Wednesday, 28 March 2012

writing about architecture: biography

A. Beresford Pite (1861-1934)

“El Dorado, Yo hé trovado”
was the caption that a twenty year-old Beresford Pite gave to his Soane Medallion winning design for a fantastical medieval club house in 1882. In this claim to have found the Golden City is the boldly civic while ambitiously playful approach which marked all of his ensuing career. This Edwardian eccentric resists easy categories and is misfiled amongst revivalists of the late 19th century. His passion for an intelligent synthesis of constructional reasonableness and imaginative, even rebellious, creativity is asserted in his RIBA obituary which claimed Pite to be a “modern amongst the modernists”.

“If architecture ceased to reflect the age in which it lived, and the public thought by which it was surrounded, it ceased to be a living art, and it would become a mere museum exhibit.” (Pite, 1923) In developing his decorated modern, Pite owed a theoretical debt to Ruskin’s Gothic and Lethaby’s Greek, finding in both a description of a ‘primary style’, which was unlike the derivative confectionery of uncritical revivalisms. In this way Pite’s mix of mannerism, social concern and practical industrial requirements corresponded to the contemporary Arts and Crafts movement, but with an altogether more urban sensibility. The result is a lively primary architecture which bears the marks of a symbiosis of teaching and making in his practice. Teaching and making being two pillars which I would argue are the foundations which distinguish the work of this architect, who taught emphatically, by some accounts zealously, that architects must master or be mastered by the building process.

“When sculpture stands forward to illustrate a subject.. architecture should give it assistance and unobtrusive support, treating the whole as a jewel whose beauty is to be enhanced by an appropriate setting.” (Pite, 1888) Pite’s vision for the process of making, particularly sculpture, was inspired in large part by Michaelangelo, an affection for whom he demonstrated at the Institute for Chartered Accountants (1888-93)with Belcher and perhaps more freely at 82 Mortimer Street (1896). Figures sculpted in these designs assert Pite’s understanding of architecture as the mother of the arts, a concept terminally under threat over the course of his life. The use of sculpture was a vehicle for the personal or spiritual both in the building as a representation and in the building as a production, that is, as well as displaying the image of a human, sculpture demands the singular giftedness of a crafting individual human – a notion which Pite believed to be indispensable to art. We see his conviction in the idea of genius manifested equally in the flamboyance of his draughtsmanship, which may have owed something to William Burges and Albrecht Dürer, but ultimately expressed a single-minded freedom unobliged to any fashion or Zeitgeist.

“[The arrangement of teaching at the RCA] is a corrective to the tendency in talented students to accept their training and success in schools of applied art as a stepping-stone in an artistic career of unrelated idyllic art, either in painting or sculpture, of little ultimate benefit to the nation or profit to the artist.” From 1900 Pite taught as professor at both the Royal College of Art and the Brixton School of Building, and attempted with enthusiasm and some success to realise the pedagogical and professional ideal of interdependent art and architecture. If it can be said he influenced the cause of a diverse and adventurous architecture through teaching, he was also influenced significantly himself by the very process of teaching. A parallel has been drawn with Ruskin, for whom the experience of tutoring art to artisans at Frederick Denison Maurice’s Working Men’s College was the basis on which he was confident to believe Gothic to be practicable and so to commence work on the Oxford museum. For Pite, his work on the Euston Road (1906-8) in a piece of daring and persuasive classicism, came only after six years of doubts were assuaged by what he found in teaching.

Teaching defined much of Pite’s life. Driven by a religious devotion he considered the world of architecture to be a mission field, and he developed a reputation for provocatively thoughtful contributions in RIBA debates, exercising a passion for persuasion further tested on a platform at Speaker’s Corner. This dialogical evangelism demanded from Pite a sensitivity to listen to the questions of a context and required the strength to persuade by the expression his personal convictions in a language that could be understood. Both the process and reward of this missional way of being in the world find their parallel in his teaching of architecture and the two come together in his missionary commissions in Palestine and Uganda. Pite’s engagement to design a hospital in Jerusalem for the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews in 1892 began a series of buildings in that country, which were followed much later in his career by his cathedral for Kampala in 1918 and a training college in Mukuno 1924 for the Church Missionary Society. These were buildings which asked with an earnest and experimental curiosity, “In what style should missions build?” In reaction to the imperial imposition of much colonial architecture, the temptation for missions was to manufacture an indigenous pastiche. Pite, however, is noted for the sensitivity of his synthesis, he brought with him all the versatility that he had gained in years of dynamic dialogue over style put to the cause of a message, and he returned from these exercises with many lessons which he applied in the structure and message of occidentally inspired projects like Christchurch Brixton Road.

The notion of architects as messengers, had been gained from Burges, whose Cardiff Castle was the architectural work which best embodied the architect-as-anchorite understanding which Pite imported. This anchorite is one imprisoned to the compromise of being caught between heaven and earth, between utopia and commercialism, but a prisoner with a mission to act as an agent for the good of the city. Hence Pite’s was no pietistic faith, and from 1900 the socially diverse commissions which Pite chose, soup-kitchens and Harley Street practices, are notable as archetypal elements of a diffuse ideal city realised in the earthly city of London. The civic skill and creative art of so making the city were at odds with the professionalising trajectory of the RIBA, against which he rallied but never abandoned. He passionately argued that the Institution existed “not for the protection of the private interests of architects from unrestrained competition, but for the advancement of an art which creates a city out of the aggregate work of its members.” (1905)

The message Pite desired to convey in his work could be distilled to an urban optimism, defined against the “settled pessimism among architects, as well as among public men interested in art, on the subject of the general aspect of our cities” (Pite, 1905) but more specifically Pite’s was a call to us that we would join him as he “looked for the city, which had the foundations whose builder and maker is God.” (Obituary) This was his Golden City.


Based largely on the essays contained in this excellent collection:
Other worthy web appearances of ABP here:

200words: kings cross

"...Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”" John 1v48

if you ever knew the claustrophobic concourse of the old Kings Cross, you will find here its opposite.

of the structure.
a departure terminal made like a tree to leave, left here is the warp and weft of a woven weave, engineers quilting against the age of steam, organically. here their steel braiding mechanically still finds the joy to bring light to fall on a thousand tiny people staring up from the plughole as time's spiral tendrils trickle down to the concourse.

of the gap between.
in crystallised tension as Riley's Kiss grazing, like a buxom body bodying forth in brickish lust yearning: in it's a new generation's turn to wait in line. and the Brits below busying, in fusty soppy-stern muddling, preppy tweed dot dash darting. there's mother and son scolding. whither the ticket he lost in? careless youth.

of the shadows.
all lonely wraiths lost in the largesse largeness of our digital glade, a breathing room with room to inhale, Potter-heads oblivious to the honeycomb sky casting a spiderman's web netting of king's criss cross hatching of fibonacci shadows spiralling, of tropical fronds yawning, within this baroquing growth grown as a generatively generated shelter and shade.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

texting isaiah

Hope still waits in the wings. Isaiah 40v31. Prophetexting every morning freely, as we've freely received. Thank you O2. 07729056452.

