A Response to Frampton’s “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance”

art

I married an architect. He became a graphic designer. Architecture migrated beyond the creation of physical buildings to the creation of systems in general. And in my working life I have seen the term architecture applied to buildings, to software, to interfaces, to experiences, to smells and beyond. What would have in the past been an engineer, the mechanisms of delivery of an architecture, are now removed in favor of the architect who creates the plan.

I think about systems. Above is a painting (42″x78″) I made that include some of these systemic systems in my unconscious. Professionally, I analyze software systems and hardware system and processes. In the past when I would think of factory systems, I would think of the components of a system and how they interact. For example, I would think of a conveyor belt and the different widgets on the belt and the different things that happen to the widget on the belt.

When an architect designs a building, a cathedral for example, he also creates a belt, a movement pipeline, the movement of the congregation through the aisles, the priests, the smell of the incense, the movement of air, the movement of light from the stained glass window, the movement of spirit – whatever that may be. But really, when I think of architecture I think of the creation of an atmosphere and the impact of the atmosphere on the psyche and on the creation of an affect, perhaps a religious affect we could say. Here is an idea that in designing the flow of the space we create the atmosphere of the space, and that these two things are not different exercises but two sides of the same coin, the negative of the photograph and the developed photography.

The essay by begins with a discussion of architecture. And while I read this I hear echos of Le Corbusier and the commodification of architecture. How this comes from the enlightenment is via the notion that there are laws for everything. There are laws of gravity, of morality, we can legislate everything even buildings. There is an optimal law for buildings. How we interpret this can be different. A law can be something veridical – true or false, or it can be dynamic based on variables, like F=MA, or it can be addressed hermeneutically or interpretively like the talmud or the US legal system.

This is contrasts regional diversity that by its very nature cannot claim to be a “universal” law. There is this tension then of integrating the universal with the regional or the populist or something else. This in the essay appears to express itself idiosyncratically, from the personality of the artist. And this is probably the problem with art. It is the quirkification of art rather than the groundedness of art. The groundedness of art is the application of the particular, of what is particularly regional to the universal.

Towards the middle of the essay there is a meditation on the architecture of the gallery and its effect on the artwork. When I recently reread Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” I alighted on this line: “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.” Our attention creates the reality we experience, just as the climate of the western united states creates the Douglas Fir. And so I was treated to this paragraph:

“Until recently, the received precepts of modern curatorial practice
favored the exclusive use of artificial light in all art galleries. It has perhaps
been insufficiently recognized how this encapsulation tends to reduce the
artwork to a commodity, since such an environment must conspire to render
the work placeless. This is because the local light spectrum is never
permitted to play across its surface: here, then, we see how the loss of aura,
attributed by Walter Benjamin to the processes of mechanical reproduction,
also arises from a relatively static application of universal technology.”

A commodity exists within an environment of commodification. The commodity, in particular, exists within the environment of the capitalist system. Perhaps objects with auras cannot exist in this system. If something has an aura it has a place, it is grounded, it interacts with it’s environment. Perhaps something created according to a universal law cannot have an aura, perhaps auras are enhanced by the particularity of a thing. I can maybe talk about the Heidegger reference that we need to talk about BEING. As I wrote this I thought of two things, the being of Hegel that there are Being and beings and the morphology of Goethe, that something exists as a capacity and can satisfy that capacity in many different ways – like the capacity for a finger can exist in many different lengths/thicknesses/hair density/melanin etc.

Towards the end of the essay we bring back in the body, perhaps a phenomenological experience of architecture. What does it feel like to look at a painting in a gallery, a mosaic in the Duomo of Siena, or a painting in Lascaux? There is a discussion of the techtonic vs the scenographic. That the construction of the thing has more impact than the surface design, the scaffolding of the interior building more than the curtain wall – Goethe would approve. There is a notion of mythmaking in current art. That the great artists are the ones that create complete mythologies or universes and I am reminded of this in the reference to Visconti using real parquet floors in “The Damned.” How do the actors react or act differently according to the set. A set that is scenographic rather than techtonic will interact with actor in a different ways. Perhaps only the techtonic way will create an aura. Acting becomes not a facade but an experience an exchange between the actor and the set and the system of filmmaking that produces the aura of the film.

