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Inevitability...

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As an architect, sometimes
the membrane separating my “inside” reality from my “outside” reality gets dangerously thin. Especially when talking with other “like minded” architects, or architecture students. When this happens, sometimes my tendency to free-associate runs amok, confusing the hell out of those around me (because, of course, they’re only getting half of the conversation that is taking place in my mind). Why this happens I don’t know - I don’t really care (even though I have to laugh at myself for it).


I recently had a (totally NOT contrived) conversation with a first year architecture student who was waxing philosophic over the nature of architecture as she perceived it.



Me: In response to her initial statement, smiling wryly, "...It’s inevitable. Every architect/designer eventually grapples with pin-boards, and thumbtacks."

Arch student: *confused and somewhat frightened look* - ?!?

Me: "It’s an allegory for any of the many “dualities” of architecture. Such as it’s free-constrained, space-place, art-science, or tabula rasa-palimpsest duality."

Arch student: *slightly less confused look* - ooookaaaay.



That student is skeptical and believes the madness not contagious. But I remember when I was in her shoes and I know now that (in fact) it is. Once one learns how to fabricate reality on command, one’s “inside” universe becomes one’s “outside” universe.


It's inevitable...


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Keepin' it real, yo...

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For this architect, the summer’s been crazy. It began with an actual project, and it will end without one. I can’t say I’m surprised - I had a gut feeling about it. The project (a residential tower) ramped up from zero to full burn in the span of four days and cast it’s intense heat into the universe for eight weeks. Alas the intensity was unsustainable. The owner faltered pulling the plug just last week. It was like a great big hug of hurt, but without the actual fire.


I had another gut feeling the other day which resulted in me going “all in” on a raffle for a set of golf clubs (and by all in I mean I bought thirty tickets and put ‘em all in the ticket box for the clubs). I won. Sweet.

My guts have yet to steer me wrong. But even so, I accept and accommodate uncertainty. To illustrate, when by-standers might say I’m careening through one situation or another, I’d say I’m calculating the instant - following the trace of some uncertain trajectory.

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I read, and re-read Borges’ stories frequently. I like them immensely because they un-answer my questions, un-question my answers, and resist reducing reality into a “certain” and tidy little package. Specifically his stories “The Immortal” and “The House of Asterion”, come to mind whenever I try to explain what I mean by the phrase “uncertain trajectory” (which, incidentally, gets a lot of eye-rolls whenever I use it).

While saying this risks your ocular gymnastics: I follow an uncertain trajectory through my own
vast territory of madness. My guts tell me when, where, and which way to turn. Borges, and some others help me explain why and how.

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My list of best books (for those of you who are adventurous and curious) are:

“Skin” by Kathe Koja
“Amnesia” by Douglas Cooper
“Delerium” by Douglas Cooper
“Collected Fictions” by Jorge Luis Borges
“From the Teeth of Angels” by Jonathan Carroll


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I am Izzy Darlow, and i am a TV addict...

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*Um, not really*


I wouldn’t exactly classify myself as an “average television watcher”. I certainly do watch it, but far less than the national average of five hours per day. Maybe in the past I watched more than average, so in the end it all balances out. I don’t know. It’s difficult to say.

I’ve spent way more hours than I had planned, exploring the hidden corners of the territory I inhabit. Seeking shows that I’d be embarrassed to admit I watch, but do so anyway because I’m addicted. I’ve found nothing. It’s not because I’m not addicted to a television show. Rather, it’s because I’m rarely embarrassed. One of these days, I’ll have to explore what actually does embarrass me. Discovering that could be very cathartic.

In the absence of current TV shows that fit the bill I’ve come up with a list of shows that I have been addicted to. In the past. Perhaps you know of some of these.


Remember this one? Freaking outstanding TV show. I loved it then. I still do. In fact, I’m now on a quest to obtain the DVD’s of every episode.


Yeah, I’m a hardcore Trekkie though I’ve never been to a Star Trek convention. I wouldn’t put it past me.


Originally aired on MTV’s Liquid Television (when MTV was cool). It’s dark and sexy, with all of it’s intrigue and scantily clad operatives. I have every episode on DVD. Yes, I still watch it.


This is no “kids” cartoon (mostly because they don’t understand the humor). If you’ve never seen it, it’s hard to explain, but I find it hilarious. Think dark irony. Jhonen Vasquez who’s most well know for a pulp comic he used to write titled “Johnny The Homicidal Maniac”. I still watch Invader Zim (I’ve got all episodes on DVD).


I’m a Trekkie. Duh! Plus Patrick Stewart rocks as far as I’m concerned.


