8.25.2001

ON LOOKING, REALLY LOOKING,,, THE WAY THAT CHILDREN DO,
AND INSUBORDINATION (OF HABIT)
Guy Debord, The Theory of the Derive
and Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography:
...Among various more difficult means of intervention, a renovated cartography seems appropriate for immediate utilization...

...A friend recently told me that he had just wandered through the Harz region of Germany while blindly following the directions of a map of London. This sort of game is obviously only a feeble beginning in comparison to the complete creation of architecture and urbanism that will someday be within the power of everyone. Meanwhile we can distinguish several stages of partial, less difficult projects, beginning with the mere displacement of elements of decoration from the locations where we are used to seeing them.

For example, in the preceding issue of this journal Marcel Mariën proposed that when global resources have ceased to be squandered on the irrational enterprises that are imposed on us today, all the equestrian statues of all the cities of the world be assembled in a single desert. This would offer to the passersby — the future belongs to them — the spectacle of an artificial cavalry charge, which could even be dedicated to the memory of the greatest massacrers of history, from Tamerlane to Ridgway...

8.21.2001

James Joyce: Ulysses, end paragraph :
...and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.


Samuel Beckett: Krapp's Last Tape, end paragraph :

TAPE:
--gooseberries, she said. I said again I thought it was hopeless and no good going on and she agreed, without opening her eyes. [Pause.] I asked her to look at me and after a few moments --[Pause.]-- after a few moments she did, but the eyes just slits, because of the glare. I bent over to get them in the shadow and they opened. (Pause.Low) Let me in. [Pause.] We drifted in among the flags and stuck. The way they went down, sighing, before the stem! [Pause.] I lay down across her with my face in her breasts and my hand on her. We lay there without moving. But under us all moved, and moved us, gently, up and down, and from side to side.
[ Pause. KRAPP'S lips move. No sound]
Past midnight. Never knew such silence. The earth might be uninhabited.
[Pause.]
Here I end this reel. Box --[Pause.]-- three, spool --[Pause.]-- five. [Pause.] Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. But I wouldn't want them back. Not with the fire in me now. No I wouldn't want them back.
[KRAPP motionless staring before him. The tape runs on in silence.]


one of my favorite minds has been looking at Samuel Beckett lately; one entry, from a friend of his, remarks upon Beckett's love of cricket:

     "... I know cricket must sound like an odd pursuit to the non-converts, but suffice it to say that Beckett worshipped the game and it is in my opinion the most exemplary model of an Event Structure, weaving space, death, technology and repetition perfectly together...."

reminds me of this notion I once came across (and must find again): Samuel Beckett had a great love for the game of cricket, and an inclination towards physicality in general -- and was a master at spatial constructs, both in the staging of his plays and in the structure of his writings (many are mathematically structured down to the sentence, to the very word). James Joyce, however, was less physically inclined, though an accomplished vocalist, with a great love for song, and opera -- and his writings are extremely lyrical.... filled with growls and chirps, bass tones and arias. Each approached their writings, and their passions, from different inclinations: Beckett primarily through space, and Joyce through sound. Both dealt with notions of memory and experience in time and space, though differently manifest.

...it would be good to look especially at the aspect of repetition in their works, and how repetition is used to create a sense of space in both approaches....

...repetition, also, in visual languages (architecture, film, art, graphic design) to enhance, expand, compress space... (hmmmm, do all roads lead to Last Year at Marienbad)

8.19.2001

an exhibition curated by my friend (and amazing man-about-town) Andy Colquitt:
      Mas!Mas!Mas! Porque?Porque?Porque?
       A Show of Curious Collections

prompts a discussion regarding the difference (or lack of?) between collection and manifold.
from 6.9.2001 manifold as process, type/variant
manifold :
--adj: 1. Of many kinds; multiple. 2. Having many features or forms. 3. Consisting of or operating several of one kind.
--n.: 1. A whole composed of diverse elements. 2. One of many copies. 3. A pipe so fitted that it has several apertures for making multiple connections. 4. Math: A set of elements sharing a number of properties, usually of a topologic nature, such as orientability, differentiability, and dimensionality.
--tr.v. -folded, -folding, -folds. 1. To make several copies of. 2. To make manifold: multiply. [ME < OE manigfeald: manig, many + -feald, -fold.]


versus:
collection :
--n.: 1. the act or process of collecting. 2. A group of objects or works to be seen, studied, or kept together. 3. An accumulational deposit. 4.a. A collecting of money, as in church. b. the sum collected

and collect :
v. --tr.: To bring together in a group; gather; assemble. 2. To accumulate as a hobby or for study. 3. To call for and obtain payment of. 4. To recover control of.
--intr.: 1. To gather together; congregate, accumulate. 2. To take in payments or donatings [ME collecten: Lat.colligere : com-, together + legere, to gather.]



