, as I note the effect, I gradually use a
guiding hand. I supply the yeast, so to speak, and allow the
ferment to work in him.

This is the gist of the whole scheme. It remains then to
determine, carefully, the kind of experiences to which I shall
subject the lad, and in what order, or logical (and especially
psychological) sequence. I begin, then, with aspects that
are literal, objective, more or less cynical, and brutal, and
philistine. A little at a time I introduce the subjective,
the refined, the altruistic; and, by a to-and-fro increasingly
intense rhythm of these two opposing themes, worked so to
speak in counterpoint, I reach a preliminary climax: of
brutality tempered by a longing for nobler, purer things.

Hence arise a purblind revulsion and yearning in the lad's
soul; the psychological moment has arrived, and I take him
at once into the _country_--(Summer: The Storm). This is the
first of the four out-of-door scenes, and the lad's first
real experience with nature. It impresses him crudely but
violently; and in the tense excitement of the tempest he is
inspired to temporary eloquence; and at the close is much
softened. He feels in a way but does not know that he has been
a participant in one of Nature's superb dramas. (Thus do
I insidiously prepare the way for the notion that creative
architecture is in essence a dramatic art, and an art of
eloquence; of subtle rhythmic beauty, power, and tenderness).

Left alone in the country the lad becomes maudlin--a callow
lover of nature--and makes feeble attempts at verse. Returning
to the city he melts and unbosoms--the tender shaft of the
unknowable Eros has penetrated to his heart--Nature's subtle
spell is on him, to disappear and reappear. Then follow
discussions, more or less didactic, leading to the second
out-of-door scene (Autumn Glory). Here the lad does most of
the talking and shows a certain lucidity and calm of mind. The
discussion of Responsibility, Democracy, Education, etc., has
inevitably detached the lurking spirit of pessimism. It has
to be:--Into the depths and darkness we descend, and the
work reaches the tragic climax in the third out-of-door

Now that the forces have been gathered and marshalled the
true, sane movement of the work is entered upon and pushed
at high tension, and with swift, copious modulations to its
foreordained climax and optimistic peroration in the fourth
and last out-of-door scene as portrayed in the Spring Song.
The _locale_ of this closing number is the beautiful spot in
the woods, on the shore of Biloxi Bay:--where I am writing

I would suggest in passing that a considerable part of the
K.C. is in rhythmic prose--some of it declamatory. I have
endeavoured throughout this work to represent, or reproduce
to the mind and heart of the reader the spoken word and
intonation--not written language. It really should be read
aloud, especially the descriptive and exalted passages.

There was a movement once on the part of Mr. Sullivan's admirers to
issue _Kindergarten Chats_ in book form, but he was asked to tone it
down and expurgate it, a thing which he very naturally refused to do.
Mr. Sullivan has always been completely alive to our cowardice when
it comes to hearing the truth about ourselves, and alive to the danger
which this cowardice entails, for to his imaginary pupil he says,

If you wish to read the current architecture of your country,
you must go at it courageously, and not pick out merely the
little bits that please you. I am going to soak you with it
until you are absolutely nauseated, and your faculties turn
in rebellion. I may be a hard taskmaster, but I strive to be
a good one. When I am through with you, you will know
architecture from the ground up. You will know its virtuous
reality and you will know the fake and the fraud and the
humbug. I will spare nothing--for your sake. I will stir up
the cesspool to its utmost depths of stench, and also the
pious, hypocritical virtues of our so-called architecture--the
nice, good, mealy-mouthed, suave, dexterous, diplomatic
architecture, I will show you also the kind of architecture
our "cultured" people believe in. And why do they believe in
it? Because they do not believe in themselves.

_Kindergarten Chats_ is even more pertinent and pointed today than it
was some twenty years ago, when it was written. Speech that is full of
truth is timeless, and therefore prophetic. Mr. Sullivan forecast some
of the very evils by which we have been overtaken. He was able to do
this on account of the fundamental soundness of his point of view,
which finds expression in the following words: "Once you learn to look
upon architecture not merely as an art more or less well, or more or
less badly done, but as a _social manifestation_, the critical eye
becomes clairvoyant, and obscure, unnoted phenomena become illumined."

Looking, from this point of view, at the office buildings that the
then newly-realized possibilities of steel construction were sending
skyward along lower Broadway, in New York, Mr. Sullivan reads in them
a denial of democracy. To him they signify much more than they seem
to, or mean to; they are more than the betrayal of architectural
ignorance and mendacity, they are symptomatic of forces undermining
American life.

These buildings, as they increase in number, make this city
poorer, morally and spiritually; they drag it down and down
into the mire. This is not American civilization; it is the
rottenness of Gomorrah. This is not Democracy--it is savagery.
It shows the glutton hunt for the Dollar with no thought for
aught else under the sun or over the earth. It is decadence of
the spirit in its most revolting form; it is rottenness of
the heart and corruption of the mind. So truly does this
architecture reflect the causes which have brought it into
being. Such structures are _profoundly anti-social_, and as
such, they must be reckoned with. These buildings are not
architecture, but outlawry, and their authors criminals in the
true sense of the word. And such is the architecture of lower
New York--hopeless, degraded, and putrid in its pessimistic
denial of our art, and of our growing civilization--its
cynical contempt for all those qualities that real humans

We have always been very glib about democracy; we have assumed that
this country was a democracy because we named it so. But now that
we are called upon to die for the idea, we find that we have never
realized it anywhere except perhaps in our secret hearts. In the life
of Abraham Lincoln, in the poetry of Walt Whitman, in the architecture
of Louis Sullivan, the spirit of democracy found utterance, and to
the extent that we ourselves partake of that spirit, it will find
utterance also in us. Mr. Sullivan is a "prophet of democracy" not
alone in his buildings but in his writings, and the prophetic note is
sounded even more clearly in his _What is Architecture? A Study in the
American People of Today_, than in _Kindergarten Chats_.

This essay was first printed in _The American Contractor_ of January
6, 1906, and afterwards issued in brochure form. The author starts
by tracing architecture to its root in the human mind: this physical
thing is the manifestation of a psychological state. As a man thinks,
so he is; he acts according to his thought, and if that act takes the
form of a building it is an emanation of his inmost life, and reveals

Everything is there for us to read, to interpret; and this
we may do at our leisure. The building has not means of
locomotion, it cannot hide itself, it cannot get away. There
it is, and there it will stay--telling more truths about him
who made it, than he in his fatuity imagines; revealing his
mind and his heart exactly for what they are worth, not a whit
more, not a whit less; telling plainly the lies he thinks;
telling with almost cruel truthfulness his bad faith, his
feeble, wabbly mind, his impudence, his selfish egoism, his
mental irresponsibility, his apathy, his disdain for real
things--until at last the building says to us: "I am no more a
real building than the thing that made me is a real man!"

Language like this stings and burns, but it is just such as is
needful to shame us out of our comfortable apathy, to arouse us to
new responsibilities, new opportunities. Mr. Sullivan, awake among
the sleepers, drenches us with bucketfuls of cold, tonic, energizing
truth. The poppy and mandragora of the past, of Europe, poisons us,
but in this, our hour of battle, we must not be permitted to dream on.
He saw, from far back, that "we, as a people, not only have betrayed
each other, but have failed in that trust which the world spirit of
democracy placed in our hands, as we, a new people, emerged to fill
a new and spacious land." It has taken a world war to make us see the
situation as he saw it, and it is to us, a militant nation, and not
to the slothful civilians a decade ago, that Mr. Sullivan's stirring
message seems to be addressed.

The following quotation is his first crack of the whip at the
architectural schools. The problem of education is to him of all
things the most vital; in this essay he returns to it again and again,
while of _Kindergarten Chats_ it is the very _raison d'etre_.

I trust that a long disquisition is not necessary in order to
show that the attempt at imitation, by us, of this day, of the
by-gone forms of building, is a procedure unworthy of a free
people; and that the dictum of the schools, that Architecture
is finished and done, is a suggestion humiliating to every
active brain, and therefore, in fact, a puerility and a
falsehood when weighed in the scales of truly democratic
thought. Such dictum gives the lie in arrogant fashion, to
healthful human experience. It says, in a word: the American
people are not fit for democracy.

