Archive for June, 2019

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Wonder Wednesday

June 26, 2019

Ahhhh and awwww, a lovely gaggle of lynxes…

 

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Philosophy Tuesday

June 25, 2019

Every philosophical tradition begins with learning to be present.  Learning to be mindful of the current moment.

Even for the Jedi.  As Yoda said of Luke in The Empire Strikes Back:  “All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing.”

Being present is learning to be with the way things are.  Truly are.  Learning to distinguish our thoughts and feelings and emotions about events, both now and past, from how the events actually are or were.  Without adding interpretation or story.  And this can be toughVery tough.  Because we are so accustomed to, so familiar with, so entrenched in our automatic assessments that we don’t even realize we are making assessments.  We instantly collapse our conclusions with that which is accurately in front of us in physical reality, and we so with such intensity that we then go through life relating to the conclusion as though it was reality.

We let those instant and automatic conclusions rule us.

Being present is learning to differentiate between what’s so (what’s brutally, actually so) and all our judgement, assessments, stories, and interpretations about what’s so.

Once we can stand there, we gain peace of mind.   Once we can stand there, we can then act from a place of choice and creation that arises from deep within our authentic selves.  Rather than being hemmed in and restricted by the frame of our views we explode the frame to open new realms of possibilities.  Transformation is now in reach.

Every philosophical tradition begins with learning to be present.

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Architecture Monday

June 24, 2019

Hold up for a second… Wine and Olson Kundig architecture?  Sign me up!

I’ve spoken about Olson Kundig’s work before, and I very much love their work, especially their ability to pair the rough and rugged with the refined and precise.  And they do so not only in terms of materials and mechanisms, but even, and especially, spatially, crafting highly elegant spaces that emerge from within the hardy structure.  And this winery is no exception, with a plethora of striking tableaus as you travel through the complex.

Or, as you travel outside and around the complex as well.  Set upon a hilltop it is a nice assemblage of different buildings, appearing timeless yet modern at the same time.

(And check out that belltower!)

Great work.  I gotta go visit this next time I’m in BC.

Mission Hill Family Estate by Olson Kundig Architects

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Everything Thursday: The Aesthetics of Genre

June 20, 2019

“I think it is very important to be able to read media with a critical eye. To parse it in terms of what it is saying, both on its face, and in how it uses the language of its medium (film, TTRPG, whatever) to deliver its ideas. To make its statement.

Genre is not simply a set of aesthetics, full stop. It is aesthetics with a direction, an impetus.

Lots of folks like to forget the reason behind the aesthetic choices, and just sort of, eat and regurgitate them unthinkingly.”

Commuting Crow [Emphasis Mine]

I came across this and I like it a lot, and want to pass it forward for it is very important in storytelling, in gaming, and even in architecture.

The look and feel (ie aesthetics) of any genre is born from a philosophical place.  It was through the examination and exploration of certain ideas, theses, and ideologies, whether that be in support of them (we are interested in this  and think this is a good way to go, let’s explore and invent down that road), in question of them (we see this as a possible way things could go, let’s explore and see what the outcome(s) might be), or in opposition or critique of them (this is something we see happening, and think it is not productive, let’s explore and illustrate the harm).  Genre is more than the style of the world, it is about world building, and all of the aspects of world building.  The way society operates (or doesn’t), the way people think (or don’t), the prevailing truths (or untruths), the direction and inflections of humanity.  It is from there, from that baseline world building from which the aesthetics emerge and are developed into their final form.

So when you use the imagery and aesthetics of the genre as just a stylistic choice, you aren’t operating in the genre.  Your work is not of the genre.  It’s something else in different clothing.*

The same holds true in architecture.  The organization of the Beaux-Arts building, the hyper-detailed nature of the Baroque period, the classical orders, the bold planes of modernism, they all emerged out of philosophies about living (in all senses of that word).  There were values and convictions and ideas and ideologies beneath it all, and it was the exploration into form of all of those that informed and created the style, including how the building is laid out, how one approaches the building, how one travels from room to room, how the façade is proportioned, how and where ornamentation, etc.

