Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Writing About Architecture


It's Tuesday afternoon. The two labradors, Chloe (black and small) and Sir Isaac Newton (white and enormous) are napping next to the rabbit's cage (Brownie) while a storm brews outside. Wordfest is over as of 2 weeks ago and last night I read my writings about architecture for the first time in public, while Mike Oppenheim's amazing photographs of Asheville's architecture shone on the screen behind me. I shouldn't have read, I realized. I know it well enough to talk extemporaneously and there's some other kind of energy that comes from me when I do. It's because I've fallen in love with architecture. Hearing someone talk about what/whom they love is always better than hearing some read something from a page.

I started writing about the architecture of Asheville in February. At first I was all clumsy, not knowing how to talk about buildings. There's something mysterious about learning the language of things, particularly the language of buildings. This is such ancient stuff, and learning the language of it seems to tap me into the ancient stuff architecture is a part of. What that is, I guess I'm free to say it here, is all that original, primal stuff I first started this blog to explore. Alchemy and architecture are basically inseparable. On my great-grand-father Masonic certificate, awarded him in Belfast more than a century ago, the Latin translation on the right hand side of the page translates "freemason" to "free architect." That says it all right there.

So, I think about it all the time. Shelter. The limited number of shapes and structures available to humans and animals--domes and blocks, doors and windows. And all the variations which can evolve from those. . . innumerable.

Somehow, poetry and architecture have come together. And I can see how they're the same thing. With one, the words symbolize the world. In the other, you actually use the world. But it's all about building, about structure, about delineating a space where something can happen.

I'm aware of the wind surrounding my house.
And how peaceful and still it is inside here, just the sleeping dogs, the watchful rabbit. . . .