Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

I’ve pretty much always have watched movie credits right to the end.  I like to see what different groups worked on the movie, where locations were filmed, any surprise actors, all the technical stuff.  And, perhaps even more so, it also comes from wanting to take a few moments to let the movie sink in, to reflect on it, and if the movie was a good one, to prolong that great feeling of joy, satisfaction, and amazement.

I’ve also often joked with friends about the rather… complete nature of movie credits.  Everyone seems listed there.  EVERYONE.  “You deliver coffee, you get your names in the credits!” I’d laugh. It’s so unusual, it seems so odd.  As the names go on and on, it just gets funnier and funnier.  Try to find the most unusual sounding role or title, and be amused that someone got their name listed for it.

And then… I was watching the Zootopia credits.*  As they scrolled by I noticed all the people involved in the IT services department.  Which made sense – it’s a computer animated movie, there’s going to be a lot of computer support.  And I got to thinking:  This movie could not have been made without that support.  All the tool development, all the server infrastructure, all the data management, all the hardware repair, even the technician going to re-install a patch that made your machine lock up.  Without that, without them, the movie was not possible.

Which means that the people in the IT department could, truly, honestly, watch Zootopia and say, “I helped make this.  I was essential to the making of this.”

And suddenly, it seemed weird to me that we don’t, more often, have credits on projects or endeavours like they do in movies.

My view about those credits, and moreover, on how  I relate to the creative process and to all the people I interact with in my life, shifted.

So much of what we do is touched by, and interconnected with, and supported by, others.   Many we probably don’t even recognize are there or had a role.  And for those we are aware of, we rate, we judge, and we assign hierarchy to them.  This is my creation.  This person contributed a lot.  This person’s just hired help.

Hmm.

Consider a person whose sole job it was to bring lunch to the team every day.  By that simple and single act, that person freed the rest of the team about having to worry about lunch.  That person took on a responsibility to clear the mental plate of the rest of the team regarding lunch.  It’s handled.  No concern.

Leaving the team to focus solely on their creative endeavour.

It may seem trivial and contrived, but having things “be handled” can really make a difference.  Considering the way neuroscience says our brain works, decisions and concerns have a rather outsized impact on how expansively our brains can operate.

Compound this by hundreds of other people, hundreds of “taking care ofs”,  not to mention the influence of peers to handle tasks, peers to delegate to, the role of those who give feedback, those who make our tools, previous influences, mentors, and so on…

Suddenly I’m getting grateful for a greater gaggle of people I interact with.

One of the things Rosamund and Benjamin Zander express in their book “The Art of Possibility” is that, in the world of contribution, there is no “greater” or “lesser” contribution.  Contribution defies grading.  Every bit is a contribution, and every bit makes the next contribution possible, and every bit cements the previous contribution.  And we have no idea what impact our contribution might have, what it might make possible.

A person plugging in network cables so that an animator can animate an amazing scene that a lighting engineer with light and a tool made by the development team will render and be stored on disks by the storage team so that the editor can splice it together along with music played by some artist off a score written by the composer all to support the dialogue by a voice actor/actress bringing the characters to life using dialogue written by a the script writers to move forward a story developed by the story trust out of a process shepparded by the director(s), who had the inkling of an idea, an idea that has already grown richer and richer by countless hours of dialogue and critique and team writing and storyboarding and concept art from a whole other team… every single person in that chain is 100% making this movie possible.  The network cable plugger is fulfilling on an intention that takes a village.

Why shouldn’t they be acknowledged for that?

What would it be like to run those movie credits of our lives and our projects more often?  What if we elevated people – and ourselves! – to the roles we and they do play in this web that is our lives and our desires and our creations and our projects and our world?

I’m not going to laugh at the completeness of credits anymore.  I’m going to be technically interested, I’m going to reflect, and I’m going to note and recognize all the contributions by all those people.

 

* For the eighth time…

Architecture Monday

Books.  Light.  Unifying to create an inviting and safe space for reading.  An elegant design to bring libraries where no libraries yet existed.

The book shelves being the windows… and vice versa… not only leaves no doubt what this building is all about, it also is a great way to allow views without distraction, and mitigates and distributes the light to create a lantern effect without glare inside.  Exterior louvers keeps the light from damaging the books.

Architecture can provide for a community in many ways.  Certainly, the function of a library is a big boon in of itself.  But as a locus, a centre, a gathering place, there is a huge force multiplier that goes beyond the function alone.  A sense of pride, of place, of home.  Of the future.  It supports the people, gives them a place to meet and be together, and speaks to what’s possible.

“The idea is that books are a source of knowledge just like water is the source of life.”  The Bunateka Libraries, by Bujar Nrecaj Architects.

Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Transformation.

A radical shift, a metamorphosis.

It is a key part of ontological philosophy, the study of the being part of human being.

It is the promise of self cultivation.

What is transformation?  What does it mean to transform something?

Here’s what I’ve gotten for myself.

To begin, transformation is not change.  Transformation is not about changing something.

Transformation is not an evolution.

Transformation is not about more, better, or different.

Transformation is not about the circumstances.

Transformation is distinct.

Transformation is the act of removing inner barriers and constraints, barriers and constraints that are often hidden from your view.

Transformation opens up new vistas on life.

Transformation allows for new experiences of life.

Transformation opens up new avenues for being and acting in the world.

Transformation can be hard to describe.

Inside of transformation, your view and experience of and on the world shifts.

When an area of your life transforms, things literally occur differently to you.

