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Philosophy Tuesday

September 24, 2019

Tonight in comic form…

Absolutely wonderful.  Pair it with previous posts on Mr Rogers, including what he gave and how deep into our hearts he saw.

Comic by Twistwood, based on a post by Matthew Wisner.

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Architecture Monday

September 23, 2019

Get your travellin’ shoes on… to round out our little library tour tonight we’re going to start in Oslo and then hop on the overnight ferry to Copenhagen for a trio of wonderful book houses.

The main Oslo Public Library starts outside with a classic pediment nestled within a larger, more stripped-down yet still neoclassical edifice.  (And I do like the little string of festive lights!)

Where upon entering you are guided to this large open hall, bathed by an immense skylight and dominated (in a good way) by the expressive mural.  Like the exterior, it’s a great mix of the classical, in the form of colonnaded hall, and the cleaner forms of early modernism (it reminds me in many ways of the work of Adolf Loos, who was active at the time of construction).

I really like how this mix plays out in the antechamber, with the classic ionic columns supporting a mezzanine that overlooks the main book hall, provides access to an exterior balcony, and also has that great serrated desk surrounding the atrium opening.  Wonderful design.  As a fun aside, it is nicknamed the “House of Stairs” in honour of its many, many staircases.

For its counterpart at the Copenhagen Main Library we have this inviting atrium that features these playful seating and reading cubbies that stick out into the four-story high space.  Very nifty.

The Royal Library now consists of two buildings, the older and the new, split by a road yet spanned by bridges.  From the modern entry atrium, you cross through the old archways to enter the historical wing.  (Which, itself, was many years ago the ‘new’ library to replace one that sat where the new-new library wing now sits…)

Not much to say other than lovely!  The smooth white plaster archways are wonderful and also work as a great backdrop for the richness and ornateness of the desks, shelves, windows, and light fixtures, not to mention the classical Corinthian capitals and dark stone.

The new atrium has this great commanding view of the waterfront as you exit.

Lastly, here’s an architecture and design library we stumbled upon!  I’m on an architecture trip; there was no way I was not going to check it out.  A repurposed (adaptive reuse!) warehouse/commercial building along the waterfront, the exposed structure and windows with the hundred little window panes works supremely well.

And there we have it.  As I traveled throughout from country to country I really got the sense that libraries — and books in general, for there were many bookstores as well — hold a high place in people’s minds, being well regarded and considered an important part of the social fabric.  With that reverence comes the desire to make them accessible, available, and to celebrate what they are and what they represent, leading to these great spaces for learning, reading, gathering, and creating community.

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Wonder Wednesday

September 18, 2019

Absolutely beautiful photo of a mangrove forest with a sparseness and contrast and reflections that turns it into a lovely abstract print.  Gorgeous work.

by Alessandra Meniconzi

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 17, 2019

There was a story I heard some years ago about Australia*, and drought.  In that there had been this stretch of years of quite severe drought.  Things were tough, many faced hardship, and it just went on, and on, and on.  Until they found an interesting way to end the drought:  they introduced legislation that said it was not a drought.

Which, admittedly, at first sounds like the ultimate in shenanigans:  It’s a drought, it’s physical, you can’t just paper law it away!  But once you let it sink in, you get that what they were saying was simply this:  “This is not a drought.  This is [the new] NORMAL.”  They weren’t tying to legislate the physical universe.  They were recreating their relationship with said universe.  They were being present and reforming their realities:  “We have been operating under a fantasy, that there is, and should be, more water available to us.  But that is not so.  This is what there is.  Let us now act accordingly.”

And boom, from then on, rather than creating systems, building things, and living life as one might in a water rich place, and then trying desperately to do with less and suffering all the way, they instead could design, create, build, and live in ways that handled, managed, and used the water that was there in reality to its fullest.  They could treat water with the respect it needed.**

We can do the same thing in our lives.  We may have feelings, upsets, barriers, insecurities, and places where we experience failure that keep showing up, causing hindrance and hardship.  And we keep thinking – hoping – that one day it or they will end.  Because that’s how it should be. ***

Yet, there it is, remaining, as persistent as that drought.  And so we can declare for ourselves The [New] Normal, giving us a baseline from which we can stop resisting.  We can let what is be, and in so doing gain freedom.  We stop being controlled by it and instead gain the space to say “Ok, here’s what’s so.  What’s possible?  What’s next?”