This all sounds beautiful romantic and particularly brooklyn all things that I love. However I also love Chandigarh – so how to reconcile these things – the Being and the beings. The Now the Then and the Tree that exists now and here – this is a reference to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Frampton says, “The tactile opposes itself to the scenographic and the drawing of veils over the surface of reality.” But this notion that there is a reality, is such an enlightenment notion! Lets examine the veils and the auras that each veil produces.

I could end here but I am going to provide an epigraph.

A friend has recently been diagnosed me as being quirky. I do not experience myself as quirky but I definitely experience myself as regional or niche. As a child when I was sent to summer camp I was diagnosed as “odd” which is perhaps different from being quirky – in that it is more singular – it is the third thing – the singular thing – the point of the spear – the source. This is perhaps why I named my son Eero, not arrow the pointy thing as he tells his classmates.

I do not follow the universal laws- I do not watch popular tv shows or listen to popular music. It is not that I am intentionally doing this, but that my attention does not go there – I do not recognize these universal laws of popularity. However what I do recognize is the ecological niche, in the exploration of a particular habitat. Is this quirky, Is this idiosyncratic? I would say this is regional. And just like the taste for stinky tofu is perhaps regional to parts of Taiwan, the the taste of blue cheese is regional to the taste of parts of France, my taste is likewise regional, arising from the regions of the imaginal rather than the regions of my ego (my idiosyncrasy).

Networks Vs Communities:

capitalism

I read Dumbing Us Down yesterday. I pretty much already held the opinions expressed int his book. That the purpose of school is to commodify the individual, remove our quirks, make us easier to control, and so forth. My adult life has been an attempt to rediscover the child I was before schooling happened to me (and summer camp and other bad ideas). And really, the commodification did not work that great, I’m still pretty frickin weird. But not weird enough! Schooling did do its job, and there are many things about myself that I don’t reveal. because school made me feel like large parts of myself had to be discarded or hidden.

Like I am not going to reveal the list of 42 groups I was involved with in 2020. But that 42! It is a magic number.

One of the most interesting, to me, parts of the book involved a discussion of networks vs communities. Remember folks this was written in 1992. No social networks, no network graphs, no linked in. But here we have it networks vs communities. The TLDR is that networks bring a reduced portion of the individual to a group where as in communities you bring the whole person AND in a network you get the most out of the network at the beginning, in a community you continue to receive value over time.

I wonder of those 42 groups which are networks and which are communities. A friend was trying to start a community. He kept saying, the community, the community, but there really was no community – a community does not come into being because you collect a bunch of people together and decide that – voila – here is a community.

Do you have to like the people in the community? Nope. I think that communities exist because there are networks of people within the community. People are connected to one another. In cults perhaps people are only connected to the leader.

Anyway community. How do we do community in an online world? This is very hard -maybe impossible – because online strips away so much about what it means to be a human. If I pay to be in a community am I still in a community – or is this verging in cult territory. Some of the 42 groups are patreon groups, most of them I am there for the leader, some of them I am there for the people. What if we had a patreon where you vetted both the creater and the community.

Communities can include or exclude. Thats sad, but necessary. Richard Bartlett and the microsolidarity folks talk about this. I mean if you are for everyone, then you are a for no one. I think it’s ok to have a community be exclusive. But what I don’t like is a community to be conformist.

Is this a rant? Yes. I want to be part of a community of people in person. I want to do community things like cook and dance and teach and play music, and hear music, and make art, and look at art, and learn and read and make a big fire (that is my core competency) and watch a dance performance. I don’t need to be part of 42 communities to do this – maybe just one. Like maybe I am actually a community monogamist. Maybe I want too many things that cannot possibly be in one community. Like cultural somatics, tai chi, kundalini yoga, and soccer. But I would love to go deep in one community. To really learn the many facets of my community members to learn this mode of commitment and love.

Active Listening

music

I keep wanting to call this “Deep Listening’ but really it is “Active Listening” My friend Nitzan spends an hour every day actively listening to music. This is not music as background music, like what I am doing now as I write this blog post. He was once a DJ and he used to run a record label, so there is that history that I feel is important to include.

When I first heard this I thought -wow – I need to do that. Didn’t happen. I suppose when I was flying a lot and on client sites I could have done this a bit more easily. Right now, it is difficult for me to carve out this time. Maybe an hour is too much, or maybe an hour alone is too much, or maybe an hour where I have to select all the music and some is not great is too much, or maybe and hour where all I need to do is listen is too difficult (I cannot write my thoughts!). If I wanted to reflect on music what I would do is listen to an hour of music, have my somatic experience, and then listen again and engage the conscious mind to reflect and write.