Underlining GCH's call away from pietism, previous texts on self-relation, and Monday's verse Mk7v6-8 – the real God is a God of social justice, full-bodied worship, not v5 mindless faint-hearted mechanics. .. Calling back a forgetful nation for the next 60 chapters, of v7 Tottenham furniture store, the church is to blame? Isaiah is altogether more aggressive wisdom literature. Learn, learn or else we are lost: 2v3 God offers to teach, so 1v17 learn to do good, and 2v4 learn war no more and remember your maker v3. .. If we are hoping to act Acts, I hope also to improve how I see and what what I say through Isaiah. If I spoke like Isaiah would I be more effective? How would I first have to see and live to have credibility in such speaking? Snow, snow: we are blameless beloved.

Is3-4 From ashes to beauty, idols to glory, the redemptive work of God always goes a bit like this: God destroys or disillusions us of the things we hold on to as our God-substitutes. Apt to cling to 3v1 self-provision v4-5 self-regulation or v18-24 self-presentation for our safety, we learn to v8 ignore deny defy the glory of God, the very presence of God, the glory of God in our midst. God is kind in stripping us of our false securities, undoing our surface superficialities, because we find that this universe I not hollow inside but has a burning divine core. Let us be taught again again God's generosity, sovereignty and beauty. Why did we mess around with idols, when glory has always been close by? God is kind, he works to spread his glory over us 4v5 even now, for these are 4v4 the days we live in.

Is5-6 Woe is me for I am lost.. v1 We should sing the state of our soul sometimes, we should sing sermons and such. .. v1-7 as a vineyard how is our wine? Sideways draws its finest moments from the strength of wine's analogies. Are we a plastic tat vineyard? Or are we authentic, patient, earthy.. and can we be so without wine snobbery? When I consider the fruit of my life's vineyard do I find grapes of righteousness and justice v7, am I feeding any person by my fruit or is the manifestation of my faith sour v2/4? .. 5v8 Possibly no stronger caution exists for architects in the bible. What is wrong with joining houses? Serious question. What constraint would this issue on the form of a city? And the result v8b is loneliness: each of us in our sublet subdivision. .. v11 It would be mischievous to apply this to coffee, but where the drink is in control, the woe still applies. How does the damage done by frenetic modernism relate causedly to its caffeinated human beings? .. v13 God, please help us to know what to know – this is the only way, as there is so much to know. .. v17 Ruins and the apocalypse in film and Sebald, again and again, how can we be a voice other, an antidote to the self-fulfilling anticipation of ruination? Help us God, help us to know and tell. Help us to be unimpatient v19, to be unrelativist and unambiguous, yeses being yes v20, and save us, save us, save us, from being self-related in our estimation of wisdom v21 and worthiness v22. Is6 A fearful thing, the prospect that the word of God might actually further harden your heart. Desperate prayer. By contrast, the right attitude of heart v5 knows its woefulness and v8 goes on mission – let us keep our hearts from hardening.

Is7-8 Particularly struck by 7v10-14, God is the God who asks us to ask. There is a time for Jobic renunciations, and a time to be as Ahaz wasn't. 'God will give you questions': let us believe. And this my prayer, and my prayer that it would be my prayer, that God would shake my foundations, from heights to depths. I want this to be a specific and lived prayer, believing. Lord Jesus, come with wonder and amazement from the depths of death to the height of heaven. Let us not weary you with our unasking Remembering that 8v13 God is holy to be feared. Restore to me a holy fear, oh Lord, be my disturbance as well as my comfort. Prayers within prayer, 7v13-16 8v3 prophecies, more within more.

Is9-10 (A foreshadowing of the impossibility of covering two new testament chapters per day, in this, the fifth gospel.. We'll plough on) v6 child. The childness of the saviour promised is interesting. All the reasons why there are no children in Bothersome Man, or Shame, are reasons why Jesus came as one vulnerable, as new to the tired, as future to the Hope-less, as colour to the blind, as the overflow of a two where we are ones, as the unknown risk to the mundane, as play to the disemplayered, as other to the selfish. Unto us such a child is born. Gift. Start over. We get a second chance. .. v10 The old routemaster has been taken out of service but we will... We are not just putting a brave face on brokenness, not just rearranging the parts of the broken machine of a dying world. This is no pastichery, no Keillerian Morrison's depot nor port tanker, no, we are midwives to a whole new thing. .. v7 Zeal. God is a God of powerful passion. I had been thinking today, in a pause, the question: when should we be grieved at sin and when should we be angry? God's anger v12 v17 v21 is a driving force in enacting this saving plan. Without arguing by extremities, I know that mine is too often as passive pacifism, grieved at insurmountable injustice. Too often. Please God, for London, through me. v13-17 WE are a body, sin is also a collective thing: when our corporate extension, our umbrella of sufficiency effects injustice, we Tesco-shoppers and NHS-users, by participating in this order we are members of a body and involved in its sins. 9v4 v5 v6. Are the 'for's here consecutive or parallel? I like the notion that because a son is given we can stop warring and because we can stop warring the yoke of our toil is lifted – which is the taxing economy of arms production, to which Robinson in Space alluded.

Is11-12 11v6-9 Creation too longs for a lost good. This is such a happy picture of redeemed creation, cats and mice playing together; listen to those vegetarian convictions more consistently. And growing your own – 12v2 drawing from the wells of salvation is a task to participate in, but freely and joyfully because the work is God's. I feel like I realised a new that I do not have to crowbar God into work, God is already there, and ahead of of it all, this is God who provides materials and makes cucumber plants grow. It is God 11v1 who brings forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, it is God who establishes the body of Christ in the now, we are simply lucky enough to get to play. Jesus, 11v10 it is glorious to rest with you, you are 12v2 my strength and my song.

Is13-14 God is over all creation, v10 over Vauxhall gardens, the double yolks in sermons illustrations. The earth is a stage or canvas for God's communication with us. For right looking, please God, help us read you. Our binary state of sinfulness renders our culture Babylonic to a significant degree. What is Babylon for us? Our ally or our persecutor? Even while God's hand 14v27 is busy straightening out a crooked generation, He is a refuge, v32, this we proclaim. A sovereign refuging God, in whom we have our bold being.

Is15-16 This is God speaking in the first person, speaking directly to a collective second person. God speaks 15v1-3 hard words, 16v1-4 gives commands, and 16v9 articulates extravagantly compassionate love. Shepherd of North Dakota, are you listening? It is a choice, this divine conversation.. Hello God, I choose to listen today please speak. Draw near with faith, feed on Christ in your heart and mind 16v5 the alpha and omega, the bread of life.

