Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Louis Kahn, the great architect, wrote that the birth of education came when a boy and an old man were sitting under a tree, both sharing experiences and stories with one another. Neither boy nor old man knew what they were doing; their act created the institution of education out of the implicit desire to share, learn, and live together.

Kahn had noted that, in his opinion, most institutions had strayed from this original being. The work of a good architect and teacher is to return to this collaborative vision.

Education is about bringing together teacher and student, the young and the old, the tried and the fresh, together.

Teaching is about having faith and the long-term. To teach one must have a faith in the student’s own mind, abilities and future. One must respect the student’s ability to connect things together, and their ability to do so as an individual person. When a student takes a class, it has the potential to effect them for the rest of their life and any of their own teaching and work, friends and family. Knowledge has the potential to unravel new worlds of insight, spreading deep and far into the future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The future is that which, paradoxically, is permanently both the untied threads of the living, a world yet to be creatively woven and made into anything at all, and a firmly pressed garment, an item of fashion, existing in a form as truthful and real as the world of today.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

vision across the depth of a canyon's breadth

One's Vision must not be clouded by the sands of a desert storm, the winds of Poseidon, the fog of swamps, or the depth between a canyon's breadth.

Vision must shade from the pain of a storm, and push through the bite of cutting desert sand balding the skin. The swells of the land may swirl and move but the body can still track the topography below and the stars above.

Vision must hold forth when the fate of God turns His hand onto you. The wind and wet of rough seas can be survived.

Vision must be within one, seen and known, where no fog rising from swamps of darkness can blur.

Vision must peer across the canyon. Cut by water and time, the rupture in path is but another vision running perpendicular, deep and cut, rough and old, set and inhabited.

Vision can cut new path into old soil.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Problem of Models for Sustainability

Last Friday I attended a regional transportation summit for the bay area looking toward 2035.

The keynote speaker, over our catered lunch, was San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. In Newsom's clever and talented performance he spoke about how San Francisco and the bay area can become a great model of sustainability for cities around the world. This was how he ended his half-hour show. The speaker following Newsom expressed his excitement about the Chinese. He had just been in Beijing the week before to attend meetings about the nation's next five year plan, and to continue Newsom's thread, he said the Chinese took him and other bay area civic leaders aside and wanted to specifically learn from their achievements.

From my experience in participating in the campus sustainability movement at universities in California to my fairly-wide understanding of the contemporary, evolving sustainability movement as a whole, the wish to make one's city, campus, project, anything, a model for others to use, is commonly expressed.

But there is a problem with speaking of one's city to be a model.

To speak of making a city -- or anything for that matter -- great with the vision of it becoming a model in which others may use dilutes the value of one's city, and it bothers me greatly. (This problem resonates also with another idea I have seen in sustainability circles: that the best models work across every scale. This is a dangerous assumption.)

I understand many use the term with the desire others will learn from their city and achievements. I know models are very useful, especially within the process of creating something. But I am still bothered about the use of the term in this context, a context where "gathering best practices" can be lauded as innovative research. And while best practices can be learned from and are valuable, they tend to be sifted through like a bag of sweet candy jelly beans. One digs for the tasty flavor in the bag that makes the mouth water most.

To speak of making a city to be a model -- as the goal -- means one really desires others to copy from it. ...Picking and choosing, photographing and copying, digitally simulating, mass-producing a bag of city jelly beans.

To wish a city to be a model for others means that any purported greatness achieved will be many other cities with a likeness of one's own. Great cities have no cities of likeness. Great cities, of past, present and future, speak of their own identity, their own individuality. There is only one Kyoto, for example.

A great city can inspire, and it is a great process when it occurs. But inspiration, through the process of synthesis and abstraction, can produce the genesis anew and carry forth the building of greatness elsewhere that is imbued with its own distinct identity.

I am bothered by the desire to make something of our world simply in the end be a model -- it is a very post-modern thing to wish -- to wish many will copy you and become a likeness of you.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

man of city and sea

I wrote this poem in February 2007. I had gone to Santa Cruz to say goodbye to a friend and attend a fun going-away party. The next morning I went down to the promenade along West Cliff Drive and stood outside in the brisk, cold, wet, windy air. Breathing in the smell of the sea and gazing forever into the rolling swells toward the vast horizon of the water I love so much, I was swept up into memories of sailing and the greatness of what I saw before me. In love with the giant clouds of volume and blurred white grain and rushing in the air, I wrote this poem:

A man of the city and the sea,
It’s the land in-between that makes me.
I can be with you for eternity,
As a man of the city, with the sea.

Always we are alone, you and me – I and the beautiful sea.

The smells and my pearls,
My winds’ guiding grace,
My clouds’ breaking; great beauty, perfect pace.
You shall come spinning, dancing with the gulls above,
You and I, I will take you for eternity.

I will never rest but I will never leave,
Look into my eyes and we will dance endlessly
My hands will carry you, dear man of the city, now of the sea

Ah yes, I am a man of the city in love with the sea!
I am listening – your rain and great thunder:

From the clouds above -- light breaks upon you
I will grab it with my palms and roll it under
Where only my shadows will see it through
Come stay with me, says the sea, to me.

Come stay with me!
I will never leave you and I will never break – ah, maybe in the surface it’s true
But deep within I’m only calm,
Stretching from land to land – a bridge just for you.

Let me fall into your hands!
It will have been the journey that had made me!
As thus, I am a man of the city, now forever fallen with the sea.

the nature of a 'likeness'

The nature of a 'likeness' is such that when upon viewing a photograph or a painting or other faithfully provocative depiction of a human being (or for that matter scene of anything assumed to have a real counterpart), the person doing the seeing is caught up with the relationship between them and the person in the picture and notices, or is at least affected by, the identity of that person being a real, lived life somewhere else in the world and captured here so still. But then, when around the corner the actual living human depicted in the frame arrives in front of the gazer, this person greets them anew and is curious as to why the other looks at them with a hint of curiosity, the kind of curiosity reflecting a likeness of wonder about why the person in the picture now seen for real doesn't know of their own image, or think of it now, or the relationship already budding on the other end.
Global Warming is teaching us that Nature is not "just" natural nor determined, but that it too, like us humans, adapts -- its future something created and yet to be made!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Let me tell you a story of the beyond. See that field? Past the house and the road, beyond the porticoed shed, that open field. It is always there, you notice it when you walk by on the road, you see it from the front porch in the distance. That continuous channel of space between your body and its own, pulling you ever so slightly and cleverly forward. The desire to place one's own body within the field and to sense and feel its scale anew, its space, volume, and openness... of such a swath, a tapestry of carpeted grasses rolling up and down as it sinks and swells, sown to the land itself, a mass below the surface harken through terraform! And is it the field itself that pulls you, is that the beyond? The field is the suggestion, the deliverance of a prompted question sometimes seen through the rising heat inhabiting the distance before us, rippling the green and yellow grasses into the air. For one knows that once one breathes the air held within those rolling cupped hands, there is still a beyond spoken by the edge of the forest which defines it. The forest edge, a tangible mass of trees moving up into the hills, stirred together into its own distinct image characterized by a dominant pattern of varying, shapeshifting, meshed fractal-like changes in color, detail, and shadow and light of bushes and trees seen from a distance. Such a pattern-image lingers, asking one to look deeper and to make a guess -- educated by what we see and know -- about the deeper beyond assumed to be spatially persistent and dense like the volume of the field stretching before us. The forest, in contrast to and also much alike the field, must be a massive being! A presence full of continuation from what we assume to grow beyond the edge. And now move into the field, and into the forest. Does this change? From our position, the pattern shifts but the image remains, adjusted to a new view of the beyond.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Immaterial Labor + il Mercato

In response to the critiques on "immaterial labor" in the sociable web on the Institute for Distributed Creativity listserve:

This morning I went with some new friends to the Saturday morning mercato in our neighboring town of San Giovanni in the Valdarno valley, south of Firenze, Italy. The market -- similar to markets and flea markets experienced within larger Italian cities, and more so sharing a likeness with the market of the town in which I currently live, Montevarchi, as well as the Greek market within the forest of apartment complexes along the Faleron coast of Athens where I have spent time with my grandparents -- was pulsating with the blood of Mediterranean public life: people, many people, trying on clothes, lots of clothes, pressing bathing suits, undergarments, shirts, pants, underpants, up against their bodies, asking their friends and family what they think, all right there in the street amid tons of other people all doing the same thing. Clothing vendors dominated this market. Clothes were cheap. Sometimes fashion gems could even be uncovered in mounds of clothes, like a second-hand store in the USA. The friends I was with were actively shopping for clothes. I joined them and bought some underwear and socks.

