turning off the lights

Great realisations come, and the realisations that are greater are those that remain. On my way home from school, on the streets of Bedford Square, I found myself drifting back to an old project of mine, the project which I feel is most representative of what I want to accomplish as an architect. I don't have anything of it to show to you. In fact, it exists only on a page in a sketchbook, as two, maybe three quick, but careful drawings. It is from third year, but not in London. It's from Sweden, for a course which I've forgotten the exact name of, but the key issue was: "how to build new in an old environment."

It was, interestingly, the only course which I had to redo in order to get my BSc. I never submitted my proposal. Perhaps I wasn't ready for it. In the end, I proposed some ugly Rhinoscript instead, for an entirely different site. But these sketches stayed with me, like some insidious perfection that kept nagging me, mostly because they were so far from what architecture stood for in Lund. It was pastiche without being pastiche, it was po-mo without being po-mo, it was serene and abandoned, but for a specific purpose. It was inside and yet it was not. It had no technology, yet relied on technology in order to get built. For 2009, it was a strange testimony, perhaps one of change.

It was an array of nine square pavilions set on gravel inside a steel and wood cube with an open roof, accessed from the street through a propped-up beaux-arts facade. In each of the pavilions, you played chess.

Cut to the present: as I was walking to the bus stop, my mind kept on thinking: what was it in these nine pavilions that haunted me? What was it I saw there that just wouldn't let go, and which, despite the fact that I will never include it in any portfolio (yet), just told me over and over again how I *actually got it right*?

I think I know now how I want to work in Japan. No big office. No cutting-edge practice. No. I want to learn, to study architecture by recreating it. I want to restore. I want to conserve. Strange words. I, who was contemporarism through and trough, has suddenly become infatuated with history. A new historicism. A future by way of the past.

I remember going up to our architectural history teacher in first year, asking bluntly why the course was only centred around European architecture. He offered an apologia by pointing out how he had briefly included Ottoman architecture as well, straddling the borders to Islam. Perhaps there was a seed in me already then, one that had been growing in my head all since my childhood's great geographical adventures - in video games and atlases at the expense of real voyages.

Perhaps there is some kind of sensibility embedded in me. I grew up on an old street, spent my vacation in an old cottage, and had sugar bun breaks at old mills and farms. I liked it. I really did. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a contemporarist. I love the lights of Shibuya. But I'm starting to wonder: what is a present if it cannot remember its past?

Restoration. Conservation. Strange new words, indeed. We create our futures by all means of knowing what somebody else did before us, and when that somebody is gone, it is our task to continue the wall where he left his masonry tools behind.

It's a future I can see myself having. Living somewhere far away. Looking after old buildings. Slowing down, laying the brick. Drawing their memories. Thinking of the men who walked through them: monks, priests, witches and princesses ... a slower life, a richer life. A life that is a culmination of all the thought brought up to us since time immemorial. Such history is richer than the present.

Will it last more than this evening?
We'll have to go forward to find out.



It's interesting to shoot in camera RAW. Photos you casually took, not thinking they'd be anything special, and photos which with a first glance indeed has nothing special over them, but then, you bring it into the program, you fiddle with the settings, and something emerges. Something good. This photo is (again) from John Hejduk's social housing project in Berlin. A great building. Sober but strange, progressive yet subtle. Space as surprise, to the one who designed it, to the one who lives there.

Almost done with the film, just one more sequence
to render, and then, other things need to be done.

After the jury, I will take a day off. Go to St. John's Wood, of all places, to pick up a book that was too big to fit in the mailbox. Wonder what Hegel would think of that, that his work would at some point be shifted around virtually and by mail, one-click-ordered, and then obsessed over for months. Perhaps he obsession part he could predict. It might be my niche. I'm not a neoliberal, nor a Marxist, honestly, I don't vote. It's not that I do not believe in freedom or rights to freedom, but I prefer to quietly protest against it by refusing to give my vote to someone else. My rights are my rights only, and what I can give, is also what kind of political animal I am, not what kind of colour on the tie I claim solidarity with.

Ultimate individualism does not need the vote.
Ultimate freedom is claimed by quiet removal
and sneaky behaviour.

Voting is now like Eurovision.
You call for other people.
I say: call for yourself.


office with no name

These things take a long time, but time is what I will have, at some point, whether chosen by myself, or engaged with in as part of my job. Will I still have time to do things I feel are important? With children, you put away yourself, or you put away them, and, in both cases, we lose something. I just wanted to be a teenager for the rest of my life, or an old man ... maybe things would've been different if I had just chosen to become a pilot instead, living always in the clouds, touching ground only when it is necessary so to do.

Why is it that the sensible
is so rarely what we desire?

One year of preparations, no, nine years in the making, and it all culminates. Can we practice maturity? Can we learn to weld? To draw? To think? I didn't write a thesis. I should've. But I tend to be lazy. End-of-year juries are hovering around the school, with mine set for next Friday (8 days from now). Miracles are needed, but won't happen. The world is mostly fair. The satisfaction of finishing a drawing is equal to the thrill of beginning a new drawing. The hardest part is the middle, stuck at 50%, no energy, except for that which we force upon ourselves. I don't understand people who can stick to the same concept for the rest of their lives.