This one is the most recent of all. Originally airing in 2006, but re-released this year on the Science Channel. It’s the most realistic scifi space show I’ve seen.

I feel much better now that I got that off my chest.



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This is a true fact...

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DB: I think there are some constant definitions of truth.

Me: Truth is both provisional and contextual; for every condition of true, I bet I could find an exception proving the reverse (and not in a purely logical sense either).



DB: having no constancy of true or false is like a ship with no compass.

Me: like a compass (which is an analog device), the definition of what is true exists on an analog continuum. Which is to say that what is true under a given set of circumstances, may not be true under a different set.

DB: The big "N" on a compass is ALWAYS north and the needle will always point to it - it is not "contextual".

Me: The needle on a compass points to magnetic North. Follow a compass bearing exactly from the equator to the pole and one will find the pole, but the course taken will vary (locally) depending upon what the analog magnetic field is doing. For example in some parts of Southern California following the magnetic field will take you in an Easterly direction.

That’s an excerpt from a conversation between a friend of mine, and myself. We can get pretty geeky serious when it comes to philosophical gyrations. We have this conversation a LOT. Every time the debate is
new, but not different.

I’m obsessed with the nature of fact and truth. A side effect of this obsession is my (almost) complete disregard for claims of authority. Especially when such claims are made from positions of self assumed power. I’ve spent many hours, at different times, pondering the nature of fact and truth. I definitely have an opinion about this, but I’m likely to claim my opinion is fact. It’s the nature of my
madness.

I believe almost nothing that I can’t either physically confirm with my own senses, or construct a reasonable reality for. For me, only “events” are factual. They either will occur, are occurring, have occurred, or not. The truth of the fact of an event’s occurrence, or not, isn’t really disputable.

The tricky part is that as we move further afield of the fact of an event, into the circumstances surrounding it, the difference between fact and truth gets a bit more dicey; open to interpretation; manifold. This is when it’s most important to scrutinize others’ claims. Because YOU have to believe ME. I’M telling YOU the truth.



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Where do you get your ideas?

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Forever thirsty, I dream (unbearably) of a small and orderly labyrinth at whose center lay a well; my hands can almost touch it, my eyes can see it, but so bewildering and entangled are the turns that I know I’ll die before I reach it.


The well is an infinite, incomprehensible library; a vast territory of madness, so very vast, so very mad. This is where I get my ideas. The library is unlimited, but periodic. If a traveler were to journey an infinite distance, in any direction, for an infinite duration they would find that the same volumes are repeated in the same disorder - which repeated, is order.

Like the philosopher, I believe nothing can be communicated by the art of writing. I’ve never grasped for long the difference between one character and another. Besides, no one cares about facts anymore. They’re mere points of departure for speculation and exercises in creativity. It’s not the reading that matters, but the rereading.

I avoid pointless precision; neither that which has been nor that which is to be holds any interest for me. For this I know that I’m accused of arrogance, and perhaps of misanthropy, and perhaps even of madness. These accusations (which I shall punish in due time) are ludicrous. It’s true that I never leave my house, but it is also true that it’s doors (whose number is infinite) stand open night and day to all. Anyone who wishes to enter may do so. Here no splendors, no ostentation shall be found, but only calm and solitude.

There is no new thing upon the earth. All knowledge is but remembrance; all novelty is but oblivion.

This entire post is assembled from fragments of my favorite Borges stories that’ve been strung together using my own words to make it “comprehensible”; as a demonstration that most (all) ideas are drawn from a well that’s filled with the ideas of others.
Everything is a remix.



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Keep moving...

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I walk.

Just, walk. Moving from the point where I entered this existence to the point where I’ll exit. Like many I’m intimately familiar with my own start point, and know nothing of my own endpoint; not the when, the where, nor my proximity to either. Common sense demonstrates the endpoint to be in flux, undetermined, and inevitable.



I’ve faced a few hazards; “stumbled, skinning my hands and knees” so to speak. I’ve faced more hazards than some, not as many as others, but each time I’ve gotten to my feet and kept moving knowing the cuts would heal (rub some dirt on it). I fully expect to face, and conquer many more. My confidence in their repetition comes from the fact that hazards are everywhere. My confidence in conquering them comes from the fact that while those I’ve managed to traverse may have left me with “scars”, they’ve also provided me with “tools”; and it’s these tools I’ve decided to collect and carry with me always.

We all bear the marks of our existence, but we also bear the implements enabling
changes in ourselves, that correspond to changes in our world. I don’t see this as heroic, or extraordinary; I see it as normal. Sometimes we’re just unaware of the tools, for the fact that we’re obsessed with the marks.