He finds the schools saturated with superstitions which are the
survivals of the scholasticism of past centuries--feudal institutions,
in effect, inimical to his idea of the true spirit of democratic
education. This he conceives of as a searching-out, liberating, and
developing the splendid but obscured powers of the average man, and
particularly those of children. "It is disquieting to note," he says,
"that the system of education on which we lavish funds with such
generous, even prodigal, hand, falls short of fulfilling its true
democratic function; and that particularly in the so-called higher
branches its tendency appears daily more reactionary, more feudal.
It is not an agreeable reflection that so many of our university
graduates lack the trained ability to see clearly, and to think
clearly, concisely, constructively; that there is perhaps more showing
of cynicism than good faith, seemingly more distrust of men than
confidence in them, and, withal, no consummate ability to interpret

In contrast to the schoolman he sketches the psychology of the
active-minded but "uneducated" man, with sympathy and understanding,
the man who is courageously seeking a way with little to guide and
help him.

Is it not the part of wisdom to cheer, to encourage such a
mind, rather than dishearten it with ridicule? To say to it:
Learn that the mind works best when allowed to work naturally;
learn to do what your problem suggests when you have reduced
it to its simplest terms; you will thus find that all
problems, however complex, take on a simplicity you had
not dreamed of; accept this simplicity boldly, and with
confidence, do not lose your nerve and run away from it, or
you are lost, for you are here at the point men so heedlessly
call genius--as though it were necessarily rare; for you are
here at the point no living brain can surpass in essence,
the point all truly great minds seek--the point of vital
simplicity--the point of view which so illuminates the mind
that the art of expression becomes spontaneous, powerful, and
unerring, and achievement a certainty. So, if you seek and
express the best that is in yourself, you must search out the
best that is in your people; for they are your problem, and
you are indissolubly a part of them. It is for you to affirm
that which they really wish to affirm, namely, the best that
is in them, and they as truly wish you to express the best
that is in yourself. If the people seem to have but little
faith it is because they have been tricked so long; they are
weary of dishonesty, more weary than they know, much more
weary than you know, and in their hearts they seek honest and
fearless men, men simple and clear in mind, loyal to their own
manhood and to the people. The American people are now in a
stupor; be on hand at the awakening.

Next he pays his respects to current architectural criticism--a
straining at gnats and a swallowing of camels, by minds "benumbed
by culture," and hearts made faint by the tyranny of precedent. He
complains that they make no distinction between _was_ and _is_,
too readily assuming that all that is left us moderns is the humble
privilege to select, copy and adapt.

The current mannerisms of Architectural criticism must often
seem trivial. For of what avail is it to say that this is too
small, that too large, this too thick, and that too thin, or
to quote this, that, or the other precedent, when the real
question may be: Is not the entire design a mean evasion? Why
magnify this, that, or the other little thing, if the entire
scheme of thinking that the building stands for is false, and
puts a mask upon the people, who want true buildings, but do
not know how to get them so long as Architects betray them
with Architectural phrases?

And so he goes on with his Jeremiad: a prophet of despair, do you
say? No, he seeks to destroy only that falsity which would confine
the living spirit. Earlier and more clearly than we, he discerned the
menace to our civilization of the unrestricted play of the masculine
forces--powerful, ruthless, disintegrating--the head dominating the
heart. It has taken the surgery of war to open our eyes, and behold
the spectacle of the entire German nation which by an intellectual
process appears to have killed out compassion, enthroning
_Schrecklichkeit_. In the heart alone dwells hope of salvation. "For
he who knows even a genuinely little of Mankind knows this truth: the
heart is greater than the head. For in the heart is Desire; and from
it come forth Courage and Magnanimity."

You have not thought deeply enough to know that the heart in
you is the woman in man. You have derided your femininity,
where you have suspected it; whereas, you should have known
its power, cherished and utilized it, for it is the hidden
well-spring of Intuition and Imagination. What can the brain
accomplish without these two? They are the man's two inner
eyes; without them he is stone blind. For the mind sets forth
their powers both together. One carries the light, the other
searches; and between them they find treasures. These they
bring to the brain, which first elaborates them, then says to
the will, "Do"--and Action follows. Poetically considered,
as far as the huge, disordered resultant mass of your
Architecture is concerned, Intuition and Imagination have not
gone forth to illuminate and search the hearts of the people.
Thus are its works stone blind.

It is the absence of poetry and beauty which makes our architecture
so depressing to the spirits. "Poetry as a living thing," says Mr.
Sullivan, "stands for the most telling quality that a man can impart
to his thoughts. Judged by this test your buildings are dreary, empty
places." Artists in words, like Lafcadio Hearn and Henry James, are
able to make articulate the sadness which our cities inspire, but
it is a blight which lies heavy on us all. Theodore Dreiser says, in
_Sister Carrie_--a book with so much bitter truth in it that it was
suppressed by the original publishers:

Once the bright days of summer pass by, a city takes on the
sombre garb of grey, wrapped in which it goes about its labors
during the long winter. Its endless buildings look grey,
its sky and its streets assume a sombre hue; the scattered,
leafless trees and wind-blown dust and paper but add to the
general solemnity of color. There seems to be something in
the chill breezes which scurry through the long, narrow
thoroughfares productive of rueful thoughts. Not poets alone,
nor artists, nor that superior order of mind which arrogates
to itself all refinement, feel this, but dogs and all men.

The excuse that we are too young a people to have developed an
architecture instinct with that natural poetry which so charms us in
the art of other countries and other times, Mr. Sullivan disposes
of in characteristic fashion. To the plea that "We are too young to
consider these accomplishments. We have been so busy with our material
development that we have not found time to consider them," he makes
answer as follows:

Know, then, to begin with, they are not accomplishments but
necessaries. And, to end with, you are old enough, and
have found the time to succeed in nearly making a fine art
of--Betrayal, and a science of--Graft. Know that you are
as old as the race. That each man among you had in him the
accumulated power of the race, ready at hand for use, in the
right way, when he shall conclude it better to think straight
and hence act straight rather than, as now, to act crooked
and pretend to be straight. Know that the test, plain, simple
_honesty_ (and you all know, every man of you knows, exactly
what that means) is always at your hand.

Know that as all complex manifestations have a simple basis
of origin, so the vast complexity of your national unrest, ill
health, inability to think clearly and accurately concerning
simple things, really vital things, is easily traceable to the
single, actual, active cause--Dishonesty; and that this points
with unescapable logic and in just measure to each individual

The remedy;--_individual honesty_.

To the objection that this is too simple a solution, Mr. Sullivan
retorts that all great solutions are simple, that the basic things of
the universe are those which the heart of a child might comprehend.
"Honesty stands in the universe of Human Thought and Action, as its
very Centre of Gravity, and is our human mask-word behind which abides
all the power of Nature's Integrity, the profoundest _fact_ which
modern thinking has persuaded Life to reveal."

If, on the other hand, the reader complains, "All this is above our
heads," Mr. Sullivan is equally ready with an answer:

No, it is not. _It is close beside your hand!_ and therein
lies its power.

Again you say, "How can honesty be enforced?"

It cannot be enforced!

"Then how will the remedy go into effect?"

It cannot _go_ into effect. It can only come into effect.

"Then how can it come?"

Ask Nature.

"And what will Nature say?"

Nature is always saying: "I centre at each man, woman and
child. I knock at the door of each heart, and I wait. I wait
in patience--ready to enter with my gifts."

"And is that all that Nature says?"

That is all.

"Then how shall we receive Nature?"

By opening wide your minds! For your greatest crime against
yourselves is that you have locked the door and thrown away
the key!

Thus, by a long detour, Mr. Sullivan returns to his initial
proposition, that the falsity of our architecture can be corrected
only by integrity of thought. "Thought is the fine and powerful
instrument. Therefore, _have thought for the integrity of your own

Naturally, then, as your thoughts thus change, your growing
architecture will change. Its falsity will depart; its reality
will gradually appear. For the integrity of your thought as
a People, will then have penetrated the minds of your

Then, too, _as your basic thought changes, will emerge a
philosophy, a poetry, and an art of expression in all things;
for you will have learned that a characteristic philosophy,
poetry and art of expression are vital to the healthful growth
and development of a democratic people_.