I don't learn.
But I change.


salmon yakisoba

As I'm writing this, I'm on my way home from school, on the 98, my bus, my crew, passing by Useless Arch, soon to enter Shisha Road. The road ... the road is what makes my project happen, the road is what ties it together, or rather, what does it is the text written in retrospect to what the road is. I'm not postrationalising (that hated word!) but I am postprocessing. What may be an argument in one moment is a distraction in another. Had tutorials with a former student of Dip 9 today. Not that I didn't appreciate him, but I think the feedback would have been more specific and useful if I could actually express what I'm doing, why, and then proceed along a course to prove it. But maybe I'm like Rem. Maybe I get anxious if things are going too smoothly. Something is wrong. Something is not provocative enough.

I seem to keep my weight, at least, both in the figurative and the literal meaning of the phrase. Since I'm almost always going home when it's dark, regardless of time of year, I discover new buildings everytime I actually go home early. Yes, indeed, buildings. I can't let them go. I can't escape them, even though I don't want to. But soon. I will go. I will form a family. I will move into some place I can rightfully and truthfully call my own, my home. With age comes responsibility. Different forms of play. School cannot prepare you for this. It's not easy to live life - after all, this is my first time doing it ...

Micky's restaurant and Lahore grill. Bets and supermarkets. Coming home to a room with the sheets changed (I pay to have a mum), thin sandwiches in the fridge (for when you simply don't have time ...) and a medicine that might finally do something good. Or maybe it's not the medicine. Maybe it's just the refreshing air of being so close to the end, that we can just get our hands on doing the last few things before graduation. Like drawing. Like directing music videos. Like abusing peach ice tea.

Tomorrow not back again, tomorrow forward!


still life

Last day of sunshine for some time here in London, and with that, slight difficulty in conducting and recording my interviews. Had a look at Wilkinson Eyre's office, whose entrance is slightly recessed into the building, so I might go there for a rainy day. But for now, I'm enjoying the sunshine in the best possible way (by sitting with my back to the light and with the window open).

Had a look through my work from 4th year, planning how to embed it into a short portfolio I can eventually use in a job application. It's the end of 5th year, I should know well by now what kind of offices I want to work in. I don't. Or, rather, most of the offices I've been working in leaves me wanting something else. A small office. Dedicated employees. Willing to inject some strangeness into the everyday.

Why is it that we paint all our rooms white these days? What is there in the shadow that we fear, in the darkness? Men of all kinds have hid in them for ages, found comfort there, bred their thoughts. A white room might wake you up, but a dark room is perfect for going to sleep. (Although in my case, it's more or less the opposite.)


have I wasted my time?

People tell me I'm honest.
I don't see it.

People tell me I'm sociable.
But I don't see it.

Who do we trust the most?
Those loving us and having been there for us throughout our lives?
Or those who we coincidentally meet on a street in Clerkenwell?

I tend to believe those who know have only seen my face this one time.
I tend to dismiss those who have seen my face from wonder to despair
and back again.

Reading briefs for summer school, as I redefine my intentions and goals, believing straight away that I either know everything or nothing, of myself and of the world. Continuously on the move. I tend to prefer to see one person at a time, confused by those strong, confusing those as weak as me. A nostalgia train for Vitra might carry me from Memphis to Zaha - "might" is the word. For every wounded architect is a writer wishing he had been content with being a writer. I didn't choose architecture. I choose what kind of architecture. (Some people like the sound of concrete.)

The great countdown has begun
after which, a new clock
will begin to tick.

promises, realities

Turned out Hegel was far too dangerous. Now I've returned my books to the library, and taken a vow to not read or write before the end of the term, unless, of course, that reading/writing can be justified within a unit context - which I hope I will not use as an excuse to write more than necessary. My philosophy-blog will, as a consequence, become a rather deserted territory for the coming 6 weeks. But then, I will pick up where I left. In fact, I already ordered "The Science of Logic" from Amazon, yesterday. It will be my treat for finishing architecture school.

What's next, then? When people ask me: "why don't you stay in London, get your part III? settle down?" and so on, I answer in the same way I turned to the Natural Sciences program in high school: I did it to keep things open, even though I knew very well what I wanted to do, and that did not include London. I tend to get what I work for. That's how I got into school, in the first place, and that's what will bring me away from the UK, away from Europe. I know what I want to do: live up to my own definition of success, as a friend thoughtfully put it.

The best time of day: when I wake up early, knowing I don't have to get out of bed early. And that is also, simultaneously, the worst time of day, because I wish I had a reason strong enough to get up ...


some vanity ...

