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"We need a system of values/meanings, not just rules that are meant to be broken."

Benninger’s Principles of Intelligent Urban Design

  1. balance with nature
  2. balance with tradition (our own identity or our own sense of place)
  3. appropriate technology (geo-climatic resources, local techniques, materials)
  4. conviviality (open spaces, public domain, cities as places for romance)
  5. neighborhoods (basic fabric, basic security, similar ideas, attire, same class)
  6. places of planned encounter/ chance encounter
  7. inhumane scale, machine-age scale
  8. cities as places of opportunity
  9. Cities as regional nodes (graph theory)
  10. Participation is detrimental for beautiful cities

But it’s not just a system of values that we need to consider, it’s a new set of values we need to arrive at. Increasingly, what is valued is what is on a large scale, arriving at what Benninger calls the “inhumane scale” or the “machine-age scale” of cities. But isn’t that one of the most basic values of societies all over the world? Or has there been a change, and is it only in the subcontinent that this value of megastructures is residual? Do we only need to change our system, from that of rules to that of values/meanings, or is it a more deep-seated problem of the values themselves? How do we emerge from this, then? Perhaps the answer lies in the balance with nature, where the “value” of bigness doesn’t undermine the value of a harmonious space, a space at one with nature.

Much of Benninger’s theory relies on his often argued analysis of cities emerging from tradition. Architectural knowledge is taught, and developed as it is taught, keeping in mind where it originates. In his Letters to the Young Architect, he values his education in India, through regional tradition, perhaps even more than that at Harvard as an urban planning scholar. 

via Carlo Santoro Laboratory

The Bridge of Disciplines — Mathematics, Poetry, Architecture.

What brings me to architecture? It seems to be getting more and more difficult to answer this question; as years pass, and I progress in its education first hand.

What brought me to architecture is perhaps made clear with my interest in mathematics, and art. Their general impressions make it even more difficult to delineate what I mean when I say my “interdisciplinary interests” in those seemingly disjoint fields. What I think lies at the core is a linguistic interest in art, specifically poetry, and a very transparent linguistic fascination with Mathematics. 


Currently, I am enrolled into an architectural theory course, and of all the things the title gives the impression of, what it’s scope really is, was made clear only after the first day of class. The class called Parameters in Design, gave the impression that it was a class that would reconcile me to my fabricated philosophy of what brings me to architecture, through this wayward, albeit quite passionate, path of pure mathematics, lyrical poetry, and at some point art in its finest form. 
True poetry, according to the poet and critic  John Crowe Ransom, “only wants to see the world, to see it better.” Poetry, he believed, is a superior form of knowledge which gives us the fullness of human experience, not just the facts and abstractions that suffice for knowledge in a scientific age.
The idea being that a “fullness of human experience” is translatable through language, mathematical or even poetic, perhaps a complex visual poetic language, which makes it possible to create. For our purposes, this creation isn’t merely the idea of fabrication of a physical space, although it is apparently entirely that, but also creating human experience. And so, much of what I recall and prioritize from my previous knowledge of architecture, is the idea of assessing a desired a human experience, to help us justify a physical form, creation of the experience is justifies the creation of a form. For the most part that justification involves what I understand as the design process.
The process of assessing a subjective experience, diagramming that subjectivity to help us quantify a qualitative characteristic mathematically. The example, is the unit of measurement called “clo,” which is an objective scale to measure a subjective experience of temperature comfortability. 
Illuminated by the introduction to the class, although disagreeing to certain definitions, I stand convinced that the study of architecture is entirely what my academia was building up to. In fact, what is beautiful is the elasticity of the defining process; once defined, we subsume it as an axiom to build our knowledge pyramid-like.
The definition of dimension, although difficult to grasp coming from a pure mathematics background, is especially beautiful. By virtue of Professor Carlo Santoro, and his research on the idea of space and mathematical topology in perspective of architecture, a dimension is “a description of an object (an architectural object) through mathematical characteristics.” 
The beauty lies in how perfectly it serves as a bridge for mathematics and architecture. Dimension of a space, in a purely mathematical sense, can be defined by the number of variables it takes to define (I chose the term ‘locate’) a point in space. In retrospect, I do understand the limitations of the term. 
Dimension then, reconciling to my original philosophy of the design process, is a subjective variable of human experience that we attempt to quantifiably describe about an architectural element. 

