writing implodes. it is, after all, a medium of language, an objectification of language – which is objectification at its most basic form.
so how can i continue to write about moving beyond objectification? writing staticizes. it records. it is something to which others tie us and we tie ourselves. the great people of this world led by action. they moved beyond belief, in unknown lands where there is nothing to know – nothing to believe, except that you can not stay where you are and you can never go back, and so you point yourself in a direction and go. this is faith, from which all beliefs stem like symptoms. and beliefs waver in the wind, they are impermanent imperfect ideologies that fall through your hands like sand when you examine them, objectify them. if you question your beliefs far enough and long enough you will realize that they all stem from a faith. this faith is what i want to get at. a faith in life and change. beyond beliefs. there is no goal, no end, nothing to prove or justify. everything is not going to work out for the best, there is no end. there is no economy. there is no good life. there is no accomplishments. i am shedding all these beliefs. i am cutting off even the sprouts and focusing on the seed, on the potential, on an infinite and dense potential. on knowing that life is living. it isn’t what you do, it is what you are doing. to live a brave and uneven life. to make the heart beat faster, pump more blood to the brain, make us aware of the life we are living and the beautiful temporality, unpredictability, and inter-connectedness.
so have i pre-objectified a path? have i made a plan which now i can only fulfill? am i holding myself to the image of myself? i hope that i have only chosen a direction.
where i found my faith in architecture was not in architecture at all, but in its ability to remain as a backdrop for life, in its ability to be what is not life. and, therefore, to accentuate and contrast a beautiful changing life. that is, i believed that we could build without objectifying our selves. that we could objectify, as minimally as possible, our anti-selves. allowing a life in an open void, against a white and pure backdrop. made pure by our cancellation of our anti-self through our life.
this, i suppose, is where i have also come to in writing. that it is an objectification that is best used minimally and to objectify that which we want to be exterior to our self. to kill with light. but we must be sure to live a life of action in contrast. we must minimally objectify (put to death) our anti-self. we do not want to waste time objectifying. now it is time to move on. to move beyond this structure of our self. beyond belief. (and this objectiftying our anti-self, as i said above, is only a belief).
so writing must be made free from its form. it must function like a command followed, or a test page from a printer; it must be immediately obsolete. like an oral history that changes with every telling, the great stories are changed, embellished, and therefore live. they become directions. ii do not propose, in other words, that we can function as a pure life of action without language. i propose that life is action. and it must follow that language can be included, assimilated, changed, subverted. we can not draw a line between words and action. just as, in architecture, you can not draw a line between form and function, between the tools of life and life. architecture is a manipulation, a changing of form, a shelter which changes the environment, a product and tool of comfort which utilizes various tools. beyond roofs and windows we have plumbing and heating, and electricity and now, a synthesis with a changing language. which leads you to believe that architecture always was, and is, a language. for how could it become, how could it take on, what it is not? so now there is the synthesis. architecture and clothing and writing and reality all connected into one big user-friendly environment. it leaves you thinking: wait, was language a modification of the environment or was a modification of the environment language?
and you say this as you are breathing air!
where i found my faith in art was not in art at all, but in its ability to spawn life, to re-invent, to set something back into a system and watch and interact with an effect larger than your self. art only becomes life when it becomes beyond your control. and language, you can say what you want, but it moves faster and the effect is larger than any words. it has become life. it has become an action. it has become a vector. it has become a direction. and life, you can not put lines around it, inscribe it in a bubble, put it in the petri dish. now it has melded into… now the vector, you can only watch it exponentially and three-dimensionally disperse – a ray of light.
and so, architecture and writing, they are vehicles. art, it is a vehicle too. life is the journey. and i don’t mean the journey behind a car window, the world at an arm’s length, watching the passing movie in a windshield. now we must understand our constant interactive action. turning our vehicle simultaneously changes and creates both the world we live in and our selves. there is no stasis. quit looking through the glass. it does not separate you from your world. it only separates you.
Part 2: Removing the Glass
***Warning*** The rest is way too personal to preserve any sense of ‘journalistic integrity’ or removed objectivity. But maybe it is a first step towards the removal of writing and doing, between theory and life. A first step towards removing the glass. Or maybe it shouldn’t be published…
“To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but to so love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.” (Thoreau Walden 15)
(Thoreau was a great philosopher not because what he said was so profound, but because he lived his life according to his philosophy. He went beyond the limits of language by using his life as a vehicle for experimentation. His philosophy was presented in his books, but it was made strong through his life. This is the land of free speech, not free action. It was this very reason that Thoreau was put in jail.)
This is beyond art, beyond philosophy: to live as a living philosophy, an experimental, working philosophy, constantly revised, re-evaluated.
(And here is where I must turn that accusing glare on my self. What do I do, second by second, hour by hour. What are the minute decisions which make up my life. What can I do every second to enjoy and make life richer, thicker, more pervasive and mind-blowing?)
When people ask me what do I do? I usually reply, architect, hoping that this will put an end to the discussion, although it rarely does since the reason they were asking was to start a conversation and/or judge me. We do not need to judge our self worth based on our job or our professional label. As Micah told me the other day, People just can’t understand that you can be an artist and work at some other job. They can not understand that being an artist is a lifestyle, not a job. (My immediate thought, honestly, was that this was bullshit. But after thinking about it, it is not bullshit at all, it is true.) As Anne told me, it isn’t what you do but how you do it, your outlook on life, are people happy to see you, do you make things more enjoyable. I have to agree with this to a point. I have known many people who work for companies they don’t believe in, building and furthering things they don’t believe in, and yet remain happy – in fact, so happy that it is contagious. they make the day to day, second by second life of the people around them more enjoyable.