Is17-18 v1 Ceases to be a city.. Some of its city-ness is so lost it does not transition to a 'city of ruins' but a 'heap of ruins' – a mere semantic distinction perhaps, but the use of the title 'city' consists in a certain spirit of a thing. v10-11 Forgetting. We are so provided for, all Canaanites proverbially cleared out of the proverbial land we enjoy, we are decadently blessed with a million minor miracles. The Garden and our planting of pleasant plants being but one miracle amongst many. The feeding sustaining security of a a people comes from remembering the Rock of your refuge v10. Our remembering-of God is no pietistic private internality. There are real mountains to be moved beyond ourselves by faith in the very real practical realities of sustaining life. 18v1 In loud places, v3 in loud times, God rebukes us quietly, (as teacher's advice) the devastation of the still small voice v4.

Is19-20 19 is amazing, the promise of the impossible possible, enemy states who reconcile and worship the true God together. The condition is the recognition of God's mercy, which puts all people's on an even footing before the reality dissolving power struggles and abuses. It also means that a whole culture can be transformed, it is possible, because there is still nothing stronger than God's mercy; grace acknowledged will seize hearts to wring out abstraction, abuses, dehumanisation & reliance upon exploitation. Please God, we pray impossible prayers for ourselves, our culture and our warring world – be the transformation of this our climate, only a God can save us. Of 20 I am struggling to follow all the ramifications for a then-united people's, but enjoy Isaiah's embodied symbolic visible articulation of the prophetic. let's do likewise.

Is21-22 Kitchen Stories repeats a line that I had forgotten, “Your death is predetermined.” If any of the futures predicted for our voraciously selfish society are even half true, how should we then live? How should we then comport ourselves in communication? 21v3-4 Manifestly devastated often? People around about are in such a depth of night that they don't even know what time they are in v11. v12 Let us encourage these questions, and seek to answer them by living in ht elight of coming dawn

Is23 Maritime analogies, the sea both v2 colonises and v4 overwhelms our hearts and minds. It is a terrible thing to be v1 unharboured. Today I am reading Bion's articulation of the experience of containment – God is our harbour, our container, bundling and naming and imbuing meaning so that we are not cut adrift in a sea of meaningless experience. And we are God's containers, the site at which new meaning breaks forth, we can say that we are in Christ and Christ is in us, so we can harbour God, and harbour others as we Mt25v40 harbour God. Harbouring is not v18 hoarding, it is alive not dead, it cultivates, producing more in kind. Harbouring is a v18 dwelling-with. We harbour those who experience themselves as v13 'not', who are full of things but empty, controlled by enslaving forces, empty & unharbouring. The experience of being-harboured sets us free to go and harbour likewise.

Is24 Conversation last night about whether the environmental disaster can really be shifted, what out hope is to be for. There is much disbelieving. And Isaiah tells us we will not dodge the consequences of our actions, and we, who have v2 bought and borrowed, we will not be able to escape the consequences of this. What is our hope? That God will do justice. And that justice is good and restorative. Terrifying and revealing and good and restorative and glorious v23. And now: v18 the windows of heaven are open. Now.

Is25 (thanking JDQ thanking SMZO) v2 Built then burnt and never rebuilt. There are two cities in these chapters, which are, in my mind, within one another, alongside as Mt13v30. Into such a to-be-burned context we are called. Called to share shelter, called, v4, to be space to the maxxed-out. v6-9 We are the there'll-come-a-time-you'll-see-with-no-more-tears people. Boldly waiting. Tears now, if for a little while. Ours is a faith which is radical by its delayed gratification. Patiently waiting. As against Kidulthood's (clue in the name?) prematurity in impatient cadences of violently ejaculated language and all quick and constant highs – contrasted with pregnant faithful waiting. Every waiting images God, the bread will rise, the bus will come, and how much more faithful God than TfL? Let ours be a creed of conspicuous anticipation, ark builders all. v12 Built then burnt.

Is26 The city within the city-built-then-burnt is like an inner room v20, a fire-proof harbour, as a person within a person in pregnancy v17-18. Although pregnancy is a neutral metaphor, we can strive equally only to give birth to vanity: unless God builds it, her labour is in vain Ps127v1. .. v5 Loftily. As ones critiquing the Shard, as one observed of Kitchens Stories' high-chair, as Malay's hidung tinggi, so the elevated self-built self that is cynical capitalism, that is positivism. Downwardly mobile, let us be. .. v9 Out primary work is discovering God-already-at-work, and joining him. So yearn earnestly, seek first the city of God in our corners of London. v11 Built then burnt. Who does the building, who does the burning in the city of your life? Who sees it? To whom do you attribute the city of your life? .. Of burning, what consumes you?

Is27-28 Isaiah tells us about the destruction of the world in measure with his use of planting, growing, flowering, metaphors, symbols of new life. An eschatology makes possible authenticity. Heidegger is right that our being-towards-death is the way we understand and value what it is to be alive, and to be resolute and released. To stand firm, 28v16 as we heard this morning Ph4v1. the measure of standing firm in faith v16-17 is patience, honesty and justice. God works in v17-32 sweeping away our self-denial, which is our impatience, dishonesty and injustice. These things can only be because of our inauthentic being-towards-death. But. In authenticity through Christ, looping back , we can go beyond the big issue, faith constituted by patience, honesty and justice can redeem the world, for God will redeem the world, God 28v29 always succeeds. God v23-29 makes things grow, and makes us make things grows – this promise of new life in our extravagant flowers, foraged for, they are a promise 28v5, look upon them and believe, and stand firm.

Is29-30 Notable that this has been the hardest book, hardest to find time for. The prophets address our wrong priorities and idols: if I am too busy for a half hour with God of a morning, then I am too busy. Notable that v1's 'year to year' indictment of empty ritual comes now, at the one year mark(ish) of this mostly-happy progression through a chronological reading. I perpetually risk running on empty ritual. Notable that we now arrive at 29v13 recurrent in my life right now, this verse. Woe is me. Longing, longing for v14, confident because we have known God so this is an 'again', eager because it is 'wonder upon wonder' more within more. More. There is always more wonder. Oh to be as the Ethiopian eunuch, seizing upon Isaiah's promises, is there any reason why I should not be baptised? .. v16 I am not a self-made pot and there is comfort in that. Oh to be cooperative clay, mouldable, sculptable. 30v2 without asking for my direction. We don't have because we don't ask Jm4v2. These shelters v3 I have found along the way, my way, have dried out my clay, to a clinging, sticky, rigid, clay stuck to the bench of the shelter, fixed in addictive cracks in the wood. Oh uncooperative clay am I, I need to be snapped off, chipped away and carried out back through God's rain to a malleable moulding, in God' v15 quiet trustworthy workshop, to there untense my muscles and be massaged into a new strength, for a new task, a new jar to hold new wine. And there will be singing v29.