I was very struck by how very public this shopping experience was, more public than shopping in the Ipercoop (Italian Walmart) where the market-like variety of clothes, electronics, and food is enclosed in effectively a giant industrial hanger. It was far more public than shopping along a street of stores embedded within buildings where the near-purchase experience happens between window-shopping and trying on clothes within private changing-rooms. And it was way more public than shopping in a mall where the giant industrial hanger has eaten the street space and stuffed the stores and their changing-rooms far deep into its privatized belly.

I felt a tad uneasy this morning, standing next to girls my same age who were trying on shoes and shirts, heading into the back of vans to change into dresses and then coming back out again to look at themselves in full-body mirrors held up by young men who are also selling the clothes. I felt a tad uneasy, I realized, because I was used to a much more private shopping experience! And like sitting at a dinner table with many wonderful, kind, loquacious people, and all of them speaking a language you don't speak that well, I didn't quite know how to enter the conversation without feeling awkwardly bold and out of context. I stood in the market this morning, mezmerized by this culturally-saturated Mediterranean shopping extravaganza in the street.

For the ancient Romans there were two words for the city, "urbs" and "civitas." Urbs evoked the urban form, the built fabric. Civitas, or citizenship, evoked the life of the city and its politics, the human fabric. Urbs and civitas are not always together. An ugly town can have a lively civitas, and a beautiful built form can lack civitas.

What I experienced this morning at the mercato, a highly dynamic shopping experience outdoors in public, was an expression of civitas. Shopping this morning was not just the transaction of money nor the commercial act of shopping, it was a social energy, a means of communicating. The market experience works like a language one must learn to speak for living a certain way of life in that city. The Ipercoop and Western malls, by contrast, are more of a container for the shopping function, an urban form or urbs. Ipercoop and malls lack civitas.

And the civitas, citizenship, and socio-political life-juice, as we know, has been emerging in new public-like "spaces" online. The "free labor," "immaterial labor," "life time," "performance" or "work" put into one's presence and communications in the sociable web is an expression of civitas.

From Trebor's essay: "People take their life to the web and this activity; this labor is driven by affect, which Michael Hardt thinks of as central form of "immaterial labor" today. He writes that "this labor is immaterial, [and] its products are intangible: a feeling of ease, well-being, satisfaction, excitement, passion—even a sense of connectedness or community." It is exactly this satisfaction that people get out of laboring in the sociable web."

Experiencing the market is the same satisfying feeling. Updating a social network profile and messaging a friend is like the trying on of clothes and asking others how it looks amid tons of other people all doing the same thing, all in the street of the public outdoor market.

"Free labor" or "immaterial labor" is not produced because people are thinking about doing it for money, or because it can generate money for others. The sharing -- expression -- of personal information on Facebook and MySpace by my peers and I (and likely you, too) may be done without a conscious reflection on the presence of a commercial and institution network that allows it to occur. These networks are like urbs and may not necessarily impact or drive the work of the civitas.

The urbs of Facebook or MySpace, YouTube or EyeSpot have access to the personal information shared and communicated within their legal frameworks, just as I have access to evesdropping or staring at people trying on clothes in the public market, or drawing or recording something I come across. And like the streets swelling with market stalls, or the forums and piazzas of ancient and modern Italy, the urbs of the sociable web have been founded by corporation and institution with enough power or clout to establish a significantly voluminous public space for a meaningful community. There is, though, a striking contrast between the level of access a digital versus physical institution of power has to the civitas it fosters. In the urbs of social networks versus the urbs of the real city: Social networks are digital and thus data information can be easily recorded and used for other purposes in other contexts. In the urbs of the city "data" is more ephemeral like spoken words, images remembered or air breathed, unless manifested in a physical or recordable way.

Of course, one would hope, the presence of urbs controlled by powerful institutions would not destroy accompanying civitas. Unfortunately this is still occuring with the Ipercoop and mall and its surrounding auto infrastructure, they are eating away at the mercato.

Monday, July 02, 2007

to design an efficiency tree

To design an efficiency tree -- to design a tree that functions the best and most efficiently -- what would it look like?

Yet there are also so many different types of trees -- the purpose of a tree is not to simply, in a one-dimensional sense, to breathe co2 and emit oxygen for other organisms to breathe; just as the purpose of a human life is not to simply to breathe oxygen and emit co2. The purpose of a tree is far more multidimensional, as is the purpose of a human. Contemporaneously there are 6.7 billion people on this planet and far more trees than that -- not even to mention the other lifeforms! To examine the tree, many purposes can be seen and discovered. An airplane was engineered to fly, and its purpose is visible in its form. Was a bird engineered with the purpose of flight? But a bird is not simply a flying object.

Built structures, furniture also -- and cities -- have no "nature" given counterparts of which the human-constructed seek to imitate, other than biomimicry. I may be kidding myself here, for there is a lot to learn from the natural world, for sure. Yet all of these, biomimicry included, can be purpose driven. Biomimicry is design and engineering purposefully imitating, learning from, natural systems and emulating them to achieve particular, sometimes emulated, results. Nature can also be purpose driven, cultivated, articulated, arranged, or let loose to grow on its own where purpose can appear to our human eyes and ears and fingers and walks as emanating from the ecosystem, as "natural," "organic" or even "chaotic" and with a purpose like a "higher power" or engendered by some other set of species. "Progress," as a concept, can also be purpose driven. Although more superficial progress, where progress is more of an aesthetic appropriated to make a conscious image of progress -- a "postmodern" progress -- can also lack a more meaningful, arranged purpose.

What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of life? What the heck are we doing here? I like to say the meaning of life is the meaning of life. That's the meaning of life is, is as in within, life, is the meaning of life. The purpose is the purpose. I'm talking about perspective, perception, views, and ways of seeing the world. What do you think? What do I think? What do they think? What is believed to be manifested can be and also not be and partially be what is manifested. Look at your feet and ask questions about where you stand. But beyond imaginary and cultural superstitions -- purpose can really, quite frankly, be ambiguous and multiplicitous and hybrid and awkward and clear and obvious and distinct and everywhere. Material like a rock, or wind beating your ears, or yourself, and consequences. Immaterial like the real words and images of a thought in your head, an emotional attachment to a cat, or butterflies in the stomach. There are no purpose to these and one can create purposes. One could also say validly: life has no purpose. And what a contentious statement that is!

And following from all this, I feel the "pleasure pavilion" is a very important concept. When I studied architecture in Florence with Syracuse University, our class had a seemingly-simple design project located at the Medici Villa in Fiesole. We were designing a pavilion for the lower partere of the villa's garden. With a small selection of materials and shapes we could use, our designs could fill a 10 by 10 meters site and achieve a height of 5 meters. During the week the project was assigned I remember asking my teacher what the program of the pavilion was supposed to be. Her response: there is no program, you decide. I felt it was wasteful to concieve of spending money (here imaginary) on something with potentially frivoulous purpose. To contextualize my comment, I must note that I had just come from involvement in activities where I had picked up an apparent bias and became a bit unaware of the idea of unprescribed program. The more I took on this strange, ironic artifact of no assigned purpose, I found the challenge to deepen and widen, to become ever-more intriguing, and to transform my appreciate of architecture and life.

