Morning light, fascist stone

This morning I sat on the train and something strange happened – and it happens quite lot out here at this time of year.
The sky was black, heavy and low, but the low morning sun found a gap and pushed through, illuminating the land while the sky remained dark, almost sub aquatic. The light refracted in from the land and lit up the train carriage. All the faces looked different – the quality of skin had changed, the light on everyone’s clothes and on the carriage itself. We looked healthy and well, in a well lit space, traveling at speed through strangely lit land.
The light itself changed the perception of the morning.
Reminds me of last month when I was passing through Milan and I saw for the first time the infamous railway station. It is a masterpiece of Fascist architecture and there is a strong lobby hell bent on its complete destruction – just as there is an equally vocal lobby fighting for its preservation.
I myself had never quite seen through the fog of architectural hyperbole when it comes to spaces and shapes defining, influencing or reflecting societal aspirations… Until I passed through Milan Central Railway Station.
Thrusting vertical columns of smooth white stone, Northern mythology writ large and bold in the form of hands clutching swords, blazing eagles, laurel wreaths. This was the architecture of undiluted power and will to supremacy, the reification of the leaning of man – northern white man – to become as one with the gods.
It quickened the heart. It was easy to see how persuasive the whole movement was – how any movement could be – if you alter the physical environment to suit your vision.
Now, I look at buildings in a new light and decode the will of the society that was responsible for them. It is like a gauze has lifted from the world – like the gauze that peeled back from the sun to bathe our little carriage hurtling towards the city in the early morning.

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