Took an IQ-test today, partly because I thought it'd might be fun, partly because I only knew so far that my IQ was "over 140" (from a Mensa test I did six years ago, also partly for fun, and partly for self-indulgence). It came out at 145, which is quite interesting since I'm *really* bad at mental calculation (consequently I got bored towards the end and just threw the answer that "felt" best at the questionnaire), and since English is not my native language. Because I am studying to become an architect, it was no surprise that I found the visual/spatial problems very simple. I should perhaps also make clear that the test was timed, so I didn't have time to mull over a problem forever. If I took my time to brush up my math skills (and my attention span), maybe I'd get a better result ...

Of course, this is just a form of trivia. It changes little. I've rigorously maintained that those who perform best at IQ tests are those who prefer doing things similar to IQ tests. It is no coincidence that Marilyn vos Savant has a job in which she "solves puzzles and answers questions on various subjects"; isn't that precisely what an IQ test is about? Furthermore, the stories of those with high IQ can be quite saddening, so it is by no means just an omnibeneficial gift, especially when it comes with an impairment in social intelligence - a friend of me called me completely socially inept, at one point, although I try my best to counter my autistic tendencies by speaking the way I think, or not speaking at all, which sometimes is a good solution.

Reading Hegel is dangerous. He's far too interesting.
Perhaps I ought to update my ice-cream flavour list.


waking up is hard, going to sleep is harder

The days begin, and the days end. When it begins, I don't want it to begin, and when it ends, I don't want it to end. I don't believe I'm the first person feeling that way, and I'll certainly not be the last. Good tutorial, fun tutorial, and a thought I thought was not thought through enough, turned out to be a thought with some thought behind it. Or, in plain words: I'm making a mobile office. It doesn't crash everything, but it crashes some things, such as Chipperfield's street. How much of a vehicle can you place on the pavement without being forced to remove it? Homeless people sleep in their rags, but officeless people work on their tables, thrown out on the street, assembled on permanent wheels.

My eyes keep making things tricky. It's mostly my right eye, for some reason. And it's not because I use the right eye *more*, I already know that I am ambifocal, that is, my eyes contribute equally to the depth and clarity of my vision. But taking a walk around Bedford Square is also nice, for a change, and switching to reading and writing, as I do now. I already write far too much, though, so maybe it'd be better if I also learned to put up with the blurriness. Don't want to take risks, though. Each morning and night has its ritual rinse.

It's hard to function when you depend so much emotionally on so many people. A good or bad tutorial is the threshold between a good and bad day. Fortunately one resets with sleep. Still, as usual, I don't make it easy for myself. I try to do what I want to do. Doing it does not always produce the best result, but it does certainly produce the most genuine.


the more you think, the harder it becomes to act

Finally. I did something I was scared to do (i.e. talk to other people), and, in the process, became concerned over the way that I'm talking. So many "oh"s, "really?"s and "that's interesting"s ... but what can you do, like one girl in the unit said: we're architects, not interviewers. We walk the talk rather than the opposite. Therefore, even though it was just a few street interviews, I feel I'm starting to appreciate more and more the thought of starting to work.

Architecture, perceived as a format for production, comes in three flavours: the school, the office, and the building site. What I'm beginning to discover is that each of these has its own specific culture. One student may excel in school but do a terrible job professionally, and therefore crawl back to academics because it is there his ego is satisfied. Likewise, the office-hero might not be at home at all on the building site, but this inconvenience is reduced by the architect always having managers of different levels between him and the good blokes who pour the concrete into place.

Is a successful architect the one who can find himself comfortable in all three situations? Or is the successful architect the man who can surround himself with other people who do a far more excellent job in the situation called for than he could ever do? Good design intuition and philosophical pitch does not always need to produce these two things: designs and philosophy. In the world of cost-cutting and aesthetic negotiation, a brilliant talker might be the one who realises when silence is the most suitable.

Also it's funny that for every year I do at the AA, the worse my projects become!


AA: a cliché

The vision: a school of architecture that desires the creation of ideas, which, especially within the unit I'm studying, takes the form towards the development of such ideas. This is, of course, only halfway to truth; I would rather say that it is the development and refinement of an idea, that characterises the school. While others (most of them) want to see the technical elaboration of the idea rather than the functioning of the idea as it is, that is, they want to see the design, here it is supposedly so that the means by which you materialise the idea is subordinated to the idea itself.

This is what we call a position, a thesis.
And this is what I've come to detest.

Many projects today, including those we see on sites like the RIBA awards, tend to be project-driven. They are good projects. But what precisely does that entail? That with a good project follows good architecture? What are the similarities between the two. Ideally, the process of making a project should be analogous to the process of designing a building - this is why the AA can still call itself an architecture school, when it is, in fact, a project school. The architecture, one says, is embedded in the critical evaluation of a design problem as well as its proposed "solution"; therefore, to create a project and to argue for it will prepare the student to run a project in the office. Is this true?