Interesting that collection is considered always a noun, though has its root in the verb collect, while manifold is in itself a verb in certain circumstances. To make manifold (manifold as process). One discussion (thanks Gian) centered around a notion that collection implies stasis (things that are the SAME) and manifold implies change (things that have EVOLVED). Note the word "implies." (imply : to involve or suggest by logical necessity; to say or express indirectly; to entangle [ME implien, to enfold])

One might also propose that a collection describes multiples of form where a manifold describes multiples of kind (and context -- see 7.8.2001razor). So, a gathering of locks of red hair is a collection. A gathering of people with different styles and manifestations of red hair (curly, straight, on the head, on the chin, under the arms) is a manifold????

Or, maybe better -- a gathering of random men named Cecil B. Smith is a collection. But a gathering of the 5 generations of a family of Cecil B. Smiths is a manifold. Again, the implication of evolution. The 5 generations of Cecils may not look anywhere near identical, but the threads of commonality are discernable in the shape of the eyes, a certain gait when walking (...usually of a topologic nature, such as orientability, differentiability, and dimensionality...). And, more importantly, the knowledge of the shared heritage creates a further perception of the additional unseen commonalities.

The collection shares a form (the name Cecil B. Smith) but the manifold also shares an idea (the particular Cecil B. Smith-ness of a particular group of Cecil B. Smiths). This example is tricky because the form in this case is the name, and the concept is the genetic structure. But the multiplicity of conceptual manifestations through the genetic structure is key here -- the form (the name of the man) can be repeated, but without some evolution of its ontology (the being of man), it remains a collection. The manifold is delineated by a change in form through this evolution: either of type (of kind, of kin) or of application (of context) (evolve : Lat. evolvere, to unroll -- Hmmmm... to unroll... to unfold......... mani- fold).

........................
D. reminds me of the difficulty of establishing a difference between the two -- that perhaps manifold is a subset of collection.

Take random examples of collections and run them through the wringer to see if they hold up to the notion of manifold. (eventually my head starts to get foggy and the distinction seems pointless, as many linguistic distinctions can be... but, still, there seems to be something to it...)


8.17.2001

OPPOSITIONS [linguistic: Contrast between two phonemes or other elements of a language that have a relationship such that the contrast is significant.]

to live a life that is simultaneously
   precise : adj 1. Clearly expressed or delineated; definite. 2. Capable of, resulting from or designating an action, performance, or process executed or successively repeated within close specified limits. 3. Strictly distinguished from others. 5. Distinct in sound or statement. [OFr. precis, condensed: Lat. praecisus, p.part. of praecidere,to shorten : prae- , in front + caedere, to cut]

to live deliberately, and with economy.
to be attentive and alert.
to take care.
to listen and consider.
to be diligent, to follow through.

and
   authentic : adj. 1. Having an undisputed origin; genuine; worthy of trust, reliance or belief. 2. Executed with due process 3. Authoritative. [ME autentik : OFr. autentique : LLat. authenticus : Gk. authentikos : authentes, author.]
to welcome the unknown, the overwhelming
to day dream
to be reckless
to act intuitively
to live simply and with immediacy




(reduce, reduce, reduce)

8.15.2001

been traveling again -- this time to Marfa, TX -- last official visit to a project now completed. The clients are living (making a life) in the house, and at last can call it home. An enormously strange phenomenon to make a PLACE...

the trip:
with D. and dog, we stayed at the Hotel Limpia in Fort Davis, the Capri in Marfa, then camped in the Davis Mountains for 2 nights. One whole glorious day spent lounging about on a blanket under the trees, listening to the birds and the wind, reading, playing a paradoxical game of double-solitaire, and generally doing nothing, with great joy. Saw an enormous shooting star (one of the perseid meteors) complete with sparks, like Disney would want it, like tinkerbell.