No program was not 'bad,' nor strictly 'good,' it was -- like, I think, pretty much all contradictory problems and themes -- a question of 'how.' The pleasure pavilion has no purpose, it has no reason for being born other than to make something great to experience, to catch water, to look out of, to look at, to wander around, to contemplate, to hold dinner parties in, to age, to design, to feel, to experience, to pleasure.

And purpose? The purpose of the pleasure pavilion is there, there are lots of purposes within it. Of course, in here comes the role of the architect, he or she can design purpose, with "complexity and contradiction," as Robert Venturi also likes and enjoys. I feel my project created a complex, contradictory, experience. I'd love to see it built, frankly. An internal reflection and external recognition of the site's context. There are lots of different experiences for people I concretely see in the project, and more than may be composed, I think. The pleasure pavilion, all complex and contradictory, all wound up like a character who collects rubber-bands to make a huge rubber-band ball, a conundrum of life. It simply lives and, in its own natural order, it is seriously pleasureful and in some cases is ironic and humorous, like a tree or a bird, or water.

Water also makes a good example (as are all the elements) because it can have applied purpose, value, vitality, yet its fundamental existence has no reason.... one supposes...

And the Kyoto train station by Hiroshi Hara is worth studying in this regard -- it has purpose apparent and purpose discoverable -- the architect can design such purposes and give meaning to life, can give reason to believe in spirit, God(s), Earth, life, elements, time, Universe, beyond. The train station has so many meanings. Elsewhere in Kyoto I spotted a large sign on the outside of a Buddhist Temple saying "Let us discover the significance of birth and the joy of living."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Full moon. bright light. shadows long. silver moonshadow.

brush stroke on the bushes.

foggy clouds hurling past.

the moon is close. you, the trees, the moon, then the clouds, and then the darkness.

trees parting, enclosing.

the moon. it's always there. it makes a good friend.

to look at the moon as if you will never see it again.

(c) M. Waxman 2007.

Friday, June 22, 2007

what's daily life in iraq like?

I highly recommend the NYT's Q&A with its reporters in Iraq about daily "Life in Iraq" -- it's very telling and discusses a wide spectrum of problems and topics... from the realities of reconstruction, what it's like to work in the Red Zone, to comments by an Iraqi reporter about life for children, and reflections on an exchange with a group of female Iraqi architecture students -- this is life on Earth, now.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Earlier this year, in March, I traveled to Japan to see my brother. It was phenomenal!

Japan shares a likeness to the west, but is another world. It was my first non-western experience. I loved the architecture, the mix of the old and new, and so much more. Japan has such a distinct smell, a sweet smell. On my first night my brother Alan took me to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in Kyoto -- a perfect way to begin the trip, as so much in Japan is tied to or somehow related to the tea ceremony and its environs and practices. The tea was a rich, bright green; thick in flavor, consistency, and hue.

Before I left, I had read that the tatami mat has played an important role in shaping the scale of Japanese architecture. Turns out that it's true: the room where we had tea ceremony, for example, was totally scaled to the tatami mat! The floor had eight tatami mats creating a square, and each of the walls was scaled to four tatami mats standing upright in width and one and a third tatami mats in height. What amazed me further was that the subdivided detailing on the walls -- the wooden framing and bars on the screens and the space between them -- was also broken down in smaller scale based on the mat's original size. Japan is a lesson in scale.

My brother lives in Hirakata, which is right between Osaka and Kyoto. Hirakata, a city of 400,000, is considered countryside but by my American eyes looked like a city. I was struck by the many farms and garden-plots located throughout the residential neighborhoods of Hirakata. Such an arrangement would make a pretty good planning model: designing neighborhoods with small garden and farmland plots every five or so blocks. And then, why not have the homeowners, upon purchasing or renting a neighborhood property, also automatically purchase or rent a parcel of the garden and farmland, and even place this in homeownership contracts?

I learned that most of the homes in the new developments are also purchased prior to their completion; the result is neighborhoods of people who know each other even before they move in. Extended families all move in near each other, and people buy into a community. My brother said many of the elderly tend the gardens -- where they grow the ubiquitous but varied "mountain vegetables" among other things. The grandfather of the family whom my brother lives with (who lives just a block away) grew many of the vegetables we ate for dinner.

My brother and I were in Kyoto for a few nights, then took the shinkansen bullet train to Matsumoto (Nagano Prefecture), then went by bus through the Japanese Alps (a snowy fantasy landscape more beautiful than a dream can render) to the small mountain town of Takyama (where we slept at a Buddhist temple youth hostel and ate at a 200 year old restaurant with amazing food, among other things), then took trains to Toyota to visit my brother's friend who is a Mormon missionary (and made friends with other missionaries from Brazil and Hawaii; one of the Brazilians grew up in a squatter city and we had very interesting conversations), and then traveled back to Hirakata, and took day trips to Osaka and Kobe -- each extremely fascinating -- and spent the last night in Kyoto.

We stayed at Ryokans in Kyoto and explored various parts of the city. The new downtown and entertainment district, Gion (the old entertainment district) and Kiyomizudera (absolutely fantastic temple complex!) at night, and Arashiyama, a beautiful part of north-western Kyoto with a river and hills of maple and cherry blossom trees, and a bamboo forest adjacent to cemeteries that we wandered through. When we were in Gion on my second night, there was a pre- Sakura (cherry blossom) festival where the entire old town was lit up -- stunning old alleyways, pagoda temples with many roofs, many people, beautiful arrangements of flowers -- animated existence. We also saw various other temples, jinjas, and gardens in the city that we discovered and stumbled upon. During the pre- Sakura festival with Gion lit up, we wandered through alleyways where many people, mostly men, had set up their cameras on tripods and stood photographing the alleyway from one angle over and over again. We also stumbled across a "noh" play being performed during the festival. As my brother described, a "noh" play recants over about five hours an experience that took about five minutes.

In Osaka there are covered streets full of shops and restaurants. (Such streets are also in Kyoto but not as large, and they are apparently even larger in Tokyo). These malls, or rather, gargantuan arcades, made me think of Italian arcades, yet they are an entirely distinct form and function under their own rules. Extending for miles, to look into one of these streets flooded with thousands of people, stores, lights, sounds, colors, smells, is to peer into the depth of a perspectival vanishing point. We wandered around the "namba walk" area (which is an enormous underground mall) and outside on many streets packed with a bewildering array of high-rises, neon signs, electronics shops, and girls and boys with eccentric fashion tastes.

Alan I went to Kobe with a couple of his American friends (one who was travelling with us from that point on) and two gorgeous and really friendly Japanese girls. I could sense the western planning, post-earthquake influence: the downtown area by the waterfront felt like San Francisco in scale and street-to-building proportions. As monumental reminder, there's a chunk of earthquake-destroyed harbor still resting by the water nearby the "Harborland" development; it really hits home the intensity of the quake: horribly huge and disastrous. Post-disaster reconstruction strategy was also evident, it appeared, in commercial development. I suspect it was used as a mechanism to pay for reconstruction: Harborland is a fascinating complex of very large malls and hotels, connected by walkways that span over streets, many fancy stores, and even an ironic protestant church (with tennis courts next to it) placed in between it all. The same night we were in Kobe we trekked into Osaka for Kareoke and caught a very packed, very last train on our way back to Hirakata.

Food definitely had an impact on my experience in Japan -- a story in itself. There are so many kinds. I tried "nato" over breakfast in Matsumoto while the family of my brothers' friend looked on. Nato is fermenting soybeans. Can't say I enjoyed nato, but glad I tried it. Matsumoto is amazing by the way, with mountains that fill half the sky and sit on either side of a long valley. My brother and I also were taken to a wasabi farm in Matsumoto -- Shinsyu azumino daio wasabi farm -- gorgeous, a blue-sky day, light twinkling on the surface of water streaming through rows of green wasabi roots planted in grey gravel, set within what was like a river -- it was like something out of an anime! We tried wasabi ice-cream and wasabi juice! Matsumoto also has an amazing 400 year old, original castle that's spectacular in beauty and might.