I cannot vouch for it, yet, but I don't suspect so. I'm not demanding that the AA should suddenly start making buildings everywhere, again, but I do demand that there is a shift in consideration of the process of developing an idea towards consideration of the very purpose of ideas. Again, it is the question between intention and presentation; what you make needs to be digested. Perhaps we can extend this analogy even further: it needs to be visually compelling, but this is only a way of attraction. It needs to taste good, i.e. it needs to be employed in a manner considerate of all its components (bitter-salty does not really mix), it needs to be rich, in order to fill its customers, and it needs to lure us to order it again, at some other day.

But I'm not that kind of chef. Haven't been, will not become.
That is why I'm looking forward to get out of architecture school.

if you don't do it, no-one else will

Monday'll be the day when I play. Centre Point food store keep supplying me with snacks, sometimes dorayaki, sometimes happyturn, sometimes octopus + peanut, sometimes corn. They do have a slight tint towards the Korean, although I haven't yet found a reason to ask the owner from where he comes. He's in London now, that ought to be enough. He is my bus stop man, and we know each other fairly well now. Not that I expect him to make an exception for the 8-pound-minimum debit card limit ...

Time goes on. We are counting down. My family's asking me of the precise title to my degree, which is: AA Diploma. Anyone sufficiently smart enough can get a MArch from some half-good-half-bad-not-so-selective uni, but the AA Diploma ... ought to be something more. But here's the problem: the "AA" ultimately makes no difference. The internal span in proficiency, intelligence, and its output, continues to surprise me. I did not expect the AA to be this competitive on the inside, rather I perceived it as upholding the same high standards throughout the school. I thought, if one gets in, it should be hard to get out. These days, as long as you get in, you have to screw up royally to not get out. And, in a way, that's saddening for those talented, but not talented enough to get the honours. There's a waste of recognition in the tier just below the absolute elite.

Hegel continues to make more sense than Zizek. The latter shoots at easy targets: who would defend political correctness today? It's like defending the Pope at a meeting for atheists. Slavoj, if you want to be politically incorrect - which you seem to enjoy - take your best shot at defending political correctness, and especially in the context of that specific term. You may not believe in dialectics, but apologias might suit you better.


I'm fascinated by collaboration, mainly because I don't understand it

Reading through accounts and facts of the architectural office, it is hard for me to remain emotionally untouched, although that might not show in the usual aloof appearance I maintain. At times, I think there's no hope for the profession. And then, I rediscover it. At other times, I think there is no hope for me within the profession. And then, I rediscover it.

To think of design as merely a physical generation of form and pathways of form, is to be mistaken. There's no need for design to result in tangible output, at least not the kind of output where the tangible component is the major factor. Architecture school itself proves this. Most of the time, the paper where the render sits is only secondary - what matters is the space suggested by the render, sometimes only to the simulacra-realm of rendering, itself. Conversely, I'm designing an office, but that does not amount to adding new seating groups. Some deeper force is at work in the workplace, something unavoidable - but not invincible.

I sit in the unit space and I do not talk. I could just as well be at home, but I am not. This might be just my strange definition of a group: that I want to belong to it, but only on my terms. Childish? Maybe ... maybe I'm still a child, a wretched child, to be precise. I hate control, and therefore I do not want to control others. Is this not an unorthodox matter of self-exclusion/inclusion, of the planned destruction of hierarchy? I will have to face it, and I do not know where to face it.

I am in London to learn to like London, even though I don't. I dream of sitting in a hut by the sea, or in a flat high up in the city, with water and wind as my closest friends, material but not human things. Perhaps it is here where my real passion for architecture lies, in that I love the dead things more than I love the living.


the warmth of a cloudy sky

I like taking photos of photos. With a camera that prefers to make beautiful (as always) only that which is realistically beautiful, a bit of cheating can go a long way, even if only in the format of self-retrospection.

One TS high pass with distinction for my unit. She was probably the most surprised out of all of us. Now for her to prepare groceries for a great dinner, and then back to work, as is the case for all of us. I've returned to hand-drawing for the moment, that is, at least for a couple of days, for a series of hours we're unable to count, hopefully without losing focus, even though that is most likely (as always).

Voting in the UK, not for me, though, and probably not in the future, either. God knows where I'll end up. Wonder if I can find a job there, if they want me, or if I'm qualified to be there, Rhinoceros-less that I am. Who wants someone drawing for them? Who desires a man whose mission is to change the very product you're offering? I don't know, but it'll be alright. What I don't have in confidence or in talent, I have in time. I did emerge, from some source or another, for a little bit of learning but less so of a personality change, one that I was hoping for, rather than expecting ...

It's okay to fail, just as it is okay to be sad. Just don't make it a habit, something to pursue, or something you tell yourself you'll never be able to get out of. Sadness brings failure, and failure brings sadness. They cannot be redeemed, only accepted, taken, and left behind.

