“The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.”
Albert Einstein

Space is Not Mute

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… Here right now was the space of my building, as plain and fresh as it would ever be.

And what it helped me to understand is that space is not mute, that it does speak to us, and hat we respond to it more directly, more viscerally, than all the cerebral, left brained talk about sgns and conventions would have us think … This is not to say that the experience wasn’t rich with meanings and layered with symbols; it was, but the meanings and dymbols were of a different order than the ones the architectural theorists talk about: no key was required to unlock their meaning.

Well, actually there is one key needed to unlock the experience of this room … I mean, of course, the human body, without which the experience of the room as I have described it would be meaningless …

… Contrary to the teachings of Euclidean geometry, we don’t really exist on an indifferent Cartesian grid, one where all spaces are alike and interchangeable, their coordinates given in the neutral terms of x, y, and z. Our bodies invest space with a very different set of coordinates, and these are no less real for being subjective. As Aristotle noted, up carries a vert different connotation than down, front than back, inside than outside, vertical than horizontal … something like verticality … is something given to us, not made. And it came into the world at the moment when our species first stood erect. Our bodies were making meaning out of the world long before our language had a chance to.

… To manhandle a post into place, to join it to a beam that holds up a roof, is just the kind of work to remind you that, no matter how much cultural baggage can be piled onto something like a column … it is at bottom different from a word in a language. Though perhaps a bit muffled by current architectural discourse, the architectural column still speaks to us of things as elemental as standing up, of withstanding gravity, and of the trees that supported the roots of our first homes on earth.

… Certain architectural configurations (or patterns, to use Christopher Alexander‘s term) survive simply because they have proven over time to be a good way to reconcile human needs, the laws of nature, the facts of the human body, and the materials at hand.

Michael Pollan – A Place of My Own
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