Industrialized.. .1.3

In Fall 1984, i believe, i took an evening wander from me nest in south Minneapolis.  The nest had a bat in it, but already i'm off course.  Its a bit of a blur, now that the dinosaurs have flattened and we all have internet, but i had the wonder of a great reveal that eve.  i'm reminded we don't necessarily try to think of ideas; its hard to make them happen because we want one, and so it was while thinking about little that so much came into me mind, and like a rare gift, the planet all of a sudden made sense.

i was struck with an idea as to why things are the way they are.  As soon as i got home i started writing this bolt down, and it has been my anchor all these years.  My impulse to go to grad school was little more than an excuse to investigate this idea; explore how my interest in the narrative as a device to create architecture could express a philosophy.

While in grad school i took a seminar where we had a project that allowed me to put this idea out in front of others who were much smarter than i was and sure enough one woman became furious with the idea and started yelling at me during my presentation.  i don't remember arguing with her, i think because i "knew".  But the idea hasn't seen light since.

The idea is a very simple one.  It essentially says that there are no special life forms; that as inhabitants of "life" we are all equals, receiving definition not through "intelligence" or lack of, appearance, ability to skateboard, or life cycle, but through the means that each life form goes about survival.  It says that life is about no more than our ability to survive as a species, and that life "knows" of nothing else.  As a species we assume there must be a purpose to our existence, a purpose greater than simply survival, a "knowing" that exceeds all other knowing, but if we look around at every other life form, we realize that isn't the case, there is no greater purpose, and that we can't pretend we're doing more than any other species, as much as we'd like to imagine we're exceptional.  In fact, we may see that we're failing where other species have been so successful.

If a species is defined by the means that it goes about it's survival, then we need to see the products of humanity in another light.  We need to understand that our nature isn't apart from nature, but that the cosmos is a singular entity we all inhabit and incapable of division.  There isn't nature and humanity, there is just nature.  The idea that coal mines and steel mills and chemical plants and farms are as natural as spider webs and wasp nests was what so angered the student in my seminar class.  But they are our nature; the means by which we go about our survival, and as valid (and beautiful) as any other (i believe i just defined beauty).

i never named this idea.  i always just called it "the industrial".  More rambles coming. ..


Salty corner

Way back i remodeled me kitten chin, fuzzing it with cuteness, also known as bead board, and installing a dish bubbler all modern and silent, except that it called for salt to be poured into its innards.  Looking online, i found some obscure product called "Somat", that was highly recommended.  The stuff has been sitting in a closet for a couple of years until i finally got tired of seeing these boxes i ordered taking up valuable rag and snorkel space, so i broke out the boxes and poured in the salt, needed or not.

But first, beauty struck!  A handful of nose hairs fell onto my lap not really.  On the corner of the box was the instruction to "press here".  The corner of the box?  i've opened a few boxes in my time, and never have i been instructed to "press here" on the corner of a box.  i was thinking shit, i'm going to have to struggle with this stupid gimmick cause its just not going to do what it's pretending is going to happen.  But i was wrong.  It opened effortlessly.  What an ingenious use of the tension that naturally exists between adjacent sides of a box about its corner.  Whats more, the corner of the box forms a natural spout for the ingredients to pour out when you tip the box.

Press here


This is such an unexpected articulation of the corner / diagonal in packaging; something i might have expected the Japanese to have produced given their natural inclination toward articulation of the diagonal within an orthogonal system.  But not the Germans.


Come and vanish

What should a train station be?  A gate to welcome?  Or leave?  An expression of shear as the comings and goings of a city?  A gathering place?  An expression of motion?  i'm sure it could be all of these, and has been.  Last year i visited Avignon, France, and was impressed with their train station for the TGV designed by the transit authority SNCF and Jean-Marie Duthilleul with Jean-Fran├žois Blassel.  It made me think of travel less as the "going someplace" than the simple "going".  It contained an expression of the planet as a round thing that one could go round and round; it seemed to say "why stay in this spot, when you could so easily disappear by simply moving?"

The device used to generate this effect is a gentle curve, which by itself wouldn't do enough work, so in addition the building tapers to each end of the plan curve, the effect being that as and one enters (in the middle of the curve) and looks to each direction the building creates a strong forced perspective, and does so with one just standing there, no movement, or trains, necessary.

The use of ramps to reach the platform further reinforces the building's inclination (not a pun) towards movement.



A week ago, after ironing me bloodclots, i went out with the prettiness to taste the latest Iranian movie ("film", in Arial Narrow), which i had heard reviewed on the radio, and having seen enough Iranian movies ("films", in Andale) to know how incredible they can be, knew had to be seen.  The movie, "A Separation", by director Asghar Fahadi, is up for an Oscar, but that doesn't tell you any more than the cupcake in my left sock.  i'll tell you it's excellent, and the best movie i've seen in a while (though i don't get out much).  It won't soon leave your mind.

In typical Iranian fashion, the story is simple on the outside, complex from within.  Given its lack of helicopter crashes and alien transformers dining on state capitols, it's sure to have a small audience in the US, but its one of those movies you talk about for days afterward.  The story is roughly described in the articles i've seen as one involving a woman who's asking for a divorce from her husband because he won't join her in leaving Iran because he feels a need to care for his father, who has Alzheimer's.  From there things escalate, one at a time, until the circle of characters is large, involving more than the initial family, and all tied up in a dispute that has grown much larger and with much darker consequences than the initial divorce request.  If you go see the movie, this is the story you'll follow, but within the story is a much larger truth about the nature of our relationships, and ourselves.

The story appears to revolve around a decision by the wife to leave her husband, but what you find as the story progresses is that it is the infirm father around which all revolves.  He has Alzheimer's and so cannot communicate, can't walk, can't feed himself, can't understand what is going on around him, in effect can't "live".  i was struck by the effect this disease had on all the people even remotely connected with his being.  Without their knowing, in one sense, these people found themselves incapacitated in their own ways by being associated closely with someone who was literally frozen.  And isn't this the nature of our bonds?  If we walk around, shop, visit friends, go to work, live, in one sense we do so because our freedom is shared by those we are connected to; we can do as those we area connected to do.  If we can wander, its because those we are connected to can wander.  This interconnectedness is put under a magnifying glass in this movie, when one character has his freedom removed and we witness the growing paralysis of those around him, and the ways people even remotely connected to him become bound in some manner to his frozen status; satellites orbiting an empty planet.

i'm exaggerating a bit; the story has more to it, of course.  And it won the Oscar.


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