Philosophy Tuesday

“[Since your team didn’t win the playoffs, was this past season a failure?]

Michael Jordan played for 15 years and won 6 championships. The other 9 years were a failure? That’s what you’re telling me.

There’s no failure in sports. There’s good days, bad days, some days you are able to be successful, some days you’re not, some days it’s your turn, some days it’s not your turn. That’s what sport’s about. You don’t always win, some other people are gonna win. And this year, someone else is gonna win. Simple as that.”

– Giannis Antetokounmpo

I don’t follow sports all that much.  But this quote has been in the news and quite rightfully so, I say.  It’s an astute observation of the hidden context and mindsets that (I’d assert) pervades our times, of how quickly we are willing to label things so binarily as winning or failure.  And, perhaps even more so, how much importance and single-minded-focus is put on winning, until the notion becomes that winning is the only point.  And all to the point where we’re judged by and deemed worthy, or not, based on whether we win.*

But that ignores the ideas of what competition is all about.

It very much misconstrues the ideas of what a game is.

It definitively unnecessarily makes things into zero-sum affairs, very much a false dichotomy.

And we tend to use that concept and language a lot in our own lives in places where it really ought not to.  Whether a game or a goal or an idea or a hobby or a practice or a relationship or an interaction or excursion or venture or whatever… it’s success and perfection and a WIN or else… well, yeah, or else, in that kind of dangling threat way.  It doesn’t turn out perfect? Then failure is you, and you should feel disappointed and sad and scornful and meek and be in the dumps.

That’s not what life is about!  (And, I’d say, not really how life works either…)  We can create games, play them, and get some result… and then can either play again, stop playing, or play a different game.  And, as Giannis went on to add, everything is a step forward.  We learn and grow and can use that in whatever games we play next.

Plus, that’s not even the thing either, really.  It isn’t just about the result, or what we can use in the future.  It’s about the experience and about being present.  It’s the moment-by-moment aspects of it.  There’s so much about what we’re experiencing while we’re playing the game, and what we may experience with the result and beyond.  (And in the next games we play.)

Nicely said, and a great reminder to check in and, if we’re caught up in that zeitgeist, free ourselves from this prisonous thinking around what victory has to be.


* This is a complete aside, but I also read an article recently on how players are receiving more and more vitriol and death threats from supposed fans because…. Of online sports betting.  The ‘fan’ didn’t win their bet?  It’s your fault, and you should be punished for it (because you only are here to serve me, the fan, not even to entertain me, but only to make some money).  “I’m at a loss for words about how upsetting that is. It so demeans the value of sport — that sport is only for people to be making money out of bets.”  — Professor Bruce Kidd


Architecture Monday

I will readily admit that I do very much enjoy a good dose of theatricality in buildings.  And this one has it in spaces!

Starting on the outside…

… with its bamboo laced walls allowing for dramatic shadow play both day and night…

… to the glowing entryway and it’s geometrically delightful reflecting pool and garden…

… to the reflecting pool that, once inside, becomes an actual pool for swimming…

… to the delightfully dramatic rock garden centerpiece, with walkways made of stone slabs that tantalizingly hover…

… to more hovering elements in the more domestic areas…

… to the soaring living area…

… and culminating in the oppositely introverted and quiet (yet still so elegant) tea room.


C4L House by CUBO

Philosophy Tuesday

The thing about hidden biases is that they’re, well, hidden.

They don’t even occur to us.  And we don’t realize that we have them, because we all tend to walk around thinking that we don’t have these blind spots, and that we’re observing the world fully and then acting rationally.

Except that our observations are not complete.  They’re filtered by what we “know” (in other words, by our contexts and biases and expectations) before they hit our consciousness.  It’s already created and presented a particular reality, a limited story about who I or they or the world could be and is.

Therefore, our rationale is, at best, tainted by this incomplete view.

As the expression goes, “garbage in, garbage out.”  And our biases go on being hidden.

It takes something to break out of that very efficient and quick engine to pause and get present and ask, “what bias is going on right now?”  (Note, not if a bias , but what bias – if we have a brain, we have biases!)

And once we begin to see it/them, once we get present to them, they cease to be hidden.  We get into a position of power.  In the moment, we can choose to take an action that defies the automatic bias.  In the long run, we gain the opportunity to examine them, shape them, and to reduce them.  (Note, not eliminate them – again, if we have a brain, we have biases!)

With that we gain both freedom to be as well as agency to align ourselves with our most authentic selves.

Architecture Monday

At this rate, I’m kinda wanting to go back to kindergarten… they seem to get a lot of great design!

This one uses a skeleton of beefy wood frames, interspersed with glass, to create its intriguing amorphous shape, with the repetition pulling you forward.  (I might even name this the “portal vortex”, though it’s actually and aptly named “the whale”)  It’s a nifty and creative space, and with glass walls not only to the outside but between rooms too, nearly the whole building is connected together.

Very neat. An inventive way to do something engaging and out of the ordinary while maintaining a standard rhythm for construction ease.  Great work.

Kindergarten in Guastalla by  Mario Cucinella Architects

Wonder Wednesday

The crazy amazing thing that is the lantern shield.  It feels so much like a hyper-fictional invention, bristling with sharp bits of a (retractable?) sword, a gauntlet with spikes for weapon trapping, a pointy bit on the shied for bashing, and, yes the titular lantern to dazzle your opponent in the dark.  And yet, it was an actual thing, with writeups in fencing manuals and everything.

Kung Fu clearly doesn’t hold the patent on odd weapons!  (And like many of those, how much the lantern shield was used in practice is perhaps very little…)


Architecture Monday

Thorncrown chapel is a classic, at once both visually striking and yet somehow ethereal at the same time.

The striking part definitively comes from its repeating set of very expressive structural frames, marching into the distance that creates not only a pull forward but also complex sets of overlapping patterns and voids as you move around and through it.  The frames themselves are straightforward (and were designed such that every piece could be carried into the site by hand by no more than two people), but they seem anything but simple when arrayed like they are, one after the other.

The ethereal part comes from the lack of walls.  Not that there really aren’t any walls, for it is enclosed in glass.  But that transparency allows the frames to blend and merge with the forest that surrounds it.  And through this the visual interplay multiplies, between the frames and the trees, and especially how light, shadows, and reflections all begin to dance, with everything taking on a different look and feel as the sun, or moon, or seasons, move and change.

It’s a classic for a reason.  Great work.

Thorncrown Chapel by E. Fay Jones