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Archive for April, 2008

On pretext of researching for my architectural anthropology presentation, i have been reading up on many diverse and frankly unnecessary topics, brought on by a fast increasing interest in the three interconnected subjects of history, economics and politics.

My tutor Marc Dujardin lectures about the role of anthropology in architecture, citing his own research in Bhutan as course material. Yet i argue that anthropology, when considered in its far-wider context is hardly a crucial or even major factor in architectural thinking except in countries stuck in cultural and historical inertia like Bhutan, which are therefore probably not the best examples of cultures to use.

Shouldn’t culture be ever-changing? If that’s the case, how could any culture that clings on to its past have any hope for progression? I think one of the many uses of history is that it is a marker of change and progression. Precisely the reason when someone does something unprecedented it is known as “making history”. Any culture without a colorful and continual history is just extremely dry and boring. Inertia is probably the worst thing that can happen to any country, any culture or any aspect of life. The current Dalai Lama is perceptive in this sense in his efforts in eradicating many dogmatic and essentially pointless rituals. He is twice as perceptive in that he knows and preaches that an established way of life, cultural integrity and modernization need not be conflicting. I believe many activists for preservation and many champions of development miss the entire point and continually debate on a false dichotomy.

After all, progression is essentially preserving and improving upon the good and taking out the bad. The essence behind most cultural manifestations are reactions to the world, i believe. If they have not been updated, how could any reaction to the world three hundred years ago still have any relevance now? Religion is something else altogether, by the way. I wouldn’t call a culture that has not changed at all for centuries well-preserved or “intact”, i would call it clueless and lost.

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Misty

It was a misty night.

The day was showing the last vestiges of daylight when I walked Pepijn’s bike out of my house, borrowing it for the night because mine had a flat tyre. The mist was not so apparent when i waited with Flora for her bus. But as I started down the Poel it soon came to me that there was a fine layer of mist over everything. And as I cycled past the Graslei and glanced north at the direction of Sint-Michiels bridge and Gravensteen like I always do, the mist was as its starkest. It was set against an ambiguous sky; an indigo twilight that was neither too dark nor too light to conceal the sheer mist. The mist gave the usually crystal clear reflection of the bridge and the church in the water a mysterious cast, and I immediately wished I had my camera and my tripod.

It was perhaps a relief, to have this mist out in the open, to be able to see it clearly for what it is – mere mist. For there is a layer of mist over everything we do, a layer of individualization – And it is in that layer of individualization that decides the final veneer of that action – the inherent goodness or evilness. After all, an action is just an action – it is in the misty layer – the layer of motive – that good and bad gets decided, wouldn’t you agree? The mist is convenient at times to manipulate or to coerce or to merely give a slight nudge in the right direction; just as it is convenient to conjure a layer of mist as a last gasp tactic to conceal the true meaning of an action.

I arrived at Xevi’s place feeling like I have not arrived at all. It had been an eventful two days, even if I mostly stayed at home. It had the kind of feeling you get when a particularly complex book or movie is drawing to a close, and every plot thread is being knitted together to form a coherent ending. I felt listless, tense, unsure of the knitting process – is it going fine, or are the threads being hopelessly unraveled as I sit there fidgeting?

To be continued

Sorry that you had to read this much to get to something totally inconclusive, but I had to get it out and posted tonight (or I know I will leave it forever in the drafts). It’s late, and I would like to continue writing but I should pay some attention to my health and stop all this unnecessary late hours (party nights are classified under necessary late hours). On an unrelated note, two books that I have been wanting to read for some time – Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum – has arrived, and that, coupled with increasing work and increased things to do will likely limit the number of proper updates of this blog. I will try to post more pictures though. Flora does a good job of posting pictures of our class’ escapades anyway, so if you come here and feel disappointed I point you there. Go!

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Productivity

My, so productive:

Postbox

Spa, Belgium

Wellingstraat

No, i didn’t just upload two pictures. each is a link to a set, click on them for entire sets in flickr! Half of the Wellingstraat pictures have been posted here. Not the other half though. Found out that flickr free service is rather gay so don’t think will continue on flickr much..

