Saturday, July 31, 2004
Washington as the home of empire
The Lincoln monument - Washington DC. Flash forward two thousand years, through the collaps of empire, vandals, and pilfering by the Vatican, and it could fit in well among the ruins in the Roman Forum, in the shaddow of the Collosseum.
I was struck by how much Washington DC reminded me of Rome. Grand architecture standing as a tribute to empire. Bold marble pillars stretching into the sky. Statues of strong men on horseback staring into the distance. The creators of history. The mythmakers.
Nation building and empire building is not a simple process. Nor is it all that complicated. But it doesn't happen by osmosis. Great empires are built upon great stories...carved into stone...in war memorials...in public buildings...in monuments to the founding fathers.
The architecture of Washington DC speaks of great power. It speaks of enduring strength. It speaks of empire. Instead of the great emperor Augustus, we have George Washington. In place of Caesar we have Abraham Lincoln. In place of the Collusseum we have the superbowl.
The founders of Washington DC certainly understood the power of architecture to tell enduring stories. Patriotism in the USA isn't going anwhere anytime soon.