From that new frame and with peace of mind we begin our new path, leading us to greener pastures and worlds of abundance.

 

* To which I will be upfront and state that I cannot be sure I’m remembering it right or the interpretation I heard about it was right… and reading the Australian Department of Agriculture’s webpage on drought policy is not entirely helping me determine if it is accurate or not.  The action that took place in 2008 during the National Review of Drought Policy could be it:  “The review found that drought conditions in Australia were likely to occur more often and be more severe. It also recommended that drought assistance programs be restructured to help farmers prepare for drought rather than waiting until they are in crisis to offer assistance.”  That said, whatever the specifics are what I took from the story (as expounded above) is still entirely relevant, and powerful as an entryway to and for transformation.

** And I would say deserved.

*** And it’s not to say those areas can’t be transformed; they most certainly can be.  But sometimes the very attachment we have to it not being there is what gets in the way of us transforming it and allowing it to disappear.

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Architecture Monday

September 16, 2019

The library train continues!  And what’s this, combining books and adaptive reuse, two of my favorite things, together?  Yes indeed!

Housed in a former tram (streetcar) maintenance sheds, the library takes full advantage of the old tramway doors to craft huge windows with giant shutters that playfully incorporate a bookshelf motif when open.

Inside, the space is kept wide open, punctuated only by furniture (including the bookshelves with colourful seating/desks), and a mezzanine against the great exposed brick wall that itself nestles a kid’s corner that rises like a boxy mountain.

Nicely, the library expands outward into an adjacent café, which itself is adjacent to a sports complex that occupies the rest of the repair shed.  Even there, books (and games) abound!

Altogether forming a wicked community hub, this is one great bit of adaptive reuse, keeping the history and aged ruggedness of the old shed and marrying it with an airy comfort.  I liked it a bunch, if I lived nearby I’d be there often for sure.  Nicely done.

The Norrebro Bibliotek

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Storytelling Sunday

September 15, 2019

“…our relationships with works of art, particularly those that have a massive impact on us, changes as time goes on.  The things that inspire you at 16 probably won’t inspire you or at least in the same way at 26 or 36 or any age past that.  And even if something has soured in your mind, mocking it wholesale seems more a sign that you still need it, and less like you recognize its flaws while appreciating the role it played in your life.”

— Andrew Saladino

I really like what Andrew creates in his video essay on outgrowing movies (and outgrowing art in general).  The whole trope/idea/action of “growing up = trashing what you liked before” is unfortunate.  Perhaps it is a misunderstanding of the phrase “you must leave things behind”?  Either way, outgrow is a much healthier word:  “I used to like that and it used to hold meaning for me.  Now, it doesn’t in quite the same way.  While it may not be perfect as I remembered it, it still shaped who I am, and I can revel in my excitement for it back then.  I can let it lie in the middle ground and go forth boldly.”

And for those times we revisit something and it is everything that we remember it to be — and sometimes revealing itself to be even more meaningful now?  Then its time to dance on the rooftops in unbridled excitement!

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Wonder Wednesday

September 11, 2019

What a powerhouse of a song.  I’ve long loved its oomph, its emotion, and I love how interpretable it is to so many people.  For me it is full of perseverance, verve, and possibility, the choice to take what’s so and to continually strive forward with peace, passion and gusto.  Freddie Mercury had an amazing vocal range and it’s used here to great effect, especially in the tail end as he begins singing in mildly low tones about the butterfly and continuing to build and build, flying ever upward to reach into the stratosphere in the final chorus.  Love it.

What’s even more amazing is the story behind the recording – Freddie was quite ill by that point and could barely walk, and Brian May was unsure if Freddie would be able to sing such a dynamic and difficult piece.  But Freddie just stood up, said “I’ll fucking do it darling” and proceeded to nail (nay, totally kill) it in one take.  Absolutely extraordinary.