Some readers may complain that these are after all only glittering
generalities, of no practical use in solving the specific problems
with which every architect is confronted. On the contrary they are
fundamental verities of incalculable benefit to every sincere artist.
Shallowness is the great vice of democracy; it is surface without
depth, a welter of concrete detail in which the mind easily loses
those great, underlying abstractions from which alone great art can
spring. These, in this essay, Mr. Sullivan helps us to recapture, and
inspires us to employ. He would win us from our insincerities, our
trivialities, and awaken our enormous latent, unused power. He says:

Awaken it.

Use it.

Use it for the common good.

Begin now!

For it is as true today as when one of your wise men said

"The way to resume is to resume!"


The production of ceramics--perhaps the oldest of all the useful
arts practised by man; an art with a magnificent history--seems to be
entering upon a new era of development. It is more alive today, more
generally, more skilfully, though not more _artfully_ practised than
ever before. It should therefore be of interest to all lovers of
architecture, in view of the increasing importance of ceramics in
building, to consider the ways in which these materials may best be

Looking at the matter in the broadest possible way, it may be said
that the building impulse throughout the ages has expressed itself
in two fundamentally different types of structure: that in which the
architecture--and even the ornament--is one with the engineering; and
that in which the two elements are separable, not in thought alone,
but in fact. For brevity let us name that manner of building in which
the architecture is the construction, _Inherent_ architecture, and
that manner in which the two are separable _Incrusted_ architecture.

To the first class belong the architectures of Egypt, Greece, and
Gothic architecture as practised in the north of Europe; to the
second belong Roman architecture of the splendid period, Moorish
architecture, and Italian Gothic, so called. In the first class the
bones of the building were also its flesh; in the second bones and
flesh were in a manner separable, as is proven by the fact that they
were separately considered, separately fashioned. Ruined Karnak, the
ruined Parthenon, wrecked Rheims, show ornament so integral a part
of the fabric--etched so deep--that what has survived of the one has
survived also of the other; while the ruined Baths of Caracalla the
uncompleted church of S. Petronio in Bologna, and many a stark mosque
on many a sandy desert show only bare skeletons of whose completed
glory we can only guess. In them the fabric was a framework for the
display of the lapidary or the ceramic art--a garment destroyed, rent,
or tattered by time and chance, leaving the bones still strong, but

This classification of architecture into Inherent and Incrusted is not
to be confused with the discrimination between architecture that is
_Arranged_, and architecture that is _Organic_, a classification which
is based on psychology--like the difference between the business man
and the poet: talent and genius--whereas the classification which
the reader is asked now to consider is based rather on the matter
of expediency in the use of materials. Let us draw no invidious
comparisons between Inherent and Incrusted architecture, but regard
each as the adequate expression of an ideal type of beauty; the one
masculine, since in the male figure the osseous framework is more
easily discernible; the other feminine, because more concealed and
overlaid with a cellular tissue of shining, precious materials, on
which the disruptive forces in man and nature are more free to act.

It is scarcely necessary to state that it is with Incrusted
architecture that we are alone concerned in this discussion, for to
this class almost all modern buildings perforce belong. This is by
reason of a necessity dictated by the materials that we employ, and by
our methods of construction. All modern buildings follow practically
one method of construction: a bony framework of steel--or of concrete
reinforced by steel--filled in and subdivided by concrete, brick,
hollow fire-clay, or some of its substitutes. To a construction of
this kind some sort of an outer encasement is not only aesthetically
desirable, but practically necessary. It usually takes the form of
stone, face-brick, terra-cotta, tile, stucco, or some combination of
two or more of these materials. Of the two types of architecture the
Incrusted type is therefore imposed by structural necessity.

The enormous importance of ceramics in its relation to architecture
thus becomes apparent. They minister to an architectural need instead
of gratifying an architectural whim. Ours is a period of Incrusted
architecture--one which demands the encasement, rather than the
exposure of structure, and therefore logically admits of the
enrichment of surfaces by means of "veneers" of materials more
precious and beautiful than those employed in the structure, which
becomes, as it were, the canvas of the picture, and not the picture
itself. For these purposes there are no materials more apt, more
adaptable, more enduring, richer in potentialities of beauty than the
products of ceramic art. They are easily and inexpensively produced of
any desired shape, color, texture; their hard, dense surface resists
the action of the elements, is not easily soiled, and is readily
cleaned; being fashioned by fire they are fire resistant.

So much then for the practical demands, in modern architecture, met by
the products of ceramic art. The aesthetic demand is not less admirably
met--or rather _might_ be.

When, in the sixteenth century, the Renaissance spread from south
to north, color was practically eliminated from architecture. The
Egyptians had had it, hot and bright as the sun on the desert; we
know that the Greeks made their Parian marble glow in rainbow tints;
Moorish architecture was nothing if not colorful, and the Venice
Ruskin loved was fairly iridescent--a thing of fire-opal and pearl.
In Italian Renaissance architecture up to its latest phase, the color
element was always present; but it was snuffed out under the leaden
colored northern skies. Paris is grey, London is brown, New York is
white, and Chicago the color of cinders. We have only to compare them
to yellow Rome, red Siena, and pearl-tinted Venice, to realize how
much we have lost in the elimination of color from architecture.
We are coming to realize it. Color played an important part in the
Pan-American Exposition, and again in the San Francisco Exposition,
where, wedded to light, it became the dominant note of the whole
architectural concert. Now these great expositions in which the
architects and artists are given a free hand, are in the nature of
preliminary studies in which these functionaries sketch in transitory
form the things they desire to do in more permanent form. They are
forecasts of the future, a future which in certain quarters is
already beginning to realize itself. It is therefore probable that
architectural art will become increasingly colorful.

The author remembers the day and the hour when this became his
personal conviction--his personal desire. It happened years ago in
the Albright Gallery in Buffalo--a building then newly completed, of a
severely classic type. In the central hall was a single doorway,
whose white marble architrave had been stained with different colored
pigments by Francis Bacon; after the manner of the Greeks. The effect
was so charming, and made the rest of the place seem by contrast so
cold and dun, that the author came then and there to the conclusion
that architecture without polychromy was architecture incomplete. Mr.
Bacon spent three years in Asia Minor, and elsewhere, studying
the remains of Greek architecture, and he found and brought home a
fragment of an antefix from the temple of Assos, in which the applied
color was still pure and strong. The Greeks were a joyous people. When
joy comes back into life, color will come back into architecture.

Ceramic products are ideal as a means to this end. The Greeks
themselves recognized their value for they used them widely and
wisely: it has been discovered that they even attached bands of
colored terra-cotta to the marble mouldings of their temples. How
different must have been such a temple's real appearance from
that imagined by the Classical Revivalists, whose tradition of the
inviolable cold Parian purity of Greek architecture has persisted,
even against archaeological evidence to the contrary, up to the present

In one way we have an advantage over the Greek, if we only had the wit
to profit by it. His palette, like his musical scale, was more limited
than ours. Nearly the whole gamut of the spectrum is now available to
the architect who wishes to employ ceramics. The colors do not
change or fade, and possess a beautiful quality. Our craftsmen and
manufacturers of face-brick, terra-cotta, and colored tile, after much
costly experimentation, have succeeded in producing ceramics of a
high order of excellence and intrinsic beauty; they can do practically
anything demanded of them; but from that quarter where they
should reap the greatest commercial advantage--the field of
architecture--there is all too little demand. The architect who should
lead, teach and dictate in this field, is often through ignorance
obliged to learn and follow instead. This has led to an ignominious
situation--ignominious, that is, to the architect. He has come
to require of the manufacturer--when he requires anything at
all--assistance in the very matter in which he should assist: the
determination of color design. It is no wonder that the results are
often bad, and therefore discouraging. The manufacturers of ceramics
welcome co-operation and assistance on the part of the architect with
an eagerness which is almost pathetic, on those rare occasions when
assistance is offered.

