Monday, February 15, 2010

why is it

that whenever I end up in the North End, where there are absolutely NO public toilets, I find myself desperately having to go to the bathroom?

Walked 6.5 miles today -- up Boylston Street, around the Boston Common, through Government Center, and into the North End. Then back, obviously. Good walk.

Whole wheat grain cereal is okay tasty. It's kind of like brown rice. I think I like oatmeal better.

If I hadn't taken studio last term, I could have taken two -- even three -- biology classes last term, and probably graduated on time with a double major.

I don't really understand how I can enjoy the people, ideas, and peripheral classes of the architecture program, and hate the design core of it so much. I don't hate the work; I hate the environment the work is done in. Last term I was sleep-deprived, didn't have time to exercise, and ate poorly. No other class at MIT has generated so much self-hatred in me; if I did poorly in say, biochemistry, I would say, "Well, I need to study more," not, "Maybe I just have bad ideas," like I did in studio. I thought I worked hard, but it was certainly not hard enough.

When I was in eighth grade and had just received Saturday in-school detention for the first (and last) time, I felt, in part, angry that I was being humiliated because a teacher wouldn't listen to me. Yes, I had been rude, but I thought I had a right to make my side of an argument. (I can't remember the details now; as a rule-abiding kid, this experience was overall extremely traumatic and banished from my memory quickly.) My mom gave me a phrase later to deal with such situations, when I might partially right, but also might end up bitch-slapped for pushing the issue: Is this the hill I want to die on?

Architecture is a shitty hill to die on.

I suppose intellectual and moral compromise (I know what you're asking me to design is the not the best for the people who will live in it), bullshit (here, let me make up a bunch of terms to defend my position as someone who invents shapes), elitism ("fun is such a bourgeois concept"), and pandering after money (hello, all notable architects of the 21st century) are a part of all professions. It seems these qualities are optimized in architecture in such a way to make me, personally, want to puke. In my limited experience, architects are by and large a group of fascinating people with wonderfully exciting ideas. They also work ridiculously long hours for ridiculously little point. The guys in my office over the summer lost an entire night of sleep over a presentation that the customer turned down almost immediately after hearing the bid price.

The problem is, when I try to explain my position in regards to architecture, I end up criticizing the field as a whole. After four years of college, I honestly do have profound doubts about the legitimacy of architecture as a profession. But the real point is this: If I'm going to lose sleep over something, I want it to be a profession I either love more or that matters more to the world at large.

So now I am stuck wondering what to do, since the last four years have been highly informative but inconclusive. Designing stuff is nice. Biology is nice. Chemistry is nice. Baking is nice. Smart people are nice. Literature and languages are nice. Some other things are less nice.

What do I do with all that? Should I just compromise and try to get a job that pays well and therefore will support the things I like to do? Should I try to make it as an artist or a writer, doing something I really love but probably can't get paid crap for? Or should I try to get a job that tries to make a positive contribution to the world at large, which might not be so enjoyable or pay well? Should I try all of these things in turns? What about my personal life? Is it better to try and get an important job so you can motivate important people to make big contributions to the world's welfare, or better to just develop strong relationships with the people around you, so that you affect one or two people deeply in a good way? I don't want to be alone wandering the world and doing volunteer work, but I also don't want to live a life that basically fulfills biological tendencies and nothing else. I don't want to be forgettable -- except that, of course, everyone is forgotten, so why do I care?

Sense and Sensibility is an awesome movie.


  1. i have been wondering for so long why wordpress keeps telling me that people are coming to my blog via insearchofchickenpotpie and then i finally figured out that it was you.

    in any case, why is it that architecture studio has the ability to make us feel so worthless about ourselves? i don't understand it. it always seems to be that half that people end up feeling totally battered and utterly demoralized by the end of a studio (this would be me)and while the other half seems even more confident about their abilities and talent.

  2. Ha -- sorry I didn't notice this for a while.

    I do not understand the architecture studio paradox. We get to make things all the time, unlike most other majors, things that are unique to us and our tastes and our histories. You would think we would feel more worthwhile than those who spend all their time slogging through psets that hundreds of other people have already done. Yet no.

    I think it has to do with the environment. . . the attitude that, if you have time for yourself, you must not be doing it right. That is where architecture and I part ways; the work is interesting, worthwhile even, but the environment you're expected to do it in is not for me.

    Go team battered and demoralized!