The beauty of death

There is something inexplicably beautiful about ruin and decay. I mean, this image should be sad – an ancient building has just been blown to bits. But there is still something oddly appealing about this sight.

Humans have been fascinated with ruins for millennia. We have had a strange, nostalgic, half-morbid relationship with the forgotten, neglected relics of civilisations gone by.

We have left the world littered with millions of structures, and some absurd number of these have been left to rot. We condemn this rot, and decide to do something about it. The abandoned house in everyone’s neighbourhood is torn down, or converted into something else. We take it upon ourselves to prevent this process of natural decay. And sometimes it is rightly so. Because these old, abandoned buildings are creepy as hell, and are home to all sorts of nasties. And because space is precious, especially space in inner cities, and that empty building is a waste of space.

But then somewhere along the way, something else starts to happen. Nature begins to destroy the very structure that it inhabits, and a subtle transition happens. The decaying form of the building starts to lose its intrinsic scariness, and starts to gain something else. It gains the innate aesthetic beauty of ruins.

There is just something about ruins. It might be the subconscious nostalgia for days gone by. It might be something about the inevitablity of death for all of us. It might be about nature triumphing over humans. But one thing is sure. Ruins, in all of their myriad forms, are beautiful.

And the older the ruins become (at least in my opinion) the more beautiful they become. I think that is because the last remnants of human craftsmanship are removed from the structures, and it seems as if they could have formed from the living rock itself.

The Abbey Ruins of Villers-la-ville Belgium: Church

The Great Zimbabwe Ruins: General Overview

But that said, there is something just a little beautiful in seeing a building just a few years old fall apart majestically, and fade into the landscape.

When all of our civilisation is gone, and we are dust, there will be nothing left but ruins. Our great cities, factories, houses – all that we deem permanent and immovable – will be left to rot. And it will all be quiet, and all be beautiful.

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