But the architect is not really to blame: the reason for his failure
lies deep in his general predicament of having to know a little of
everything, and do a great deal more than he can possibly do well. To
cope with this, if his practice warrants the expenditure, he surrounds
himself with specialists in various fields, and assigns various
departments of his work to them. He cannot be expected to have on
his staff a specialist in ceramics, nor can he, with all his manifold
activities, be expected to become such a specialist himself. As a
result, he is usually content to let color problems alone, for they
are just another complication of his already too complicated life;
or he refers them to some one whom he thinks ought to know--a
manufacturer's designer--and approves almost anything submitted. Of
course the ideal architect would have time for every problem, and
solve it supremely well; but the real architect is all too human:
there are depressions on his cranium where bumps ought to be;
moreover, he wants a little time left to energize in other
directions than in the practice of his craft. One of the functions
of architecture is to reveal the inherent qualities and beauties of
different materials, by their appropriate use and tasteful display.
An onyx staircase on the one hand, and a portland cement high altar
on the other, alike violate this function of architecture; they
transgress that beautiful necessity which decrees that precious
materials should serve precious uses and common materials should
serve utilitarian ends. Now color is a precious thing, and its highest
beauties can be brought out only by contrast with broad neutral tinted
spaces. The interior walls of a mediaeval cathedral never competed
with its windows, and by the same token, a riot of polychromy all
over the side of a building is not as effective, even from a chromatic
point of view, as though it were confined, say, to an entrance and a
frieze. Gilbert's witty phrase is applicable here:

"Where everybody's somebody, nobody's anybody."

Let us build our walls, then, of stone, or brick, or stucco,--for
their flat surfaces and neutral tints conduce to that repose so
essential to good architectural effect: but let us not rest content
with this, but grant to the eye the delight and contentment which it
craves, by color and pattern placed at those points to which it is
desirable to attract attention, for they serve the same aesthetic
purpose as a tiara on the brow of beauty, or a ring on a delicate
white hand. But just as jewelry is best when it is most individual,
so the ornament of a building should be in keeping with its general
character and complexion. A color scheme should not be chosen at
random, but dictated by the prevailing tone and texture of the wall
surfaces, with which it should harmonize as inevitably as the blossom
of a bush with its prevailing tone of stems and foliage. In a building
this prevailing tone will inevitably be either cold or warm, and the
color scheme just as inevitably should be either cold or warm; that
is, there should be a preponderance of cold colors over warm, or vice
versa. Otherwise the eye will suffer just that order of uneasiness
which comes from the contemplation of two equal masses, whereas it
experiences satisfaction in proportionate unequals.

Nothing will take the place of an instinctive colour-sense, but even
that needs the training of experience, if the field be new, and a few
general principles of all but universal application will not be amiss.

First of all it should be remembered that the intensity of color
should be carefully adjusted to its area. It is dangerous to try to
use high, pure colors, unrelieved and uncontrasted, in large masses,
but the brightest, strongest colors may be used with safety in units
of sufficiently restricted size. For harmony, as well as for richness,
the law of complementaries, in its most general application, is
the safest of all guides, but it must be followed with fine
discrimination. Complementary colors are like married pairs, if they
find the right adjustment with one another they are happy--that is,
there is an effect of beauty--but lacking such adjustment they are
worse off together than apart. Every artist who experiments in color
soon finds out for himself that instead of using two colors directly
complementary, it is better to "split" one of them, that is, use
instead of one of them two others, which combined will yield the
color in question. For example, the color complementary to red is
green-blue. Now green-blue is equidistant between yellow-green and
blue-violet, so if for red and blue-green; red, yellow-green and
blue-violet be substituted the combination loses its obviousness and
a certain harshness without losing anything of its brilliance, or
without departing from the optical law involved. Such a combination
corresponds to a diminished triad in music.

Another important consideration with regard to color as employed by
the architect dwells in those optical changes effected by distance and
position: the relative visibility of different colors and combinations
of colors as the spectator recedes from them, and the environmental
changes which colors undergo--in bright sunlight, in shadow, against
the sky, and with relation to backgrounds of different sorts.

The effect of distance is to make colors merge into one another, to
lower the values, but not all equally. Yellow loses itself first,
tending toward white. The effect of distance, in general, is to
disintegrate and decompose, thus giving "vibration" as it is called. A
knowledge of these and kindred facts will save the architect from many
disappointments and enable him to obtain wonderful chromatic effects
by simple means.

Many architects unused to color problems design their ornament with
very little thought about the colors which they propose to employ,
making it an after-consideration; but the two things should be
considered synchronously for the best final effect. There is a cryptic
saying that "color is at right angles to form," that is, color is
capable of making surfaces advance toward or recede from the eye, just
as modelling does; and for this reason, if color is used, a great deal
of modelling may be dispensed with. If a receding color is used on a
recessed plane, it deepens that plane unduly; while on the other hand
if a color which refuses to recede--like yellow for example--is used
where depth is wanted, the receding plane and the approaching color
neutralize one another, resulting in an effect of flatness not
intended. The tyro should not complicate his problem by combining
color with high relief modelling, bringing inevitably in the element
of light and shade. He should leave that for older hands and concern
himself rather with flat or nearly flat surfaces, using his modelling
much as the worker in cloisonne uses his little rims of brass--to
confine and define each color within its own allotted area. Then,
as he gains experience, he may gradually enrich his pattern by the
addition of the element of light and shade, should he so decide.

Now as to certain general considerations in relation to the
appropriate and logical use of ceramics in the construction and
adornment of buildings, exterior and interior. In our northern
latitudes care should be taken that ceramics are not used in places
and in ways where the accumulation of snow and ice render the joints
subject to alternate freezing and thawing, for in such case, unless
the joints are protected with metal, the units will work loose in
time. On vertical surfaces such protection is not necessary; the use
of ceramics should therefore be confined for the most part to such
surfaces: for friezes, panels, door and window architraves, and the
like. When it is desirable for aesthetic reasons to tie a series of
windows together vertically by means of some "fill" of a material
different from that of the body of the wall, ceramics lend themselves
admirably to the purpose--better than wood, which rots; than iron,
which rusts; than bronze, which turns black; and than marble, which
soon loses its color and texture in exposed situations of this sort.

On the interior of buildings, the most universal use of ceramics is,
of course, for floors, and with the non-slip devices of various sorts
which have come into the market, they are no less good for stairs.
There is nothing better for wainscoting, and in fact for any surface
whatsoever subject to soil and wear. These materials combine permanent
protection and permanent decoration. But fired by the zeal of the
convert the use of ceramics may be overdone. One easily recalls
entire rooms of this material, floors, walls, ceilings, which are less
successful than as though a variety of materials had been employed. It
is just such variety--each material treated in a characteristic, and
therefore different way--that gives charm to so many foreign churches
and cathedrals: walls of stone, floors of marble, choir-stalls of
carved wood, and rood-screen of metal: it is the difference between
an orchestra of various instruments and a mandolin orchestra or a
saxaphone sextette. Ceramics should never invade the domain of the
plasterer, the mural painter, the cabinet maker. Do not let us, in
our zeal for ceramics, be like Bottom the weaver, eager to play every

Ceramics have, as regards architecture, a distinct and honorable
function. This function should be recognized, taken advantage of, but
never overpassed. They offer opportunities large but not limitless.
They constitute one instrument of the orchestra of which the architect
is the conductor, an instrument beautiful in the hands of a master,
and doubly beautiful in concert and contrast with those other
materials whose harmonious ensemble makes that music in three
dimensions: architectural art.


Architecture is the concrete presentment in space of the soul of a
people. If that soul be petty and sordid--"stirred like a child
by little things"--no great architecture is possible because great
architecture can image only greatness. Before any worthy architecture
can arise in the modern world the soul must be aroused. The cannons
of Europe are bringing about this awakening. The world--the world of
thought and emotion from whence flow acts and events--is no longer
decrepit, but like Swedenborg's angels it is advancing toward the
springtide of its youth: down the ringing grooves of change "we sweep
into the younger day."

After the war we are likely to witness an art evolution which will
not be restricted to statues and pictures and insincere essays in
dry-as-dust architectural styles, but one which will permeate the
whole social fabric, and make it palpitate with the rhythm of a
younger, a more abundant life. Beauty and mystery will again make
their dwelling among men; the Voiceless will speak in music, and the
Formless will spin rhythmic patterns on the loom of space. We shall
seek and find a new language of symbols to express the joy of the
soul, freed from the thrall of an iron age of materialism, and
fronting the unimaginable splendors of the spiritual life.


