trespassing into nature

When framing a house, one will, despite styles and epochs, often be able to discern if the house is cut out from its environment or if it provisions for a twilight zone between inside or outside. Whereas Claypots Castle would be by design cut out from its surroundings, la Maison de la Reine in the Petit Trianon would show quite the opposite design.

These same characteristics are also reflected in houses of lower budget. Balconies in city apartments are a design made to provide an escape away from the post-modernism of our city dwellings today. It is not surprising that we will more often that not be inclined to grow nature in our balconies; our small outlets to nature.

It is, however, not only our longing for contact with nature that makes the Maison de la Reine especially desirable to us, but an invisible part of our nature has been cut off from us in our modern life aseptic housing. Aseptic in a metaphorical sense but also in a microbiological sense too.

Building materials are treated to diminish anything microbial, and like antibiotics these methods are non-selective; they might kill the pathogens, but they also kill microbes that are beneficial to human survival and well-being.

Elizabeth Henaff

In our fight to put down the sickening bacteria in mold, we created antibiotic housing were the much necessary microbes we very much need to live, have a hard time living with us.

you are beautiful beyond question

We are capable of employing our intellect and industrious hands to the building of truly ugly contraptions. Often to help appease some early life trauma and palliate those poignant modes of anxiety that made themselves most noticeable and uncomfortable in our lives.

Nature, in the other hand, designed us beautiful. Beautiful in the most simplified interpretation of the concept: where form and function leave nothing for improvement. Beautiful with no compromises in our design. Where nothing needs to be added or removed. Our design is the result of millions of years of fine tuning. A design for efficiency and energy conservation. Our bodies, along with all creatures and living entities on earth emerged of nature themselves, of nature’s sources and constrains. In the event of a mass extinction, as Alan Weisman suggests in his book The World Without Us, life would probably start again from some surviving microbe. And a new nature would cover the earth again, not as we know it today but beautiful in the same way nonetheless.

i can have it but i cannot enjoy it

the last warmth feels trough my cupping hands as with closed eyes I inhale the last scent of coffee. The buzz of the coffeeshop in the background envelopes me. My mind is empty for a few seconds trying to capture all this sensorial wealth.

How many people are right now finishing a cup of coffee in the world? and how many people are taking the time to appreciate this moment? And by extension to appreciate the sheer size of cultural, technological, and economical advances that enable us the feats of growing the beans, bringing them over here, inventing and manufacturing the coffee machine and firing the porcelain cups.

Indeed, everything we do, carries a large legacy and thinking of it is overwhelming if not mind-blowing. And it all is brought to us in such an easy way. So affordable. So ubiquitous. We almost forget the value of those things we encounter everyday. We are too much hyped with our hopes, frustrations and anxieties, with our projects and aspirations that we rush through the day oblivious to a myriad things that happen all around us.

Ultimately we swallow the espresso coffee whilst eyeing the watch and with our thoughts in the meeting we will start in five minutes. All that sensorial exuberance would never reach our awareness. How many things can our wealthy lifestyle afford us that we fail to even notice? as we busy ourselves through life. Blind, deaf, numb.

the stone and the rope

visiting an art exposition is an event that often struck something hidden in the back of our minds. Things are shaken that normally lie back dormant in a quiet pool. This time was a paintings exposition by Gabriele Münter in the Lenbachhaus art gallery in Munich.

The progressive theme-sorted display of paintings makes me reckon how much iteration, experimentation and discovery is visible behind those works. Makes me imagine how exciting a life of devotion to art can be, yet surely not exempt of hardships. Or for that matter, a life devoted to writing, or photographing or any creative undertaking.

At some point one ends reflecting on himself. “And how well I fare in this sense?” To come to maybe saddening thoughts. Thoughts of one’s own creativity being crippled by the almost unmovable machinery of industry and corporations. One would wish that one’s life would be like Gabriele’s—a continuous slope of experimentation and learning and of improvement of one’s work and the enhancement of coworkers and the world around. However often one sits on a nimble boat over fetid waters of politics and power-grabbing, a place where creativity would be rather seen as something that could go wrong and topple the statu-quo.

One would have a vision of corporations as rotting in the inside, not visible immediately but crumbling in the long run. We often see this increasing gap in creativity when we do travel from the splash of new ideas in the internet economy with the somber rudeness of corporation processes and tools. Sometimes we ever manage to put some patches but still the core is old and crumbling. Generation changes are too spaced. Fear of failure is deep rooted hence not trying is better than failing. Willing to ignore that failing is the antechamber of success. All for the short term. Now and here. This month, this quarter, just this status report.

“Let’s solve this now, and later we will think of a better solution. “ how often we hear those words. And we know that the truth behind them is that there will never be a later and that we will be again in the same situation in the near future, with only the old yellowing and cracking solution of old at hand. A thin sheet of gloom tell us that the next time we will be in a yet more precarious situation and that the old solution may not be enough this time.

Would be too easy to put all the blame on those who have to take decisions. Even if their own lack of imagination will doom entire teams or divisions, they are only the result of an industrial policy with a deep reformation announced one century ago and well due now. Erich Fromm confirms the common traits of the predicaments of the humanists of the beginning of the nineteenth century:

  • the need to aim the industry for the good of humankind instead of for its own sake,
  • to account for the environment in the industrial exploitation of resources,
  • that solidarity should prevail among people,
  • that the aim of any activity must be oriented to maximize the well-being of humankind,
  • that not maximum consumption but reasonable consumption is desirable
  • and ultimately that the individual needs to feel a contributor to the whole.

These, ring today with ever more remarkable actuality and urgency.

the Krebs Cycle of Creativity

Now and then we stop reading. Struck by a sentence that has so much in itself that we need some moments to read it again, again, and again.

In “Age of Entanglement,” Neri Oxman describes the Krebs Cycle of Creativity. This shows science taking the perception of nature and converting it into knowledge. Engineering takes this knowledge and converts it into utility. Design takes this utility and converts it into meaning, behavior, and societal value. Art takes it and converts it into social perception. And although it’s too rare, this should be in the input into science as well. Our view is that science, engineering, design, and art need to work seamlessly together in order for our creativity to be well expressed.

Source: Joi Ito (Report from Marrakesh)