While we were in Takayama, we ate breakfast at a little Japanese restaurant recommended to us by the Buddhist monk who ran the youth hostel. Traditional breakfasts are usually composed of a little egg (a block of scrambled-egg-like substance called Tamago), a little fish, mountain vegetables, pickled vegetables, a bowl of rice, miso soup, and green tea. When my brother gave our order, the middle-aged stout woman at the restaurant smiled and asked us if we wanted to have raw egg over our rice -- this was translated by my brother. (my brother did all the translating!) I said no way, I did not want raw egg! But my brother decided he wanted it. Alan ate raw egg over raw beef once before about a year ago, so he figured he could do it again... well... so, Alan is eating the raw egg poured over his rice, and he cringes and I ask him, how it was. "Horrible," he replied but he continued to eat the whole bowl of rice.

After seeing some amazing traditional Japanese architecture later that day, we were about to miss our train to Nagoya (to head to Toyota) because we had spent so much time exploring the architecture. Alan ran to the train station while I simply walked fast. When we arrived at the station we had missed the train and Alan was complaining of aches all of his body and a sense of dizzyness.

In Toyota we stayed with an English student of Alan's friend who is a Mormon missionary (they teach English). Over an amazing dinner prepared for us and the Mormons, Alan let's us know that he thinks he's going to pass-out and heads to the bathroom. To make a long-story short, he's in terrible shape, and once we finally get back to Hirakata a day and a half later, we go to the hospital (another story) and Alan learns that he has contracted an intestinal virus! He gets medicine and isn't supposed to eat anything other than rice (and Sake), and that day we also head out for a day trip to Kobe.

I should note that I might have picked something up from him, or something else, because from the point on after Alan got sick, I ate almost nothing. I lost my appetite completely. This had some consequences... more stories... it was really something and strange. I'd never lost my appetite like that before. By the way, the next morning after Alan became sick, we met up with the Mormons at the train station and went with them to get lunch... at a donut shop called Mr. Donut. Not only was I not hungry but the donuts really turned me off... and I couldn't muster the appetite... there were a lot of wild donut flavors, such as curry-filled donuts!

And there was also the gates of Fushimi Inari in Kyoto, which pose the fundamental questions of existence: What is space? What is time? What is the purpose of life? A gate means a change in space, it is a threshold and a boundary. What is inside/outside? What is before/after? In Shinto, a sacred space could be on either side of the gate. The gates, when lined up in repetition, one after the other, create a path.

One comes to ask, what is this path? As each gate is paid for by different companies (their names engraved on the pillars in Japanese), a great irony emerges in light of the religious context: it appears as if the religion wants you to think there is only one path, as this is so with the gates. And as long as people keep sponsoring and paying for the gates, there will be one path for us to walk within!

My brother and I walked within the gates' path for quite some time, halfway up the mountain. Light slid in-between the pillars of the gated passage. Looking out from within the passage, there is a forested landscape, visible but inacessible. What is outside the gates' path? What is the space beyond? Visible but unknown, real but untouchable, assumed but unclear. Each gate alone is one moment. Each gate is one frame. Each gate frames the moment. Time does not exist from within a single gate. A path gains the element of time. The procession of gates transforms the space of the gates into a path. When the procession of gates is long enough to arouse time in space, then space flows, and is animated, into the path. The path -- articulated at Fushimi Inari -- is a manifestation of time itself rendered in space.

I love the main train station in Kyoto -- Kyoto station is a brilliant design with a soaring atrium at its heart, pulsating with the rhythms of people pattering across many patterns of paths from trains to shops within the station, a giant mall, up and down escalators, stairs and walkways, and out into the street. One of the most beautiful things about the atrium is that you can climb either side of it, sending your body into a fantastic state, one caught between a consciousness of being in physical reality and a perplexing sense of unreality -- a virtuality -- brought on be the sheer scale and animation of everything within!

I fell in love with the structure as it hurled me through architectural contortions in depth and density, form and reflections, light and color, and movement up into the heavens. On one side there's a very long staircase that climbs to the top of the grand building. Upon arriving at the zenith, one finds a "happy terrace" (a play on words because of the literal translation from Japanese) with magnificent views sending radiance throughout Kyoto, a city of age, power, transformation, and landscape. By the windows there are also plaques featuring architect Hiroshi Hara's statement for the building. At the top, one finds a reflection back upon the landscape in which we came.

There were many things that I couldn't have predicted, nor did I have expectations about. There is a huge abundance of traditional-style architectural elements applied to residential buildings -- this I did not anticipate and took me by surprise -- comparable to the dominance of ranch-style single-family homes in the USA.

Japan is animated, as in brought to life! So many things I truly loved, and a fair amount of things that repelled me. It is an absolutely amazing world. My brother's sensai says that Japan is the dumping ground of Asia for cultural influence -- new things, such as architecture, are brought there and integrated, absorbed, but they do not dissolve the traditions and that which is Japanese. The simultaneity of difference in the world -- across here and there -- is like the simultaneity of many places, of many people, and of night and day.

On my last night I watched a "shadow of light" cast itself on a wall within our room at the Kyoto ryokan we stayed in. A "light shadow" cast upon a canvas of darkness, the opposite of a shadow of darkness cast out of light during the day -- it was beautiful. I would like to return.

If it were not for being with my brother who is mostly fluent in Japanese, I'd have been completely lost. A great bonding experience between me and my brother. My brother went to great lengths to immerse me in the culture -- it was lifechanging!

(c) M. Waxman, May 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

delicious things politicians read

In my recent May, 28, 2007 post on "MySpace Impact" I described the production quality of Democratic Candidate Chris Dodd's video message. "While I think he has an admirable message in his video, on the one hand, it's poorly produced with bad lighting and sound. His video is very jarring when contrasted to the fancy, fast-paced media of music videos or even Richardson's video. On the other hand, the poor quality of the video and the self-consciousness of his addressing the camera shares a lot of common ground with the quick-and-dirty work of casual video-bloggers on YouTube."

In response, Tim of the Chris Dodd campaign commented:

"That was the point when we created Dodd's video ... especially since we asked people to respond with their own. How many youtube users creating original content do twenty-seven takes and use Final Cut Pro and all kinds of special effects with $3,000 worth of lighting?

Chris Dodd for President"

My response to Tim:

Hi Tim,

Thanks for the comment! Excellent point. I did a quick search on YouTube and wasn't successful in finding responses. Although I did browse Dodd's MySpace blog posts and noticed a few videos posted, some seemingly authored by Dodd's staff and some authored by Dodd supporters. The most common theme I observed is a review of Dodd's stance on issues and a promotion and celebration of campaign fervor.

The Sunday, June 3, 2007 MySpace blog post features a YouTube video with Dodd responding to questions from various undisclosed websites. This is probably a great example of the YouTube-like, low-production quality video you're describing.

About two-thirds into the video, Dodd commented on the difficulty to answer complex questions in under one minute in Presidential debates. The question was: "What kind of practice do you do for the debate? Do you do any drills of any kind?" Dodd responded by saying that, with the help of his staff, he's working to "get tighter on these answers" but that it is nonetheless a major challenge to condense complexity because of time requirements for (presumably) televised debate.

I'm straying from the topic of production quality, but I think here the question of content quality arises. And while the video gives a bit more expanded answers, it only goes so deep in giving us a picture of Dodd.

The challenge of conveying complexity when confronted with time limits is an important skill and a challenge, and I totally understand what he's saying.