Day's over, hat's on. Time to go home, even though my real home is the unit space.


saved by a filter

Photography again, what remains, lots of it forgotten, but new things are always present for the shutter to cut. Walking around in the AA on an early Wednesday evening, sharing time with others assembling their models, others having a beer in the bar, others running up and down the stairs between the unit space and the computer room. I intentionally left Hegel at home, so I couldn't be all too distracted today by it. Some strange alluring feeling emerges from reading him, the flow ... the flow to rival Nas, or maybe Hegel *was* the Nas of the early 19th century ...

I read two poems by Tranströmer before jumping on the bus. Two things may result: either you spend the rest of your life trying to become his equal, or you just let the ambition slip away and do something you're better at. Me, I haven't decided yet. I write some. I read more. But poetry ... poetry is more than just words - it the sharpness of a mind who knows that observation is always tinted with emotion, with opinion, more specifically: a sadness of knowing that we can never be any closer to the objects that we describe than the objects are to us.

Went to a jury with Dip 7. Horrible critics. Come on, you've been asked to be here, so you better have something to say, and if you haven't, at least try. Otherwise you could just go back to your office and answer emails or telephone calls. This is - supposedly - one of the most challenging schools for architecture in the world. Why did you come if you didn't expect to be challenged?

Storm winds. Evening falls. Detaching posters.
I wonder if I can crash the offices any more
than I can crash all of my future career.


to crush the skies, to become a hero

There were times when I would do nothing for minutes to end but just stare at the floaters in my eyes, contemplating what would drive me crazy the quickest: the staring, or the floaters. I can't vouch for the permanent disappearance of those days, but I can pursue their absence, even if it is just a romantic day off with Hegel - who I was the first one to check-out, if only knowing that I will never be able to finish it within the monthly grant I have been given by the library. That's why we have bookshops.

My vision became jittery again this afternoon, after too much screen-staring. Seven posters churned out, none of them particularly beautiful, but maybe that's not the point. I am being moulded by my own resistance to becoming a cliché of the person I am - although my writings border on philosophical cliché, as in the case of my Wittgenstein impersonation, a manner of writing that would fool no-one, least of all the Sharp writing prize committee.

Birthdays. Cupcakes. (Micro.) I do things not because I do not doubt them, but because I prefer to believe in them. If perfectionism needs to have a face, can it be the perfectionism of a philosophy? One dictating the course of thought to its ultimate application, instead of retreating back into more clichés: that of your utmost dedication to architecture, but in a professional mode. One would ridicule the philosopher if he claimed that the only course for him to formulate a unique and truthful treatise would be to review the ones already written.

Of course he needs to read. Of course the architect needs to work. What is, on the other hand, equally important, is that the philosopher listens to the world, submit himself to the world and to human culture, even that which he does not prepare at all. He must live.


books guide us

Bank holiday passed just as quickly as yesterday - no noticeable change in the weather, nor in the streams of people between here and Sainsbury's. The sun went up, out and down, and now, the drizzle is curtaining my vision of the street beneath, by puncturing it in with hundred small needles of water. I worked on my project, then I read. I tried to watch a film, but got bored. The film is not to blame, it's just that I've come to prefer books, instead. Perhaps it is rather unusual today to be an savoir-beaucoup and not pay attention to film - this one artform that supposedly belonged to the past century alone (although that is strictly incorrect).

I listened to a lecture given at the AA a few weeks ago, the resilience of the book, and was again bored by it, surprisingly perhaps, due to the fidelity I associate with me and the written word, but I like to write rather than talk. Lectures are slow (unless given by John Frazer, in which case you lose the plot anyway), life is slower, a moment of great understanding passes by so that we can only speak of that illumination in retrospect. Is it wrong to think that the format of the book will remain, while the format of, say, music has changed so dramatically? It's not an interesting thing to debate. What ought to remain are the texts themselves.

I find myself caring less and less about the honours. I don't think I'm particularly suited - neither temperamentally, nor to the more crude point of the project's quality - to fight for it. There are others who deserve it more, people who work harder, people will more skills, and more guts. My ambition is no longer to produce an honours project, precisely because such projects do not exist (supposedly, since in the past, a hint of politics has been present in all of them - styles come and go, intellectually). It's not a matter of resignation or abandonment of the project, it is just a calm reflection on things as they are. I don't think I have given the AA an honours project. No need for speculation.

Time to call it a night. Sanford Kwinter runs with me to the last page, along with Robinson's concentrated juice, the season's first wasp, and the fresh stench of fish from the Church Street Market.


some angel watching over me

I'm not going to be dramatic, but it would not surprise me if I am, in any case: I'm changing, little by little. Revelations come to be and to me, everyday. But the question has always been the same: how can I do that which I do not want to do? I wouldn't say I know the answer, because I'm still doing the things I want to do, rather than the opposite, even in the cases when I ought not to.

The medicines are helping a little, although I do not acknowledge them. Psychiatrists tend to think that every positive change in thinking in the patient is due to the drugs. Psychologists tend to think the opposite: that their craft of mind-manipulation enables the drugs, to have them as the foundation, not the building, and so on.