My “rucksack” contains seven items. They aren’t heavy, I’m not burdened by them, and they’re “multi-taskers”. Each has a primary function that may be extended, and applied to infinite tasks when used in concert with the others.

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compassion like this

Compassion: The trek’s hot and difficult. When my path crosses another’s. IF I have it to spare, sharing a bit of water gets us both a little further along.

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curiosity like this

Curiosity:
Something WILL happen up ahead. I’ll find out what it is when I get there, and I’ll deal with it then.

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ingenuity like this

Ingenuity: There’s no NEED to remain on the trail.

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perspective like this

Perspective: Things end someday, someway, and somewhere. It’s normal; worrying about it isn’t.

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skepticism like this

Skepticism: Don’t believe a word I’m saying. Trust only yourself, and your experience.

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strength like this

Strength: True strength need not profess itself.

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vision like this

Vision: True vision needs no eyes.

These things I carry, sustain me in all endeavors. Hopefully those you carry sustain you; if not it may be time to replace them.


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"You ready," she asks?

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Nodding, I close my eyes to focus on relaxing my arm. A needle finds it’s way into a vein on the back of my hand. I could’ve had a port installed. But in my chest!?! Nooo thank you! Between pain and the possibility of an infection that close to my core, I’ll take pain any day.

“Here goes,” she says opening the drip valve.

I feel a cold burn creep into my vein and up my forearm, followed almost instantly by the “taste-slash-smell” of the chemo entering my bloodstream. It smarts a bit so the nurse slows the drip and the sting subsides. I can hear the incessant bleeping of some daytime talk show. It sort of pisses me off, but since they’re in this room, whoever’s watching it probably needs the distraction. So I just sit silent, eyes closed, focusing on the pulsing sound of the IV pump.

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burn this moment

Hours later the side effects kick in. Lasting about a week, and ranging from a glowing (though chemically induced) sun tan, to incessant bodily pain, to weird mind things that are difficult to describe. This will be my bi-weekly ritual for the next six months.

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suffer this moment

When it all feels insufferable I close my eyes, focus upon some latent detail in the environment, and center. Always with the thought, “Live this moment.” Sometimes issued as a battle cry, shouted in defiance; other times as a directive, like a quiet statement of fact. However it’s delivered, it’s the best advice ever.

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focus on this moment

That was ten years ago, this month. In retrospect, the whole experience was one wild ride!

For me design’s a lot like that; tuning latent details to transform complex inputs, into coherent streams of consciousness. Streams that when focussed, produce spaces that both sustain, and are sustained by, living.

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don’t speak this moment

The object of focus need not be of lofty purpose; It may just be pragmatic and simple. Either way, the fewer the words required for someone to “get” it, the better the “it” is.

These words may already be too many. Whatever ride you’re on, make it wild. Live this moment.


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Legacy is...

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Walking amongst phantoms, feeling their vaporous touch and sensing their ghostly vectors.


I’m locked in perpetual conflict with “legacy”;
don’t reinvent the wheel - respond in a unique way; walk your own path - pay attention to precedent. From a design perspective the nature of this conflict isn’t so much a battle, as a dance - like the Tango.

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Occasionally I meet a legacy that can REALLY dance and I’m seduced into forcing complex solutions onto simple problems. When this happens it’s a sign that I’ve fabricated some obligation; either to preserve the memory of those “who’ve been there, and done that”, or to erase and lay waste to history. Fortunately, while the dance is sweet it eventually comes to an end. Whichever fabrication’s in place at the end of the dance, it’s a mold I find I just can’t pour into.

Faced with this I’m inclined to “break the mold.” I try not to do so out of self-conscious rebelliousness; it’s not resistance for resistance’s sake. I simply have a desire, indeed a need to discover through design, the most fit solution, to a given problem, with respect for currency. Design solutions are rarely everlasting - How many things are perfect the instant they’re produced without need, nor possibility for improvement? I believe that legacies are manifestations of obsolescence, and that breaking them is good (creative even). Erosion (aka sitting idle, slowly fading from memory and existence) is just a waste.


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Breaking a legacy is one thing. Discarding the fragments is another; because It just so happens that legacy fragments make an excellent foundation for the construction of new ones. Here’s a movie, about a bunch of movies, as proof (everyone knows that if it’s in the movies it’s true). “Part 2” of this web video series focuses film, but the gist of it applies here:



Ultimately, whatever legacy I manage to create will become obsolete. When that happens I hope someone breaks it, grinds the fragments to dust, and uses it to make their own. Even if that
someone is just my future self.


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