I constantly wrestle with opposing forces. Through experience I know the bloodier the battle the closer I am to a truth. I know this because any form of fighting can only come from believing in a particular position. And I know even more deeply that particular positions don't exist.
In light of the above it may sound contradictory to say that I know I'm onto something when I have a good battle raging - surely scrapping must be the diametric opposite of what's really happening. But to think of it as a battle is also a fixed position, and we know fixed positions can only take us into battle.
And even knowing all this I still have no choice but to fight. But I do it in the knowledge that the fighting will eventually end and what seemed to be opposing forces will have melted into a flow of continuity, and it was only my fixedness that saw opposition where none existed. The battle is an alert, an indicator something is crumbling within, it relentlessly rages on becoming more devious, more brutal, safe in the knowledge of its own ultimate conclusion - dissipation into light. This is war's purpose in life - to never give up until the bloody end. Beautiful logic.
An example - the perennial issue I enjoy struggling with is the practical tension between archetypes and the desire to be irrational, or even worse, original. Intellectually it's fairly easy to resolve but I do have a trait for rule breaking. I used to think it was cool but now it's just become hindrance to progression, a habit.
Aldo Rossi has an answer - typology in architecture is something that is permanent and exists prior to form. He says dwelling types haven't changed from Antiquity to today. The form has, but the typology persists. Typology is the model and the model shouldn't be copied as there would be no Architecture.
I love all this and it provides a way forward. A way to be creative and at the same time not deny there are archetypal forces which exist and shape what we do, probably more so if we oppose them.
And even saying all the above I'm still at war with it. This is why the Borg say ''Resistance is futile''.
I recently had a discussion with an old friend about Architecture which shifted the balance of my understanding of Mies. More specifically it was about how we appreciate a work of architecture - as an abstract, physical, spatial, object or as an expression of a set of values and beliefs about the world. The discussion went something like this.
As Vitruvius said, Architecture is a political act. The reason Mies is Mies is because his Architecture is fuelled by human issues which go way beyond the surface of his physical constructions. When Mies returned to Germany and built a transparent art gallery in the heartland of what was the centre of Fascism - Berlin - the last things on his mind were 'I' columns and beautiful proportions. Well, not the last, but they were there only as a means to clearly express a political position.
Imagine having to leave your homeland to live in America, for all the reasons we know about. And imagine the immense significance and emotion Mies must have felt when returning after the war to create Architecture which expressed values, not only in opposition to Fascist ideology, but about a modern, transparent world.
It's easy for us now to forget the context and focus on the work of Art. And you have to remember that in Mies' time all the top Architects of the day were masters of proportion and detail. They were grounded / trained in the Beaux Arts tradition. It's only today, when those skills are very rare, that we fetishise Mies - for all the wrong reasons.
That being said, the genius of Mies was to uncover a physical expression for those values which not only goes beyond the proportional skills of his contemporaries, but also brought forth a new form of Architecture.
The lesson here is a reminder not to worship the graven image. Idolatry - it's hard not to become entranced by the object, thinking that's it. And it's even easier to misinterpret Mies' famous sentence - 'God is in the details'.