I have taken on this new habit of walking to school with my iPod earphones blasting music into my ears. My iPod is thankful for it, after almost 4 years of gathering dust in my drawer, but today walking back after a long day of frustrating thesis presentation, boring english class, and two long and exhausting theater design /performance art courses, it made me feel like the loneliest person on earth. It's a weird feeling, to be walking through the busy streets of a city at sunset, yet be completely disconnected from it, for lack of its noise reaching your ears. Although physically I was walking in Hamra, my mind was numbly absorbing the sounds of Svo Hljótt, and the intensity of the music took over my whole being. For a moment I felt like I didn't exist, like I was watching myself from a distance, and then I felt alone. Then I started thinking about cities, of course, and my thesis, and I felt meaningless.
Then I thought about my fine arts class, design in theatre, in which only anth and I are architects, and how much happier and free the others seemed to be. Not in the nagging "I am in architect I have so much work I am always tired" kind of opposite way, rather, they seemed happy doing whatever they wanted, without censoring themselves too much, and it made their results so much more accidental and surprising, in a good way, I thought. And I started thinking about how bad it is that we are trained to criticize others and ourselves so much, how limiting it is that we think of everything in terms of how great a contribution it is, how everything we design has to have a function and a concept and a meaning. Whatever happened to taking a colored pencil and just drawing your heart out on a piece of paper? When did we become such cynical, critical, tight, bitter individuals with no playfulness or will to let go and accept failure, whatever that may be? Why does everything have to have a reason, a meaning, a concept?
The students in my class, who haven't been trained as architects or designers, they have let their imaginations run wild, their feelings come through, and they are thankful for an opportunity to express their innermost desires and thoughts. And I who have been trained to think like a designer, to draw like an architect, to represent like an artist, freeze before the task of transforming a shoe box into a stage, for lack of context, lack of subject, lack of concept. It could be anything, and that scares me, stops me from imagining anything. "The architecture of everything is the architecture of nothing", Najjar said this morning. In architecture, the more constraints are imposed on a site, the easier it is to design. Context gives meaning, creates concept. So what does this mean? That actually we have been trained to kill our imagination? That we have become problem solvers, who reject that which has no grounding in anything previously existing? Can anything have a meaning, even if it is not one reliant on a critical analysis of something else? We laugh at people who call us "creative"; "There is no such thing as taste, creativity, or originality", we say.
What are we then? Arrogant egotistical machines that know how to analyze problems of design and resolve them? What are we so arrogant about then, if its only a question of addressing constraints that challenges us, and just to do that involves so much hard work and long hours. So basically what we're saying is we're stupid, we're slow, we have no special "talent", we don't need imagination, we are not allowed to invent anything or create anything without a reason for it, and everything should be explained.
Great, now someone please remind me, why did I choose to become an architect again?