Ahhhh and awwww, a lovely gaggle of lynxes…
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 tough. Very 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.
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.
“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.
the forest listens
the being calls
Beautiful work by Loika
“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.”
(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.)
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.
It’s currently around 400,000 degrees* here. So this picture of a frozen James Bay, Hudson Bay, and Nunavut is quite refreshing! And, of course, absolutely lovely… our beautiful blue marble…
Photo by David Saint-Jaques from aboard the ISS!
* I’d specify this is in C, but I think at this point it doesn’t matter if it’s C, F, or K…
When we interact with someone, we often operate under the unspoken 50/50 rule: “I’ll do my part, and you do your part.” Which is also sometimes known as under the name of “It Takes Two To Tango.”
Which is great, right? I mean, clearly there are (at least) two parties involved, so each should be doing their bit for things to work out. Except – and you knew this was coming – there’s this thing we do. Well, a couple of things, but the biggest of them to speak of tonight is the “integrity baseline syndrome.” Which is fancy name for the effect where we start off in a relationship at 50/50… but then you don’t do/be/handle/etc this thing that I think you should have, so now I’m going to pull back a bit, so we’re at 45/50… which of course means then that you notice I’m not doing/being/handling/etc as much as I should, so you pull back, 45/40, so then I say you’re not efforting enough and pull back to 38/40, and then you… and I… and you… and I… and before you know it we’re both pretty much being 0% responsible for the way the relationship goes. It’s all eggshells and accusations.
(Of course, not all or even most relationships go that way, but they likely end up with each of us cycling around 25% to 35% or so… which feels fine, normal, and even right because it’s what we’re used to, it’s how relationships always have gone… but it isn’t where it could be.)
The extra kicker about the IBS, which you may have already noticed, is that many of the “you didn’ts” are unspoken by us. They are never communicated, created, nor checked in on. So, the transgressions we use to cut our percentage are often involuntary, unexpected, and even unseen. There’s no explanation for why the other person suddenly seems less invested or active or engaged. Which both hurts, and then prompts the further pullback, leading to the downward spiral.
The hilarious* thing is that many of these standards and ideals are amazingly arbitrary and trivial. No, this isn’t about if the person abuses or controls or takes advantage of you, but rather the expectations of what a “person with whom I’m in this kind of relationship with should do” kind of way. Does it involve gifts? A certain way they listen to you? Scheduling? Activities? Certain statements they should reiterate with a particular frequency? There are hundreds of these, and so many of these are deeply individual; we created the expectation of what’s right and proper based on what we saw modelled growing up, both live and in fiction. We decided it all.
Turns out, the other person may not have decided the same things. And they have equally weird and specific metrics they’re applying to you!
So here’s the crux: It’s best to enter into and maintain relationships where each person takes on 100% ownership of how it goes.** And since you can’t act for another person, it means taking on being 100% responsible for how all of the relationships in your life go.
There’s great joy and power in this. Extra joy, really, for what’s available in a high-ownership relationship is amazing and so much above what we’re used to as we dabbled around our 25%ness. And given that forming connections is one of the most meaningful and fulfilling things there are for us human beings, this is super important.
An acquaintance once shared a story about their first Christmas with their, at the time, new boyfriend. Starting in October they had been going out seeking the most amazing gifts they could think of and discover. It was great, and they were super excited, hiding the gifts all over their shared place, all ready to surprise come the day of unwrapping. Until they had a thought. “Wait, if I’m using all the good hiding spots, where are they hiding their gifts?” So they, as casually as they could, asked, “Hey, how is your Christmas shopping going?” “Oh, I don’t buy things.” And like that, an explosion. Storming around the house, yelling “you’ve ruined our Christmas,” ready to throw them out, and lots of crying, especially from the boyfriend who wasn’t even sure where this was coming from.
Fortunately, mindfulness was present and so before too long my acquaintance caught then excused themselves for a moment as an interrupt, regained their centre, and returned to conversation. Through talking, they learned that gift giving just wasn’t part of the boyfriend’s upbringing, both because they never had much money and moreover it wasn’t how they showed love to each other. It wasn’t part of their world. “I honestly don’t know how to do it,” he said. “Would you like to learn?” A pause to consider. “Yes. I would.”
That Christmas was wonderful. And in a delightful “be careful what you wish for” twist to the story, that boyfriend ended up being a MASTER at gift buying, so much so that my acquaintance’s mother prefers the gifts that the boyfriend buys to those from her own child.
100% ownership for how things go. Disasters avoided, great enlivening relationships available, and the chance for things to be wondrously amazing.
* Hilarious in the “man aren’t we humans ever fascinating!” kind of way…
** Again, this is not control; see this post.***
*** Because if it doesn’t go as you’d like it to in order to maintain the relationship, you have the say in how it ends as well, whether it ends or not and whether it ends gracefully or in a train wreck.
For less than the price of a small “shack” in my current neck of the woods,* you can buy a designated historical masterpiece by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright. And once again, thanks to the magic of a real estate listing, we get great photos of the inside of such a usually private work! Lo, let us feast our eyes upon the Pappas house:
The Pappas residence was one of FLW’s “Usonian” houses. Usonia was a concept that Wright developed and turned into a manifesto of sort, espousing ideas about housing and living and community planning. They were squarely intended to be for middle class families, built with materials and methods that were straightforward to manage costs, yet at the same time coupled with a strong design to make them sing.
While the Usonian concept calls for strong integration with the site and nature around it, and many homes were built on sloped or otherwise interesting lots, that isn’t as much on display here at the Pappas house. But what is fits with many of the moves that FLW brought to his design: a strong horizontal feel, high clerestory windows to bring in light, breaking down corners and even whole walls through windows and glass doors, and a masterclass in using differing levels and ceiling heights to create a playful and interesting set of interlocking spaces. Material use is also well on point, marrying the mosaic-like solidity of concrete blocks and tile with the warmth and continuity of wood, punctuated by all that glass.
The house for sale even comes with original FLW furniture!
Compared to the monumentality of the Ennis house, this is anything but. Yet in no way does that diminish the qualities within. It may not be the strongest of FLW’s Usonian designs, but it’s still darn good.
* To be fair, some of the shacks (albeit not too many) are Eichler houses, which are quite amazing in their own right. And I do mean that; I live in an Eichler-inspired home, and it’s fine, but walking into a true Eichler just hits you with how exquisite the space and design is. Of course, to buy an actual Eichler in this area is going to cost you wayyyyy more than buying a “Like-ler” (as the local planning department has named them) and certainly way more than the Pappas house out in Missouri.