explore-blog:


…that passive-aggressive comma, with which we so carefully set off what is nice, so it won’t be missed…

The great Mary Oliver, who is 79 today, on the magic of punctuation, plus a beautiful reading of her punctuationless poem “Seven White Butterflies.” 

explore-blog:

…that passive-aggressive comma, with which we so carefully set off what is nice, so it won’t be missed…

The great Mary Oliver, who is 79 today, on the magic of punctuation, plus a beautiful reading of her punctuationless poem “Seven White Butterflies.” 

The beauty of Mathematics — intuition made certain with absolute perfection. But what is even more brilliant about the idea is that its certainty lies only in its language, in its abstraction. Sure, if you pour water into a hollow sphere of radius 2, the volume of water would be precisely the one above, but it is a discovery.
The cornerstone debate about the language of mathematics is whether it is discovered or invented, how beautiful it is in that uncertain state, vacillating between what is discovered, and what is merely imagined, invented, made certain in the realms of language. 
Also, from time to time, I help people understand the mechanics of it, which is, I admit, the duller part of the idea of mathematics, but beautiful nonetheless. Because you know what they say, computation is to mathematics like typing is to writing.
P.S.: I’d also like to think, perhaps, logic is to mathematics like life is to writing?  

The beauty of Mathematics — intuition made certain with absolute perfection. But what is even more brilliant about the idea is that its certainty lies only in its language, in its abstraction. Sure, if you pour water into a hollow sphere of radius 2, the volume of water would be precisely the one above, but it is a discovery.

The cornerstone debate about the language of mathematics is whether it is discovered or invented, how beautiful it is in that uncertain state, vacillating between what is discovered, and what is merely imagined, invented, made certain in the realms of language. 

Also, from time to time, I help people understand the mechanics of it, which is, I admit, the duller part of the idea of mathematics, but beautiful nonetheless. Because you know what they say, computation is to mathematics like typing is to writing.

P.S.: I’d also like to think, perhaps, logic is to mathematics like life is to writing?  

(Source: mudkipremakeconfirmed, via spring-of-mathematics)

Lexicography and Procrastination

  • There are moments when you cannot figure, for the life of you, what needs to be said; maybe an overwhelming sense of happiness, an inundated awareness of your anxiety, or merely an inability at small talk that comes with succumbing to your introversion, and mostly in such invariant cases, silences suffice. Perhaps, in this day and age of blogs and social media, (yes, another one of those ironic references) an unsurprising ellipses, a certain visual silence, a certain silence that is readable even, is much needed.
  • But what do you call such a person who finds comfort in the nature of the three consecutive periods, an enhanced pause, a longer, more important slowing down of the dimension of time; a dependence so intensely inhibiting that it becomes part of every conversation, appears as a social solace, a haven for a mental meandering?
  • You call such a person, I would like to presume, elliptical.
  • How do we come to define this term?
  • elliptical: (adj.)
  • 1. Derivative of ellipses: (n.) Three consecutive periods
  • 2. Having the linguistic state of an extended silence.
  • 3. An emotional state of having issues that seem to go in orbital relationships with other ineffable issues -- not quite circular, because they lack a certain kind of consistency, perhaps not entirely asymmetrical, but having a limited, controlled number of lines of symmetry.
  • 4. Perhaps the word transforms itself by the nature of its atmosphere, heavily influenced by the moods of its surroundings, that when an elliptical relationship is in effect, a person becomes elliptical, exhumes a silence, necessarily part of dialogue, a social necessity in various forms, all infinitesimally compressed to ...

