Ornament and crime essay

In German, all the Nouns begin with a capital letter. Now that is a good idea; and a good idea, in this language, is necessarily conspicuous from its lonesomeness. I consider this capitalizing of nouns a good idea, because by reason of it you are almost always able to tell a noun the minute you see it. You fall into error occasionally, because you mistake the name of a person for the name of a thing, and waste a good deal of time trying to dig a meaning out of it. German names almost always do mean something, and this helps to deceive the student. I translated a passage one day, which said that "the infuriated tigress broke loose and utterly ate up the unfortunate fir forest" ( Tannenwald ). When I was girding up my loins to doubt this, I found out that Tannenwald in this instance was a man's name.

The loss does not hit only the consumer, it hits the manufacturer above all. Today, ornament on items that need no ornament means wasted labour and spoilt materials. If all objects were aesthetically enduring for as long as they lasted physically, the consumer could afford to pay a price that would enable the worker to earn more money and work shorter hours. I don’t mind spending four times as much for an article which I am certain I can make use of and use up completely as I would for one inferior in shape and material. I don't mind spending forty kronen for my boots although I could get boots for ten kronen in another shop. But in trades suffering under the tyranny of the ornamentalists, good or bad work­manship does not count. The work suffers because nobody wants to pay its true value.

And somehow, through this narcissistic attitude of "preaching to the aristocrat", Loos seems to have stumbled upon a rational argument and an undeveloped reasoning behind his thesis. Ornament is "a crime against the national economy that it should result in the waste of human labour, money and material." Loos recognizes, however briefly, that people naturally tire of objects before their use is done, and if gone unchecked, the need to consume could become problematic. As an example of this wastefulness, Loos points to a man's suite or a lady's ball gown but he then irrationally compares them to a desk. "But woe if a desk has to be changed as quickly as a ball gown because the old form has become intolerable."

Ornament and crime essay

ornament and crime essay


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