This week I listened to four renditions of Recuerdos De La Alhambra by Tárrega. This is a recording played by Segovia. It is my favorite. His tremelo is the best! the must natural that most integrated. What do I love about it: The moderate to slow pace, the variability of tempo – this gives the piece a sense of depth, accents on particular notes throughout, bass notes and even higher notes. The tremelo and bass notes all sound cohesive, Depending on where you pluck the strings the sound can have the timber of different instruments. But here it all sounds like guitar.

The Christopher Parkening example I am listening to feels like the tremelo is on a completely different instrument from the bass. At first I thought that this was a guitar piano duet, with the bass notes places on the piano! Also there is a certain mechanical feel to tremelo… it seems on a different timescale than the bass.

The John williams recordig I am listening to is very powerful. The notes sound very and it is faster than the Parkening and the Segovia.

My second favorite is Julian Bream. First I love his ending. My least favorite ending is the Parkening. The Bream recording also seems a bit faster to me and I like the variability to the tempo of the bass notes but the consistency of the tempo of the tremelo. The tremelo also is not too tinny it has a certain richness. My favorite starts of to the piece are the Segovia recording and then the Parkening. They begin on a strong base note and the slowly bring up the tremelo starting very softly and slowly becoming louder. the Bream and Williams start out of the gate with the bass and the tremelo at similar speeds and volumes.

Anyway I am not a music writer. My music education has many gaps although I am really good at site reading guitar music. It is part of my over all ability to site read – like site read ancient greek and latin. Is it really important to be able to site read or to be able to study something become great at it and do that well – not just be good in the moment when something random is thrown at you. We really cannot pick those things that are natural talents so we can just appreciate them for what they are and try and take them for what they are.

Anyway I want to do an experiment where 4-6 people get together for 90 minutes max. They each bring a piece of music under 10 minutes. We all listen and then we have brief responses. I want to try this once. If this sounds interesting to you, or something you want to participate in, leave a note, or a heart or something

Cultural Posture

art

I have been taking the workshop offered by ritual as justice after hearing Tada on a podcast. Today I was reviewing some of the videos and Tada kept mentioning the body and cultural trauma as well as colonial imperialism. I am going to try and write down some takeaways that I really find helpful and I apologize if I get these incorrect. These are not my ideas, but study, to parapharse Paulo Fieri , is a political act. So this is study and dialogue with the practices and ideas of the ritual as justice school.

One example I remember is the movement from the traditional robes of Asia allows energy to circulate from the Hara (belly) and the heart, and the brain. In the west however we have pants and a shirt and heart is prioritized where as the lower body is cut off. There is no grounding. The colonial project and the attire of pants and shirts spreads this embodied trauma.

The western loss of access to the Hara, to the lower part of the body is a form of trauma, it is an expression of trauma and in the western imperialist imposition of this attire to further traumatize the body of the oppressed. Tada refers to both the individual body (now in a suit perhaps), and the cultural body (the supply chain that makes the suit, the coffee and grain supply line that overcompensate for a body deprived of Hara).

We are learning all the different ways that imperialism might be overcome, through active resistance, through community and networks of care, through study, through witnessing, and through body practices (somatics).

DeFi

art

I am participating in a DeFi workshop this week. I have been involved in crypto for a long time and I have a lot of crypto posts here. I am also collaborating with artist Mary Ellen Carroll on a quadratic voting project related to crypto. It is four sessions. There are a bunch of developments in DeFi that I have not been following and really do not want to have to poke around to curate myself. Also I like learning in small groups like this. The first workshop session was a bunch of review but it filled in a lot of blanks that I had forgotten or – gasp- never knew.

The two big ones are:

Nakamoto’s consensus:

This is the practice in bitcoin of defaulting to the longest blockchain. The idea is that most of the compute power went into the longest chain so we can trust it.

Unpacking the Nonce:

It means “the one” but in cryptography it means the “number used once”. When we are “solving problems” to verify a block in the blockchain. We are calculating the nonce. There is also there great book that was referenced in the class on a minimum viable blockchain.

Thats all I got for today. I am tired.

Foreground and Background

art

I am going large scale. This is not that. This is like 24×18. Once crit I got was that this was a drawing and not a painting. The reason why was that the image sits on the background.

