Friday 15 May 2009

Prince of the New Age

Your thought for the day:

Nature, I would argue, reveals the universal essence of creation. Our present preoccupation with the individual ego, and desire to be distinctive, rather than “original” in its truest sense, are only the more visible signs of our rejection of Nature. In addition, there is our addiction to mechanical rather than joined-up, integrative thinking, and our instrumental relationship with the natural world. In the world as it is now, there seems to be an awful lot more arrogance than reverence; a great deal more of the ego than humility; and a surfeit of abstracted ideology over the practical realities linked to people’s lives and the grain of their culture and identity.

Who do you think said that? Some New Age guru, perhaps, addressing a gathering of the gullible? No, it's our future head of state (God help us), speaking to a meeting of the Royal Institute of British Architects earlier this week. In his speech, Prince Charles argued for what he called 'organic' architecture and against the 'mechanical' fashions of modernity. His overall message seemed to be: modern world and cities bad, 'Nature' and rural life good.

It's all profoundly, and dangerously, conservative, valuing reverence for ''culture' and 'tradition' over original thinking, and the mystical collective over the free-thinking individual. What really sticks in the gullet (and explains how he gets away with it) is the Prince's cunning linkage of this woolly 'holism' to a phoney populism, in which he portrays himself (the hereditary wealthy landowner) as speaking up for 'communities' against professionals in thrall to new-fangled ideologies. 

Charles' revulsion from some of the worst of Modernist architectural experimentation - soulless Sixties housing estates for example - is widely shared. But the answer doesn't have to be a complete rejection of modernity, individuality and innovation in favour of some imaginary harmonious past. 

The Prince once expressed a desire, as monarch, to be a defender of all faiths, rather than just the Defender of Anglican Christianity. His speech this week, in which he espoused a vague traditionalism that seemed to be a boiled-down gloop mixing together elements from many different religions, gave us a glimpse of what this might mean. The thought of having to endure endless New Age sermons from King Charles III makes Rowan Williams' wishy-washy Anglicanism seem not half so bad after all...

1 comment:

The Monkeyman said...

The chutzpah! Of course he bloody wants a homogeneous nation of clones with no individuality- it ensures him and his kin stay in a position of power/authority that they were never democratically voted into.