Peter Lamarque: "Reflections on the Nature and Appeal of Ruins"

The Higher Seminar in Aesthetics

Peter Lamarque, University of York: "Reflections on the Nature and Appeal of Ruins"

Sometimes ruined buildings or monuments are left as ruins, sometimes they are repaired or reconstructed. What kinds of constraints operate on such choices? No doubt in many cases pure practicality will be the overriding factor: what is possible, what is affordable, etc.  But in more interesting cases, deeper issues will arise. When cities have been bombed in wartime national or civic pride might demand rebuilding at whatever cost. But sometimes ruins are left deliberately unrepaired to make other kinds of statements. Also to rebuild a ruin can in a sense destroy it. It might be better, historically, aesthetically, even morally, to leave it as it is. The talk will offer some informal reflections on the kinds of interest that ruins can evoke over and above, for example, historical or conservational interests. What are the different kinds of reasons why ruins are appreciated as ruins? What makes some ruins pleasing and evocative while others are depressing or tragic? Examples will be given of actual ruins as well as depictions of ruins in art.