The City as Organism: Have Urban Planners Become Latter Day Darwinians?

The city has oft been compared to a biological organism.  Like the simplest single cell organism, the emergence and growth of urbanity is a story of evolution, not creation, and just like our friendly amoeba, it can multiply, split, or become infected with bad DNA.  Despite best efforts to understand urban agglomerations, however, their origins, working features and adaptive strategies remain elusive and mysterious.

Never wont to let a good idea die, or, rather, to let any idea that can be mined and pitched for research dollars and parlayed into published articles, the urban research Academy has kept the comparative amoeba on life support (albeit a tiny, miniature system), and has expanded its vast analogical skills to include sexy biological spinoffs including fractal theory.  But where does this get us, exactly?

I recently read an interesting blurb on Seoul-based architect Lee Jang Sub’s “Complexcity” concept, which focuses on finding a “concealed aesthetic” in roadways “growing and evolving randomly through time.”   Sub provides as backing evidence satellite imagery that reveals a delicate lattice of roads, byways, and highways (though in this stylized vision perhaps we should refer instead to boulevards and parkways, quite possibly plated with gold) that reveal themselves unexpectedly and, in at least one case mentioned, is reminiscent of a gentle flower.  I presume that examples evocative of a lump of coal, or worse, some more valueless and amorphous lump-like mass, were omitted for convenience’s sake.

But the basic premise, that of a random evolution of roadways, is to me erroneous.  Continue reading

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Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty? It’s Both, You Freaking Idiot

Well, I guess the title kind of says it all.

But lest you think the raw power, the curious structure, or the liberal use of a metaphor is lost on me, it’s not. I am clearly aware of my own quite (and probably overly) literal pecking at the nape of what, for many, is undoubtedly at least a useful thought, if not a philosophical gem…the “half full or half empty” conundrum.

But I’m here to tell you that metaphors aside, at least in my experience, it is literally true that this Barney the Dinosaur “sippy” cup we call life is simultaneously half empty and half full.  By definition, in fact.  And by necessity, to go even further (and I verge now upon the hallowed ground of many legitimate, actual philosophers)…for without half empty, there is no half full.  It’s sip-ple.

One Year, Two Stories

Okay, so this is the most “blog-ish” thing I have written to date. It’s almost as if I’m about to tell you about young Blane’s first piano recital or to reveal the great cupcake recipe I just stumbled across. Still, format is format, and by the end you should get the point and forgive me this foray…

Man, what a year.

I left my life behind, and with it my closest friends and entire family. Oh, how I miss them. It’s really hard. I moved to a foreign country for the first time and it’s difficult adjusting to an entirely different culture, people, system. I enrolled in a challenging educational program and at times wondered if I would make it through. I got depressed and anxious, which although not new to me, were intensified in this unfamiliar context as old self-esteem and self-confidence issues reared their ugly, familiar heads. In January, a ruptured disc in my spine was discovered, and I went through the physical and emotional challenge of neck fusion. A few months later, finally recovered, I took up bicycling, only to crash in a cement culvert, breaking a rib and incurring various other bruises, cuts, and abrasions. I haven’t felt physically “right” since I got here. Whether it was the neck or rib or ongoing sinusitis, it’s been hard dragging these aging bones around. The record is getting impressive (or, more accurately, depressive!)—two knee surgeries, two spine surgeries, broken hand, broken rib, broken spirit.  Continue reading

Dialogue

The “wise” man said to the “unenlightened” one “I know there is God, for He is everywhere—in the air I breathe, the leaves that fall, the water that will shape the stone, in time.”

The unenlightened man said to the wise one “I do not agree, but yet I cannot refute your declaration that He is everywhere—in the air you breathe, the leaves that fall, the water that will shape the stone, in time.”

“But if you just have faith,” said the wise man.

“But that would require that I just have faith” replied the unenlightened man.

“You feel that faith is a fool’s game, a trap, a gamble—the outcome of which can never be known.”

“Yes, I feel that faith is a fool’s game, a trap, a gamble—the outcome of which can never be known.”

“And this leads you to believe that there is nothing vital in the air we breathe, no purpose in the breeze that makes the leaves fall, and that there is nothing to be said of the yielding of the stone to the persistence of the water rushing by?

“I believe I breathe, I believe there is a breeze that can make a leaf fall, and I believe water can shape rock.  As to why these occur man cannot know.”

“Man does not need to know if he has faith and belief in purpose.”

“I have not argued that there cannot be purpose—only that it cannot be known.”

Everything Nothing Something

I ask, do you love me?
I think I give myself I way
I turn my heart out
For everyone to see

You ask, do I love you?
In time I surely will
For now, you are leaving
Are you with me still?

Life has a way
Of killing you slowly
It’s good
It’d bad
It’s crazy
It’s sad

And life has a way
Of making you lonely
Your friends
Your lovers
Your Mom
Your Dad

Baby can you hear me?
Even across the miles
Jesus can you hear me?
Am I still your lovely child?

Buddha can you teach me?
I’ve been lost out here a while
Baby can you save me?
With just one smile

Once in a while

Life has a way
Of being the only
Gift you gave
You cherished
You saved

And life
It just may
Leave you so lonely
You pray
To stay
So close
Today

And it’s all the same
Everything, nothing, something
It’s just a game
It’s nothing, something, anything
Forget the blame
It’s your thing, my thing, nothing
Forget the shame
It’s nothing…

The space that’s between us
Proves there’s weight in the air
These truths that bind us
Make lies too crude to bear

Where will the hours find us?
And how will our bodies wear?
And if the hours blind us
Are we too blind to care?

Well I don’t care

‘Cause life has a way
Of showing you the only
Paths to take
And plans to make

And life has a way
Of showing you slowly
That you are okay