Is31-32 31v1-3 To put one's trust in Egyptians rather than God is to take an 'outside' perspective rather than a lived perspective, for 1Sm16v7. I'm tired of knowing this about myself, my insecure escaping idolatry, Please God, this morning, this Thursday, v3 stretch out your hand, destroy my idols & my idolatry, do it violently, you are the one I want to love. 31v6 over today. Just as God 30v18 waits to be gracious, so God 31v5 hovers to protect. I need protection today. 32v1-4 read aloud, read aloud more than once. This promise I hold onto, that the hasty of heart will be given understanding, through grace. So we pray for the renewing of our minds, that we would Ph4v8-9. 32v8 She who is noble plans & stands on noble things, for a 32v15 spirit-filled fruitfulness. Pour yourself upon us today.

Is33-34 v2 Every morning – this our armoury, to hold and be held by. .. v6 Stability in your times – there is a heaven in that, times happening at the right time, spring in its spring time, not all at once and no listless waiting on a station platform beneath an error prone arrivals board. .. v6 Abundance of salvation – much for many. .. v11-14 Dwelling within the fire. How does this fire relate to Dn3's fire? And how do we survive it? (What consumes you? What refines you?) The aim is to be such material as is refined by fire. In what ways do we define our materiality? Via our material comforts, via our reading material? perhaps this is a dead end metaphor, but the question of what-you-are-made-of related to fire-strengthening strikes me this morning. God, by a sublimation to the sublime, transpose our paper thin flimsy flammable ways. .. v21-24 Maritime analogies – the call to holiness is a call to seaworthiness as it is to fireproofing. 34-v13-17 Unsure what to make of the nuance of this happy zoo. Foxes in the city were a part of Breaking and Entering's efforts to comment on the architect's fear of nature. But out faith is not in 33v18 towers, nor any pinnacle of dominion/domination of nature. God will restore a home for the animals we displace by our sinning in sin cities.

Is35-36 For us this morning, this beautiful rolling declaration of our life lived in God. Do you hear it? God is your 35v3 strength and your v4 unanxious heart, know this again and more, v10 your sorrow & sighing flee, because there is a God who holds us in mind with unrelenting grace and love. Grace such that even when we do not feel like we know how to be wise v8 God makes a way for us, in our loving God, he makes us holy and so fits us for the task, let us remember again with childlike faith, and so allow our anxious hearts to be transformed into v1 joy v2 joy v6 joy joy joy. (Sing and be as a blossom tree). We forget because 36v18-20 we think that God is like our other gods, who cannot save us. But God is not like other gods, there is no grace and liberation like this – 35v4 we have been saved, we are being saved, we will be saved. Deep joy. .. &v9 The streets will be safe, all night.

Is37-38 v3 The failing of strength is a word for just now. All our pregnant potential, all that we have conceived and rehearsed, at the very moment of testing we are worn out and so fail to bring it to birth. To such as these, we, I, who fear failure thus, God comes. Fears pertaining to houses, marriage, and redemptive ways to be in and unto south London, fears of Rabshakehs 36v2 taunting 36v8, like the world's market economists, who hover hoping to catch us out. Hoping to catch us in our inconsistencies v6. Hoping to see the object out of faith fail 36 v14,18. Fear of the patronising tone spoken even by reasonable, even friendly, sceptics against the folly naivete, irresponsibility of founding a kingdom, a household, a marriage, even a Sabbath's rest on God, fear that you will find 36v5 these hopes are 'mere words', that God is only an idea. Cruel strength-sapping, disemboldening this fear. .. God comes.37v32 In his zeal, he comes to save. God alone saves us, and God saves us for his glory alone. The aim of the game is God's glory. Not speaking plainly and publicly 36v11, of those things/enemies/addictions from which God must save us means that the glory of God saving us will not be made so plain and public. .. v31 We are saved for God, and to display his glory by God-enabled thriving thus. Root downward and fruit upward. This is a foundational little verse. Oh how we strive to fruit without roots and in our own strength. Silly. Oh seek God's supply, for he is zealous to give it. 38v8 We have heard this story back in Chronicles, it is the story of second chances, it is good to hear it a second time. Take it. Take the second chance, now, and stop asking for more signs v22, Phil, the signs in your life are sufficient for bolder bold faith.

Is39-40 Hezekiah's selfish avoidance possible only in holding God at a distance, let us soak up the 40th chapter like oil into bread, heavy with the reality of God, so that we cannot be Hezekiahs. More than literary tropes, tangible glorious hope. 40v1 God is our comforter. Not all comfort is cheap, though sometimes we are apt to dismiss it as such. God's comfort is not escapism, but an introduction to the way reality is, God the good mother, for this is a personal universe. v2 God, our mother who speaks tenderly to us, we are her Jerusalem gathered under her Mt23v37 wings, little chicks, little lambs in the arms of v11 the good shepherd, held close, held so well. Winnicott tells us that in being held the child can develop a coherent sense of identity...and thus it is, we are held by God. We are held. By. GOD. Who is not just a benevolent parent but v28 omnipotent & everlasting. This is the God who grounds our identity. v26 God calls us by name, we, like newborn infants v29 weak and helpless, given v31 strength by the care-giving God, little chicks given eagles wings. v5 and all shall see, Gods Jerusalem is found in ancient cave paintings and London's underground, so chirp your good news little chicks, it is for everyone. v21 v28 Do you not know, have you not heard? v8 There is withering, but there is enduring, your mortality is part of a bigger story, a story that cannot be v13-14 measured but is the measure of everything else. The fabric of the universe, raging mighty comforting love that holds us.

Is41-42 v10! I have chosen you Phil! I have not cast you off! I am with you! I will strengthen you! I will help you! I will uphold you! If I AM promises I am with you, who can Romans8 against us? If, then... These promises are the promises that sustain a person, they are (1) the promises we need for our calling, and (2) the promises that idols try to make to us: (1) v15 there is a task of threshing to be done, which is not a call to self-righteousness, and surely not to violence, but it will entail confrontation. So there is much to fear in trying to make a difference and be a difference. In the task of threshing, God is the farmer Lk3v17, the Spirit is the wind Jn3v8 (and preachers are the ox? 1Tm5v18 – perhaps the metaphor breaks down) God will strengthen sharpen help and uphold you as you seek to be faithful amongst the battering of a threshing floor world, today, he will, .. (2) v21 Idols. I want to locate the idols in my life in higher definition. Idols come promising, with v21 'proofs' which I cling to so as not to be v10 dismayed, 'proofs' to v11 confound and shame my opponents, these are verbal and theoretical idols, vocabularial power play, reduction for my own comfort, discrimination as self-defence. .. Idols promise a 'hereafter' v23, the happy ending, the advert's punchline, the money shot. Just as God will..will..will in v10, idols are also future-focussed, they also deal in delayed gratification, there is idolatrous anticipation of an idolatrous eschatology. .. Displays of 'good or harm' v23 – idols use spectacle to inspire our subscription, even doing good, but a good that 'dismays'. Our God is the God who can be our God without demanding our dismay v10. .. 42 This is Jesus. This is us. We are a servant's v1 servant v19. We are the blind v18 given sight v16 to give sight v7. In this way Christ is in us Col 1v27. And when the Spirit that was put on him v1 is put on us Jl2v28, will we not do greater things than he Jn14v12? .. v18-35 Remember how forgetful you can be. So memorise, so meditate, to fix in your knower the promises of 41v10, lest we blindly return to blind idols. Remember. I have chosen you! I am with you! I will help you! Today