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Creativity

It’s common to hear about artists, writers, musicians or related “creative” people struggling to feed themselves, or more specifically, feed their avant-garde, non-mainstream dreams. They received (or not) some education in some artsy subject, and then spend some time trying to “live their dreams” (strictly no mainstream, hear!) before starving and realizing their poems or songs aren’t satisfying them, in the basic necessity sense (food). So they get a day job somewhere, and continue to indulge their artistic hobbies until finally, they realize they’re not going to be the next Picasso. And then, their dreams “die”.

This was the subject of what me and an ex-classmate, whom i haven’t seen in 10 years or so, were discussing the other day. He was saying that traditional market demands choke the dreams of aspiring songwriters, musicians and what-not, and financial problems was the main villain disposing of all these (apparently terrible) musicians one by one. The market was, in effect, killing creativity, either by driving them out of the industry altogether or if the (insert artsy career) chose to remain but to do more mundane and mainstream (and, apparently, uncreative) work.

Typically, the cynic in me felt that he was merely trying on an indirect sales pitch for some on-the-side business of his. Of course, the cynic in me is hopelessly paranoid, so we will give him the benefit of doubt and that it was an honest opinion. Even then, how logical is that? The market kills creativity? I suppose that makes some sort of sense, if you were some narrow-minded stuck-up artsy person with a high opinion of yourself and your head somewhere lost in the clouds. I would think that true creativity would definitely transcend whatever market there is – if you are good, then it would definitely sell. If you find yourself on the wrong end of some dream-choking, it was probably because you weren’t good enough. It’s a rule of nature that the weak gets weeded out after all, and only the strong survive. Besides, what makes anyone think supposedly “mainstream” work is “uncreative”? I doubt creativity is measured in how weird your painting is or how emo your lyrics are, but merely how well you are able to turn some existing model into something else.

In another sense, i would think that the market, rather then killing creativity, actually demands it. To be able to even compete in any industry you have to be creative. Among a pool of a thousand (insert artsy career), only the truly creative (or lucky) ones make it, mainstream or not. For the others, they would just have to try harder, because i also highly disagree that creativity is a natural talent. I agree that creativity doesn’t mean you would definitely be a runaway success though, because other factors are at play. My point is, if you were really a creative person, you won’t have problems feeding yourself or doing what you want, because the very concept of creativity means you will always find some way around your obstacle!

zzz

Ahh.. it is so maddeningly beautiful and sunny today. Much as i like to continue on the subject at hand I think i will go outside and do something. Perhaps work on my creativity so i won’t end up as a dream-choked architect wannabe.

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Spring

So, finally, something strange is happening here in Sint-Lucas… we are finally doing something! No seriously, i thought i was gonna spend my 6 months here getting fat on Belgian beer and idling. It’s nice to know that we’re actually expected to design an airport instead of just talking about it.

But, sarcasm aside, it might just be another perspective of the design process, so we will see eventually if it works.

updates – Now that spring is definitely here, we have been going to the Graslei for drinks often, though some locals tell us it’s still too early. We have also started playing frisbee and football outdoors. yay sun! Soon i will post some pictures of what Graslei is. It’s a cobblestoned erm promenade by the river and really pretty. My arm aches from badminton and my thighs from football but it’s SOOOOOOOOOOOoo good to be finally playing some sports.

That’s it for now until i have a particular subject to talk about.

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Sneak Preview

Yes it’s really a sneak preview for something that’s coming soon. I can say so with utmost conviction because I’ve actually finished the set already (i know, wonders never cease). But, i will save my precious internet quota and upload it the next time I’m in school, either friday or monday. To Khaiyong: i will upload the pix to yousendit, also on the next time i go to school.. pictures are in pendrive already, awaiting…..

The tree was lonely

Lonely Tree- Spa, Belgium 09/04/08

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Making history

The number one complaint of this blog is that there is no pictures… So, for the first time.. here you go… hahah

Wellingstraat – the street where i live, also the most happening street in the city. or maybe not.

I don’t think you really need captions for the pictures. They’re pictures of my house and pretty self-explanatory. Last picture is me being the chef for the night. The kitchen looks messy because of the 157 Euros splurge on food. We cleaned it up and rearranged everything after dinner. The pictures are clickable..

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