Debt, Digressions, and Doubt

For anyone out there having expected to prep up a hot French press, fire up the computer, and peruse a blog post fresher even than new-ground coffee this past Monday morning, I owe a sincere apology.  I live by my calendar, and when for whatever reason I fail to include an event on it, I will inherently fail to live up to the obligation…

… which forces a question into my head.  Am I fit for architecture?

I hope so, for I am currently five studios, ten-ish core classes, a handful of electives, and a mountain of debt deep into the field so far.  Literally, a mountain…  The Department of Education mails five statements per day my way.

These envelopes and their contents are whiter and cleaner than my porcelain cup before a morning’s coffee.  In spirit, however, they are darker and dirtier than the soiled grounds remaining in a spent coffee press.  The statements are also far less useful than those spent grounds.

(And my discussion of debt does not include all of the I-owe-you promises I leave scrawled in blood on napkins or fragments of receipt paper in various coffee houses as I plead for a free fix.  Just this once, I swear…)

Caffeine alone drives my life at this point, it seems, as I ran out of adrenaline so many plans and elevations and diagrams and sketches and models and sleepless nights and alert-less days ago.  But so many of us can say the same.  I just happened to have developed an inability to coordinate my daily life somewhere along the way, it seems.

And that inability drives my above concern over whether or not I belong in architecture, for when I (continue to) ask what that word truly means, I receive answers (increasingly) more complex than the body of the best coffees.  If the field dealt simply with buildings, there would not be such intricate discussions of building versus architecture.­

And though the idea of architecture as being ‘the design of space’ originally caught my ear enough for me to ‘listen’ to the rest of the discipline, I have recently heard fuller and more satisfying answers to the question of what architecture is.

Monday morning, in a theory class, a professor suggested that the highest-level definition of architecture is ‘ordering structures and systems’.  In other (simplifying) words, architecture is not the design of buildings, or space, but a thought process that gives rise to a greater order, a better organized network of relationships.

Architecture includes not only various structures – a building, a computer chip, the human brain, social relationships – but also the processes that organize the patterns of activity within them.  Architecture, the ‘Renaissance Man’ of terms, thus sings to my desire to tie together so many disparate fields that, on the surface, appear unrelated.

But if architecture is ultimately about a high-level organization of so many elements and patterns, can one succeed in it when he cannot even manage to organize his daily commitments?

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