Transformation is a leap into a new realm of possibilities, possibilities that were often not even conceivable to you the moment before.

Transformation is, ultimately, about freedom.

Inside of transformation, there is a clearing.

Transformation allows for choice.

Transformation allows you to authentically create yourself, free from the constraints of the past.

Transformation allows you to act, free from the constraints of the past.

Transformation takes rigor.

Transformation takes practice.

Yet, transformation allows for effortless action.

Inside of transformation, new ways of effective action happen naturally, often automatically.

Transformation allows for surprises and spiralling excellence.

Transformation is such a rush.

Transformations can be deepened.

Transformations can also be lost, and regained.

Transformation can be hilarious.

Transformation is amazing.

Architecture Monday

This one’s got a bit of gimmick in it, and it’s a simple and good gimmick.  The site is a rugged and rocky hill (nearly cliff) near the sea.  The desire:  a small retreat cabin.  The brilliance:  use the existing rock face to shelter the cabin.  The concept, and gimmick:  what if the roof was a viewing platform, and bent down towards the ground to form a staircase up to this new deck?

Indeed, what if?

I really like how this turned out.  Three of the four sides of the cabin is all windows (that fourth side is the stair/roof), however,  being nestled up against the rock, the windows opposite the angled roof looks out onto the rock face, and that gap is enchanting.  One of the paths to the house enters through that gap, and as the light from above plays upon the rock face it becomes a living sculpture that occupies one whole side of the house, adding a richness of texture.  This, in turn, plays off the clean and warm lines of the interior wood walls and stairs.

Inside, the effect of the two other window facades is remarkably different, the strong roof line overhead framing views boldly outward towards the water, or back towards to a small patio that’s also nestled in amongst the rocks.

A little Norwegian gem, born of a fun idea carried through with rigor.  The Knapphullet by Lund Hagem.

Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the first practice for many philosophical traditions.

Even a Jedi begins by cultivating mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?   What does it mean to be mindful?

Here’s what I’ve gotten for myself.

Mindfulness is  a state of mind, a state of active, open attention to the present.

That is why it is also sometimes called, simply, “being present.”

It is a way of viewing and experiencing the world.

Mindfulness is living in the moment, moment-to-moment.

Mindfulness is being aware of what’s so, in reality, before you.

Mindfulness is awakening to experience.

Mindfulness is being aware of your current body sensations.

Mindfulness is being aware of and observing your thoughts and feelings and emotions and mental states without judging them, and without becoming them.

Mindfulness is distinguishing between these internal states, and what’s so.

Mindfulness is awakening to your true, authentic, voice.

Mindfulness is distinguishing your true, authentic voice from your automatic actions and reactions and thoughts and views and truths.

Mindfulness is about choice.

Mindfulness is about being available.

Mindfulness takes practice.

Mindfulness is wonderful.

Architecture Monday

A fine little project, the Thread Cultural Center (just shortlisted for the 2016 Aga Kahn Award) uses local building materials and techniques to create a wonderful multi-purpose set of spaces.  While its primary intent is to be an artist residency, the generous courtyards of the building also offers a hub for community gatherings of all kinds.

I love the form of this building, with its undulating roof that weaves itself in curvy sensualness around its two courtyards.  Even better, this delicious roof also channels rainwater to two collection ponds that supplies the community with fresh water.  The peak where the two roof curves meet forms a shaded outdoor gathering space, dynamic in form and perfect for the climate.

The rooms too are exciting, the roof curving upward towards a wall of brick arranged in a checker-pattern that mediates the light, diffusing it into a glow, while letting air and breezes though into the room.

Simple and arousing.  A great use of a simple traditional thatched roof, elongated and wrapped around into an elegant form that draws you in.  A wonderful new part of the community.

Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

If there’s one thing we are pretty sure about, it’s the primacy of our senses.

There’s something fundamental about our senses that seems to be so unalterable.

Take, for instance, getting shot.

(Woah, crazy escalation to an extreme example!   Sorry for that, I promise it will tie together a moment…)

We can also begin with the much more simple and common act of hitting our thumb with a hammer.

WHAM!  Hammer into thumb.  That’s gotta hurt.  A lot.

Is there any way that it couldn’t?  It’s our senses.  It’s nerve connections directly to our brain.  Is there anything that could possibly alter the experience of body parts being subjected to misapplied hammer mashing?

Turns out, yes.  Context can.

The context that we bring to the injury can alter how much it hurts.

An episode of Radiolab explores this through the research of a young World War 2 medic who noticed that soldiers consistently had very different levels of pain compared to people he had treated back home who had suffered similarly grievous injury.

Same kinds of injuries, different levels of pain.

Seems so weird!

Yet, as he came to realize, the pain we feel isn’t just about the bullet, it’s with the story that comes with the bullet.  The narrative that we construct around it.

Our story filters the pain.  Our context impacts our experience.

That’s some power, context has.

Even something as primal as the pain of getting shot.

There’s an invitation to inquiry, here, out of this.  An insight.*

“If something that seems so certain and unalterable like pain can be altered by the contexts I have created and am carrying around, what other ‘inviolable truths’ about how things are, and how they’re not, are likewise being influenced by my contexts?”

Maybe things are much more mutable than we often let them be.

 

* There’s a second, more direct, insight too.  When we next do smash our thumb, or hit our head, or something else owie, how we relate to that injury makes a difference in how much it hurts, and for how long.  It’s kinda fun to play with.