I don't particularly like psychology, or, rather, I didn't like its methods. Too artificial, bordering self-deception. I cannot deceive myself - I've tried it for five years now, and I'm not feeling any better. But a realisation:

The thought is a trigger. What you trigger
is due to the selection of your thoughts.

It's hidden in my philosophy blog as usual, but I found it worthwhile to drop here as well. It is the essence of CBT, but one which I have formulated myself, and there am able to accept and employ as part of my recovery. I don't particularly like being told things. I do like, however, to tell myself things. If I can't be in charge of my body, at least I can be in charge of my thoughts.

Will I make it this time? The negative thoughts are always there, because they've been with me for so long that I find some kind of comfort in them, in knowing, I have *one* way of understanding the world, one in which the world makes sense. But do I enjoy it? No. I suffer. Every morning. Every night.

The strength of the thought is its emotional response. This may even be a lack of emotions, but not in my case. I have lots of emotions, although I'm bad at giving them a face. I will try my best not to change my principles of thinking, but to swap the thoughts themselves. If there ever had to be a choice, can it not be the choice of a better life, rather than one of self-torment?

Evening is falling later and later. Only one month left of spring. I remember visits from friends, relatives and even dearer ones, and London has engulfed them all. I am London. I have become London. If only I can retain a bit of faith in what I am doing ... I suppose ... such faith is taken, not given. If there is anything as close to a grip on one's feelings, it is that of controlling its face, which is that of the thought.


Saturday is much too much

Sometimes I wish that I knew exactly what kind of person I am.
I would wish it ... to have an identity, of sorts ...

but that identity is no longer here, for people don't have ident (the interruption of a friend) ities, no, if anything, they are given ones. Labels, names, summaries. The work of Hegel in one quote. Grand theories in one equation (e=mctcetc.etcetc.) ...

Perhaps it is stupid to ask why you are what you are.
Perhaps the manner of experimenting is in not doing
exactly what you know one could do, exactly the result
that appears at the end of the Rube-Goldberg machine.

I fail to be able to pretend. I fail in the ability to feel, to say what I feel, for what comes out of it, is just the seriousness of a joke, or something jokingly serious. Feelings are difficult for those who only think. Thinking is difficult for those who only feel. Most of us tend to do both at the same time, but separated, in body and mind, in guts and voice.

How is it already 3PM?

The one who writes in the way one should write writes only of things I wish I had never read. It is a waste of time to write in the way everyone else writes, and it is a waste of time to write only as you want to write, for yourself, the unfolding of a secret text, like a flower, in a glass jar, in the attic, a room to which only you have the keys.

I kind of viewed architecture school architecturally
as a form of imprisonment. I am about to be released now
just like I was given permanent permission
from the psychiatric hospital.

The question: have I learnt anything
that I couldn't have learnt on my own?


You learn something new with every crit

A bit disappointed again, but only because I didn't do SPECTACULAR. I did well. It was good. Most of the time, I come to the crits wishing that all that would be said, would be kthxbai, a thumbs-up, and a continue-as-you-were. But of course, it is not as simple as that. Crits have this SPECTACULAR ability to confuse you. One panel wants you to go full-on activist, the other drags you back to the building you've designed. But, as always, something good comes out of it, out of the provocation and the confrontation.

I wrote in my notes before I took the bus home: "Don't just chase the outrageous statement; you are smarter than that." However pretentious and self-absorbed that might sound (I am, after all, a rather pretentious and self-absorbed person), I think this statement warrants some attention: not that it is a *problem*, but in Dip 9, we often chase a certain position more than a certain knowledge, without realising that it is *through* this knowledge that we form an opinion. Intuition might force you to an answer, and it may be even worse to have no answer, or maybe the "maybe-answer", but, on the other hand, and although I despise subtlety, there is something to be gained from considering a problem in its full complexity.

Generalisations are only useful if they're born from a holistic understanding of specific facts and phenomena, and even then, they can only be used provisionally. For things change, and we change with them (to misquote Heraclitus). There is a level of sophistication lost in avoiding complexity, but sophistication can indeed proceed in short words. Complex ideas do not need complex language, it is said, and equally, in pop-philosophy, complex language does not need complex ideas. Perhaps, what I will try from now on, is to steer my project in the direction of "succinct sophistication", and, to continue this play of words, of "the sophisticatedly succint" ...


Always another thing to worry about

Early in school on a Saturday, trying to work, failing to work, as my mind is lodged in its own instability. I wonder ... why am I not the one I want myself to be? Why does the body always have other plans for the future than what I demand of it? I wonder ... will I ever be able to work like a normal person? Arriving early, leaving early. Work when work is due. Perhaps it is because I don't take breaks. I eat quickly. I read. I write. When my mind speeds up, it is the task of the body (and of the medicines) to bring me back to a pace I can manage.

Currently reading Sanford Kwinter, and liking it. He has that rare combination of being a prodigious writer, and a delicate thinker. There are actually ideas in there, ideas presented with all the urgency and drama of serious entertainment. He also has that quality of being able to force you to put down the book, go to the computer and type in your own response to his answers, always with Jean Michel Jarre bringing the beats to these keyboard dances.

