wow, lots here. lots lots lots.
density density density. packed. the quality of sun, the quality of sun.
so I can remember:
dinner, then n&n (late convo w Y), then Sr J's tour, ecovillage, a consensual burrito. residency talk, S & activist real estate, YIH, Sr G, then a long walk home. T & J, then Sr P & the grand tour, then T, then S & G, then G. then a brief moment of solo wander full of sun.
and what. and what? mini revelations in the olive garden, a buzz or a chill up my back, rosemary leaves in my lapel, synchronicity. fie to a dread of campiness or cheesiness, somber professionalism. serious but not somber, skillful but not square. here's to all of the above.
I think the thing about the sun is that it comes in sideways, that it is bright and more dense, perhaps, more sun per square inch, heavier, like a surprisingly heavy orange you weigh and turn in your hand at the grocery story, heavy, taut, expectant, waiting for you and itself. oranges sprayed on the walls, creating diagonal lines sprouting from corners hitting the wall and sliding orthogonal again, windows and plans and an endless ocean somewhere near in the distance where there is just ocean and ocean and sunset.
I wonder - if you live where you can see the sunset over an infinite ocean, are you more nostalgic? more contemplative of birth, life, death, more aware of the passage of time and the history of the past? is silicon valley and all of its startup mentality one response to this infinite nostalgia -- or just self-awareness -- that newness is an allergic reaction to the present, or that newness seems to be just the other side of history; forever leaping ahead to try something different, and then soon after understanding that things the way they are for a reason.
things are the way they are for a reason, I say, not necessarily a good or bad reason, and that doesn't mean it shouldn't change, but there are reasons there, strong ones. I say: stewart brand talks about altering complex systems through iteration, not through redesign; the more complex a system, the more useless a model, and your experimentation setup has to be the world. there are no experiments to prove hypotheses in this mindset; there are actions to go a step in a certain direction.
action, action. in some sense I have found some kind of an answer. serious but not somber action; action that does things, that comes through the freedom enabled through commitment, action that is not visible necessarily unless you choose it to be.
the antithesis of action and practice isn't theory, but attention. is this it? I don't like attention. I am suspicious of attention. and this suspicion feels like a breath of fresh air; that actually things click into place and make sense. infrastructure doesn't get a lot of attention, until it stops working and breaks, and all of a sudden goes from an invisible infrastructure to a visible mechanism. the connection between attention and funding feedback loops explains the attention economy, the attention-funding linkage of thought leaders, projects that are funded because they get attention and get attention because they've been funded.
attention means that you dress up. attention means that you poise yourself for others. attention means that you internalize criteria of ideal presentation and focus not on communication (the actual task of meaning, passed from my thoughts and practices to yours) but on poising. and to split hairs, this could be construed as a kind of communication, socioeconomic stylistic taste markers flitting fast across the moment that your eyes lie on the lapel of my jacket, a frission in the air, oh I seeeee, they say.
attention exists in all mediums but moves the fastest over vision. nothing exchanged, really, just a side products of some photons bouncing around, a third party inspector coming by and letting you know what gossip they found. photon sez: it's yellow and dark gray and beautiful.
attention-over-vision, AoV, calcified and instrumentalized, turns into aesthetic and style. a tuxedo. a suit. a dress. black tie.
(I still remember: one of the biggest drop in respect was when I asked K why the professors all dress very normatively, with jacket. He says something along the lines of "because we're not kids; we're adults". cue - line graph of market crash.
the better answer, to be honest, is that a discipline is influenced by those who it interacts with, and architecture, interfacing with the clients and culture of real estate and business and politics, thus generates its own silent and invisible practice of sartorial legitimacy that is, to be honest, quite difficult to buck against.)
but what is it? I am starting to know what matters to me. I can smell and distinguish between the things in architecture that I really care about, that generate systems, that are expressive of the body. the body's requirements explode out onto the building, turn into aspects.
it's like: I am creating my own taxonomy. I'm learning how to follow smells.
and in the midst of it, nuns, convent, sisters. radical community. ritual, practices. in the beautiful sunset I walk among homegrown sculptures and bushes of rosemary and land full of olive trees, my heart breaks a little bit. I'm very glad to grow older, I think actually, to pass these in-between years where I'm too young to be comfortable with not knowing anything and too old to be comfortable with not knowing anything.
for the first time ever I can feel how, that past this point, past a decade or two, how calm enthusiastic curious silly steady contemplative ways of being could settle in. how I can start to think of lives in units of decades, not years. it's startling.
have I been thinking about the l/w project all wrong? maybe: it's not that the personal is political, maybe it's that only the personal is political. if I can care for the bodies of myself and those who I care about around me, and if we're synchronized on a level of commitment and regular practice and ritual, then that's it. what else matters? buildings are externalized bodies, and they're political.
what are externalized thoughts? sculptures, books, literature, art. what is externalized attention? advertising, cheap "design".
what else matters? to live and eat and meditate together; to host others so that their bodies are also maintained and cared for; to work and think about projects together; to practice.
if you are reading this, and you are not me (well, nobody who is reading this will be me, the self of theseus, so this is for everyone since even I won't read this but some other I will):
what did we expect? poised language? academic prose? that I cleave myself into two, private and public, mushy and clear-cut? logical, orderly, ordered. the dispositif of an external self is as nearly tied like a half windsor, nearly pressed, organized. does it feel nice to wear a suit, sometimes? maybe, horribly enough.
but regardless. an aesthetics of obfuscation and somberness dominates discussion. to be somber and to be cryptic is to attract attraction like moths, flapping around in confusion because contemporary american Cool is an anti-plea for attention, a reverse psychology of attention. gonna do my own thing, pah! and these moths flutter in surprised confusion around a lightbulb that's been turned off, too. what could it mean? what's inside there? how could we find out?
cool = exploited curiosity + obfuscation of understanding + reverse psychology
enough of this.
when we say slowness maybe we mean slowness. calm it down.
again: the sun comes in, leaves wander, the sun sets. that sylvia plath quote. a comment from sister G breaks my heart, not in a bad way, but just in a new way, and leaves me contemplating, overlooking buildings that learn and a body of water that undulates, far in the distance.