Jan 22, 2008

Jagged Angles

Why do I prefer jagged angles?

Everyone has seen a rug with a curly flowered pattern, but usually I find that I prefer something both a little more and less pronounced. What do I mean by this? When something is complex enough, no part of it sticks out and yet it's wildly distracting in our field of view.

I think the mind understands jagged angles better – we're very familiar with a right angle, and we sure ought to be; we've surrounded ourselves with them. On the other hand every time we see a curve, at least in my mind, I can feel myself process it. Is it a curve that would fit in with a right angle? Is it steep or shallow? The complexity multiplies if the curve can reverse itself.

To be fair there are a lot of designs I've seen that use curves that are very attractive. What makes these designs successful in my mind is the limited style of the curves. Make them simple enough and they go nearly unnoticed at first glance, leaving no room for the brain to spend time processing them, leaving them as a sort of design accent and less of a primary design focus.

At the end of the day I think people are very complicated. From moment to moment and day to day we are very different individuals depending on situations, individuals surrounding us and the experiences we've had. With all that complexity in the people surrounding us (which is very important to our lives), I don't see the need for complicated furniture. Appreciate it of course, and how it serves you, but let slipping into the background gracefully be part of its service.

Like many things I suspect there is a healthy balance between the two, such as a couch with an angular pattern imprinted on it with curved arms and top for actual physical features.

Still, given one to emphasize, I know where my loyalties lie.

Jan 13, 2008

Portrayal Betrayal

It is as hard to see one's self as to look backwards without turning around. - Thoreau

There’s a certain irony to the way we portray ourselves.

I mean this in a few contexts. Of course, people are constantly misrepresenting themselves in person— if not by complete inaccuracy than at least by revealing only a very partial image of their selves.

And people are quite practiced at this. After all, it’s almost a constant activity we partake in from a very early age.

But if you really want to add a weird quality to it, make things written. As practiced as we may be at showing only very intentional aspects of ourselves, nothing adds to deception like adding the time and opportunity to premeditate.

If you want to skew things even more, you should constrain or truncate it by giving people tiny fields of knowledge to fill out, effectively placing emphasis on some things and devaluing others.

Favorite book? – Important. Favorite video game: Not.

Music that changed your life: important... Teacher who changed your life? Absent.

Relationship status? – Important. Relationship status with parents... not.

On some level we all know it’s constrained and vitally flawed, but it seems like we’re willing to let it go in favor of ... something.


It wouldn’t bother me if it was recognized that way. Still, the older I get, the more it seems to me like we’re willing to accept flawed pictures as mostly whole.

Maybe if we accepted its incompleteness, the picture would actually be more whole. And not just a—


Jan 9, 2008

Many Drivers, Many Exits

We all do it at some point, but the less the better. Any highway is dangerous. Bodies strapped to metal and plastic and explosives and a canon that drives your wheels. If labeled, those pedals wouldn’t read accelerate or break, they’d read, “Look out ahead” and “Hit me to avoid the guy about to merge into your rear bumper.”

Even the wheel would read, “Use carefully, lest you be rolled onto your head and smashed to bits like a bug on on your grill.”

On any given highway, there are an infinite number of exits. They’re scattered all over for you to find…

Even I have done it, though I hope much less so than others, but I still hate it when people don’t pay attention on highways.

Don’t you get it?—

Death, motherfucker: It’s just around the corner.

Jan 4, 2008

A Loving Simplicity

Everyone has natural talents. We argue about their various values. What is the value in writing, for instance? Or just how priceless is that clearest communicator in your family or office?

We often equate work and talent. “What do you do?” is a question you might hear often, and you know immediately they mean for a job. There are so many things you do, but when people ask what you do, they mean your work, as though it is somehow essential to your existence.

The problem is the thing we do is often not the thing we love. I detail cars and many people I know wait tables or shuffle office papers. When I detail a car I’m part of a larger process designed to disguise the wear on the vehicle, those who wait tables are providing a simple service to others, and office work might be even more mundane. I find that I can almost always take pride in a job well-done, but just because I can make it a job well-done doesn’t mean I will love performing the activity. Not even the pride in the result can make up for the lack of love in the work itself.

But the problem is not simply that these are not glorious occupations. I find that the things we love are often simple pleasures. People think of art as very complicated, and a natural talent to boot. But in its simplest form it is only putting a brush to canvas, pencil to paper, or hand to clay. And anyone can do these things if they love them.

In this world we call modern, things are admittedly on overdrive. For most people what we do is not what we love, and I was surprised to find this morning that I love chopping wood. What is the value to me of having the wood? Very low. I could probably do some other work and in the same amount of time earn enough money to buy more than that amount of wood. But value is sometimes not a measure of dollars.

On a warm day with a peaceful breeze, the sound and simple beauty of an axe meeting wood can be poetry.

[16 August 2007]