The Timeout-building next to the school has almost been wholly demolished. Carefully, I should say. They don't want pieces of concrete and rusty steel flying everywhere. This is London, so this delightfully a-programmatic patch of non-urban culture will not remain, but most likely replaced by something even bigger. The city planners argue for concentration - of work, of space, of social activity - as the solution to all things urban. Less than a hundred years ago, the answer was the very opposite. Back then, it was houses in gardens, big houses, big gardens. Now everyone should live in a Tokyo of their own.

It's not that I don't like Tokyo, of course I do. Tokyo is the only city in the world I could see myself finding perfect peace in. But Tokyo is not appropriate for Farsta, as is Farsta not appropriate for Tokyo. Because both would cease to be, and the world would be a poorer place.


A very happy bus driver

Pushing myself back to London again, to finish what I've started. It is not without a certain measure of anxiety, I should say. Like I wrote somewhere else, I'm not doubting the idea or the intellectual whereabouts of the project, I doubt my ability to execute it in an "adequate" manner. Sometimes, I think I'm barely able to take care of myself.

Brightest of spring days outside; I take photos, some people like it, some don't. Lamborghinis revving through Orchardson Street, London's first ice-cream of the year (a Solero Exotic), and more buns for breakfast. A mere list of topics originating in the world is not enough, just as a mere confession of the soul is not enough. But it is still true that what has come from the world, is what makes the mind. A mind born into darkness will know nothing but darkness, his world would be one without shadows, as there is no light to cast them.

Tomorrow school opens. I cannot say I'm delighted to go there.
Just two more months, I say. Just two more months.

I wonder really if there ever was a difference
between London and Lund, the AA and LTH.


On the Other Side

After two weeks of gradual descent into pre-psychotic madness, I had no choice but to begin taking the meds again. Back to 20 mg. Sigh. The story repeats itself, doesn't it? In any case, it was necessary. I was about to close myself off in an imaginary world of torment and anguish, and it was not the relief and the freedom I had hoped it to be. Like my doctor said, when people stop taking their doses, the first things to go are the side-effects. No wonder then that this was the reason I felt so energised last month, but, then, again, like my doctor said, later the positive effects would disappear as well. Usually it would take between 1 and 3 months. In my case, it was the earlier.

It is not interesting what kind of diagnosis I have. It is only a label. It buys you no advantages, and alleviates no pain. What is crucial is to find that which allows us to function, and not only that, to enjoy. It seems like I will need to eat these things for a long, long time. And, if we ever decrease the dose, we dose so at max 25% at a time (not 50%), and wait maybe four to six months (not 2 months). And maybe I will never be free from this. Maybe it is chronic.

Speaking of chronic things, I finally learned the facts behind my eye malfunctioning. The result was not what I wanted to hear. I have a chronic infection in my eyelids, which causes blurring of eyesight as well as the reddening and dilation of blood vessels in the sclera. Chronic. I don't like that word, and I was pretty damn depressed when I went home from the eye clinic. Or, perhaps "bitter" was a more fitting word for the occasion. However, with the help of the antipsychotics, I think I will be able to defeat even this.

The first architectural drawing I remember being thoroughly fascinated by, I learned, was a section of the Barbican in London, presumably by another draughtman in the office. You can see the drawing here. However, the image I saw was slightly different, due to the vicissitudes of the photo-copier that made the manuscript for the book I was reading. I was around six-seven, can't remember, and everything about that image enthralled me. I did not know what kind of building it was. I didn't bother to find out. I'm always like that, seeing things and developing them on my own, without the facts. Sometimes to my advantage, sometimes ... well, you know. I saw fireworks, cave interiors and skyscraper-high windows in this image. I saw an event, a spectacle, a space that had no functional equivalent in my world.

When I finally went to the Barbican, I wasn't as enthralled. Not that there is anything wrong with it, I think it's fantastic. But it wasn't what I had demanded of it to be. And that is perhaps the greatest disappointment as well as undying challenge that I find in architecture: that it has to be better than the reality it is built within.


Life is pretty damn hard

At home in Sweden again, to celebrate Easter and receive treatment for my eyes. Yes, that's it, it's happened again, only this time, it is - of course - altogether different. It's been going on for a week now, beginning with me rubbing my eyes too hard and losing vision in the left eye. Not entirely, but significantly. Everything is blurry. As I woke up the next morning, the blurriness had spread to the right eye. Tired and angry, I called the eye hospital, went there for a check - almost got suspected for taking cocaine - and then going home again with an ointment as a treatment against bacterial infection. That would've been the end of it, wouldn't it?

