In Portugal there is a set of chapels called “unfinished chapels.”
If you’re passionately interested in their history it is here. But it amounts to buildings started by a king who died, his master builder died, someone continued them a hundred years later, and then again 300 years later. And yet the majority of them are still unfinished.
And still beautiful. I remember because I visited them as a kid.
In Portuguese they are known as “The Imperfect Chapels” (Capelas Imperfeitas.) I mean, they know they’re unfinished, of course, but it’s more considered as though they lack something of perfection. And part of it is perhaps the attitude of the Portuguese, at least in the time when they were built.
Because they figured they’d be perfected sometime, and when didn’t much signify.
As you can tell today I’m having issues with time management. Yes, there are reasons: I woke up with symptoms of either a severe cold or a severe auto-immune attack. Either/both are possible, because I’m under a great deal of stress right now, stress that likely will not clear until around about the fourth of July. This made yet another visitation this morning under the guise of various bureaucratic issues that had to be solved right then, which means my writing hasn’t happened yet. Heck, I showered at 11, have only now finished my first cup of coffee, feel a great need to go back to bed, and frankly am rather sick and tired of this rollercoaster/transition year we call 2019.
Which brings me to…
People used to build slowly and in the belief that future generations would finish it. This came to mind recently about Notre Dame which took, if I recall correctly, 200 years to finish and was added to 300 years later. Yes, it was also a massive government project, paid for by the taxes of the unheard citizenry. But let’s face it, in a time with little surplus, that was — more or less — the only way things ever got built.
And sometimes, sometimes the future generations failed you, and things never got built.
Is it paradoxical that in our longer-lived times we must have things faster — and replace them faster? — and that we never trust future generations to finish them?
I don’t know.
I know that while we might lose something as to the span and artistry of what can be done, we also give future generations more latitude.
People going to Europe often are convinced it must be very rich because of all the monuments. But really, they’re not. They’re people living off the long-term investment of previous generations. They have zero capital they can realize, in all this.
What they invested was time, and a certain confidence they could indenture future generations.
We’re back to that community versus self again.
Can a multi-generational project indenture the future and accept that the future will pay?
I don’t know. I’m against it. Let each person, and each generation make their own mistakes and establish their own priorities.
And then I remember that every child born in the US today is born owing what was it? 40K? 80k? It’s so absurd, that it’s hard to remember and in a way meaningless. I understand why the socialists think money means nothing and you can just always print more. But of course money is a symbol for wealth used.
The truth is that we’re spending not just on those unwilling or incapable of working, but also on easing the way for corporations, and various cronies boondoggles (hello Solindra) the money for several unfinished chapels.
Only instead of taking several generations to complete the project and spreading the pain, we’re charging the future for destroying the productivity and culture today. (What? You thought welfare didn’t do that? You thought it only eased extreme cases? You wish.)
We don’t even know if the future will exist, much less have the surplus. But we’re confidently sticking them with the bill.
And they won’t even have some cool unfinished buildings to attract tourists, when our time is done.