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Letter to Eric, 1953

Frank Lloyd Wright | Sep 14, 2017

Below is the transcript of a letter Frank Lloyd Wright wrote to his grandson Eric on September 14, 1953, discussing leadership and the principles of Taliesin.

Dear Eric: 

Let’s say a great eternal spirit got Architecture born again when Louis Sullivan happened to get me, or I him. Let’s say that the Taliesin Fellowship saw it on its way to grow up to man size fulfillment by that Fellowship’s own faith and loyalty. Let’s say that the Taliesin Fellowship is composed of individuals each with that single motivation come alive again as the basic element in our modern culture now missing for some five hundred years. 

Let’s say that each member inherits a trust to do with individuality what he may do, backed up by an establishment affording relief from financial worry, prestige of a great work and a great name, each individual free to carry on in this great background as he is able to do. Leadership then would have a latitude, a range, and a power lacking in the casual free for all. Yes. Well, that is my plan for Taliesin Next.

Every trained boy giving his life service to Taliesin has that certified insured establishment back of him to add to his effectiveness in the field of Architecture. The day when Architecture rides and rules again comes then—much closer than if it were left to the willful scatter of a rabble horde of self-seekers. Yes.

Well, the way progress is to be had and maintained is something like that, I believe, and so have put my all into it the best way I know. Freedom of association in unity of our purpose with a background of ordinance and ammunition.

Frank Lloyd Wright scratches grandson Eric’s head.

Leadership. Who knows. That is something to be won, to be demonstrated and held democratic wise, so I believe. Why worry about that in advance of the great Idea. To serve the great Idea as a manly man is the basis of creative endeavor on the part of any individual. For him there is always more room for greater achievement than he, unsupported, uninspired, could ever hope to achieve.

” … and Love is the spark plug of it all.”

Civilization proves this. Democracy has banked up upon it. By declaring the freedom of the individual, as such. Individuality was never regarded as personality but as the quality of the one desired and striven for by all—not vice versa. Every man for himself and the devil for the hindmost was not regarded by its promulgators as Democracy. No. Do not mislead yourself or be misled.

The richer the soil (background) from which the individual to rise from, the better his chance of being beneficient to his fellows—as a creative individual. The finer the strain of character behind him, the better the chance of his superior contribution to society. Superior contribution to society is what Democracy asks of the Individual. If the Individual is too personal—throws away his natural advantages and wants to dot the I either prematurely or pretentiously Democracy has a liability not an asset in that person. See Eric. In union there is strength if there is really union. If there is not there is only confusion that comes from every man for himself only. Well, we will talk about it.

Love, (and Love is the spark plug of it all)

Frank Lloyd Wright                September 14th, 1953