A love-letter to reading, embracing a seeping hipster taste, and all that it entails…

What arrests you with most books, if you’re a reader at all, of the same category as I am, (for the record, I am sure you are), like all Borgesian readers — readers for whom the act of reading is prayer, an opium if you must will — is the title. When you’ve spent only hours at a bookstore, and made impulsive judgments of books, you’re almost embarrassed of what some would think of your hipster intuition that has willed its way through to you. The only thing that confirms you being part of the hipster generation is a genuine hatred of all that is hipsteresque — the irony (also, the relentless need to declare ironies is what some social psychologists define as hipster). Let us superior beings move beyond blogs, beyond all that is worth hating, all that is ironic in this world, and discuss perhaps the title of a book. 

Some (hipster-haters, I presume) say if a book, written by a South-Asian writer, is more loved by the West rather than the South-Asian community, its rightful audience, then the fiction is fraudulent, an absolute heresy! What has the world come to when the South-Asian writer expects a similar intelligence from the minds of the Third World? Surely, there absolutely cannot be a global intellect which evolves from hackneyed stories of race and gender oppression to a suffering of the soul, to tackle on a human condition? Surely, the South-Asian writer must repent. 
I admit to a sudden surge of drama in my writing style, which can be rightfully attributed to a certain special kind of person. I also confess to a certain enjoyment of this language, an enjoyment of an absurd magicality of words. 
Coming back to what I intended to write about…
I digress because I need to slow down this wondrous occasion of celebrating a novel I’ve most loved in the most recent years. There was Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red, which seemed unsurpassable in its lyrical abstract beauty, until recently. The book that deserves this build-up, what has been coming up in my conversations too often, perhaps because of its perfection for my taste, is Zia Haider Rahman’s In the Light of What We Know. So, why does this particular moment deserve a celebration? It is at this very moment that I’ve realized I don’t wish for this book to end. How many times have you arrived deep enough into a book you love, to not want to go forward, keeping in mind the dread of its end? 
Page 320, In the Light of What We Know. A moment of silence, to let the memory of thoughts evoked by all that came before, wash over you, while you imagine all that should come after.  

The Haikus of August — Untitled (Draft 1)

sundress lit hot, wet
poison like her champagne breath
August dressed, she walks
*
clouds behind bars dawn
rain-drenched, lose control after
a blue August breeze
*
melancholic wind
at a sea-shore, engulfs her
like August unhinged 
*
daphnes in August 
remember only the best
of their clear selves then
*
memory translates 
August to the end of all
insecurities
*
the finality
of an unneeded August
goodbye, shakes her soul

What could be a better gift to myself than a magnetic poetry set? Only the very best kind of procrastination!

What could be a better gift to myself than a magnetic poetry set? Only the very best kind of procrastination!

*1

"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
 Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit 
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
 Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

Omar Khayyam via Robert Mankoff at The New Yorker this week on the finality of a cartoonist’s pen. 

*1

Reading In the Light of What We Know is an absolute delight, and what seems to be dry theory is so beautifully presented here, that one wonders if all knowledge is in fact mathematical.
At one other memorable instance, Zafar (the protagonist who embraces the stereotypes of the character of mathematicians so very elegantly), calls Mathematics an education in thinking. What is it about the abstract form of mathematical knowledge which so inspires us, and at the same time instills an anxiety for the world that is doomed to mathematical ignorance? The importance of a mathematical education is not what makes this debut novel inimitable, but it is the seamless, page-turning capacity it assumes with these facts — what makes the novel real, in many dimensions.
Because G. H. Hardy cannot remain unquoted here, I don’t think any of us could ever be indifferent to his words: “The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or poet’s, must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colors or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test; there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.”
The importance of this idea makes it quotable, through David Foster Wallace, through Zafar’s notes, through his unnamed narrator friend, and through me on Tumblr. It had to be done.
This note, so very profound, but poignant all the same, with the marked pattern of suicide that follows the manifestation of perfection as an idea, something difficult to keep up with, what makes life not livable.

