The Legend That Encrusts Them

“All that is solid melts into air” echoes the 6th century pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus who famously said “there is nothing permanent except change” and “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” The idea (in relation to art) is that the previous notion of concretizing art method as a sacred discipline that could never be evolved is not only futile but a hindrance to the very nature of art, which according to the Modernist, is the exploration of the medium and inspection of the fundamental elements of a composition, to “to lay them bare… to strip away the legend that encrusts them” as Marcus Aurelius said in Meditations. Beliefs (realities) once thought to be unmovable are now in transitory flux by exploration. None better illustrates this point than Gustave Eiffel.

The Eiffel Tower is a building in its most fundamental state; it is just the structural skeleton of what would have been in prior times something more similar to the Lighthouse at Alexandria. The tower best illustrates Marx’s philosophy because what was solid (the would-be ‘skin’ of the tower) has melted to air, literally because the tower is nothing more than a mechanical framework allowing air to past through it, and figuratively because the notion that the mechanics of a structure had to be hidden from the viewer has now been transcended to a more fundamental truth, with no façade to obfuscate the true nature of the building. When we view the Eiffel Tower we are viewing the building in itself, what would normally be hidden behind marble and stone. In this regard, we are more aware of the Truth than before.