For every aesthetic awakening is the result of a spiritual awakening
of some sort. Every great religious movement found an art expression
eloquent of it. When religion languished, such things as Versailles
and the Paris Opera House were possible, but not such things as the
Parthenon, or Notre Dame. The temples of Egypt were built for the
celebration of the rites of the religion of Egypt; so also in the
case of Greece. Roman architecture was more widely secular, but Rome's
noblest monument, the Pantheon, was a religious edifice. The Moors,
inflamed with religious ardor, swept across Europe, blazing their
trail with mosques and palaces conceived seemingly in some ecstatic
state of dream. The Renaissance, tainted though it was by worldliness,
found still its inspiration in sacred themes, and recorded
its beginning and its end in two mighty religious monuments:
Brunelleschi's and Michael Angelo's domical churches, "wrought in a
sad sincerity" by deeply religious men. Gothic art is a synonym for
mediaeval Christianity; while in the Orient art is scarcely secular at
all, but a symbolical language framed and employed for the expression
of spiritual ideas.

This law, that spirituality and not materialism distils the precious
attar of great art, is permanently true and perennially applicable,
for laws of this order do not change from age to age, however various
their manifestation. The inference is plain: until we become a
religious people great architecture is far from us. We are becoming
religious in that broad sense in which churches and creeds, forms
and ceremonies, play little part. Ours is the search of the heart
for something greater than itself which is still itself; it is the
religion of brotherhood, whose creed is love, whose ritual is service.

This transformed and transforming religion of the West, the tardy
fruit of the teachings of Christ, now secretly active in the hearts
of men, will receive enrichment from many sources. Science will reveal
the manner in which the spirit weaves its seven-fold veil of illusion;
nature, freshly sensed, will yield new symbols which art will organize
into a language; out of the experience of the soul will grow new
rituals and observances. But one precious tincture of this new
religion our civilization and our past cannot supply; it is the
heritage of Asia, cherished in her brooding bosom for uncounted
centuries, until, by the operation of the law of cycles, the time
should come for the giving of it to the West.

This secret is Yoga, the method of self-development whereby the seeker
for union is enabled to perceive the shining of the Inward Light. This
is achieved by daily discipline in stilling the mind and directing the
consciousness inward instead of outward. The Self is within, and
the mind, which is normally centrifugal, must first be arrested,
controlled, and then turned back upon itself, and held with perfect
steadiness. All this is naively expressed in the Upanishads in the
passage, "The Self-existent pierced the openings of the senses so that
they turn forward, not backward into himself. Some wise man, however,
with eyes closed and wishing for immortality, saw the Self behind."
This stilling of the mind, its subjugation and control whereby it may
be concentrated on anything at will, is particularly hard for persons
of our race and training, a race the natural direction of whose
consciousness is strongly outward, a training in which the practice of
introspective meditation finds no place.

Yoga--that "union" which brings inward vision, the contribution of the
East to the spiritual life of the West--will bring profound changes
into the art of the West, since art springs from consciousness. The
consciousness of the West now concerns itself with the visible world
almost exclusively, and Western art is therefore characterized by an
almost slavish fidelity to the ephemeral appearances of things--the
record of particular moods and moments. The consciousness of the East
on the other hand, is subjective, introspective. Its art accordingly
concerns itself with eternal aspects, with a world of archetypal
ideas in which things exist not for their own sake, but as symbols of
supernal things. The Oriental artist avoids as far as possible trivial
and individual rhythms, seeking always the fundamental rhythm of the
larger, deeper life.

Now this quality so earnestly sought and so highly prized in Oriental
art, is the very thing which our art and our architecture most
conspicuously lack. To the eye sensitive to rhythm, our essays in
these fields appear awkward and unconvincing, lacking a certain
_inevitability_. We must restore to art that first great canon of
Chinese aesthetics, "_Rhythmic vitality,_ or the life movement of the
spirit through the rhythm of things." It cannot be interjected from
the outside, but must be inwardly realized by the "stilling" of the
mind above described.

Art cannot dispense with symbolism; as the letters on this page convey
thoughts to the mind, so do the things of this world, organized into
a language of symbols, speak to the soul through art. But in the
building of our towers of Babel, again mankind is stricken with a
confusion of tongues. Art has no _common language;_ its symbols are
no longer valid, or are no longer understood. This is a condition for
which materialism has no remedy, for the reason that materialism sees
always the pattern but never that which the pattern represents. We
must become _spiritually illumined_ before we can read nature truly,
and re-create, from such a reading, fresh and universal symbols for
art. This is a task beyond the power of our sad generation, enchained
by negative thinking, overshadowed by war, but we can at least glimpse
the nature of the reaction between the mystic consciousness and the
things of this world which will produce a new language of symbols. The
mystic consciousness looks upon nature as an arras embroidered over
with symbols of the things it conceals from view. We are ourselves
symbols, dwelling in a world of symbols--a world many times removed
from that ultimate reality to which all things bear figurative
witness; the commonest thing has yet some mystic meaning, and ugliness
and vulgarity exist only in the unillumined mind.

What mystic meaning, it may be asked, is contained in such things as
a brick, a house, a hat, a pair of shoes? A brick is the ultimate
atom of a building; a house is the larger body which man makes for his
uses, just as the Self has built its habitation of flesh and bones;
hat and shoes are felt and leather insulators with which we seek to
cut ourselves off from the currents which flow through earth and air
from God. It may be objected that these answers only substitute
for the lesser symbol a greater, but this is inevitable: if for the
greater symbol were named one still more abstract and inclusive, the
ultimate verity would be as far from affirmation as before. There is
nothing of which the human mind can conceive that is not a symbol of
something greater and higher than itself.

The dictionary defines a symbol as "something that stands for
something else and serves to represent it, or to bring to mind one or
more of its qualities." Now this world is a _reflection_ of a higher
world, and that of a higher world still, and so on. Accordingly,
everything is a symbol of something higher, since by reflecting, it
"stands for, and serves to represent it," and the thing symbolized,
being itself a reflection, is, by the same token, itself a symbol.
By reiterated repetitions of this reflecting process throughout the
numberless planes and sub-planes of nature, each thing becomes a
symbol, not of one thing only, but of many things, all intimately
correlated, and this gives rise to those underlying analogies, those
"secret subterranean passages between matter and soul" which have ever
been the especial preoccupation of the poet and the mystic, but which
may one day become the subject of serious examination by scientific

Let us briefly pass in review the various terms of such an ascending
series of symbols: members of one family, they might be called, since
they follow a single line of descent.

Take gold: as a thing in itself, without any symbolical significance,
it is a metallic element, having a characteristic yellow color, very
heavy, very soft, the most ductile, malleable, and indestructible of
metals. In its minted form it is the life force of the body economic,
since on its abundance and free circulation the well-being of that
body depends; it is that for which all men strive and contend, because
without it they cannot comfortably live. This, then, is gold in its
first and lowest symbolical aspect: a life principle, a motive force
in human affairs. But it is not gold which has gained for man his
lordship over nature; it is fire, the yellow gold, not of the earth,
but of the air,--cities and civilizations, arts and industries, have
ever followed the camp fire of the pioneer. Sunlight comes next in
sequence--sunlight, which focussed in a burning glass, spontaneously
produces flame. The world subsists on sunlight; all animate creation
grows by it, and languishes without it, as the prosperity of cities
waxes or wanes with the presence or absence of a supply of gold. The
magnetic force of the sun, specialized as _prana_ (which is not the
breath which goes up and the breath which goes down, but that other,
in which the two repose), fulfils the same function in the human body
as does gold in civilization, sunlight in nature: its abundance makes
for health, its meagreness for enervation. Higher than _prana_ is the
mind, that golden sceptre of man's dominion, the Promethean gift of
fire with which he menaces the empire of the gods. Higher still, in
the soul, love is the motive force, the conqueror: a "heart of gold"
is one warmed and lighted by love. Still other is the desire of the
spirit, which no human affection satisfies, but truth only, the Golden
Person, the Light of the World, the very Godhead itself. Thus there is
earthy, airy, etheric gold; gold as intellect, gold as love, gold as
truth; from the curse of the world, the cause of a thousand crimes,
there ascends a Jacob's Ladder of symbols to divinity itself, whereby
men may learn that God works by sacrifice: that His universe is itself
His broken body. As gold in the purse, fire on the forge, sunlight
for the eyes, breath in the body, knowledge in the mind, love in the
heart, and wisdom in the understanding, He draws all men unto Him,
teaching them the wise use of wealth, the mastery over nature, the
care of the body, the cultivation of the mind, the love of wife and
child and neighbour, and, last lesson of all, He teaches them that in
industry, in science, in art, in sympathy and understanding, He it is
they are all the while knowing, loving, becoming; and that even when
they flee Him, His are the wings--

"When me they fly, I am the wings."