*2
The swiftness of the curve/ vanishing in the corners/ exaggerate the gloss, the incumbent distress/ of her eyes/ plastic, / buttoned like Coraline, / the shine of a pair of school shoes /polished for perfection, /prepared to take on a day, there is the desperation /for perfection in her eyes,/ the infinite want, /her tongue curled to the edges of her lips/ as she buttoned the boutonniere/ onto the jacket, as if it’s the holding of an infant, / and he walked disaffected, / cradling his emotions,/ looking away. The most/ emotional kinds are the ones who grow unemotional/ with time that has made them distanced,/ because there cannot be that kind of cynicism, the cold detachment/ without first/ an intense, copious empathy.
While she let herself be/ buttonholed through the slit/ in the door, she watched her world slip/ like threads through needles,/ but she never knew when she had to move on/ to a new set, to sew her world in place./ All she had with her were her/ buttoned eyes grown cold, emotionless, serenely/ rounded like the bottom of an urn/ asphyxiated by the boutonniere/ in a box now red beyond memory. 

Because the most hurtful kind of arrogance/ is the one that persists death,/ refuses the temporality of emotions,/ transforms only to consume/ others in silence/ — an elegant melancholia.

The swiftness of the curve/ vanishing in the corners/ exaggerate the gloss, the incumbent distress/ of her eyes/ plastic, / buttoned like Coraline, / the shine of a pair of school shoes /polished for perfection, /prepared to take on a day, there is the desperation /for perfection in her eyes,/ the infinite want, /her tongue curled to the edges of her lips/ as she buttoned the boutonniere/ onto the jacket, as if it’s the holding of an infant, / and he walked disaffected, / cradling his emotions,/ looking away. The most/ emotional kinds are the ones who grow unemotional/ with time that has made them distanced,/ because there cannot be that kind of cynicism, the cold detachment/ without first/ an intense, copious empathy.

While she let herself be/ buttonholed through the slit/ in the door, she watched her world slip/ like threads through needles,/ but she never knew when she had to move on/ to a new set, to sew her world in place./ All she had with her were her/ buttoned eyes grown cold, emotionless, serenely/ rounded like the bottom of an urn/ asphyxiated by the boutonniere/ in a box now red beyond memory. 

Because the most hurtful kind of arrogance/ is the one that persists death,/ refuses the temporality of emotions,/ transforms only to consume/ others in silence/ — an elegant melancholia.

"

Ever finished a book? I mean, truly finished one? Cover to cover. Closed the spine with that slow awakening that comes with reentering consciousness?

You take a breath, deep from the bottom of your lungs and sit there. Book in both hands, your head staring down at the cover, back page or wall in front of you.

You’re grateful, thoughtful, pensive. You feel like a piece of you was just gained and lost. You’ve just experienced something deep, something intimate… Full from the experience, the connection, the richness that comes after digesting another soul.

[…]

It’s no surprise that readers are better people. Having experienced someone else’s life through abstract eyes, they’ve learned what it’s like to leave their bodies and see the world through other frames of reference. They have access to hundreds of souls, and the collected wisdom of all them.

"

Beautiful read on why readers are, “scientifically,” the best people to date

Perhaps Kafka’s timeless contention that books are "the axe for the frozen sea inside us" applies equally to the frozen sea between us. 

(via explore-blog)

(Source: explore-blog)

"In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves."

Rumi

(via thecalminside)

(via beingblog)

lastnightsreading:

Karl Ove Knausgaard at Community Bookstore, 6/4/14

lastnightsreading:

Karl Ove Knausgaard at Community Bookstore, 6/4/14

*2
Will
The sky grey tries to 
stand up on its own soon falls 
to being blue again

Will
The sky grey tries to
stand up on its own soon falls
to being blue again