Last week I was brought onto KZSC, my alma mater UC Santa Cruz's radio station, to be interviewed by journalist Bruce Bratton on his show "University Grapevine" about long-range campus planning, university growth and student housing issues. We had a great live conversation over the course of a half hour. I think both Bruce and I came away feeling we could go deeper and that we only began to scratch the surface of these issues. Having done interviews and lectures on the same subjects before, I've found it to be both problematic and important to pack an overview or analysis of a very complex issue into a brief span of time. You want to give it clear and concisely but you also don't want to lose the meat. I found myself commenting near the end of the interview about the subject's complexity and remarking that noting its complexity is not to gloss over things but instead an invitation for listeners to get out there, do research, and learn more.

Reviewing Dodd's website may have keyed me into a partial answer to this challenge of packing big information into little packages, and the sociable web is part of the answer...

Dodd's MySpace blog posts are titled as "blog round-ups." At first I thought these posts were a round-up of blog posts Dodd read from around the blogosphere. Then I realized the round-up was of blog posts from the main Dodd website. It's great to follow the campaign trail and see reviews of Dodd's political stance, but I was actually hoping to have a peek into Dodd's favorite blog posts or news articles he reads!

What if this was the case? What if Dodd actually had a blog round-up of news stories and articles, websites and information? I really like this concept and think it could be pretty influential. It'd make a great complement to the video messages.

One of my favorite blogs, Ethan Zuckerman's "I left my heart in Accra", which has a heavy theme of Africa and social-tech activism, runs a regular links round-up with commentary. Akin to the lists found on websites around the net (see mine to the right), what's great about Ethan's links and commentary is that they give us a view into what Ethan's reading and allows his internet research and inquiry to reach us easily.

Reading Ethan's links (or mine) also gives the reader an unusual backdoor to ongoing thought processes. The reader can peer into the internet-connected-mind's non-linear gathering of information, web surfing, blog browsing, life and world puzzle jumbling and reorganizing, and appreciation of knowledge, research and thoughts of others.

A challenge for politicians is connecting with constituents on a meaningful level. Sometimes the politician-constituent connection happens on an aesthetic branding-like level dependent on heavy framing (think GW Bush) and sometimes it happens because of heart-felt messages and well-crafted, honest communication work (think Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth). Getting a politician's character across is key, but I'll add to this that helping constituents gain a sense of transparency when it comes to the politicians own accumulation of knowledge is also important -- here those links come into play.

When the reader gains a perspective onto the mind of the politician (or, frankly, whomever is collecting the links), the reader feels more comfortable with that individual. And even if one disagrees with a politician's party or political standpoint, the ability to see what a politician is reading enables both the politician and the reader-constituent to see the influencing information, the factual or opinion-based content, directly and make their own decision based on the same sources of information instead of a diluted filter such as a television ad, brief interview, or debate dominated by buzzwords and rhetoric.

Where does the politician get his or her information? With what frequency does the politician read information and from what sources? What are they reading, what fascinates them, and what publications, authors and subjects do they like to check out? Might the politician care to influence me with their recommendations of great articles, books, websites, or even, say organizations, businesses, and places to see and visit? Can the Presidential candidates compete to influence me, to compete to share with me their thoughts? Can they work hard to not only influence me by TV ads, but also do so by sharing with me their influences and inspiration? I want in on their own, personal research process inquiring about the world!

Reading a politician's links list would help answer these questions. (I'd also like for honest authenticity to be established, and a way for me to know if the list is actually coming from the politicians.)

Candidate Chris Dodd's prompt for v-bloggers to post responses does somewhat move in this direction by establishing an added communication link. Dodd's website even advertises that a "DTV" is in the works (I imagine it will have even more frequent video messages from the man himself?).

Dodd should keep up his plan to video-blog -- they are great practice for live debate and give us a virtual in-the-flesh experience -- but they should be complemented by a links blog round-up.

Now Dodd needs to make his blog news expand beyond the campaign website and show us what he's been reading.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

body: internal and external stimulation

In the Spring of 2006, before graduating from college, I took a modern dance class. Learning (and struggling with) dance -- something I knew I would enjoy and knew I must try -- was quite beautiful and very fun. Sketched on March 6, 2006, what follows is reflection on internal and external stimulation, the interior of the body and its relation to architecture:

In modern dance class my teacher spoke about the difference between "internal stimulation" and "external stimulation". Laying on the ground, flattening our backs to the floor, and then arching our spine up and down, she spoke of how most people, everyday, expose themselves to continuous external stimulation.

The first image of external stimulation that came to my mind was myself sitting at the computer screen: engrossed, and totally stimulated through the external image in front of me. My body, aside from my hands typing (as I am doing now), or my head geared forward and focused on an area of the screen, is not stimulated and is disconnected. I also imagined my apartment mates who spend the majority of their waking hours sitting in front of the television, or the people I would observe at parties who never seemed to be doing anything but the social ritual of heavy drinking, shouting at each other, and being driven (it seemed) entirely by lust and hormonal desire... the folks I'm thinking of always appeared distracted and not aware of themselves in their surroundings.

My teacher said people need to turn inward and focus on the internal of the body and learn to be tuned to and give internal stimulation. As she said this, I turned my head and saw her lying on her back. Her legs were beginning to arch upward in an outward curve bent at the knees. Her body was totally set within the space around it. Set within the space between the floor and the ceiling, the mirror behind her and the reflections of opposite windows, the entire scene was truly beautiful form.

Thus to consider internal stimulation, I observed, is to sense and be with the internal of the body. And as I turned away from her and looked upward, I saw the building around us in much the same light: we were inside the building, and the structure of the building, like our skin, is separation between the internal and the external. On the scale of the body, past the skin, there are muscle, organs, bone, and water, all interacting dynamically as a fluid presence yet solid mass. I believe (and I know this is true for myself prior to that moment) most people, most of the time, forget about their internal fluid mass. A very important part of one's life, it is the body of space within the body whose presence is very sacred and yet vitally invisible.

The building is then, like the skin, a membrane, a separation between internal and external realms. It is always through the building that we see the external. Yet it is always in the external that humans situate one's mind to engage life within a concept of greater context. The body is the same: we see through our eyes and live through the presence and function of our internal organs, but in our senses we peer through our bodies and situate ourselves beyond our skin and into the world, never looking and only knowing of the other half of life's lived space, that which is embedded inside of us forever.

As I write, I am now realizing that this body of space, the body's interior, is permanent and timeless. We cannot live without it. We cannot experience without it. We cannot grow or change, or be, without it. But this raises a very interesting question: is that always so? Lived life only knows a perspective whose origin is from the body. (Not to forget human beings are born from the bodies of their mothers'.) But can one transcend the body, step away from the body, exist as pure spirit, or be a ghost of sorts?

This is dipping into a heavily treaded domain, but I am not sure I can answer. I consider myself spiritual, but my spiritual moments have come from not inward focus to leave the body, but rather from moments of placeness and contextualization across time and space. Spirituality and experiences that have been critical to me, above all, engage my body within the space it is part of. Why would one want to leave the body? Leave the world and space? Essence and spirit, I suspect, does not leave the world, but embeds itself within it. If humans hold within them spirits and if they can transcend the body past the body's death, it is the spirit-mind-body-context relation but an inversion of order: spirit inhabits context of which then peers outward to look back at the body, spirit-context-body-mind.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

We live with the assumption of performing factual lives.

Actions taken or not taken are factual objects; they are cause for statistical bias.

Though, to live inside a solely factual life is a canard.

Life stories are told and sometimes become objects of recollection memorized and repeated, transformed into a facsimile with the quintessential purity of a Compact Disc.

But if they linger within the imagination before regurgitation, might their repetition make their existence open to interpretation? Why accept one's history as simply a matrix of simple objects whose depth is left characterized at surface level? Why abnegate anything further?