This attempt to define gold as a symbol ends with the indication of an
ubiquitous and immanent divinity in everything. Thus it is always: in
attempting to dislodge a single voussoir from the arch of truth, the
temple itself is shaken, so cunningly are the stones fitted together.
All roads lead to Rome, and every symbol is a key to the Great
Mystery: for example, read in the light of these correspondences, the
alchemist's transmutation of base metals into gold, is seen to be the
sublimation of man's lower nature into "that highest golden sheath,
which is Brahman."

Keeping the first sequence clearly in mind, let us now attempt to
trace another, parallel to it: the feminine of which the first may
be considered the corresponding masculine. Silver is a white, ductile
metallic element. In coinage it is the synonym for ready cash,--gold
in the bank is silver in the pocket; hence, in a sense, silver is
the _reflection_, or the second power of gold. Just as ruddy gold is
correlated with fire, so is pale silver with water; and as fire is
affiliated with the sun, so do the waters of the earth follow the
moon in her courses. The golden sun, the silver moon: these commonly
employed descriptive adjectives themselves supply the correlation we
are seeking; another indication of its validity lies in the fact that
one of the characteristics of water is its power of reflecting; that
moonlight is reflected sunlight. If gold is the mind, silver is the
body, in which the mind is imaged, objectified; if gold is flamelike
love, silver is brooding affection; and in the highest regions of
consciousness, beauty is the feminine or form side of truth--its
silver mirror.

There are two forces in the world, one of projection, the other
of recall; two states, activity and rest. Nature, with tireless
ingenuity, everywhere publishes this fact: in bursting bud and falling
seed, in the updrawn waters and the descending rain; throw a stone
into the air, and when the impulse is exhausted, gravity brings it to
earth again. In civilized society these centrifugal and centripetal
forces find expression in the anarchic and radical spirit which breaks
down and re-forms existing institutions, and in the conservative
spirit which preserves and upbuilds by gradual accretion; they are
analogous to igneous and to aqueous action in the formation and
upbuilding of the earth itself, and find their prototype again in man
and woman: man, the warrior, who prevails by the active exercise
of his powers, and woman, "the treasury of the continued race,"
who conquers by continual quietness. Man and woman symbolize forces
centrifugal and centripetal not alone in their inner nature, and
in the social and economic functions peculiar to each, but in their
physical aspects and peculiarities as well, for man is small of flank
and broad of shoulder, with relatively large extremities, _i.e.,
centrifugal_: while woman is formed with broad hips, narrow shoulders,
and small feet and hands, _i.e., centripetal_. Woman's instinctive
and unconscious gestures are _towards_ herself, man's are _away from_
himself. The physiologist might hold that the anatomical differences
between the sexes result from their difference in function in the
reproduction and conservation of the race, and this is a true view,
but the lesser truth need not necessarily exclude the greater. As
Chesterton says, "Something in the evil spirit of our time forces
people always to pretend to have found some material and mechanical
explanation." Such would have us believe, with Schopenhauer and
Bernard Shaw, that the lover's delight in the beauty of his mistress
dwells solely in his instinctive perception of her fitness to be the
mother of his child. This is undoubtedly a factor in the glamour
woman casts on man, but there are other factors too, higher as well as
lower, corresponding to different departments of our manifold nature.
First of all, there is mere physical attraction: to the man physical,
woman is a cup of delight; next, there is emotional love, whereby
woman appeals through her need of protection, her power of tenderness;
on the mental plane she is man's intellectual companion, his masculine
reason would supplement itself with her feminine intuition; he
recognizes in her an objectification, in some sort, of his own soul,
his spirit's bride, predestined throughout the ages; while the god
within him perceives her to be that portion of himself which he put
forth before the world was, to be the mother, not alone of human
children, but of all those myriad forms, within which entering, "as in
a sheath, a knife," he becomes the Enjoyer, and realizes, vividly and
concretely, his bliss, his wisdom, and his power.

Adam and Eve, and the tree in the midst of the garden! After man and
woman, a tree is perhaps the most significant symbol in the
world: every tree is the Tree of Life in the sense that it is a
representation of universal becoming. To say that all things have for
their mother _prakriti_, undifferentiated substance, and for their
father _purusha_, the creative fire, is vague and metaphysical, and
conveys little meaning to our image-bred, image-fed minds; on the
physical plane we can only learn these transcendental truths by means
of symbols, and so to each of us is given a human father and a human
mother from whose relation to one another and to oneself may be
learned our relation to nature, the universal mother, and to that
immortal spirit which is the father of us all. We are given, moreover,
the symbol of the tree, which, rooted in the earth, its mother, and
nourished by her juices, strives ever upward towards its father, the
sun. The mathematician may be able to demonstrate, as a result of a
lifetime of hard thinking, that unity and infinity are but two aspects
of one thing; this is not clear to ordinary minds, but made concrete
in the tree--unity in the trunk, infinity in the foliage--any one
is able to understand it. We perceive that all things grow as a tree
grows, from unity to multiplicity, from simplicity and strength to
beauty and fineness. The generation of the line from the point, the
plane from the line, and from the plane, the solid, is a matter,
again, which chiefly interests the geometrician, but the inevitable
sequence stands revealed in seed, stem, leaf, and fruit: a point, a
line, a surface, and a sphere. There is another order of truths, also,
which a tree teaches: the renewal of its life each year is a symbol
of the reincarnation of the soul, teaching that life is never-ending
climax, and that what appears to be cessation is merely a change
of state. A tree grows great by being firmly rooted; we too, though
children of the air, need the earth, and grow by good deeds, hidden,
like the roots of the tree, out of sight; for the tree, rain and
sunshine: for the soul, tears and laughter thrill the imprisoned
spirit into conscious life.

We love and understand the trees because we have ourselves passed
through their evolution, and they survive in us still, for the
arterial and nervous systems are trees, the roots of one in the heart,
of the other in the brain. Has not our body its trunk, bearing aloft
the head, like a flower: a cup to hold the precious juices of the
brain? Has not that trunk its tapering limbs which ramify into hands
and feet, and these into fingers and toes, after the manner of the
twigs and branches of a tree?

Closely related to symbolism is sacramentalism; the man who sees
nature as a book of symbols is likely to regard life as a sacrament.
Because this is a point of view vitalizing to art let us glance at
the sacramental life, divorced from the forms and observances of any
specific religion.

This life consists in the habitual perception of an ulterior meaning,
a hidden beauty and significance in the objects, acts, and events
of every day. Though binding us to a sensuous existence, these
nevertheless contain within themselves the power of emancipating us
from it: over and above their immediate use, their pleasure or their
profit, they have a hidden meaning which contains some healing message
for the soul.

A classic example of a sacrament, not alone in the ordinary meaning
of the term, but in the special sense above defined, is the Holy
Communion of the Christian Church. Its origin is a matter of common
knowledge. On the evening of the night in which He was betrayed,
Jesus and His disciples were gathered together for the feast of the
Passover. Aware of His impending betrayal, and desirous of impressing
powerfully upon His chosen followers the nature and purpose of His
sacrifice, Jesus ordained a sacrament out of the simple materials of
the repast. He took bread and broke it, and gave to each a piece as
the symbol of His broken body; and to each He passed a cup of wine,
as a symbol of His poured-out blood. In this act, as in the washing of
the disciples' feet on the same occasion, He made His ministrations to
the needs of men's bodies an allegory of His greater ministration to
the needs of their souls.

The sacrament of the Lord's Supper is of such beauty and power that it
has persisted even to the present day. It lacks, however, the element
of universality--at least by other than Christians its universality
would be denied. Let us seek, therefore some all-embracing symbol to
illustrate the sacramental view of life.