Is43-44 Relentlessly this week,God tells us that she calls us by name, as our friends in Acts, and that we are hers. I love you Sarah. I love you Phil. Formed in her womb 43v1 v7 44v2 v24, and breastfed living water 43v20-21 44v3-4. So 44v5 write it on your hand in biro, and heart in grateful covenant prayer: 'The Lord's'. The label says v4 precious, honoured, worth fighting for, v7 glorious and glory-giving. (I love you Sarah, I love you Phil, you are my utmost delight) 43 was significant as I was baptised nearly 10 years ago, God promised v2 to be with me, and he has been, and he promises again for the next ten years, for the unknown future, God is with us. So remember the past and don't remember the past wrongly 43v19 attentive to the new thing, the new promise for homes and hopes and healing. God promises to make a way. & of promises, thinking about experiencing God with our senses – promises are to be heard, and God speaks 43v12 God declares & proclaims, 44v8 tells us things & 44v26 confirms to us. 43v9 truth can be heard. 44v8 God declares that we might declare: we are vocal witnessess. So let us use our voice, let us not not-call 43v22 let us 44v23, & let us dialogue with the God who invites us to 43v26 argue with him. And. God sees us 43v4 and sees us as precious, this is our seen-reality, so imaging God, let's pray against 44v16 wrong-seeing, and v17 any deliberate shutting our eyes, hiding from God's confounding glory. God, we pray against 43v8 unseeing eyes & unhearing ears, so that what we taste is not the 44v20 ashes of idols but 43v20 your living water.

Is45-46 Like no other. Like Sony, yet so unlike. ..v14 The only sovereign God sovereignly saves so that the nations would know that he is the only sovereign God who sovereignly saves. All that God does for us is for his glory, and the growing global knowledge of his glory. He goes before us v2 (that we would go); he gives us treasure v3 (that we would give it away); he chooses us, names us, calls us v4 (to a calling to mission); he equips us v5 (with the gifts to do mission love service and all manner of make-knowning) v6. That. People. Would. Know. .. We are invited to reason with God 43v29 presumably for our own good, for our own better understanding; in matters of God's big plan and the whys of it all, he is not looking for advice from arrogant subjects v9-10. .. v15 God hides himself: esvsb God is not evasive, but he is counter-intuitive. A helpful distinction. .. 45v1 'you carry idols' .. v4 'I carry you'. God carries us like a photo in a pendant on a gold chain. Like an email on an iphone in a daunt bag, God carries us. God carries us. v12 listen to this, v8 remember this: Keep calm and be carried on.

Is47-48 47v8-11 Our Freudian narcissistic wound, wounded by Christ's wounds, and by his wounds we are healed. v13 wearied by many counsels, seeking many saviours, yet, v14-15 there are none to be found. So it seems, this black Friday. And yet. As we kneel at the cross the world is inverted. Salvation 48v5 ancient yet completely new. v6 uncreated and unbeginning v7-8 entirely other, the Christ who surprises and is glorious v9-11 here at Calvary, does God most display his glory, come with fear and trembling. This is the crucified Jesus v12-22 hear him sepak these words, slowly, remember who he is v12 and what he promises. Hear him speak these words, imagining body broken and beath stolen – v16 draw near. Draw near with faith

Is49-50 As often as Phil says (or implies), “I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing v4 And God has forsaken me and God has forgotten me v14” Please remind him, in no uncertain terms: No you haven't, and no God hasn't. God called you and called you Phil v1. God made your mouth v2 and your text-messaging faculty. God made you v2 God purposed you for the nations v6, to participate in the saving of the nations. God intended you for honour v7, honour before powerful people. So you can know that God will answer you v8. God will help you. God will keep you v8. God will make a way through all this v11and feed you along the way v10 and give you joy to sing about v13. God cannot will not forget you v15, you are nursing at her breast v15, you are indelibly on his hands v16. You, favoured favourite apple of God's eye. Your house, your plans, your struggles, God is working on that right now. Right now. And if you just wait, I promise you, you will not be put to shame. Oh forgetters. Phil, chief of forgetters. Has not God clearly demonstrated his faithfulness and capacity to keep these promises? 50v6 He that did not spare his own son, he, who in the flesh gave himself up to such total and abusive fulfilment of of this prophecy, will he not surely fulfil all of Is49's promises? v4 This is why we, morning by morning, rise, confident of our Easter Sunday present reality.

Is51-52 Sunrise service this morning we read Is52v12-53v5, and in Lk24v1-4 & Rev21v1-7 aligns providentially with out Isaiahic kneel before the risen Jesus this Easter, the Jesus who 52v4 redeems us without money, who stands before us, as before Mary in the garden, and speaks a v6 'Here I am.' 52v13-15 the crucified Jesus, the inversion of the order of things. Easter comforts (& confronts) our waste places, so Rev21v4 the former things have passed away, wilderness to Eden, desert to garden. The old has gone, the new has some – a new metaphysics, a new morality, a new meaning. We are not headed for destruction but redemption, this for the whole world, for the banks of the Thames. This new order is of 51v4 justice, v5 righteousness, salvation, hope v11 joy. Do we know it? The fabric of things is different, the world is ruptured and transformed within itself by the Easter event. This is more than a story, more than a myth. And our Isaiah here resonates with the message of what it is that passes away, and what it is that endures – hear it? 51v6-8 v12-13 it is the old ways that will pass away, and God's new order, the fulcrum of which is the resurrected Christ. What. Beauty. 52v7-10. So 51v9 Wake up v17 52v1 Wake up v2 Wake up, like Christ from the grave, wake up, your life is made new, the world is new, we understand why we are told not to look for the living amongst the dead. Wake up to go out 52v11-12 publishing, declaring, that there is a new order, a new life.

Is53-54 We are servants as witness to a servant we have witnessed. v2 (1Tm2v9), v4 (Gal6v2), v7 (Rm8v36) etc. If we are called to take up our cross, if he bids us come and die thus, then this passage needs to be beautiful, as much as it needs to be true. A suffering saviour, what precious truth, what urgent delight, what satisfying beauty, what a debt we owe. Has he paid a price high enough for your life? Surely it is more than you are worth. .. 54v2 enlarging your tent in anticipation of housing new believers here. v3 crossing the world in anticipation of finding new believers there. This suffering saviour. If it is true, it is beautiful; if it is beautiful, it cannot but be told; if it is told, people will come. Enlarge your tent and/or go. Go, unashamed v4, unafraid v4, blameless 53v10, beloved 54v8. Blameless and beloved. Blameless and beloved.

