Monday, January 10, 2011

Cake & Unicorns and Architecture

Cake & Unicorns

There is a learning curve in relationships.

Recently, as I’ve discussed romance and relationships and best-friendships and so on with a variety of people, I’ve noticed that I go from sounding young and naïve to worn out and cynical. Well, not quite cynical, but almost. I don’t particularly remember what I’ve said recently that sounded young and naïve, but I know I did. Oh, here it is.

One thing was my admission of the fact that I tend to be the rescuer and how I accepted this designation long ago. “Many people have tried to change this about me, have warned me that I will end up drained and damaged, but I honestly don't care,” I wrote. I confessed I sounded young and naïve, but only admitted that I may be such. I don’t fear being hurt in the process of helping. I used to, but I learned the difference between giving up and letting go in the distant past. I don’t feel frustrated by the fact that I end up being the rescuer, I only feel frustrated by the fact that, oftentimes, I am not in a position to rescue sufficiently. (note: when I say rescue, I am thinking primarily of a rescue that involves empowerment, not enablement)

Today, I sounded more cynical. Not terribly cynical, but less young and naïve than my previous discussions of fearlessness and hope and strength.

There is a learning curve in relationships. (It takes some time to get to know each other well enough to see past minor obstacles, whether shattered glass, or silly miscommunications)

This sentiment was expressed to me today and I agree. Perhaps you do not. Perhaps your relationships reflect the romanticized examples of a child’s movie and a pre-teen’s book. Does that make you romanticized? Not necessarily. There’s really no way for me to say that I’m right beyond a shadow of a doubt. But, from my experiences, relationships are not all cake and unicorns. See? Worn out and cynical.

But there is also balance and moderation between being young and naïve and worn out and cynical. Just because I sound young and naïve sometimes doesn’t mean that I think relationships are all cake and unicorns. And just because I think relationships are not all cake and unicorns, doesn’t mean that I think a healthy relationship is unattainable. Clearly, if you know me.

Regardless of your relationship philosophy, I think the most important thing is to be with someone who generally understands, reflects, and shares your relationship philosophy. A person toward the young and naïve side will probably not be very compatible with a person toward the worn out and cynical side. Hello, continuum. Have I told you how much I enjoy continuums? I think they’re helpful in basically every situation. Anyway. This compatibility is what I currently have and I am reveling in it. (note: I just tried to check the definition of revel with Word’s synonym function: drink, get drunk, party, raise the roof, go on the town, and paint the town red. Thanks for not being helpful at all) All in all, relationships are not all cake and unicorns. Even so, if you happen to stumble upon a good one, they can be pretty awesome.


Last week, my Intro to Material Culture Studies visited the on-campus Pritchett Museum. But first, we explored and studied some of the buildings on campus. In particular, we looked at Bowman Hall, the main classroom building for many departments (Philsophy and Religion, Business, English, Sociology, Psychology, and probably something I’m forgetting). It looks like a fairly standard three-floor classroom building, until Prof. began to point out specific architectural elements. He prefaced his discussion with this quote: “A building should look like what it is.” Attributed to Steven Holl, I Googled this quote and found a book: Feng Shui by Angel Thompson. Within this book, the author says that: “…form does better when it follows function. A building should look like what it is. A factory should not appear to be a temple. A garden shed should not appear to be a teahouse. A home should not look like a bank” (p. 79).

But my youthful mind sees a discrepancy!

Bowman Hall has Greek design elements incorporated into its outer appearance. Columns, moulding, etc. (note: uh… moulding is not recognized as a word by Word?) Why does Bowman Hall have these Greek-inspired elements? These extra finishing touches on Bowman Hall do not add any practical function to the building, they do not serve any purpose other than simple aesthetics. Aesthetics, and the fact that they conjure up thoughts of classical Greece, a place of learning and knowledge and enlightenment, etc. They serve a purpose, just not a tangible one.

(note: I’ve lost momentum, so I apologize if the rest of this declines in quality)

My youthful mind yearns for efficiency. I at first wanted to say that, in regards to architecture, intangible purposes have no value to me. But I have since realized how terribly contrary this is to everything I’ve ever said. Intangible things have the most value! But I still do not fully appreciate them when they are in the realm of architecture.

In my mind, I picture a school. Plain building. I picture a factory. Plain building. I picture a house. Plain building. I picture a hospital. Plain building. I picture any other type of building. Plain building. (note: don’t get me wrong; I really, really do appreciate the aesthetics of different types and styles of buildings. I just don’t understand how the aesthetics serve the function of representing WHAT that type of building IS)

First of all, why, when I picture any particular (note: every time I’ve typed particular while writing this, I automatically go too far and type particularly. My speed is also not what it used to be. Apparently my typing skills are out of practice) type of building, do I picture a plain building? Well, actually, that’s not what happens. I think of a school. Classic one-room schoolhouse, then a plain building with fences. But then I consider the Steven Holl quote. I think of a school. Plain building. Why? Efficiency. A building’s true function does not need to affect its form. Aside from minor structural differences (such as a loading dock for a factory or warehouse), every building can serve its tangible purpose as a plain building. Efficiency. I, as a young mind, have been encultured (note: darn Word spell-check) to believe in and uphold efficiency. Efficiency and rationalization. Rationalization. Over-rationalization. Dystopia.

(note: oh hey! I’m super-obsessed with dystopias!)

Second, who gets to say WHAT, exactly, a particular type of building should look like?

The end.

(note: You know what I just realized? I'm so much of a nerd that my blog posts generally consist of topics inspired by my current classes or independent studies! Yay!)

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