Might fiction be open to enjoyment? An ever-capricious later portion of one's life always hovers in semi-fictional future-tense. The scenario must be respected for its respect to trends and past and sustaining factual basis, but the scenario is also built with imagination, conjecture, and perceptive observation. Is it not salubrious to exercise the ability to mould the world -- and the telling of its stories? Such is done in books, movies, art, architecture, and the oratory... media of representation and materialization... and it may also be embedded in lived, physically-real livelihoods.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The world is a warped virtuality, such that it stretches, bends, folds, tears, and ripples into a construction known as reality.

The "subterranean void" in Mars' surface that has an unknown and undetectable depth -- what unknowns there are, what perplexing unrealities are hidden but ripe within the true fabric of the universe!

It's kind of late, about 11:51pm and I'm sitting at the computer. My nose is starting to run and the portion of my hand closest to my pinky-finger feels warm and stingy-like. My right knee feels a little tight somewhere inside underneath the knee-cap towards the right side. I'm thinking about my body. I don't really understand my body. I'm thinking about my mind, I can control how my body moves and what I put inside of it and how I maintain it. I think in English and can think in other abstractions. I can think in multiple layers of thought and imagine imagery of various three-dimensional contortions that represent or warp my understandings of reality outside of me, but I don't really understand my mind. That's easier to consider than to admit, but so very true. How does the body and mind work beyond what I know?


Monday, May 28, 2007

MySpace has a website featuring pages for most of the 2008 presidential candidates --

I've been browsing some of the pages and it's really fascinating to see how the candidates appear when recontextualized within the MySpace page layouts and YouTube video. Gov. Bill Richardson's featured video includes a couple of TV ads that characterize him as very "down to earth" or "real" and someone whom young people frequenting myspace could relate to.

Contrast Richardson with the likes of Hillary Clinton or John McCain, and the later two come across as incredibly stuffy and self-centered. The favorite friends Hillary displays on her page are all "I love hillary" or "hillary2008fanclub" type of groups or pages... and McCain's layout aesthetic plays on a very stiff and formal, military-style branding (Likely, I guess, to appeal to some youngsters).

And then there's the video by Chris Dodd. Dodd is a Democratic candidate. While I think he has an admirable message in his video, on the one hand, it's poorly produced with bad lighting and sound. His video is very jarring when contrasted to the fancy, fast-paced media of music videos or even Richardson's video. On the other hand, the poor quality of the video and the self-consciousness of his addressing the camera shares a lot of common ground with the quick-and-dirty work of casual video-bloggers on YouTube.

Sam Brownback also features a speech-to-the-internet video. The 50 year-old, conservative candidate repeatedly states that he's running "for the future" because he's concerned about preserving and improving all the nations culture, safety, and family values. His page includes a picture of his big family in their living room. As I live in a staged house on the real estate market, I know what a staged house without family-personality looks like -- and his living room gives just that staged, plastic impression. And I shouldn't forget to note that MySpace Impact has him currently highlighted as the "presidential focus" with an extra-big image.

Brownback is also very stuffy sounding. He begins the video by saying "Hello MySpace!" and explains that he's running for president. While I'm sure he wants to be seen as a respectable and notable figure with just the right chutzpah to be president, the video message pulls the cloudy clout right out from under him and makes him no more special than the average Joe, or Sam... might this mean any video-blogger could run for President? At the end of his message he says, "Please spend some time exploring my page, and this space, and thanks for visiting the site." Well he's got "page," "space," and "site" covered; it isn't clear to me that he's spent much time on MySpace, social-networking sites, or has much of any idea where today's world is actually heading in the future given this page, space, and site.

MySpace Impact also features sections on various real-world issues ("impact awards"), voter registration, and an "our planet" section with a "go zero featured tip" for reducing one's carbon footprint, among other things.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The rate of suicide among Chinese women is very high: one commits suicide every four minutes. Think about that. Let four minutes pass. Someone has murdered themselves for a reason in which they feel they had a cause.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We are nothing but growth

Growth is extremely noble. Growth is extremely selfless. Growth is more than an extension, an aggrandizement, a push, an increase, a change in current proportions, dynamics, feeling, and form.

Growth is to go beyond the life that had been emballmed in previous ideas, cast from previous lives. Growth is to pump the veins of this moment's capacities with fresh blood, to enliven the limbs of life and let them dance.

Growth is to have the utmost respect and adoration for time. Growth is to selfessly admit to history and time's permanence, a clever smirk ever gazing over the channels upon channels of growing things stuck and floating in space.

Growth is to admit to the reality of the moment, to look existence right in the eyes and to see that we -- as human beings -- are nothing but growth... and decay, rot, death, birth... For nothing changes except that which is changed, and with change a demarcation of the moment is exercised, and with the recognition of a moment's presence one recognizes change between then, now, and potential change.

Growth is to throw away the fears of death and to embrace a reality of freedom. Growth is to be open to maturation.

Like a "Clock of the Long Now," a Building of the Long Now, a City of the Long Now.

To design a building and a city with -- built into the design -- the intentional capacity for continuous regrowth, growth, and for continuous rearticulation and fabrication, continuous articulation and change, and to design it with a capacity for temporal and spatial expression, both within the original vision -- the seeding germ -- and the contemporary ideals -- the stone beams, broken desires, and careful reflections.

This is what man's presence accounts for! It is a dream. It is a reality. It is a phantasy. It is a fiction. It is a fact of dreams, realities, phantasies, and fictions imagined in the past. Our current state of growths is a current state of growths within many growths.

Such growth is long-range planning. Such growth is the institutions of man. Such growth is the Earth. Such growth is the mind. Such growth is the Universe.

We are a long presence! We -- and extend the word beyond our simple connotations -- are growth! Lives as only bubbles on the surface of the ocean. Bubbles of air both critical to and consequential from life within. Bubbles ever bubbling, gurggling, sucked into the waves and gushed out again.

(c) M. Waxman 2007.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Life Programming

The minds of children -- of the young -- are supple and fragile.

The minds of adults -- those with deeper accrued age -- are congealed and brittle.

The mind of a human is like a puzzle whose pieces come together to represent a map.

The mind is born jumbled and confused, all the pieces mixed-up and with many, many, many missing.

Life experiences -- daily actions and lessons, thoughts and gestures, places and assumptions -- add new pieces that always fit into the puzzle.

But the puzzle isn't always coherent. One piece may fit into another but the path running from the existing piece may be led by the new piece into an abyss, a tunnel, a valley, or a hidden no-man's-land. Yet the pieces always connect. And sometimes the pieces can lead to coherence. Another piece may add an alternate route connecting paths into oceans of opportunity, a mountain range, a nebulous city, or even an entirely new world.

To teach is to give away the gifts of such puzzle pieces. To teach is to hand these puzzle pieces out, bags of them, sacks full of different options.

The best is when a puzzle piece fits and connects the landscape -- the map represented, printed and carved -- into and from the other pieces' material bodies -- to develop new meaningful landscape.

The best is when that landscape then grows new forms, new landscapes, and upon which young minds -- or even the old -- find themselves lost within -- lost within the landscape now emerging within their mind.

And the mind then realizes the detail within this landscape so rich, so rich it is as detailed as the real world itself -- the world of the mind is the real world.

And lost within this landscape composed by the puzzle pieces of knowledge and experience, one discovers they may transcribe new topographies into the surface. The landscape is theirs to make, they learn. The landscape, they find, is their life; theirs to discover, to build, to husband and birth.

(c) M. Waxman, 2007.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

life is virtual cocooned within the real, as we all transcend the physical and tangible through the senses of perception.

a beautiful city is a place that imbues the actions of many real people who have wanted and desired to create a beautiful city; a natural environment void of man has no such human spirit.

experiencing great architecture is and should be like living a dream, a phantasy, having a virtual experience with media, an emotional journey -- the architect uses all of the elements and their hybrids as construction building blocks to create a structure of experience.

great quest of future architects -- to meld the great responsibilities and consequences with great experiences , emotion, and clever tricks.

we are bound by the biological sameness of ourselves but we are able to detect the fine grain nuances that identify us.