So when you use the architectural pieces and aesthetics (the architectural language) of a ‘style’ (or genre) as just a stylistic choice, you aren’t operating in the true nature of the style.  Your work is not of the style.  It is something else in different clothing.

In this way, Using the words  “architectural style” to describe how a building looks turns out to be a misnomer.**

To reiterate, genres (and architectural ‘styles’***) are born of a specific context, in time and space and thought and vision.  From there emerges a look.  If you want your story, your game, or your work to be truthfully of that genre, it needs to engage with that context (again, whether it is to follow, to re-examine, to tweak, to refute, whatever, but it must engage with it), not just the look of it.

It is from there that richness arises and that great works emerge.

 

* Which BTW is fine… there’s some fun in playing around only with style.  Just be honest about it.

** It is also where many more recent buildings fall flat or feel terrible, because they’re importing architectural languages in a copy/paste mode without any thought or understanding of all the ideology and knowledge that underpinned the ‘style’ and so having little design sense poured into them.  Confusing architecture as just the “fancy looking bits” leaves behind the most important aspects that make up what architecture actually is.

*** We really need a better word.  Ok.  This is my game now, to find or come up with a new word for this.

 

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Wonder Wednesday

June 19, 2019

names unheard

spells unwoven

the forest listens

the being calls

Beautiful work by Loika

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Philosophy Tuesday

June 18, 2019

“There’s also the fact that we all imagine ourselves to be somehow immune to the way that the information feed shapes our understanding of the world.  But it is precisely the belief that we are immune to it that makes us so susceptible to it.  It is because we don’t think advertising works on us that it works so well, it is because we think that, you know, propaganda can’t affect the way we vote that propaganda is so effective at changing the way we vote.  We need to think harder about this stuff and not imagine ourselves as being people floating above a sea of information, and instead understand that we are fish swimming in that sea of information.”

“Yeah, the idea that we are at all separate from many of the things that go on in our culture is buck wild.  It’s part of us, we’re part of it, we can’t separate ourselves from it, and just because something happened in a movie doesn’t mean we’re going to be that thing, it’s not like a direct 1:1 relationship, but everything that we do is informed by culture.  We cannot escape that, so we have to be aware of it.”

John and Hank Green

 

(Oh so nicely succinct and well put.  They are, after all, called hidden views and biases for a reason.  Are you human?  If yes, then you have biases.  It isn’t about being good or bad, right or wrong, it’s just something we do.  We create our reality, out of the many fragments that surround us, forget that we did, end up with biases, and then, in the immediacy of our lived experience, not recognize that those realities, views, and biases are acting upon us.  Not to mention emotions and identities, the likes of which we totally pretend we are above and unaffected by.  We get trapped, of a fashion.  And the only way to not be trapped and hooked is to acknowledge that there is a trap, own our humanity, and practice being mindful to notice when the hooks come up.  Then we remain free to see, to be, and to choose.)

 

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Architecture Monday

June 17, 2019

I do like me my little spaces of contemplation, and this one in the Ukraine is a mighty fine example.

Outside, it’s got this quirky little form that is somehow familiar yet also not at the same time.  Square yet also curvy, simple yet with some surprising complexity near the top, and an off-centre entryway that is even more mysterious with the extra roof that hovers inches above the ground.  And covered in shingles that match the trunks of the trees in which it is nestled.

Inside there’s beautiful stuff happening, especially when you look up.  That is one cool oculus, a twist of geometries that elates, further punctuated by some precision lighting.  Simply adorned, the wood interior arcs upwards, bending towards the light.

And that strange ground-hovering double roof turns out to be there to shield a continuous window band, aligned horizontally with your view as you sit peacefully on the floor.

Very nicely done, a space both quiet and exciting.  Good stuff.

Chapel of the Intercession by RdsBrothers