Monday, February 14, 2011

Building on top of things.

One of the things dominant cultures do is build atop the civilizations they supersede. In New York, we've built Broadway along the path of ancient Indian trails. The Muslim Dome of the Rock was built upon the Second Jewish Temple. In Rome, there are thousands of examples of this. The most prominent may be Santa Maria dei Martiri which was interposed on perhaps the greatest remaining building of the Roman world (and my favorite) the Pantheon.

It upsets me to see the dismissal of one culture by a dominant one and to have to imagine the glory that was Rome through the accoutrement and relics of the Church. I wish I could see the Pantheon as it was when Hadrian rebuilt it in 126, the Bronze statues to gods I grew up reading about, Jupiter, Venus, Mars and the like. I am mad that the bronzes were removed by sundry Popes and used elsewhere for their own purposes.

However, thinking about this, I recant, at least somewhat.

Building upon other things is something we do in advertising all the time. Early on in my career, I read the ads of David Altschiller, Curvin O'Reilly, Tom Messner, Ed McCabe, Jim Durfee and others. I read every Volkwagen ad that had ever been written. I hoped to learn from and build on what some great ad people started.

When you work with a partner, you also build on what they say and do. They may set a foundation, you may adjust and push it into something else, then they may in turn do the same. This is building on work.

I feel a little better about desecration thinking about this. Building upon an earlier structure is a process both in nature and I guess of civilizations. Build on things. That's natural. But in the process, be respectful of what those who came before you have achieved.


Tore Claesson said...

Building upon monuments of the culture before you, the culture you defeated, is not respectful. It's a demonstration of who is in power. Building on things we learn from others by studying what they did well is, however, respectful.

geo said...

True, Tore. One is desecration and therefore not building even though things might be erected.