- 4/17/07

Friday, April 13, 2007

suburban street structure

At first glance some may not like the residential, suburban pattern of streets, serpentine strokes of car-dependence. Look deep, and read a city through its streets.

Yet the grande views down the street, from curb toward the hills, from front door looking across, and on one street peering around a corner, are all views determined in the street structure, coded by the street width, the setback distance of house from curb, the space of the yards, the height of the building, the variety of built topographical forms, the color and textures of each fixture, the natural environment intermix of trees, garden, shrubs, hills, forest, sky, air, and of utmost importance, people, feeling, life.

Car dependence may be derided but beauty we may treasure has arisen from the form of the streets.

What challenges does this offer to us to play? What responsibilities and what opportunities? What histories and what futures?

(c) M. Waxman 2007.

Friday, April 06, 2007

the meaning of life is the meaning of life.


Monday, April 02, 2007

one's life is always uncharted territory.


Sunday, March 11, 2007


"the machine" is a metaphor.

the machine is highly useful.

the machine existed before we created machines.

the machine can also be described as the ecology of the organism.

the Earth is a machine.

a human, for example, is a machine.

we are the machine.

but without the machine of our make, we know less of the machine to be a part.

whether it be infrastructure, food, happiness, government, city, home, body, religion, idol, language, image, time, space.

our gift to make the machine, in return makes us.

we can "program" or "direct" the machine.

but we cannot be free of the "program" or "direction" of the machine.

it is our existence, it is our reality.

but machines do break.

and so do we.

but does the machine of which we are a part, and in which we may make, break if we do?

(c) M. Waxman 2007

we need a new paradigm for development.

we need a new paradigm for development.

what will it look like? what form will it take? what will its history be? what will its consequence lead?

who will live there? people? other animals? plants? bugs? fungii?

what will those inhabitants sustain their lives on -- in the ways of fundamental basics, and in more enhanced ways?

what will people listen to? how will they communicate? how will they see? how will they see each other?

will the people love themselves? will they love their families? how about their neighbors... within the boundaries of their life? within the boundaries of their world, their city, their village, their quartier of life, their context?

how will they feel good about life? how will they hate life? what will make them smile? what will make them cry?

what will the people vision -- what will they see for their hopes and dreams?

when will they crumble and fall? when will they falter and repeat mistakes from the past?

what will make people, people? what will make life, life? what will make the birth of a child special? what will make the death of a living creature special?

what will the sound of rain be? what will the feeling of falling in love be like? what will the touch of sun on the skin be?

will I be alive to see this world?

will I be around to contribute?

will the past have led to the future?

or will the future be determined by changes in its past?

who is my grandson?

will he know me, know my name, know the world? will he desire to know? how will he envision a new paradigm for development?

(c) M. Waxman 2007

Friday, March 02, 2007

Watch Second Life fantasies from Real Life!

Watch Second Life fantasies from Real Life!

What glory and freedom money can buy! THIS is the American Dream!

I want to be a sports star. AT&T HomeTurf's "See How They Live" shows me what real living is --

Why would most people want to create something new in SL when the best of life is totally real, just waiting to be imitated? ...only a dream away?

see your fav players' homes, and "See How They Live" --

Watch football star Deion Sanders keep an eye on his kids (who are somewhere in his sprawling mega-mansion) via bedside CCTV monitors, and go from room to room using a motorized mobility scooter (the kind usually used by elderly and the handicapped)! And with so many cars, it's not like the point is for him to drive them anyway!

Watch Camilo Villegas mix and match beautiful and bright colored golf-clothes outfits with the assistance of an ever-present old-man caddy!

See Deion kick-it with football star A.J. Hawk in his beautiful kitchen, where his model-esque wife "Mrs. Hawk" smiles and bakes cookies! A.J. lives at a golf course, so when a golfer is caught lining up for a putt on A.J.'s deck, it's only natural for A.J. to literally pick the guy up and throw him over the railing!

And there's nothing like spraying fake snow in front of your house just to kick a football, and take a pic of the snowy action with a RAZR camera-phone -- Adam Vinatieri shows us how it's done!

And of course, AT&T makes the best of life -- chillin' and watchin' AT&T Dish Network on the giant flatscreen, browsin' the internet in bed, snappin' shots of you and fav sports stars with a RAZR -- possible.

it's been good and it's been real. First-rate living isn't only for second-order reality.

As AT&T says, "you need speed to score!" (hey, that's true for SL, too!)

(c) M. Waxman 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

congratulations to Al Gore and the team behind "An Inconvenient Truth" for winning an Oscar!!!!
let the rain fall

jubilee pearls

dew bead to come

cracked tree

ant's path

swollen buds

gristled soft, dark red soil

rifted light, cuts of powder sand

ensuing blood, pollen, water

my beckon cry

warmth of darkness sound

gift of life

(c) M. Waxman 2007

The Challenge

The Challenge: How do we make a better world? How do we create the type of infrastructure for a growing population and changing demands, changing needs, and desire and pleasure in creativity, innovation, and research progress? How do we situate this in a world context with real and serious consequences of many kinds? How do we value the challenge and blessing of problems and work towards diverse, multifacted, interconnected solutions to them? How do we negotiate life in existence?

Let's appreciate contradiction, complexity, diversity, difference and the unknown in the world. Let's work towards solutions and many scales that take on the challenge of the worlds problems in many contexts. Let's celebrate play, pleasure, comedy, human vices, chaos and our human nature. Let's celebrate order, constraints, civil society and rules, limitations. Let's seek to globalize information access, technological access, educational access, human rights, civil liberties, freedom, peace, and opportunities for finding wealth.

Let's globalize the value of the localized, and remember that maybe some people would rather not globalize that, too. Let's develop our personal and community wishes for manifested development, monuments, and identity. Let's develop our personal and community wishes for preserving that which is not manifested development. Let's teach and honor the future the way history is taught to be valued. Let's each try to wrap our minds around the idea of extended intergenerational families -- if you're twenty years old, imagine what would it be like to be a great-great-great grandparent!

Let's do the math and science of art and spirituality, and let's do the art and spirituality of math and science. Let us each live a life full of decisions, of love, of pleasure, of celebration, of community, of place, of relationship to our eternal context, this planet Earth. Let us savor the density of a single time-less moment, and savor the blistering swiftness of time. Let us know great places are made by our relationship to it, but that great places can and do exist without our knowledge or relation to them. Let us love our imminent death and permenant existence made by our birth -- both the definition of truth and fact.

Let us look change straight in the eye and see it in the mirror, from day to day, year to year, decade to decade. Let us imagine fantasies, wish for the unattainable, and work in all our abilities to create it and make it real. Let us make things beautiful and look long to seek beauty in that which is ugly, and let us recognize that not all is beautiful and that there is a purpose and place for the profane. Let us save ourselves from decay, war, and destruction, and let us save ourselves from the vanity of eternal preservation of everything and a disdane for destruction, regeneration, and that which will replace what is before it.

Let us speak many languages, teach many languages, communicate to each other, and write many rosetta stones, and let us keep talking in many ways. And let us see in as many ways as there are languages. And let us understand, deeply, that there is a different perspective upon the world through everyones' eyes and that each is valid and can have a vision. Let us know that it is not about being right and it is not about being wrong.

Such a challenge is bestowed upon the world. Such a challenge is the world.

(c) M. Waxman 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

a place is like a person

A place is like a person; it is something that can be visited, it has an immaterial presence or spirit (a sense of place), a memory and history, a life, and can be formed by time and care, dressed up or torn down, mobilized, and can flex its parts to make new contours, experiences, and attitudes.

A great place can stand alone in its beauty; holistic strength stressing pride, confidence, and presence for all to wonder. Or a place can be defeated and destroyed, made weak and timid; put into hiding, fears awaiting the opportune moment to strike out from the shadows.

