Sunday, August 5, 2007

Me and the Things I Create

Dualism has a long philosophical history -- the notion that I am separate from the world, or that my mind and my body are independent, have been around for thousands of years. They are, however, not the only ways of thinking about self and other. Here's Eugen Herrigel, from the preface to his 1953 book Zen in the Art of Archery:

The archer ceases to be conscious of himself as the one who is engaged in hitting the bull's-eye which confronts him. This state of unconscious is realized only when, completely empty and rid of the self, he becomes one with the perfecting of his technical skill, though there is in it something of a quite different order which cannot be attained by any progressive study of the art.

Modern psychologists have dubbed this state as "flow:" the loss of the sense of time, the loss of fear or stress, the distortion of the senses so that the task at hand becomes incredibly easy. Baseball players say of a pitch, "It was as big as a beach ball." Chess players see not the board as it is, but the board as it will be in five moves. Musicians don't think about the positions of their fingers on the fretboard, they just let the music emerge. But the psychologists of flow agree with the Zen teachers -- that when flow happens, it happens because there ceases to be a "me" or an "it," merely an emerging condition that includes us and that we contribute to.

Design professionals learn all kinds of technical skills, from drawing and modelmaking to sizing air handlers to dealing with the building inspector. But those skills -- crucial as they are -- only matter when they become automatic, so that you can let them happen in the service of something larger.

I can imagine myself creating things -- like this blog post, for instance. Or I can imagine a world of things, some of which I participated in as a writer or as a reader or as a walker, and others of which I did not. I kind of like the second way of thinking, because it frees me from worrying about whether someone else (another "other") will like them, and allows me to appreciate things as they are.

Build your skills... but remember what they're for.

1 comment:

Gus G.-Angulo said...

So here I am in a the verger of roads:
a) Do I “catch up” with the intent (the “narrow road”,) and hope that I’ll get as much as put in?
b) Do I just repeat what I did and I do many times,…. just to meet the “Status Quo”
Why do I mention this, well, because I so far all the “Stuff” that I have been doing for the BAC, has been very relevant as an individual. But I can not to wonder,….what this has to do with……architecture?.
Well, I my humble opinion, I think everything! Because as much as the question: “to whom is our loyalty” as designers / Architects? Who are we clients of?, well my answer is this: to neither one and to both of them!
The problem relies in the individual we are not really to be workers of the architecture, because in the moment we become worker of the architecture, we become mercenaries of the profession, prostitutes of the trade!
What we are, what we should really be, is a servant! we should be assisting the community to be better, we should be part of a work team that is successful, yes, but over all we should be helping others to become better, and that only came come thru real service, because service is not about me but about others!
I really enjoyed the idea of “mechanically” mastering something, but I do not share the idea of the “zen” as a “state of being, but I see it as the “unity” of elements that contribute to a great result, that will for part of a general purpose that ties everything together (Herb mentioned “A greater good”)
This is way this time has been “redefining” so many paradigms in my life, that way as long as I can I will try to get as much as I can, and then well just get more!.
I think in the moment we become servants we become the masters of the architecture and not its servant, a participants and not spectators, contributors and not “resources” alienators, and then truly be happy! Somewhat Herb mentioned at the end, but I will add, not just as a reaction of something that is in function of me, but as a process of self detachment, setting the vision in higher visions (not just me!)
This is my goal (I will like it to be my goal anyhow! )