Is55-56 55v6 God is very near, so give yourself to seeking today, v3 today is a listening & coming-close to the God who may be found. Here we are. We are given unto, we come v1 thirsty and with empty hands, and our living water, our bread of life, our wine & milk, all gifted, rather than the wine of 56v12, which we try to 'get' for ourselves. Idolatry is in our way as well as our ends. lord, we are those newborns with empty hands, thank you immeasurably for all today's gifts. Teach us being-with you today, as you remind us 56v2 v4 v6 to Sabbath, Sabbath gives itself to undistracted prayer, and as the Sabbath informs and intertwines with this day, teach us to pray, to draw near, listening & coming-close. Thank you for being this God, for always expanding and challenging us 55v5 56v3 v6-8 towards Acts10. Thank you for 55v7 always dealing in grace. Thank you for blessings 56 v4-5 unlike our expectations but better. Thank you that you promise 55v11 purposive things for us, and that everything you promise cannot not come to pass. Everything God whispers to us bears fruit. God, you are the one we love, thank you for your great love and care, you are our rock and our resting place.

Isaiah57-58 God should be so angry with us. The ways we mock v4, tongue in cheek theologising v4, our commitment to smooth stones in the valley v6 that would be our ipads of silicon valley, and the things we do in secret, the pointless endless minor lusts and lust allegories in our involvement in the city, as a complex of faithless striving and securing against God. But! God is the God of holy highs for the lowly lows v15, he comes among the forgetters and the paganisers and the drifting long losters. He comes to heal v18, to lead, to comfort. Peace. Oh Peace. .. 58 given we have this God, who sees and comes and graces, why obstruct his coming with inauthentic fasting? Every obstruction v14 – especially pride, sources of pride, illusions of sufficiency. It is absurd to make fasting itself into another false sufficiency. Thank you God, thank you, thank you. Come unobstructed into all of me.

Is59-60 Reminded this morning of 59v2 the seriousness of my sin. It is a terrible thing my lying, hypocrisy, lust, jealousy, pretence, unkindness, small mindedness, selfishness & voyeurism, all of which I am guilty of. Sin keeps us from our God, our source of life, sin begets only alienation and despair. And v3 v12 I am a sinner, I have only grace. But how good grace is 60v17 With the reminder of sin's 59v9 darkness comes again the incredulity at grace. Grace puts us all on a level playing field, I am reminded, it remakes consequences by making 60v7 v9 v13 beautiful. Grace does not paper over the cracks, it does not make us simply endurable, but beautiful. God makes me beautiful v9 God make us beautiful, v7 makes our homes beautiful, we are the v21 work of her hands, we are blossom trees. God takes what is ugly, premature, incomplete or misaligned and re-makes it, by grace, into unimaginable beauty. The old has gone, the new has come 55v6 violence, v7 desolation & destruction are such ugly words, but God makes beautiful. These words instead to seed your mind, to grow there: 55v14 justice, righteousness, 60v5 radiance, thrill, exultation, abundance, v13 glory, v18 salvation, praise. God v19 the rising sun and rushing stream, v20 God our true light. And it is only a God that can save us, only a God who can beautify, this comes with new depths. Talking about it will not save us, nor psychoanalysis nor study, not your community, nor your spouse, these are only signposts to the God who can save you. And he can. And has. And will. What beauty.

Is61-62 This is the best sort of prosperity gospel: blessed are those who get to be active participants in the dissemination of good things and good news to the nations. This prosperity gospel is no vast stale lake of lifestyle accessories accumulated in a pool of overpriced perishing tat. But rather, life in God is a gushing stream of reviving goodness by which God gives himself away to give himself away; a stream we enjoy to channel by giving ourselves away to give ourselves away. We are happy cogs in the watermill of God's big remakery. We are blessed to bless as it is a blessing to be a blessing. We are reborn bricoleurs with hearts v1 re-bound as books of love. We are called to be with/for/amongst Robinson in his Ruins v4. .. God the soil, we his sprouting seedlings v11, spouting good news 62v1. God the groom, we hid bride bedecked in delight 61v10 62v4. God the quilter we the thread, God the mosaicist we the ceramics.. Like Father and like Son, we too are apprenticed in the builders yard of our creators recreative endeavour 62v7 v10. .. And the fuel for this is in our name. We are, you are, you *are* the Holy 62v12, Sought Out 62v12, Delighted In 62v4. You are the Holy Sought Out.

Is63-64 These chapters together feel like a psalm, both worship and lament, both the tiresome circle of forgetting & holy remembering, abandoning & returning. 63v17's 'why have you made me this way, God?' a funny tragic indignation, a defence mechanism which must give way to 64v8-9's surrender to the God who knows us, knows our weakness, & continues to have knowing, grace-giving affection for us. God, thank you for giving us 63v14 rest this weekend, thank you for hills and valleys. Please seal in us all that is good, and please fill us with your Holy Spirit as we sleep, to awake remembering you, in love with you, to follow you faithfully and love others deeply this week.

Is65-66 v1 God wants to be found. Whoever they are, people in your life, they are invited to a game of hide and seek, without the hiding, or the seeking. God wants to be found. If we don't find God in our days we are looking in the wrong places, the wrong way, for the wrong God. Like we have an entirely miscalibrated notion of holiness – a God you can out-holy ?! Likely we are scouring the landscape of our navel, locked in a v3 garden of naturalism, privately, secretly v4, anonymously, seeking a God in our image, among the tombs – because there is no Other amongst the dead. .. All of Isaiah is one choice, as all of life is one choice: between paganism and Yahweh, between being found and being unfounded. .. Chose life, choose Yahweh, choose the one who creates and recreates you joy v17, to be a joy, to be gladness itself. We are the gladness of God. And in this reality we build and farm and fruit and long dwell. In a land with v21 no absentee landlords, no alarms, no surprises, except for the surprise every morning that the God of the universe would pick me! .. And these homes are for the humble and contrite, and we know this, how pride unmakes a happy household.

Monday, 19 March 2012

writing about architecture: poem

Form over function, this writing a sonnet business.
With apologies.


We sought a house, we thought it through. They taught:
“You want a house to buy to sell to let.”
We made a plan, we took advice, we bought,
A money spinning spinner to forget.
“Now market it, target the shop spoilt brat.
Resell in cynical clinical games.
Reglaze, refurb and wreak all cad fad tat.
Install cleanable, demeanable, frames.”
“We'd rather not, we'd rather have, or be
A house that is what it is what it loves
That looks like it feels and sounds like it sees
Unanxious to dwell twixt earth and above.”
“Foolish, first-time sentimental buyers,
Dabbling too deep against higher powers.”

