Modernity – The Death of Personality

by Carolina Cortés Vilaplana

There is something so cold about a tall, sleek, grey building with square glass windows. An urban setting, the bollards smooth all around, their shape unrelenting. The same bored poles in place of a lamppost. Flat metal rods at exactly ninety degrees that are but the skeleton of ancient bridges. There are no flourishes, no decorations, no curves except the carefully-measured-out bend of a mathematical cylinder. 

There is something so empty about visiting a city and seeing the same tired walls that rise implacably from a colourless pavement. Travel is becoming superfluous. Why fly across the world to sit in a McDonalds and walk amidst brick blocks that you could encounter a few streets away from your front door?

Originality is slowly being eradicated, and we have only humanity to blame. We strive for a perfection that is unattainable, an ideal which is so smooth it erases any evidence of human traces. There is a misconception, in today’s society, that beauty is flat, plain, unblemished. Beauty and life seem to be almost opposites. Architecture should soar, draw a magnificent arch that encompasses the history of humanity. Instead, it stagnates, returning to the same lifeless forms which say nothing, mean nothing, machine-made abhorrence which excludes personality from the equation. Or perhaps, you will say, modern architecture does indeed depict the state in which we live in. 

In that case, what a sorry state that is. Where are the mistakes, the asymmetry, the beautiful marks of existence that we humans are so desperate to leave in this world? For it is not the aesthetic that makes its beauty, but its organic creation as a reflection of the intricacies of human life. We remove ourselves from our work in an attempt to reach perfection, misled into thinking that perfection is the lack of that which makes us flawed, unique, and human.

But if perfection is incompatible with the essence of humanity, then why do we seek it? It is almost an evolutionary suicide. Our bodies may remain, but our souls will become extinct in the monotony of the modern.

The Poor Print

Established in 2013, The Poor Print is the student-run newspaper of Oriel College, Oxford, written by members of the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff. New issues are published fortnightly during term. Our current Executive Editors are Siddiq Islam and Jerric Chong.

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