Wednesday, July 8

blue of kind

I came home from New Orleans to see that the walls of my apartment are no longer yellow, but blue. it's a grey-ish blue, I guess. a light steel blue, you might call it.
I came home from New Orleans on a plane, and while on that plane I read most of Frank Chimero's The Shape of Design, finally. it's not a long book. it's very good though.

chapter 3, "Improvisation and Limitations," begins with a quote from Miles Davis, and some pages later the album Kind of Blue comes up as an iconic example.

which kind of blue? I've got the album playing now, layered on top of a steady rain with accents dripping from the gutters. I don't think it matches the blue of my walls. not quite. if I were Miles Davis, I probably would have named it Kinds of Blue. one kind isn't enough.

Chimero's point in chapter 3 is that improv opens up all kinds of awesome possibilities. it's endless, it's additive, it's "yes, and..." for as long as you have time to imagine things and bounce ideas around. but they need somewhere to bounce around, too, and that's where the limitations come in. they might seem like the subtract, but they don't really. they direct and they push. they add something, too. limits are possibilities.

I was reading brilliant quotes from The Shape of Design aloud to friend Ashley on our plane journey. some of the best bits are in chapter 5, I think. it's called "Fiction and Bridges."
"An alluring, productive untruth is frequently what's necessary to get things going. ... Every untruth forks reality and opens up a gap between what is imagined to exist and what actually does. Each fabrication creates a second version of the world where the untruth is true."
irrealis. flying pigs.


jazz and New Orleans go together, I hear.

while we were there that week, a lot of people in this country of mine were celebrating a certain supreme court ruling. in our explorations of the city, we ran into a rally at the corner of Jackson Square, flags and shirts and paint and placards all rainbowed and colorful. Ashley and I listened for a while. that whole day, she'd been gushing with happiness about this decision.  

and while I may boast disinterestedness, the feeling was contagious. to see so many other people happy and grateful? how could I not be? I might pretend that this court ruling doesn't affect me, not directly anyway, and thus avoid crafting any concrete opinion on the subject. but I do too much pretending.

interestingly, a few days after the decision, The New York Times ran this opinion piece problematizing even this great equality-increasing happy moment. friend Lisa linked to it and emphasized this little excerpt concerning the way things have been and they way they might have been:
"...activists could have pursued a different agenda challenging the need for sexual scrutiny by the state, and the constellation of benefits that belong to marriage-- but they didn’t. Instead of dreaming up new forms of governance, they asked to be ruled by the ones that already exist."
hmm. that's something to think about. but there are so many ways things aren't, we could get lost in them forever. for now, bouncing ideas around in the way things are might be the best we can do.

two more quotes from Chimero's book:
"All design springs from a complex social ecosystem created by multiple parties' interests weaving together..."
"It's the words of others that teach us to speak, the expressions of life by other people that teach us how to express ourselves." 
pretending is useful, sometimes. creating, noticing, articulating gaps and then bridging them seem to be things we humans are good at, perhaps despite all our complexity. or perhaps because of it.

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