Form Follows Function

[a tale of two cities]

        a tale of two cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct
the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present
period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its
being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree
of comparison only.”

Remember the beginning of “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens?  One of the hallmarks of great literature is its timeless nature.  We may think that the times we live in are unique, marked by the special events that are calendared therein, or the famous people that populate the world while we are alive.  But history repeats itself over and over.  How many ways can a human being behave?  Do man’s achievements and inventions during a particular time period make that time distinctive?

I think it depends on which layer of life I choose to look at.

We can see the superficial layer.  Consider the “styles of the day” with clothing and hair.  The same is true of our means of travel, the type of dwelling we live in, the nature of our work and play.  In all of these areas there continues to be the “new improved” model.

Peel off that layer and look a little deeper.  Beneath the surface lies a motive.  Louis Sullivan, the architect, said “Form ever follows function.”  Frank Lloyd Wright tweaked that quote, “Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.”

The observation that form follows function is true in nature, but what about the nature of man?  I’m thinking about women’s fashion…what function preceded high heels?  Getting our feet out of the mud?  Perhaps, and also a statement of prosperity like the height of the crown on the women’s fedoras in Peru.  White top hats are the upper crust of the market place society.

I am wondering if the function that precedes form is just the jumping off place.  Then man’s ever present ego, which doesn’t exist in other forms of nature, takes over as it is want to do.  This would explain how the high heels that began as a practical solution to muddy streets became an expression of wealth and an object of sexual attraction.  We humans…you know what stinkers we are!

Free-writing…I just never know where it is going to take me!


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