Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Anti-Incarnation in the World of Architecture

"Life is too short to be creative. You just copy." This is one of the witty aphorisms attributalbe only to one of the project managers at the Architectural firm where I work. He says this as if it were a piece of personal wisdom from him to me, but he seems not to realize that is is the wisdom of the contemporary world of architecture passing through him, and falling onto my deaf ears. If he wanted to be real with me, which, apparently he doesn't, what he would have said was, "Life is too difficult. Do as much as possible to make it easier. Just copy. It's even quicker also. After all, time is money. And I have a reputation to keep up. Can't be finishing my projects late." His eyes were not watching God. Jesus left the easy, warm and comfortable womb of God, and came into his harsh and uncomfortable manger in a crying fit of apparent disaster waiting to happen.

"April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summber surprised us..."
- T.S. Eliot, opening lines to The Wasteland

One of my workmates was busy one day furiously talking at me, attempting to convince himself about the validity of his search for himself in a girl who won't be his girlfriend. A deceptive Ruth who turns and runs the other direction. Startled by the sudden presence of his boss who walked into the room, he said, "Why am I talking. I'm supposed to be working my ass off." Into what is the energy of his soul channeled?

"We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quite and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us - if at all - not as lost
Violent souls, but only
Ask the hollow men
The stuffed men."

- T.S. Eliot, from The Hollow Men

There's a porche in the Architect's driveway. The Architect is planning the next City-funded project in the hood - "affordable housing" - under the guised guise of charity. But before the eyes of this Architect, the reason for his existence and the "driving force" behind all of his architectural decisions, is this porche - rather than this poor discheveled, over-worked child of God who will be living in his project. Contemporary Architecture takes the form of Hoseah's wife. "Shape without form, shade without clour, /Paralised force, gesture without motion..." Their eyes were not watching God. Thier drafters are not apprentices, disciples, but elves, labourers for the Porche. "And I have known the eyes already, known them all - /The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, /When I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, /When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, /Then how should I begin" - T.S. Eliot,from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

"Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star."

What is the difference between that and this? Which is alive, and which ruined? Only one has all the pomp and circumstance in the escastatic vision of one who eyes the porche. And only one, when you actually stand before it, honestly confronts you with your humanity, your life, and the mortality of your carnal body.

I am Hosea's wife. Broken, alone and empty. "I'm not broke, but you can see the cracks" -U2. God's intimate tenderness overwhelms me in the darkest, stillest part of the evening.

"It is like this
In death's other kingdom
Walking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Form prayers to broken stone."
- The Hollow Men

We are the hollow men. Our buildings are Jesus running from Mary's womb to that which is easy. Skip the carnation; just turn and run for the ascension. Skip the kenosis of the empty tomb. Strawfilled head of the scarecrow chases after the birds he detests, and decides to head for the formless void of the clouds. Skip the creation. Formless and void, formless and void. "Life's too short to be creative, you just copy."


Thanks you for meaningfully, poetically and pictorially pointing us to live incarnational original lives instead of hollow lives stuffed with no meaning.
Uuhh...You're welcome J.R. Thanks for the aknowledgement.
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