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

200words: boris bus

London's wedding day is coming, we are betrothed, our carriage awaits. Over the horizon of twenty twelve comes our prince, just a short bus-ride away everything will be made right and every broken thing will be regenerated, and the weak will say 'I am strong', and the hungry will be fed, and the mayor will be re-elected, and East London will be made whole, and His kingdom will have no end, and all from an instant of nuptial ecstasy. But. This Olympian prince will endure no limping lover, and old whore London has weathered too many wars to woo her saviours undisguised.

Embarking the Number 38, at last, it is the smell of the new that shocks, and this olfactory novelty permeates all aboard the NB4L, the fragrance saturates virgin upholstery over not-yet chewing-gummed, not-yet kebab tagged back seats. But the (Luke 7v37) cracked alabaster jar of it all is the air-conditioning, ironic in an open-back bus, it is an expensive forgetting of London's air. Do we consider the poor whom we could have housed for the price of this wedding white elephantine melange of brazen asymmetry and LEDs? I, however, will not despise Heatherwick's joyride of a bus, but only let all our public transport be so playful, only let us delight to make such details even when the world is not watching. tfl

Monday, 12 March 2012

writing about architecture: place

Hello. This is open plan writing that has lost its fourth wall, don't write like this, it lets the rain in. I discover that six hundred words is a length that requires more structure to a narrative, some foreshadowed bait to sustain the youtubed reader's fleeting attention span to the very end. Thank you for your time, I can offer no collateral for the promise that the soaring comic arch of this narrative will touch down in the promised land of punch lines, character transformation and the affirmation of all you've ever hoped for. But promise I must. I promise there is another London, an impossible London, a London concealed in plain sight, a pregnant London, a London that is within us, but so much more than a state of mind.

The problem of writing-about-a-place is neatly the opposite problem of dwelling-in-a-place thus: try writing in the past-tense. Dutifully for the workshop's advice, I self-consciously shall. But consider the difficulty a moment: rather as we live in a tension between the now and the not-yet, we write in the tension between the now and the past-tense. Hence, in writing we take authorial power to confect a universe to live inside, albeit one naïvely constructed of present-tense unschooled writing. Whereas, in life we take a similar power to sell political dreams in the future tense, or to feign omniscient retrospective expertise in the past tense; but to live life in the now, now there is a fearful place, of holy moments, where you tread the invisibly thin line between what was and what is to come. Anything could happen. The kingdom of heaven is such a happening, it is a participle in the present-continuous-tense.

Today, however, it happened that I left the house at 10.15, it was that time, that is the time that it was, this is history. I walked down the steps from my last writing exercise, into the haptic, tactile, tic-tac-toe world outside of myself, beyond my cocoon. I adopted a gaiety of step that the magnolia gave license to. Fentiman Avenue appeared determined to carry on with spring despite the weather, and I was happy to cooperate. It was a familiar route, not over-familiar mind, this was no 'when one walks down..', it happened in that moment that I walked down, it was the gift of an unrepeatable instant, under a cotton scudded sky in a painterly spectrum of whites that will never happen quite the same again. It was the gift of those furry fuzzed emergent magnolia buds split apart at precisely that stage of exultant new-born blossom. Hello you.

I was not permitted to linger on metaphors to furnish writing exercises with for very long, a busy Saturday summoned. I crossed the Wandsworth Road, over a threshold between an altogether more cuddly urban grain and the bloated Nine Elms environs. I had discovered, at some pluperfect point last year, a shortcut through the wholesale flower market, a happy harbour in the eye of the urban planning storm of greater Vauxhall. Undisappointed again, today I was greeted at my haven by a three dimensional quantity of abandoned cut daffodils crying for want of a collective noun. A disaster of daffodils? I scooped up an arm of the second-hand seconds, they will have a second chance.

I considered that my future tense flourish at the end of that paragraph offered an excellent point to conclude my sojourn, but, having not yet arrived at six hundred words, I continued, confident that London promised more. Determined, I survived the length of Battersea Park Road's endlessly banal tirade of advertising, and, turning in past another-Tescos I climbed with a sonorous home-coming the steel stairs to the Doddington Garden. Welcome. At once, the ordinariness of the supernatural was busy all around me. The happy beds of soil we had cleared and furrowed were ready for planting, and so was I. Dear London, please believe.

link link link

Saturday, 10 March 2012

texting song of solomon

Texting sex before a watching world. If it was profitable for Solomon.. Normal service will resume presently, you are all very invited to play on alternate days. 07729056452.

I have so much to learn .. v2 Love is rightly intoxicating, strive to keep our love perpetually under the influence. Drinking is dangerous, strive for safety not in the temptation to find proverbially alcohol-free substitutes but in creating safe places for fearless inebriation. That is, not drink driving but parking your serial monogamy and parking your wandering eye, and throwing away the key. .. v3 Love is between beings-named, between two more-than-the-sum-of-their-partses, loving the wholenesses of each's integrated identity. This the opposite of objectifying women, true intersubjective affection is aroused by her infinity, irreducible complexity and diversity – what is in a name. .. v10-11 Love gives function to ornament. That is, if love, affection, arousal, desire, embodiment and the pleasure of looking come naturally, so should we then build. Would that we built edifices more sexual and we were more edifying in our sexuality. .. Of 'Others' v4, v11. To whom are we such 'others'? Let us v4 exult and rejoice in J&K P&T J&N P&S J&R J&A L&S R&A S&P N&H L&W R&J, my parents and yours. Let us v11 make ornaments for them. Supporting and defending marriage by the interdependent, symbiotic gift economy of making. Who then are our 'others'? Who is our chorus? Whose prayers can we throw ourselves upon? .. 2v5 Love is a marathon, not a sprint. Let us be long haul lovers. .. v8 Love will face physical obstacles, practical encumbrances. v15 Love will face active personal resistance. .. All of these apply, in our fractal existence, also to our intimacy with Jesus, Eph5v18 drunk in God, so then to be Acticly ecstatic Ac2v13, in an inebriated, fox proof, long distance love.

So3-4 Longing. 3v1-3 Longing for the one you love. Of this there is no better picture than the betrothed-but-unmarried for Rm8v22-26 longing for the fullness of God, the experience of the now & the not yet. Ec3v11 eternity's longing to see Jesus face to face Rv22v4. Longing is both active and passive. We find ourselves wooed 4v1-11 we desire a thou who comes from outside us, unconstructed & overwhelming, surrendered unto. But 3v1-4 we pursue actively. Leave the comfort of your home, go into the city, put yourself in danger and pursue this God. 3v4 God is to be found. So marriage images God in its faithful pursuit of the other as the woman here, with love that 1Cor13v7 endures all things. 4v1-11 on being-delighted-in. Being delight in extravagantly. This is marriage, delighting-in and being-delighted-in; the second can be more difficult, somehow to be delighted in more than a very little provokes some kind of defense mechanism, like laughter or irony or broken eye contact. Disbelieving I could be so delighted in, these are defences to hide a fear of not being enough, and a fear of being found out as such. So too with jesus. not lingering with Jesus, avoiding his eye contact for too long in case he pours our a love song, where awkwardness & insecure I cannot cope with such love. We are extravagantly delighted in. Adored by the living God. I protect myself from this overwhelming fact by holding it at a distance. Let us practice being delighted in so excellently, that we would know deeply that we 4v9 captivate this God. So love songs, delcaring that the God who is real is like this.

