Proof that you believe in what you are doing: multi-generational building projects

Just got this from my friend, who is trying to cultivate a garden of the humanities at a large state university:

The question of the Duomo’s authorship is as pointless as the question who designs a town (a town, not a factory settlement) which has grown throughout the ages. After the mythical hands of Fra Bevignate and Lorenzo Maitani, the great names of Andrea Pisano, Orcagna, Sanmicheli follow as golden nuggets in the sand. Over the centuries the cathedral was tended by more than thirty architects, one hundred and fifty sculptors, seventy painters and almost one hundred mosaic specialists.

Barbarian in the Gardens p.45 by Zbidniew Herbert

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I once built, with my brother and some friends, a 3D puzzle of the Florence Cathedral, not knowing what it was. Then one month later I found myself in Florence and was surprised to recognize it dominating the skyline of the ancient city as we came around the mountains.

I once built, with my brother and some friends, a 3D puzzle of the Florence Cathedral, not knowing what it was. Then one month later I found myself in Florence and was surprised to recognize it dominating the skyline of the ancient city as we came around the mountains.

When I first visited the Cathedral (Duomo) of Florence, and learned that it had taken about a century and multiple generations, I lost forever any patience for the excuse made by many in my country, that we cannot have beauty because it is too expensive, that we must settle for what we can afford right now, that we cannot entertain even for a moment the proposition of beginning a project which we can be nearly certain that we will never finish in our own lifetime.

If you have faith in the goodness of your undertaking, then to be one brick in the edifice  which your children and your neighbors’ children will build, to have faith that it is a good and beautiful thing, worth patience and sacrifice, worth paying everything in this life as a gift to those who will come after, then you will make something beautiful.

If you tell me that you cannot do something because you cannot do it now, I tell you that you are a poor steward of the gifts which you were given and did not earn.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, DC, has been under construction for more than half a century, and still is not finished, mainly because the builders chose not to 1.) compromise their principles or 2.) go into debt.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, DC, has been under construction for more than half a century, and still is not finished, mainly because the builders chose not to 1.) compromise their principles or 2.) go into debt.

Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for being my gadfly. And special thanks to my friend for sending me this little excerptum.

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About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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