Perhaps marriage is such a symbol. The public avowal of love between
a man and woman, their mutual assumption of the attendant privileges,
duties and responsibilities are matters so pregnant with consequences
to them and to the race that by all right-thinking people marriage is
regarded as a high and holy thing; its sacramental character is felt
and acknowledged even by those who would be puzzled to tell the reason

The reason is involved in the answer to the question, "Of what is
marriage a symbol?" The most obvious answer, and doubtless the best
one, is found in the well known and much abused doctrine, common to
every religion, of the spiritual marriage between God and the soul.
What Christians call _the Mystic Way,_ and Buddhists _the Path_
comprises those changes in consciousness through which every soul
passes on its way to perfection. When the personal life is conceived
of as an allegory of this inner, intense, super-mundane life, it
assumes a sacramental character. With strange unanimity, followers
of the Mystic Way have given the name of marriage to that memorable
experience in "the flight of the Alone to the Alone," when the soul,
after trials and purgations, enters into indissoluble union with the
spirit, that divine, creative principle whereby it is made fruitful
for this world. Marriage, then, however dear and close the union, is
the symbol of a union dearer and closer, for it is the fair prophecy
that on some higher arc of the evolutionary spiral, the soul will meet
its immortal lover and be initiated into divine mysteries.

As an example of the power of symbols to induce those changes of
consciousness whereby the soul is prepared for this union, it is
recorded that an eminent scientist was moved to alter his entire mode
of life on reflecting, while in his bath one morning, that though each
day he was at such pains to make clean his body, he made no similar
purgation of his mind and heart. The idea appealed to him so
profoundly that he began to practise the higher cleanliness from that
day forth.

If it be true, as has been said, that ordinary life in the world is a
training school for a life more real and more sublime, then everything
pertaining to life in the world must possess a sacramental character,
and possess it inherently, and not merely by imputation. Let us
discover, then, if we can, some of the larger meanings latent in
little things.

When at the end of a cloudy day the sun bursts forth in splendor and
sets red in the west, it is a sign to the weather-wise that the next
day will be fair. To the devotee of the sacramental life it holds a
richer promise. To him the sun is a symbol of the love of God; the
clouds, those worldly preoccupations of his own which hide its face
from him. This purely physical phenomenon, therefore, which brings
to most men a scarcely noticed augmentation of heat and light, and
an indication of fair weather on the morrow, induces in the mystic an
ineffable sense of divine immanence and beneficence, and an assurance
of their continuance beyond the dark night of the death of the body.

When the sacramentalist goes swimming in the sea he enjoys to the full
the attendant physical exhilaration, but a greater joy flows from
the thought that he is back with his great Sea-Mother--that feminine
principle of which the sea is the perfect symbol, since water brings
all things to birth and nurtures them. When at the end of a day
he lays aside his clothes--that two-dimensional sheath of the
three-dimensional body--it is in full assurance that his body in turn
will be abandoned by the inwardly retreating consciousness, and that
he will range wherever he wills during the hours of sleep, clothed in
his subtle four-dimensional body, related to the physical body as that
is related to the clothes it wears.

To every sincere seeker nature reveals her secrets, but since men
differ in their curiosities she reveals different things to different
men. All are rewarded for their devotion in accordance with their
interests and desires, but woman-like, nature reveals herself most
fully to him who worships not the fair form of her, but her soul. This
favored lover is the mystic; for ever seeking instruction in things
spiritual, he perceives in nature an allegory of the soul, and
interprets her symbols in terms of the sacramental life.

The brook, pursuing its tortuous and stony pathway in untiring effort
to reach its gravitational centre, is a symbol of the Pilgrim's
progress, impelled by love to seek God within his heart. The modest
daisy by the roadside, and the wanton sunflower in the garden alike
seek to image the sun, the god of their worship, a core of seeds and
fringe of petals representing their best effort to mimic the flaming
disc and far-flung corona of the sun. Man seeks less ardently, and so
more ineffectively in his will and imagination to image God. In the
reverent study of insect and animal life we gain some hint of what we
have been and what we may become--something corresponding to the grub,
a burrowing thing; to the caterpillar, a crawling thing; and finally
to the butterfly, a radiant winged creature.

After this fashion then does he who has embraced the sacramental life
come to perceive in the "sensuous manifold" of nature, that one divine
Reality which ever seeks to instruct him in supermundane wisdom, and
to woo him to superhuman blessedness and peace. In time, this reading
of earth in terms of heaven, becomes a settled habit. Then, in
Emerson's phrase, he has hitched his wagon to a star, and changed his
grocer's cart into a chariot of the sun.

The reader may perhaps fail to perceive the bearing of this long
discussion of symbols and sacraments upon the subject of art and
architecture, but in the mind of the author the correlation is
plain. There can be no great art without religion: religion begins in
consciousness as a mystic experience, it flows thence into symbols
and sacraments, and these in turn are precipitated by the artist into
ponderable forms of beauty. Unless the artist himself participates in
this mystic experience, life's deeper meanings will escape him, and
the work of his hands will have no special significance. Until it can
be said of every artist

"Himself from God he could not free,"

there will be no art worthy of the name.


I take great pleasure in availing myself of this opportunity to speak
to you on certain aspects of the art which we practise. I cannot
forget, and I hope that you sufficiently remember, that the
architectural future of this country lies in the hands of just such
men as you. Let me dwell then for a moment on your unique opportunity.
Perhaps some of you have taken up architecture as you might have gone
into trade, or manufacturing, or any of the useful professions; in
that case you have probably already learned discrimination, and now
realize that in the cutting of the cake of human occupations you
have drawn the piece which contains the ring of gold. The cake is
the business and utilitarian side of life, the ring of gold is the
aesthetic, the creative side: treasure it, for it is a precious and
enduring thing. Think what your work is: to reassemble materials in
such fashion that they become instinct with a beauty and eloquent with
a meaning which may carry inspiration and delight to generations still
unborn. Immortality haunts your threshold, even though your hand may
not be strong enough to open to the heavenly visitor.

Though the profession of architecture is a noble one in any country
and in any age, it is particularly rich in inspiration and in
opportunity here and now, for who can doubt that we are about to enter
upon a great building period? We have what Mr. Sullivan calls "the
need and the power to build," the spirit of great art alone is
lacking, and that is already stirring in the secret hearts of men, and
will sooner or later find expression in objective and ponderable
forms of new beauty. These it is your privilege to create. May the
opportunity find you ready! There is a saying, "To be young, to be in
love, to be in Italy!" I would paraphrase it thus: To be young, to be
in architecture, to be in America.

It is my purpose tonight to outline a scheme of self-education, which
if consistently followed out I am sure will help you, though I am
aware that to a certain order of mind it will seem highly mystical and
impractical. If it commends itself to your favor I shall be glad.

Many of you will have had the advantage of a thorough technical
training in your chosen profession: be grateful for it. Others, like
Topsy, "just growed"--or have just failed to grow. For the solace of
all such, without wishing to be understood to disparage architectural
schooling, I would say that there is a kind of education which is
worse than none, for by filling his mind with ready-made ideas it
prevents a man from ever learning to think for himself; and there is
another kind which teaches him to think, indeed, but according to some
arbitrary method, so that his mind becomes a canal instead of a river,
flowing in a predetermined and artificial channel, and unreplenished
by the hidden springs of the spirit. The best education can do no more
than to bring into manifestation that which is inherent; it does this
by means of some stimulus from without--from books and masters--but
the stimulus may equally come from within: each can develop his own
mind, and in the following manner.

The alternation between a state of activity and a state of passivity,
which is a law of our physical being, as it is a law of all nature,
is characteristic of the action of the mind as well: observation and
meditation are the two poles of thought. The tendency of modern life
and of our active American temperament is towards a too exclusive
functioning of the mind in its outgoing state, and this results in
a great cleverness and a great shallowness. It is only in moments of
quiet meditation that the great synthetic, fundamental truths reveal
themselves. Observe ceaselessly, weigh, judge, criticize--this order
of intellectual activity is important and valuable--but the mind must
be steadied and strengthened by another and a different process. The
power of attention, the ability to concentrate, is the measure of
mental efficiency; and this power may be developed by a training
exactly analogous to that by which a muscle is developed, for mind
and muscle are alike the instruments of the Silent Thinker who sits
behind. The mind an instrument of something higher than the mind: here
is a truth so fertile that in the language of Oriental imagery, "If
you were to tell this to a dry stick, branches would grow, and leaves
sprout from it."