So5-6 6v10 Did you see the sun today? A milky dazzle at dawn and an awe-some curling firey sunset. Such are we in the sight of God, like the moon when he shines on us, like the sun when he sets us alight. God wants a cosmic stellar bride for himself. .. 5v2 dreams, the subconscious and the uncanny. God gives us those desires, he seeds dreams. He stands at the door of the v3-4 indecisive heart and knocks, for those of us who know not what we want, he is our heart's desire, he has come to give us himself... 5v1 drunk with love, v8 sick with love. Come, let us be so entirely affected by no mere affection, oh gutsy yearning, for thee, for the Christ, for all the ways these fractals cohere. .. Of euphemistic hermeneutics. Talking about sex is like talking about God: destroyed by direct reductive unpoems. Emphatically we should talk about sex and freely, but within a necessarily poetic vocabulary. Not so much to protect kids but to save sex.

So7-8 Eros is given not taken 7v12, gifted not bought 8v7. These are conditions for 7v10 beloved belonging, as is 8v6 faithfulness. Faithfulness is a delight not an obligation because lovers savour particularity, like the particularity that makes a space a place, deepened and multiplied in its profundity beyond measure. Loving one's infinite uniquenesses. Lovers are therefore always doing 7v13 something old and something new, like the God who is always old and always new Is43v19, a fractal existence, ever-deepening, your otherness always a new thing to discover, and the new thing that emerges in being together rather than being apart. Unfaithfulness forgets this divine new life and seeks novelty that quickly fades. And this life, this unique love, it is divine, 8v6 the very flame of the Lord, the God who loves us passionately fiercely jealously is close when we are close. 1Jn4v7-12 We love as God loves because God loves. It is holy, this longing. And 8v6-7 love is strong, stronger than death even, imagine that, unquenchably alight. Let's go looking for flowers in skips 7v12, because we are God's, we are his and he is ours.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

200words: hughes on myth and education

Foundational education should consist in learning myths. Acquiring myths is a wealth (139); this because myths are the irreducible (141) building blocks of active consciousness (140); myths define the relative conceptual spatiality of earth and the underworld (138); myths are remixable hieroglyphs, containing within them image and pattern (152), which are the icon and praxis of the religious good life; and our myths are the keys to our language, the doorway to our culture (139) and all culture. For in myth the inner and outer world come together well, synthesised through an imagination which is both strong and accurate (143), such an imagination conceives myths whose truth is attested by their longevity in oral culture (152).

Myths are not mechanical; the antithesis of mythical representation is photographic representation (146), which surgically detaches place from context, event from circumstance and fact from meaning. Without myths we become mere cameras (147), helpless bystanders (147), passive TV addicts (148), grazing indiscriminately, uncreatively, unimaginatively.

Myths are the geometric proposal that we live in a parabolic reality not a gridded legal 'plan' (142) nor a circular lens (148) of self-related despair (149); rather, by parables, myths bring about human flourishing by assuming and fuelling the brain's genius for metaphor (152). The mythic structure of true reality grows like as seed, (141) and thus actively not passively (148), while the brain is engaged in collision and struggle (150) to nurture that seed.

On what myth do you base your life and art?
Is longevity in oral tradition a sufficient basis to claim the truth of a myth?
If a woman was being eaten by a tiger, what would you do?


Hughes, Ted - Winter Pollen: Occasional Prose, 1995

Monday, 5 March 2012

writing about architecture: building

Unprecedently I have now been present at one address for more than 12 unbroken months. From our upstairs bathroom window I have seen the Shard creep up above the horizon of the opposite terrace, from its Mace mushroom beginnings to its Christmas tree glittery grandeur, topped by that strange awkward angular angel craning in tinsel and candy canes. I get to see such festivities come a second time, and am being awakened to the wealth of wisdom's comparative adjectives, to speak of place and the turning of seasons. And by the gradient of these, to learn to sense the trajectory of change in the spirit of a place. None of this here. I must write 300 words on a building. Go.

It was God who found me a room to lodge within this sleeping giant of a terraced house, a handsome handbuilt home, and there is an architecture to this, overlooked as vernacular, overlooked as speculator Georgian, commodified as mere property, parcelled out and auctioned off. It bears a revisiting.


Turning right out of Oval tube we sally through Lambeth's plastic patchwork of sporadically updated public furniture, along the rarely tree-lined artery of the Clapham Road down which a feud of lorries and cyclists impatiently flee from not-London to London-proper: we are their no-man's-land. Right again into the gentler Richborne Terrace. Scarcely registering the invisibly mundane revival huddle, sawn off at the knee by building regulations, one is lead on to the prouder, dishevelled huddle of brick, render, and soilstacks. A noble family of houses who still muster a remembrance of the sublime, whose war-weathered gentlemen, unashamed of their neglect and stoic against their occupants' efforts to modernise, are visible through unkempt magnolia, as a troop, in unsteady syncopation, brandishing their ordinary adornment, wearing the unpolished medals of cracked stucco and striving clematis on their shoulders. And, selectively, by addressees more self-conscious, the unevenly cleaned, occasionally repointed yellow bricks permit a melancholic honey ochre in the dusklight of a sunset's fall calculated to cut in half this symmetrical urbanism.

Half way up, or down the street, we arrive with a click and whine through a fifties gate, treading upon this elder statesman's broken toenails of seventies fractured tiled steps to a nineties catalogue imported door handle, I am living in all of history at once. My body's memory leans its weight unconsciously into the door swing and we are in the hallway. Peace and Sebaldian dust hang in the air above my head, in the 4 feet before the ceiling, 4 feet where my soul has room to roam, and the dreaming spirits of many occupants-past have been dignified by these few additional inches of air.

Climbing to the kitchen, even in the warming ecobulb gloom, careless chips into the painted banister reveal a rainbow history of long loved colours, pregnant, every surface with a diversity of domesticites and the unselfconscious idiosyncrasies of this happy bricolage. Arrived, we settle in folding chairs while skip-saved lilies preside over my favourite room in the world, a room whose yawning huge windows drink in the sky and all of the backstage of this terrace, like a newborn baby's eyes feasting gazes from her father's shoulder, amazed at everything on the pew behind her in church.

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