Demolition vs. Destruction

Tearing things down can be nice: old buildings; old theories; old selves. There is something very refreshing and enjoyable about the whole "out with the old, in with the new" attitude. But replacement is not destruction. If tearing things down only with the intention of building newer, better things is "out with the old, in with the new," then destruction is simply "out with it."

Tearing things down in a systematic, planned way, only with the intention to improve the space is automatically informed by the existing structure of what one is tearing down--even if only in a reactionary way. Such tearing down is better referred to as "demolition" rather than "destruction." Demolition is planned. Demolition is organized. Demolition is future-oriented insofar as one only demolishes something in order to "spruce things up."

Destruction resembles demolition only superficially. Destructive tearing down does not take place with the intention of repair or replacement. Destruction is best characterized by "out with it" because destruction simply seeks constant radical tearing down. Radical as in "to the root." The destructive attitude seeks to dispense with thoughts, plans, notions, ideas as soon as they arise--to pursue them to their end constantly and with vigor. Because of this urgency, destruction is, in the end, more creative than demolition. While demolition coolly plans improvements ("upgrades"), destruction does not wait, does not hesitate to act--even if it ends up being unwise or ill considered!

Thus, characterizing the destructive attitude as "joyful, spontaneous, exuberant, etc." would only tell half the story. Indeed, the truly destructive act can be all of these things. And yet, destruction can be masochistic, loathing, deranged, awful. It would be unwise to advocate destruction exclusively. But it may be equally unwise to assert that demolition is always the preferable precursor to creativity.


  1. so much of my life and efforts have been born through destruction. self destruction. there is a core self that i try to reach and expose and explore that seems so often only accessible through deliberate, yet extremely calculated self-destruction. that is the danger of course with destruction...destroying too much. but then again, perhaps in the excess we discover our limits. now there's something worth destroying: limits.

  2. "deliberate...extremely calculated self-destruction" is what I called demolition in this post. i agree that the danger with destruction is destroying too much, and that comes from its unplanned, spontaneous nature.