There is nothing original in the method of mental development here
indicated; it has been known and practised for centuries in the East,
where life is less strenuous than it is with us. The method consists
in silent meditation every day at stated periods, during which the
attempt is made to hold the mind to the contemplation of a single
image or idea, bringing the attention back whenever it wanders,
killing each irrelevant thought as it arises, as one might kill a
rat coming out of a hole. This turning of the mind back on itself is
difficult, but I know of nothing that "pays" so well, and I have never
found any one who conscientiously practised it who did not confirm
this view. The point is, that if a man acquires the ability to
concentrate on one thing, he can concentrate on anything; he increases
his competence on the mental plane in the same manner that pulling
chest-weights increases his competence on the physical. The practice
of meditation has moreover an ulterior as well as an immediate
advantage, and that is the reason it is practised by the Yogis of
India. They believe that by stilling the mind, which is like a lake
reflecting the sky, the Higher Self communicates a knowledge of Itself
to the lower consciousness. Without the working of this Oversoul in
and through us we can never hope to produce an architecture which
shall rank with the great architectures of the past, for in Egypt, in
Greece, in mediaeval France, as in India, China, and Japan, mysticism
made for itself a language more eloquent than any in which the purely
rational consciousness of man has ever spoken.

We are apt to overestimate the importance of books and book learning.
Think how small a part books have played in the development of
architecture; indeed, Palladio and Vignola, with their hard and fast
formulae have done the art more harm than good. It is a fallacy that
reading strengthens the mind--it enervates it; reading sometimes
stimulates the mind to original thinking, and _this_ develops it,
but reading itself is a passive exercise, because the thought of the
reader is for the time being in abeyance in order that the thought
of the writer may enter. Much reading impairs the power to think
originally and consecutively. Few of the great creators of the world
have had use for books, and if you aspire to be in their class you
will avoid the "spawn of the press." The best plan is to read only
great books, and having read for five minutes, think about what you
have read for ten.

These exercises, faithfully followed out, will make your mind a fit
vehicle for the expression of your idea, but the advice I have
given is as pertinent to any one who uses his mind as it is to the
architect. To what, specifically, should the architectural student
devote his attention in order to improve the quality of his work?
My own answer would be that he should devote himself to the study of
music, of the human figure, and to the study of Nature--"first, last,
midst, and without end."

The correlation between music and architecture is no new thought; it
is implied in the famous saying that architecture is frozen music.
Vitruvius considered a knowledge of music to be a qualification of the
architect of his day, and if it was desirable then it is no less so
now. There is both a metaphysical reason and a practical one why
this is so. Walter Pater, in a famous phrase, declared that all art
constantly aspires to the condition of music, by which he meant to
imply that there is a certain rhythm and harmony at the root of every
art, of which music is the perfect and pure expression; that in
music the means and the end are one and the same. This coincides with
Schopenhauer's theory about music, that it is the most perfect
and unconditioned sensuous presentment known to us of that undying
_will-to-live_ which constitutes life and the world. Metaphysics
aside, the architect ought to hear as much good music as he can, and
learn the rudiments of harmony, at least to the extent of knowing the
simple numerical ratios which govern the principal consonant intervals
within the octave, so that, translating these ratios into intervals of
space expressed in terms of length and breadth, height, and width, his
work will "aspire to the condition of music."

There is a metaphysical reason, too, as well as a practical one, why
an architect should know the human figure. Carlyle says, "There is but
one temple in the world, and that is the body of man." If the body
is, as he declares, a temple, it is no less true that a temple, or any
work of architectural art is in the nature of an ampler body which
man has created for his uses, and which he inhabits, just as the
individual consciousness builds and inhabits its fleshly stronghold.
This may seem a highly mystical idea, but the correlation between
the house and its inhabitant, and the body and its consciousness is
everywhere close, and is susceptible of infinite elaboration.

Architectural beauty, like human beauty, depends upon a proper
subordination of parts to the whole, a harmonious interrelation
between these parts, the expressiveness of each of its functions, and
when these are many and diverse, their reconcilement one with another.
This being so, a study of the human figure with a view to analyzing
the sources of its beauty cannot fail to be profitable to the
architectural designer. Pursued intelligently, such study will
stimulate the mind to a perception of those simple yet subtle laws
according to which nature everywhere works, and it will educate
the eye in the finest known school of proportion, training it to
distinguish minute differences, in the same way that the hearing of
good music cultivates the ear.

It is neither necessary nor desirable to make elaborate and carefully
shaded drawings from a posed model; an equal number of hours spent in
copying and analyzing the plates of a good art anatomy, supplemented
with a certain amount of life drawing, done merely with a view to
catch the pose, will be found to be a more profitable exercise, for it
will make you familiar with the principal and subsidiary proportions
of the bodily temple, and give you sufficient data to enable you to
indicate a figure in any position with fair accuracy.

I recommend the study of Nature because I believe that such study
will assist you to recover that direct and instant perception of
beauty, our natural birthright, of which over-sophistication has
so bereft us that we no longer know it to be ours by right of
inheritance--inheritance from that cosmic matter endowed with
motion out of which we are fashioned, proceeding ever rationally and
rhythmically to its appointed ends. We are all of us participators in
a world of concrete music, geometry and number--a world, that is, so
mathematically constituted and co-ordinated that our pigmy bodies,
equally with the farthest star, throb to the music of the spheres. The
blood flows rhythmically, the heart its metronome; the moving limbs
weave patterns; the voice stirs into radiating sound-waves that pool
of silence which we call the air.

"Thou canst not wave thy staff in air,
Or dip thy paddle in the lake,
But it carves the bow of beauty there,
And ripples in rhyme the oar forsake."

The whole of animate creation labours under the beautiful necessity of
being beautiful. Everywhere it exhibits a perfect utility subservient
to harmonious laws. Nature is the workshop in which are built
_beautiful organisms_. This is exactly the aim of the architect--to
fashion beautiful organisms; what better school, therefore, could he
have in which to learn his trade?

To study Nature it is not necessary to go out into the fields and
botanize, nor to attempt to make water colours of picturesque scenery.
These things are very well, but not so profitable to your particular
purpose as observation directed toward the discovery of the laws which
underlie and determine form and structure, such as the tracing of the
spiral line, not alone where it is obvious, as in the snail's shell
and in the ram's horn, but where it appears obscurely, as in the
disposition of leaves or twigs upon a parent stem. Such laws of nature
are equally laws of art, for art _is_ nature carried to a higher power
by reason of its passage through a human consciousness. Thought and
emotion tend to crystallize into forms of beauty as inevitably, and
according to the same laws, as does the frost on the window pane. Art,
in one of its aspects, is the weaving of a pattern, the communication
of an order and a method to lines, forms, colors, sounds. All very
poetical, and possibly true, you may be saying to yourselves, but
what has it to do with architecture, which nowadays, at least, is
pre-eminently a practical and utilitarian art whose highest mission
is to fulfil definite conditions in an economical and admirable way;
whose supreme excellence is fitness, appropriateness, the perfect
adaptation of means to ends, and the apt expression of both means
and ends? Yes, architecture is all of this, but this is not all of
architecture; else the most efficient engineer would be the most
admirable architect, which does not happen to be the case. Along with
the expression of the concrete and individual must go the expression
of the abstract and universal; the two can be combined in a single
building in the same way that in every human countenance are
combined a racial or temperamental _type_, which is universal, and a
_character_, which is individual. The expression of any sort of cosmic
truth, of universal harmony and rhythm, is the quality which our
architecture most conspicuously lacks. Failing to find the cosmic
truth within ourselves, failing to vibrate to the universal harmony
and rhythm, our architecture is--well, what it is, for only that which
is native to our living spirit can we show forth in the work of our

Your work will be, in the last analysis, what you yourselves are. Let
no sophistry blind you to the truth of that. There are rhythms in the
world of space which we find only in the architecture of the past, and
enamoured of their beauty we repeat them over and over (off the key
for the most part), on the principle that all the songs have been
sung; or we just make a noise, on the principle that noise is all
there is to architecture anyway. It is not so. Those systems of
spatial rhythms which we call Egyptian, Classic, Gothic, Renaissance
architecture and the rest, are records all of the living human spirit
energizing in the stubborn matter of the physical plane with joy, with
conviction, with mastery. When that undying spirit awakes again in
you, stirred into consciousness by meditation, which is its prayer;
by music, which is its praise; by the contemplation of that fair
form which is its temple; and by communion with nature, which is its
looking-glass; you will experience again that ancient joy, hold again
that firm conviction, and exercise again that mastery to transfuse the
granite and iron heart of the hills into patterns unlike any that the
hand of man has made before.

[Footnote 1: An address delivered before the Boston Architectural Club
in April, 1909.]

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