|click images for larger view|
Don't know Swedenborg? Well, he lived from 1688 to 1772, and he was brilliant in fields from physics to geology to anatomy, to name just a few. Swedenborg, according to one scholar "ejected the Newtonian concept of permanent, irreducible particles of matter and suggested that everything material was essentially motion arranged in geometric forms." Swedenborg also believed the Lord God came to him while Swedenborg was dining at a favorite inn, and, after telling him not to eat so much, commanded him to reveal the spiritual meaning of the Bible. Which Swedenborg did, in his Arcana Coelestia and 50 massive volumes of writing.
Swedenborg's beliefs both caused him to be accused of being a heretic, and created a theological system that has influenced everyone from Emerson, to Helen Keller, to Jorge Luis Borges. Daniel Burnham's grandfather was a Swedenborgian minister, and Burnham attended Swendenborgian schools as a child. Burnham's great Plan of Chicago - and especially the more socially conscious sections deleted from the final draft - can't be fully understood without taking into account Swedenborg's religious doctrines.
|The Emanuel Swedenborg monument has its Facebook Page, |
from which we took this image of the original installation.
|Simmons Island in 1921, from Popular Mechanics|
|post theft, with pyramid, from the monument's Facebook Page|
The Chicago Park District then began the process of restoring the monument. Swedish artist Magnus Persson created a new bronze casting of the bust, which was shipped to Chicago in February of this year. In April, Emanuel Swedenborg, repaired and restored, was again looking out over Lake Shore Drive, a bit too close to guard rail for comfort, no doubt marveling at the evolution in automotive design since his last survey in 1976.
Or maybe he's contemplating his influence on his pupil Daniel Burnham, and on the Plan of Chicago, and the metaphysics of speed, consumerism and sprawl, as he watches the traffic rushing by heedlessly like the "fifteen all-steel coaches" of the limited express of Carl Sandburg's poem, and the joggers running past his back, unseeing, on their distant path. And he may find himself . . .
. . . behind the wheel of a large automobile
. . . this is not my beautiful house
. . . where does that highway lead to?
. . . how do I work this?
. . . my God, what have I done?
. . . water flowing underground
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was . . .
Read our previous post, Borg, Borg, Borg! Swedenborgian Revelation and Dan Burnham