This is a fair criticism. And I have been thinking about it. How do I integrate the foreground and the background. How do I move the painting away from this realm of dichotomies and just work with the field. I am into fields, morphic fields, color fields, quantum fields… manifolds (are these fields).

Also I think of the idea of vibe or ambiance. What if instead of lines and points we focused on fields. Fields are what cause lines instead of lines that create shapes. As I was meditating on this I thought of cave paintings…

Then I thought of the dead. And I thought of Jung. and I thought of the knowing field in family constellations. And I thought perhaps these paintings are paintings of a field of one of these fields.

How DevOps is Like Painting

art, code

This week I am doing a client presentation The presentation is about basic devops practices and why they are important, how the client is adopting them in certain areas and where there is room for improvement.

DevOps is something that I am actually very passionate about. In the early days of programming there was a distinction between the creating of the software (software developers) and the deployment of the software (the system admins). This created for software development a two culture system as well as a linear system.

In dev ops, deployment is part of software development process – there is no more sys admin. This is a small distinction but it has outsized ramifications. Often times small changes in a system can have the largest impact. I think of it akin to accupuncture or accupressure or various martial arts where you make small subtle movements but they have massive impacts on your ability to be effective.

Why is this the case?

Well we can talk about systems, and with systems everything is interconnected so instead of finding the biggest problem point we need to find the most salient or impactful point.

We can also talk about inner systems (like inner martial arts) or invisible systems. This is the idea that there are some processes that are not apparent until we begin to perturb the system then we realize they exist indirectly and we can learn to control or exert pressure on these systems.

We can also talk about

With DevOps we move from a linear mode of working to a cyclical way of working. Why is this? What is really happening? Well we move from a sort of fordist conveyor belt notion of manufacturing that centers on the belt, to a pipeline notion of manufacturing that focuses on the widget. Rather than have pieces on a conveyor belt that different workers apply functions to. Someone introduces a new widget (an artifact) into a system… the system is a gigantic statemachine that applies tests to the widget. Depending on the result of the tests the state of the widget changes – from dev to testing to security to deployment… Depending on the state, different tests are applied. If the widget fails a test then the developer creates a new widget (artifact) and it goes into the system.

What we are doing is changing the state of something that is immutable… the software artifact. It is cyclical in the because a state machine is an infinite loop. It never ends. A conveyor belt has a beginning and an end.

Immutability is core to dev ops, but really cloud native computing. With cloud native devops there is no longer the sense of editing. When I deploy something I deploy the software along with the infrastructure – I create everything all at once. If I redeploy I remove the old environment (and artifacts) and then redeploy the newly created infrastructure with artifacts. Nothing ever changes. We just create or destroy.

Painting is similarly immutable. I was in a crit session, and someone brought two versions of a painting. This is impossible, said the crit leader (or she said something like that). Paintings can only have one state. This is different than say a novel or the written word, or something with versions. And while I can have different versions of code artifacts, with immutable infrastructure I only have one deployed version. Redeploying the a new version creates a new state of affairs in a way that is similar to painting, or overpainting, on a painting – AND different from editing a poem, story, essay, or book.

Bibliomancy

writing

I purchased a large book of poems by Louise Gluck and this was the first poem I read in the collection. It is called Matins. Matins is the first liturgy (Christian) of the day, celebrated from midnight to dawn (I think). I am currently doing a yoga Sadhana at 4:30am every. morning and yes I am virtue signaling. The 2 hours before sunrise are called the ambrosial hours – those are the best times to meditate apparently for some supernatural reason. This past week I also listened to a random video by Sadhguru on waking at 3:40am. Bibliomancy is when you flip randomly, or guided by the invisible hand of fate, to a section from a book and use this for prophetic ends.

I love the first lines “forgive me if I say I love you.” I once said something a bit more weaselly than “I love you.” I did want forgiveness for saying this. I felt sort of caught with my hand in the proverbial cookie jar and this is what I said. Sometimes you can’t say things like that – true or not. Is Louise lying here? She writes that she can’t love what she can’t conceive so is it the case that the object of her love is powerful and that she is panicked? (also I love that we use a k when adding ed to panic)

https://www.tasteofbeirut.com/hawthorn-berries-zaaroor/

This is the hawthorn. It is a symbol of transformation. It also is good for heart disease.

This is the foxglove – also good for heart disease. Foxglove symbolize magic, intuition — apparently bees and faeries like foxgloves. They are lovely and have a sort of gradient coloration sometimes. (Inconsistent!)

