Wonder Wednesday

Some amazing old footage from 1970 of Wendy Carlos demonstrating the classic MOOG synthesizer.  No preprogrammed patches or sounds here — it’s all constructed though something that looks like a wild pairing of a sci fi starship bridge coupled with an old-timey phone operator switchboard.  Also, no books or ways to save any settings, so you had to learn how to use it and re-create from scratch every time.  The craziest thing?  As an analog contraption, as the system warmed up (or cooled down) the sound output would change, thus requiring constant tuning as you played through a song or a concert.  But it’s hard to overstate the MOOG’s impact on electronically generated music, and to see such a pioneer of the genre give a little demo is pure delight.

Philosophy Tuesday

It’s rather remarkable how adaptive we (as human beings) are.  I’m not speaking only about our geographic reach, as expansive as that is.  I mean just about anything and everything.  All so quickly, things, situations, systems, dynamics, societies, and etc all begin to feel normal.   And not just normal, but everlasting, intrinsic, and even right.  Like that’s how its supposed to be.  And like how there’s no way it could be any other way.

It’s reality.

Which, of course, is caca.  If there’s one thing for certain, it is that things change.**  We are always, ongoingly, creating ourselves, creating our communities, creating our systems, and creating our culture.  When we get lost in that feel of normalcy, that’s when we can get stuck creating the same thing over and over and over again.  Perhaps inadvertently doing so, but the effect is the same.  Inside the rut, possibility is greatly stifled.

That said, again of course, it’s not bad that we are so adaptive!  It’s great that we don’t smell the sewer after a few minutes.  Or that the lake stops feeling cold after jumping in.  Or that great shifts soon feel much less disruptive.***  But, like just about everything else that comes with being human, there are aspects of it that are empowering, and aspects that are disempowering and even destructive.

By remembering this great capacity of ours we can remain mindful to see where we’re letting something slide.  Where we’re giving things that are harmful, or don’t work work, or aren’t right or just or equitable or verdant, or anything of that sort, giving them the automatic pass and thinking “well, it’s just how it is.”  Or, worse, getting caught up in it all and doubling down on it.

Here’s where we can step out of the adaptiveness ruse.  Nothing is inherent.  Nothing is intractable.  We hold the agency for ourselves and who we are being, for our relationships, and with the communities and societies we ongoingly build.

 

*  From the frigid arctic to the intense deserts, all without the use of what we consider “modern and necessary technology” – which is a whole avenue of exploration in of itself!  But to quip shortly about it here, we have done a lot and even thrived with just our wits and less fragility… AND that’s just it, isn’t it?  It’s the same main thrust of this post:  we’ve become accustomed to and thus adapted to a very narrow temperature range, and anything outside of those bounds feels like death.

** Not always for the ‘better’, which is another reason why this feeling of normalcy can be so deleterious, for it will allow the ‘little’ normals to become ‘big’ normals very quickly, and if those little normals are not great, then the effects and harm also spread and become widespread.

*** To whit was how, in short order, the way of working, remembering my mask, new ways of communicating, and etc all due to the pandemic started to feel most normal.

Philosophy Tuesday

“Some of the thoughts you have inside your head aren’t even yours…”

Abigail Thorn

(A great reminder about how much of our world view, our reality (which we experience as capital-R Reality), is formed by inherited contexts, picked up through osmosis because that’s just what’s “normal“.  Our brains are amazing pattern-making machines and are always reading between the lines and determining what’s “true “and what’s “real”.  And what we’re immersed in we tend to become and believe.  And thus, we thought it out all the time.

But it isn’t ours.  We didn’t create it.  We didn’t examine it.  We didn’t even realize there was anything to examine — so seamless was our automatic adoption that it seems to come fully formed, as real as the hand in front of our face.

Except it isn’t real, in the way gravity or rocks or water are.  It’s just a context.  And because of that we can examine it, reflect on it, meditate on it, and bring mindfulness to it.

If it’s useful, we can keep it.

If it’s not useful, or productive, or nurturing, or empowers us and those around us, we can put those thoughts and views and beings aside, and, in that clearing, create new possibilites.)