COMPRESSED SPACE
reading Blue Highways (by William Least Heat Moon), which follows his travels around the States in the back of a modified van. Steinbeck, without the dog. In the book, Least Heat Moon eventually passes through Louisiana, stopping in Shreveport, (where our good friend Harvey, and the Gourds hail from), and on into Texas.

And so it was that over the course of our return drive from Marfa (7 hours), heading east -- from Fort Stockton to Ozona, Junction, Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and Austin -- Least Heat Moon was heading west. A strange inversion between reading and doing. As I moved east, the space compressed, the scrabbly desert giving way to dots of live oaks and juniper, then rolling, grassy hills, cars, and lights. My external experience became complicated, dense and distracting, the more we drove. My mental, internal space was expanding, however, as I followed Least Heat Moon westward -- stopping for a spell in Dime Box, Texas then through Austin, and on to Johnson City, Fredericksburg, Junction....

...when I finally settled into my home-sweet-austin bed, he was watching the lights of Fort Stockton grow brighter, quietly approaching across the plateau.

8.08.2001

a multitude of diversions lately:
designing, building, making, reading, teaching, traveling -- alas, not much writing...


and having various discussions regarding approaches to teaching, especially students of architecture and design -- the differences between programs, their short-comings (and, also, long-goings?), raising questions of:
structure
scope
focus
and, especially, how to teach communication:
how to make an argument
how to listen and consider
when to expand upon an idea, and why
when to let things go
potential areas of miscommunication
and process:
methods
alternatives
influences and resources
techniques
advantages and disadvantages
inherent flaws


And what about all that is learned "between the lines???" What the faculty teach the students through their own processes of teaching, and through their own methods of communication with other faculty, and with students? We were once and always children, and, just as parents teach their children healthy and unhealthy patterns of communication, so are students highly impressionable. A wise teacher, it seems, will use these unscripted moments to teach by example.

on architecture v. design education:
Architecture Faculty in some academic environments seem to be largely engaged in political positioning around the role of architecture (are you a classicist, a modernist, a theorist, a realist, a phenomenologist). The discussions can be provocative, but language is often used that is egoist, exclusionary, and often dismissive. In contrast, the Design Faculty I know engage in conversations that are curious and inquisitive, usually about the work within the field itself (is this good, what makes that not so good, what are the implications, what are the referents?)

Is this in part because the design field is "younger" and still sorting itself out, therefore it is more focused on the actual work? Whereas architecture comes with this huge behemoth of a history with many political implications and established structures (and strictures) for critical debate? My friend V., who is well-versed in and vexed by the politics of academia, proposes an additional thought -- that it was Eisenman who unleashed structuralist and linguistic approaches of critique upon architecture, and, since then, education has been more focused on the critique and positioning of the work, and less on the evolution of the work itself.

But there is also the very real fact that architecture concerns itself with a form of product that will always be an enigma -- who is to say what a really good house is, what is a great building -- dealing with largely personal, subjective, and yet staunchly-held views about public and private space. Its positions will therefore always be arguable, and vehemently so. This brings out the manifestos in all of us. The design dialogue, on the other hand, is, perhaps, inherently more inclusive (though it has its own nasty strains of -isms and -ists), as it is usually more focused on product and cultural anthropology rather than enigmatic ideology.

The issue at hand, then, is how the argument [ME:OFr.:Lat. argumentum: arguere, "to make clear"] is made.

Many things being taught as primary components of "design" education (communication, methodology, objective and subjective modes of understanding, design synthesis) would be of great benefit within an architecture school. These involve larger dialogues regarding process, comprehension and persuasion, some aspects of which were once taught at the high school level, in language and rhetoric classes, but have been lost in the thundering waves of the science and math focused college-prep curriculum. But they are not adequately being addressed in architecture schools either, lost behind the posturing, and behind the myopia of autonomously-taught studios. Faculty, with all of their talk, are not talking to each other about their own product -- the education of an architect. What is most ironic is that the current rhetoric of architecture is a false rhetoric, as it encourages little debate, and puts forth even less in the form of persuasion and argument. The manifesto approach is exactly that -- a declaration, and not a conversation. This is what the students are learning, and they get precious few examples of how to hold a meaningful dialogue that encourages understanding, and little that invites any sort of exploration and synthesis.