“Is this what you mean us to think, does this explain the silence of the morning, the crickets not yet rubbing their wings, the cats not fighting in the yard?”

Sigh!

I know what this means, I can feel it, but I cant explain it. The beginning of things, the beginning of meaning, the beginning of disclosure before there is anything to disclose.

Apparently Gluck wrote another poem called Matins as well. Maybe she wrote many. Maybe these are prayers.

Proust and the Underworld – the first 4 pages

art

I have been wanting to reread Swann’s Way for a while. This is perhaps a strange desire during a pandemic, but time feels different, and Remembrance of Things Past is about the experience of time. I picked up the newish Lydia Davis translation and off I went this evening sitting by the fire with my kids reading aloud Swann’s Way. I told the kids if I read 4 or 5 pages to them a day, we will be done in 3 months.

I have two sons 7 and 8, and my 7 year old asked if this was a tutorial on how to fall asleep – touche!

Yes and no. Why so much time about falling asleep? What is it about sleep? It is the liminal, the threshold. Proust describes the journey into sleep as metempsychosis / transmigration of the soul. This is referenced in Joyce’s Ulysses and DFW Infinite Jest Madam Psychosis, I was wondering what other novels reference metempsychosis and guess what – there is a web page for that.

Proust is our psychopomp (escorting souls to the underworld). Going into dreams, into memories, into fantasies are forms of transmigration of the soul.

Whenever there is a journey to the underworld, there is always a map. You cross a river, or you go up a mountain. The underworld has a geography, a landscape. As such your body has an orientation to it. However, your body in the underworld is not the same as your body in the physical world and the landscape of the underworld is of a different materia than the landscape of the mundane world. Also Proust gets sexy on page 2… did not register this the first time I read it. I wonder if this was scandalous or a literary risk at the time.

There is a discussion of while in dream space of the immobility of things, the ability to locate limbs, the position one falls asleep in, the ability to tell time while sleeping, or while drifting off to sleep.

And then I remembered I wrote something about night recently!

The night breathed through the apartment like a dark animal. A panther, a black panther. Also called a Puma. The Runa Puma that all the wanna be shamans talk about these days with metaphysical anthropology and misapplied theories that make the academics unhappy, but creates food for the mystics. 

“Life changes fast” was unintentionally plagiarized by Joan Didion from Ferris Bueller’s day off. “I’m pretty much fucked” is something I say at least once a week even without being stranded on Mars and if… if I say this sentence with my children I must stutter and apologize and come up with a different word.  “Blocked, I mean blocked.”  Blocked is not a synonym for fucked, more of an antonym for fucked. In fact, I am not sure why “I’m pretty much fucked” is considered negative because of the history of sexual violence. It should now be reclaimed in our new sex positive society of our own creation. 

But the night did breath through the apartment like a dark animal. It was hiding in pockets. Night was not a blanket that covered the bed and the night table and the overused microwave and the underused cast-iron skillet. Night existed first in the damp spaces like the steam pipe in the bathroom bubbling with condensation. 

 You can’t see a dark animal but you can hear his breath. Night is a man – tonight. His name is B and I can feel his finger trace lightly trace the curve of my waist up to my shoulder . So obviously night loves me – tonight – while I sleep. Half asleep really. 

What others gifts does night give? There is a dead fish in the mouth of this puma. Definitely dead.  The eyes already turn to glass and the blue gray scaly skin is broken and I can see the red blood and an oozing of something unappetizing. 

It’s too late for me to prepare this fish. It’s not much of a gift either. S and his friends prepared a fish dinner feast once with a fish like this and they all contracted Hepatitis C.  I am not quite sure how that works causally. I do believe in the germ theory of disease and I also believe in terroir. 

The Panther puma night drops the fish by my pillow. And breathes deep into my face. He licks my face with a scratchy tongue, that is also dark night. I reach my hand out to stroke fine thick dense bristles and her back arches. 

Night is now a woman. Why am surprised? No man has ever hunted for me. 

 And of course women are better hunters.   The night puma panther brings over a very sexy white negligee…neglected and drops it by my pillow near the dead fish now laying in a half moon. B breaths deeply next to me, night does not bother him. 

I slip on the white smooth crepe de chine negligee, now a short and tank pair. Strong and heavy, and slightly damp and the enormous black puma panther walks towards the door silently with her big black light paws padding for me to follow.