I guess maybe I have bought into this idea of consequence too much. But if I am going to go to work every day I wish the actual work could benefit someone. But what work is worth doing? Who deserves benefits? Architecture is the design of a mechanism for those in power to claim and extend power, through space and presence and language. I used to think that while architects are slack artists at least they aren’t as bad as advertisers. I have to revise that theory now. At least most advertisers recognize that they are pulling heart strings to hawk a product and wouldn’t dare to call their product art. Most architects are still in denial – they recognize the political process which ‘allows’ the building to get built, but do not recognize the politics inherent in the building because of these politics. Blind executioners. It kind of reminds me of the multiple buttons on the electric chair, only one of them being active so that the people who press the buttons never have to be sure that they were the one who killed the guy. Let me tell you, if you pressed the button, you killed the guy whether or not you ‘actually’ did. Just because you turn a blind eye to the processes you are a part of does not make you pure. We all killed the guy because we are part of democracy that upholds the death penalty and we did nothing to stop it.
I used to think that art was the only real point of life. Now I believe that life is the only point of art. Real life art cannot be sold. It is a temporary experience of enhanced awareness of life. An enjoyment of the present. It makes the world a better place to be. There is a real trap in being a ‘real artist’ – that is, one that uses art as their source of income. The entire art community is a large sandbox construct of society where people can throw around radical ideas without ever affecting anything. Art is only consumed as a commodity. Art is always placed within the economic political structure if it is something which can be bought and sold. Art is something beyond that, something you can never purchase or find in a museum. It is a certain state of life, of perspective. It is driving through west virginia on route 10. Looking up at the sky and realizing how amazing it is that you are at that particular point, with those particular passing cars and trains and people, and that particular perspective and you will never be there again, you never could be there again, because everything only happens once.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when it came time to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.” (Thoreau, Walden, 66)
I ride the bus most days. I write in the mornings. I don’t eat at fast food chains anymore. I drink coca-cola less often. I whine about injustice a lot. I tutor one day a week. I really enjoy walking around the city, waiting on the bus, seeing chicago ave. change daily. I hole up in my little cocoon and write about the terrible things I’ve seen, hoping to kill them with light, with objectification. I think a lot, too much. I do too little. Is this really a lifestyle change? Riding the bus to and from my work where I claim space for the powerful, and then back to the space and objects I have claimed for my self. I have changed very very few things about my lifestyle. I wrote down all the things I consumed one morning and then eliminated none of them. I looked at the back of the laundry detergent while I was in the store and attempted to choose one that was made by a smaller company. Yes, these are the sort of minute decisions which make a difference in this world, but I also think there are some large ones I am overlooking. Americans consume 80% of the earth’s resources. I don’t know how lucky I am. I need to reduce. I am too comfortable in my gluttony. I feel most alive when I am on camping road trips. (There is this one artist that takes trips all over the world and arranges rocks and takes pictures of them, or brings the rocks back and arranges them in museums. He sells the pictures or the rocks to finance his nest trip. He pawns off the rocks as art when both he and I know that the art is the trip and the pictures or the rocks don’t have anything to do with it. Is there a way to live a life of art without selling a sham?) The whole world wants levis. We are slaves of our own desire. We beg to be colonized, entrapped, comforted, secured. Instead of forcing our power, we sell our power. We want non-consequential lives. Thoreau just wanted to be left alone to live his own inconsquential life – in theory. But the reality is that this could not happen. He fould himself forced to be a part of a system which had consquences he did not believe in (slavery), and he wrote a book, which implies that there was a desire to communicate beyond his own little world. I would love to just travel around the united states, camping and enjoying life, except for that nagging feeling of guilt. Maybe I just went to church too much as a kid. There are only two rules I try to live my life by: enjoy life and help others enjoy life. This seems so simple, how does it become so complicated in practice?
Maybe I should join the peace corp or something. The question then is, what am I running from? The complications of modern life in america? Hoping to return to something simple and simply good? I know that nothing is that simple – nothing is simply good. Is it an attempt at being holier than thou? Is it an attempt to be exempt from political realities? Would I use band-aids made by Johnson and Johnson? AIDS drugs that have been patented and copyrighted and are too expensive because generics are not allowed?
I guess what I’m running from is my own life of comfort – the Rut. All the thousands of objects I don’t need in my house. The way too ‘nice’ apartment I have. The routine. One day is pretty much the same as the next. Not very much of it really makes the world a better place. (If I sound like a spoild brat complaining about being spoiled that’s because that is exactly what I am.) I want a life that relies more on faith. That changes daily. That doesn’t store and hide huge reserves. I don’t need life insurance. I want to see people laugh and smile and be aware that they are alive and lucky. I want simplicity (of philosophy) and I don’t know where to look because I don’t believe it exists anymore. I want to live a good life of good but I don’t know how. I only know that I feel much too warm and smug to know I am alive. I don’t know the earth anymore, feeling it run through my hands. I am too separated in my comfort and routine and non-physical existence (hours dreaming, designing, planning, typing in a non-world). I need to live a physical living working philosophy but I am not sure where to take the first step, or how.
And this, this is where faith begins.