Multiple places, when they come together, can be likened to a family. The links between each place may be tight bonds forged through relationship, aged and tried over time; or, like siblings, together in love since birth.

To travel from a place to a place is an act of communication, a journey. And much to the similarity of conversation, as we look at each other while debating or cajoling, we each may have – as do adjoining places – our own perspectives, grand views, and passages of many words or silence, and trails of thought… a distant vista running off into the beyond, questions left unanswered, a gift for the future and our dreams.

Ideally, we will meet places we love, need, enjoy and savor; places we can dream to be with forever. Great places bringing people together are about the greatness of people. And while a human experience in a place is fundamentally about the human relationship to the place, a place is also more than something like a person – it is something we inhabit amongst a context. Great places need not just be about us.

Savoring a moment through parallax made real by a grand tree or light fluctuating between the mass of buildings marking a piazza: both are about those objects and their freedom, identity, and relationship to context and differentiations within space.

People share much in common with the world, the Earth, and place. A bond between us and our environs – like that between two old friends – must not be forgotten.

(c) M. Waxman 2007

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

stasis or mobile : place and human context

Some people elect to stay living in one place forever. If this is the case, the people conform to their context in entirety, thus becoming sown into its immaterial systemic network of flows and connections, like a nervous system woven deep into a body, or the entwined roots of many trees becoming one gigantic system underground. Thus, if there is proposed great change, it will be limited because the human context woven into the landscape context will react as fiercely as it would be if the proposed changed was upon its own human body. Alternatively, the human context may also respond to the change with inclusion, inviting it in as part of its own.

Some people elect to move across many places, and live as nomads. If this is the case, their contexts change frequently, and the people become dipped in the flavors and set in the ways of each place passed through, as well as learn to find a skin to comprise the individual, a selective identity influenced brick by brick, footstep by footstep. Much like ants crawling across a landscape of striations, danger, and difference, the nomad with deep reciprocity to the changing context, is at once bound and mobile, like the finite freedoms of a leaf floating endlessly on the surface of the sea. Thus, if there is proposed great change, the human context may find it an opportune moment to make of new travels, to go or stay, or to create new places set layered within the contexts of current, or reminiscent of past days. Alternatively, the nomadic human context may observe the change as divergent from their own paths and flows, and strike response by demanding a reprise to make present what once was but is no longer.

(c) M. Waxman 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

space/time code = math minus # computation

Math is the code of space/time that tells how it works, much like zeros and ones are computed as on/off in computers to make computer environments work. Yet the environment of space and time is such that it requires no represented numerical computation -- there is no crunching of zeros and ones -- instead the environment, the context that some call "nature," is such that the system works on its own accord and syncopation.

Geometry, a sub-set of math, is special because it is a means of translating our understanding of the math code to space/time, and from space/time to the code of math. Trigonometry, calculus, basic arithmetic, and other forms of math, are all means of reading and writing the code. Math is logical because our understanding of the code must be computed by reason; people have still much to discover in the logic of math. Math can also become illogical and it is in this capacity that people also have much to discover. The majesty of our computational ability is to construct mathematics -- as well as translate them into space/time -- that utilize the code and model algorithms observed in space/time but might not exist in space/time without human-assisted computation and construction.

(c) M. Waxman 2007

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Whether you think you can't do it, or you think you can, you're right! -- Henry Ford

the patron

The patron in architecture has historically been an important part of the profession; this importance should be revisited.

Fluor Engineering Corporation has contracts around the world in various sectors. This is wonderful. Tonight, though, I was watching Iraq Reconstruction contract hearings on C-SPAN, and one of the companies under question at the hearing was Fluor. Sitting next to two men of equal stature and occupational focus, the Fluor representative worked in security and had been previously a member of the Armed Forces.

Fluor has water and electrical infrastructure development contracts in Iraq.

Why would a corporation seek to bid on contracts in Iraq? Why would someone seek to bid on a contract anywhere? Various reasons... a good work opportunity, a means to generate revenue, a means to extend the reach of the company's work and relationship with hiring bodies. More than likely it was a good opportunity, work-wise and in terms of generating revenue. But isn't Iraq a terribly dangerous place? Yes, I'd say it is -- and so did the Fluor security representative.

Maybe Fluor sees it also as a good opportunity to help the people of Iraq. Maybe Fluor sees it as civic and public duty both to the United States and to the people and government of Iraq; such is a noble and meaningful cause. But -- and I am mostly ignorant on the complexities of this matter -- I must admit I am a tad skeptical. It is true that, for example, when I first heard about the destruction in Lebanon and Iraq, one of my initial reactions is to say -- they need help in reconstruction! they need help in infrastructure! they need help in planning! And I still hold this opinion. But questions remain....

Why didn't Fluor agressively bid for contracts in water and electrical infrastructure in New Orleans? Well, the contracts were not really there... at least not on the scale of Iraq.

The patron is the person or body who provides the financial means for the fruition of a project.

There are different kinds of patrons, and each patron can serve different roles in the site, in the design, and in the institutional effect on place and time.

Louis Kahn, for example when designing the Salk Institute and the Capital of Banglesdesh, had a deep relationship to the site and the patron.

Michelangelo, Bernini, and Vasari, as well, for example, also had complex ties to their patrons, whether the Medici Family or the Papacy.

Architecture for Humanity and still-developing nations also can serve as interesting patrons with interesting needs, such as TunaHAKI in Tanzania.

And UC Santa Cruz and the University of California system has been the appreciative patron to EHDD Architecture.

Whatever you do, wherever it is done. Think of the patron. Think of your service and think of their role and your relationship to them. What is the context; patron is a vital part of this. Pride in patron, pride in expressing the icon of time and labor. Value the institution and the human, together. Be at the site and be in the place. Patron -- who are the people, what do they need, what are their values, how can you deliver vision and manifestation?

(c) M. Waxman 2007

the marshall's

Tonight I took a few moments to surf blogs on Blogger via the "next blog" button. What came next was "The Marshall's," a blog apparently written by someone (who I guess, by reading every entry is a man) recanting in bullet-point style the main events of each day since December 23rd, 2006. It's extremely fascinating just reading these simple details written by this person from Arizona... he went to sleep, watched 24, played monopoly with his son, got through work, watched football, spent time with his wife, ate dinner and desert... I wonder if he wonders anyone is reading his story:

Spending time reading other people’s blogs is very interesting and telling about the human condition, that deep inside we all have passions, for instance. Each passion is different for each person, just as are our differences in body and identity. Along the same lines, at work today, during my lunch break while taking a walk, I saw a gym teacher running alone around the field on her prep period – her passion is to be active and to run, I presumed. She has a great job and must be very happy!

Tokyo Sky City

The Discovery Channel website has a great interactive feature about a theoretical "Sky City" proposed for Tokyo. The project is at gargantuan scale and changes the invisible dynamics of a city's relationship to the land around it. The project could also reduce the temperature of the city -- being a partial (and grand scale) solution to climate change adaptation. With people moving to the towers, the site notes, more vegitated spaces could exist around the structure (but what about historical districts and existing city structures? Demolish to preserve that which is yet to be planted?).

The structure would stand at about three times the height of the Eiffel tower and would have three enormous legs and two connecting platforms stretched between them. I imagine such a structure would change the entire landscape of architecture for the city and region of its context. (The site notes that engineers would have to find a way to stabilize Tokyo’s unstable soil before the structure could be built.)

Architecture in a city of the sky would change the relationship of architecture to the land, to standing on the Earth, and relationship and value of Earth topography in human life. Such changes also speak to the multiplicity in human civilization -- from Babylon to Athens to Rome to cave dwellings to Sky Scrapers to a climate-adapted future – Civilization is changing.

Visit the interactive feature now. Shall this challenge the human tie to the land, or bond us closer to it by way of sending us into the air?

(image from Discovery Channel website)