Architecture Monday

There’s a lot of nifty things about this community centre and nursery that are pretty cool, not the least of which is the way it organizes itself around a courtyard and gardens, or the many sustainable features (including an underground labyrinth for natural air conditioning).  But what I’m going to fixate on tonight is its brick.  It’s rugged brick, which creates a rich base texture, but it’s also used in extraordinary ways to create patterns, layers, shadows, and remarkable sculptural forms, both inside and out.

There are so many nifty techniques used here, from the simple shift of horizontal to vertical courses, or a shift from running to stacked bond, to stepped depth and the turning of bricks to create projections that explode into 3D and catch the sun in brickly delights.  The many circular openings that jump out from the rectangular walls and patterns.  And then there’s the form of the building itself, big and boxy but using the depth of its walls, revealed by recesses and openings, to create something feeling comfortingly sturdy.

Grand work.  Brick can be very banal, but with some care it can be quite an impressive and wonderful beast.  I love it.

Storey’s Field Centre and Eddington Nursery by MUMA

Philosophy Tuesday

We need to watch out for, and push back on, and resist, those who perpetrate the “Siblings in the Back Seat” ruse.

You know the schtick:  where one sibling will poke and prod and annoy the other until, understandably, they push back, and then it’s all “MoooOOoOooooOOOOooom, they’re hitting me!”  And thus the instigator turns themselves into the victim, and the actual aggrieved is the one who gets punished.

It’s a depraved and cruel way of behaving, though it is most certainly cunning.*  Cunning enough to become adopted and carried forth through life, where the stakes become much higher than that in the back seat and where the effects are felt not only interpersonally, but through families, communities, companies, and even to the level of countries.  Where the stakes are very high indeed, and where this trickery is used to delegitimize and dehumanize, as a pretext for theft and persecution, to justify highly asymmetric responses, and, in general, to excuse and even try to legitimize all manner of deleterious and harmful behaviour.

But it is possible to see through this deceit.  Once we observe enough back seat shenanigans, we can begin to recognize the pretense.  We can stop falling into the trap. We can call it out, and align ourselves accordingly.**

Even on ruses that have been perpetrated for 73 years.

 

* This is, in many ways, a variant on the DARVO technique.

** We can do this even if, once, we bought into them.  Perhaps even bought into them fully. Unquestioningly.  Gleefully.

*** Said another way is simply this:  We need to be very wary of and verify the stories of enthusiastic aggressors.

Architecture Monday

Oh this one’s awesome… (and kinda close to my hometown!)  An over 125 year old romanesque post office brought to new purpose to become a ‘bookless’ library, filled with creative labs and maker spaces and more.  And it’s not just the stately post office building, it’s a new wrap-around glass pavilion that reaches out to engage the adjacent canal and make the whole shebang a part of the community space.

So, yeah, that gallery that hangs out over the river pretty much sells the whole thing.  I mean, the original (and restored) post office is also lovely, with its arched windows, half turrets, towers, steep gable roof, and the brick and stone.  All of that is enhanced with the new glass and steel surround that cantilevers not just once, but twice, hovering first over the water, then above over a patio/deck.  And the undersides of which hasn’t been neglected, with polished aluminum and integrated lighting that speaks towards a future river walk.  It’s dynamic and playful and though a very different language than the original building that contrast enhances each other, even more so when they are reflected off the water whether by day or, glowing like a lantern, at night.

Lots of light, lots of great views to the river and city beyond, and more interplay between the crisp new and the rugged old are what awaits within.  These two languages combine in a culmination in the third floor maker space, inhabiting the cathedral-like space under the old high-pitched roof amongst the old support frames.

For an added bonus, there’s the glass ceiling that looks up into the old clock tower, putting the mechanisms on display!

Very cool project, another example of taking something already existing and, through re-use and a clever set of additions, turning it into something even greater.  Plus public maker spaces/etc are a great addition to a community (I loved the one at the new library in Helsinki).  And if you, like me, still love traditional book-filled libraries, there’s one right across the river.

Ideas Exchange by RDHA

Snowy Rails Thursday

In the mood for a little bit of train porn this evening?  Then this video is perfect, a serene transfer run, starting in the lowlands and moving upwards into the mountain and snow….

And while the whole video is great, this segment here is the climax, in a wonderful mix of sun, bold clouds, icy lakes, white mountains, and snow blowing across the tracks all during a high speed run with the soothing monotony of the engine.  Lovely.