Philosophy Tuesday

“Here’s the thing: neither one of those facets of Campbell cancel the other one out. Just as it’s not true that any amount of good deeds done for some people can repair the harms he visited on others; it’s also true that none of those harms cancel out the kindnesses he did for the people he was kind to.

Life is not a ledger. Your sins can’t be paid off through good deeds. Your good deeds are not cancelled by your sins. Your sins and your good deeds live alongside one another. They coexist in superposition.

You (and I) can (and should) atone for our misdeeds. We can (and should) apologize for them to the people we’ve wronged. We should do those things, not because they will erase our misdeeds, but because the only thing worse than being really wrong is not learning to be better.”

Cory Doctorow  (emphasis theirs)


(Lots of good stuff in that quote.  The layer that’s really caught my attention is how we often all to easily get caught into paying attention to an equation game and trying to maintain and/or balance this supposed ledger rather than the important part: apologizing and learning.  Apologies are immensely powerful, for everyone involved, including the one apologizing.  Apology is what creates the clearing for both learning and for reconciliation and reconnection.  It is what “erases” things.

It is exhausting, both mentally and soul-ly, to have to constantly maintain track of everyone’s score (based on our judgements), and even more so, of our own scores.  “Did I do a thing to erase that thing I think I did bad with the other week?  But then they did this other thing that I think is bad, which therefore reduces the thing I did, and then I also gave them that, and really that should cancel this other thing out, so I think I’m at a +1 right now, which gives me the right to expect this….”

Foregoing the binary mindset of good/bad, and the relative levels thereof, are what allows for mindfulness, apology, transformation, love, and peace of mind.)

Architecture Monday

And like that I’m back from a vacation to the Nordic countries that was, as my vacations often are, heavily aimed towards architectural visiting.  So many buildings!  And plenty to share in the coming weeks.  Hard to know where to begin, and so with no reason other than it jumped into my head let’s start with the new Helsinki Central Library.

There’s lots to love here.  Sinuous and sensual, the curving wood exterior forms an inviting covered entry, while the iceberg-like glass box that rests on top hints at the reading room to come.  The curving wood continues to play around once inside on the ground floor, carving out spaces for the café and several gathering spaces.

Moving up one floor on the central staircase leads you to this amazing project area, with raked seating for work on your laptop and access to a maker space with sewing machines, 3D printers, video editing computers, cutting mats, power tools, and all sorts of other goodies, all nestled among wood-covered diagonal bracing.  (I took a 360~ photo from the start of the project/maker space, you can view it here)

The top floor is where the books live, and yeah, it’s quite something.  With the ceiling floating overhead like an undulating cloud the rows of books (and trees!) extend in both directions towards each end of the building.  There, the floors rise up like a landmass, housing a reading room at one end and the children’s area in the other.  Should all the glass makes you feel like going outside, you can, onto a large balcony that overlooks the city.

A wonderful new library and community hub, purposefully set opposite the Finnish parliament building to emphasize the relationship between governance and active learning, freedom of expression, and citizenship.  And beyond books the library seizes new roles with the maker spaces, classrooms, theatres, and more.  Great stuff.

Oodi Helsinki Central Library by ALA Architects