On the Unlikely Beauty of Commieblocks

by Anonymous

A taste for brutalism is not unusual, nor is the commodified, sugarcoated “depressing” aesthetic so common in recently emerged doomer posers. some soulless utilitarian will praise those buildings as Solution For Homelessness without a hint of satire. but there’s yet another type of liking one can have for the pitiful dwelling boxes – perhaps only present in people who lived there.

Those commieblocks and similar abhorrent structures are objectively ugly, there’s no argument to be had. but we grew to love them, feel their unspoken homeliness, we even found some perversed beauty in their inborn decay. (many ancient buildings, as you know, were built with their decomposition in mind, making sure the ruins will be pretty. call it vainly confident or inhumanly clever, with care reaching beyond the lifespan of those constructing and using those structures, even beyond the age of a nation that birthed them, but it’s romantic nonetheless, almost out of reach of our modern thinking. these commieblocks on the contrary were stillborn, looking ruinous before the final brick was laid, rundown before time started its inevitable touch-up. in this a commieblock inhabitant may see a ground for pity, one always pities a newborn cripple, and out of that sorry empathy our curious affection stems.)

I doubt my truthfulness here. knowing how an average person is, they likely despise their dwelling in silence, or more probably don’t even think in these terms – the dullness of such life beats the sacred sense of beauty out of most people, no fertile ground for it to thrive, no motivation to even be present. appeal, especially so in soviet times, was dictated not by that mysterious sense of beauty but by megalomania and artificial sets of aspects. it’s curious how things were built to be built, not to please the inhabitants, an opposite – and in that opposition identical – end of the horseshoe with capitalist notion for producing wares to be sold, not used.

But those who do have a tender spot for concrete anthills so scarring to one’s eye, me among them, may struggle to explain it to others. it’s not a stockholm syndrome, not a prisoner growing to love his confinement – why, we don’t regard those wordless blocks as sided with oppressors! they never asked to be built, to be built ugly and unwelcome, nor did the builders intend any malice, and misdeed with no malice is but a sorry mishap. this pity somehow makes you think of blocks as yet another victim, just like you, they never reap the fruit of their disfigurement, they make no profit of your misery, it’s almost as if they, too, have a melancholy of their own, grieving alongside us, sharing our bread and mirth, tears and laugher as cliche as it is, a fellow inmate in this grey concrete sansara bestowed upon all things living and not. and like most prisoners of places lonely and desolate, we began, reluctantly and unconsciously, to love each other – because the other alternative would be a lifelong solitary cell.