Philosophy Tuesday

As promised in my review, there’s lots I want to delve into within Soul!  It is a rich source, with many avenues to explore, and with many ways to look at it, approaching the film from different angles and lenses to tease out a whole host of openings and opportunities for realizations and insights.

I’m going to start with this angle:  A meditation on the traps known as “If only…/then” & “When…/then”

Their structure is right there in their names:

“If only I could X / then Y.” 

“When I can X / then Y.”

“When I have X / then Y.”

It’s a familiar construct/trap, and we can see a bunch of them in Joe:  “When I have the gig, then I’ll be fulfilled.”  “If only people would give me the chance, then I can be powerful.”  “When I’ve made it, then my Mom will be proud of me.”  “If only I can fulfill my purpose, then my life will be complete.” 

And yeah, it sounds both seductive and true.  These type of grand, momentous, goal based Xs really can shift things, for sure.  And they may even prove to be great motivators!

The thing is, however, that in the meantime they also effectively shut a part of our lives down.  They cut us off from possibility and experience.  Through them we are adamantly saying that we can’t get Y until that X condition is met… and so long as X is not met, we’re denied the power/pleasure/ freedom/self-expression/power/peace of mind that could come of Y. 

Further, we’ve laid ourselves a double whammy, for we’ve set a single path, a single X, to get there.  Out of all the possibilities in life, we’ve said “this is the one,” which means that we have one path for success, and an infinite number of failure paths. 

Even if we have 4 or even 10 X paths to get Y, that’s still a whole lot of few paths to success compared to all the other ways it can get there.  We are so good at kaiboshing something that could lead us to something great just because it doesn’t fit what we think it should look like…

And that’s the double trouble (well, I guess by now we’re up to a quadruple trouble), for what we want out of the Y isn’t often Y itself, but the ways of being and experiencing that come along with it.  We don’t need X, and we don’t even need Y.  Note above I said “could come of Y?”  Exactly.  What we’re often really looking for Z, and those ultimate pleasures/freedoms/self-expressions/fulfilments/joys/peace of minds. 

The invitation from Soul (and self-cultivation in general) is to see how our various If/When/Then constructs can be a hindrance and a trap to us, and how they (unintentionally) cut us off from that which we truly want. 

Wonder Wednesday

Woah!  That is not a photoshop job… that is actual people walking on actual water in an amazing piece of land art by none other than Christo and Jeanne-Claude titled The Floating Piers.  Installed for 16 days back in 2016, it was also huge:

That’s 3km worth of 16m wide golden floating walkway, leading to and island and onto another island.  Again, wow…

Read more about it and see plenty of more pictures (including construction photos) at Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s website.

Architecture Monday

This is a cool performing arts venue.  For decades the performances by this organization had been held in two big top tents.  In keeping with that history, the design took inspiration to create a sculptural shell that reaches for the heavens.

There’s a nifty slight of hand here, creating a broad plinth (with wide stairs to reach it) on which they rest the shell.  This allows for the arena inside to be ringed by what appears as clerestory windows for a luminous glow, while they also function as entry doorways.  The ribbing on the underside of the roof is great, heightening the visual pull of the curving ribs all the way up to the amazing oculus.

In addition to the biggie hall there’s a smaller and way more intimate theatre, also done in the round.  But the pièce de résistance (and the thing that really piqued my interest) is a third performance space that consists of large saltwater float/thermal bath under a vaulted dome illuminated by another soft oculus.  Music is pumped into the water and the room so you can float and listen, which just sounds absolutely lovely.

Very fun project.  A great venue for all sorts of arts and performances, that ties into its community both in site (including the nearby ruins of a train station bombed during WW2) and in its large outdoor terrace, and that adds a bistro and, especially, that spa and float tank for a space of ultimate unwinding.  Great work.

The Tempodrom by GMP

Wonder Wednesday

It’s another amazing Vihart Pi day video!  But beyond the usual excellence (including the quote from yesterday’s post), this one has something special in that she improvises about 30 minutes of music, based around the continual repetition of a sequence of notes.

And that aspect of it, the building of music around continual repetition, is really fascinating to me.  When I saw Sigur Ros in concert, they played () track 9b (also known as Untitled Track 9b, also also known as Smaskfia).  A track that is just a small piano bit repeated over and over and over and over.  Yet it bored straight into my soul in a way I didn’t even know was possible.  It was a mind blowing experience.  (And they played it right before the intermission, so I got to just sit inside of that wonder.)  In the video above, Vihart creates that inside the of repetition of notes, everything else involved gets heightened, be it the accompanying notes/harmony or simply the way it is played (and the emotion/feeling you can put into that).  Which is something both cool and can be supremely moving.

(Also, if you haven’t seen Vihart’s magnum opus, 12 Tones, I highly encourage you to check it out as well!)

Architecture Monday

Richard Rogers is well known for putting the structure on display at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.  And so he did here… but there’s also something kind of insane going on.  As in the building juts out 90’ from the edge of the hillside, with nary a support beneath it.

Just look at that, what an insane cantilever!  It hovers 60’ above the ground (and a historic Roman track) at its outmost point, seeming to defy gravity (and almost daring you to walk under it).  Meant as a gallery, it’s a perfect folly, taking the ground plane and extending it until you’re floating amongst the treetops, looking out over ancient ruins and a national park below.

Wild and crazy!  But nifty, and as a capstone (he has retired) it’s a nice callback to one of his earliest and most well known buildings.

The Drawing Gallery at Chateau La Coste by Richard Rogers.

(The Chateau also has buildings by Ando, Gehry, Piano, Nouvel, and more… so clearly a spot I need to keep in mind!)

Wonder Wednesday

Forget crop circles… snow art is where it’s at!

These amazing works are made by Kim Asmussen up near lake Superior on the lovely freshly fallen powder, walking the designs with snowshoes.  Mesmerizing and amazing!  And all captured for posterity with a drone, which also makes for some great video:

Wonder Wednesday

Oh wow, there’s something I really like about this piece of concept art!  If it looks like a monument, it is of a fashion: it’s from the early days of what would eventually become Disney’s California Adventure.  This sculptural spire would have been the centerpiece of what was then still being developed as “Westcot”, a west coast version of EPCOT. Interestingly, it’s the second version of the park’s centerpiece, the original being a large globe similar to EPCOT, albeit one planned to be enveloped in a second lattice work globe twice as big and embedded with a gazillion lights.  That received some push back from the local community, and thus this spire was born, something to still maintain an impressive monumentality from within the park while reducing its visual impact from without.

There are other sketches that show the spire at the front of a landscape-like building, but while they’re neat I prefer this one above.  It feels both more approachable and more impressive on its own, with the fountains and walkways and the stonehenge-like segmented slabs that surround it.

In the end, of course, it was never built, and the saga that leads us up to the park that is there today is a whole fascinating story of its own.