No. The ointment didn't work, and my eyes progressively got more red and more irritated. I'm suspecting some sort of virus, and tomorrow, I will elbow my way into the hospital again to see an eye doctor. Well, if it is a virus, there's nothing to do but wait ... but if it's something else, it should be checked. Blargh. There's always something, isn't it? If I just got rid of the regular irritation caused by the medicines, of course it was time for something else to happen. Blargh. I suspect the importance here is to turn detrimental events perhaps not into something positive, but at least into something productive. If you can't be happy, at least you can be angry, and anger can be productive, as opposed to lying in your bed the entire afternoon just staring at the ceiling.

Finally. My girl booked her flight. She will be there for the graduation, and that will be the start of our new life together. The end of architecture school. Presumably. After nine years. 2006-2015. The end of architecture? Not a chance. But the end of architecture as I thought it was necessary to be? Perhaps. I'm ploughing through a thick book on architectural theory (despite the blurriness giving me a headache), backwards, of course, because it is more interesting to know where we are and then realise where we came from, rather than the opposite. If I have to be something, I'd still be a Modernist. The New York Five are a formalist joke. Semiotics is just an extension of this delusion into architecture as merely a question of aesthetics. But in the 1920s! Things were different. People actually had faith, and ambition. Naive faith, of course, but they wanted to DO something, not PROVE something. Today we pay lip service by making little recyclable toilets for the slums. Which everyone in the (Western) world of art and architecture love, despite that fact that they do not work, will not work, are purely an egocentric trip of ignorance to the systems created to facilitate the organisation of proper help. Maybe you should wait to dezeen it until it has actually achieved something, not just a working prototype for the Design of the Year awards ...

Then again, perhaps you need to cut idealism some slack.


Crazy Shit

Yesterday was officially the last day of the winter term. I had my previews presentation on Thursday, and I'm happy with it - for once. I didn't compromise, neither with my material, nor with myself. Even though it took me nearly 8 hours to memorise the presentation, I cared about it enough to warrant this kind of attention. My teacher mused over my ability to turn into an angry prick when I present, but this time, the anger worked, because it was not directed towards the teachers or to architects in general, but to the architectural offices, the site of my project. What can I say. I'd rather be a confrontational, controversial prick, than just merely good.

Since I've entered rather strange territory lately, I honestly didn't have a clue what they would think of my project. But it's excellent to test your ideas to people from all across the school, to gauge whether your agenda has a wider importance. I wasn't particularly surprised by the fact that the things they had concerns about were those which had enjoyed the least when I made them (from my "good boy" TS days ...). The drawings and the film were wholly embraced, less so the road and the renders. But it's okay, now I will remix that part of the project just like I remixed the recon (see above).

I'm taking a couple of days off, before continuing on my work, and before going home to Sweden for Easter. My teacher was willing to come in for an extra tutorial on Tuesday next week, and I leave on Wednesday afternoon. Until then, I will enjoy myself with the books I still have to read, listen to music (picking up my derailed DJ-career where I left it), and eating strange food. It seems like the worst medicine withdrawal-hell has passed as well, now it's mostly just lack of sleep, and a slight inability to eat, that haunts me. My head is returning to normal. Which means that it's just as crazy as always.


There's a long road ahead of us

It seems like my stubbornness is paying off. Today was the first night in some time that I managed to sleep in one go from 1:30 to 7:30 AM. No strange wakeups, no disruptions. I know, it's still only six hours, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn't tired when I rose from bed. But it's a good feeling of tiredness, I feel like I can take advantage of the day, and not sleep it away, like I've done most of the time since I fell ill. My stomach still doesn't feel alright in the morning, but that's getting better as well. Hopefully, sometime soon, I will be able to actually eat breakfast. That strange feeling in the head is also slowly fading away. For a person who went from the highest dose recommended to zero in three months, perhaps I should've be grateful that the reaction haven't been worse. Or maybe it is just as bad as expected, and it is only my determination that has changed.

I'm doing crazy things, and I like it. When a friend asked me about a month ago why I came to the AA if I didn't want to "solve things" (TS-wise), I answered: "Well, I wanted to do crazy shit." Maybe it is only now that I've summoned the courage to actually do it. Enough with the polite and beautiful renders, in with strobbing neon-pink, 7-second weddings and an army of Patrik Schumachers. (Don't worry, I will share it with you when it's done.)

Yesterday, I was feeling nostalgic, so I read a lot of old emails exchanged between me and my girlfriend since we began dating in 2010. From the very beginning, I knew that I had found somebody special. I'm glad she has put up with me all this time, despite my erratic behaviour. I don't know how to repay her loyalty, though. Perhaps by being equally loyal in return.

We're getting old. 28 and 31 years. (I'm actually the younger one). I know a lot of people go to the AA in order to lay the foundations for their future career, get a good and exciting job, and so on. For me, this was never that important. I'm more interested in finding a nice house and a family to come home to in the evening. Imagine that. To have children, to watch them grow, to teach them, and to encourage them to find their own path. Who knows? Maybe my children wants to move to Sweden when they're my age? After all, the only thing that matters is that we live the lives we want to live.


Building Up the Self

Oh, medicines, these wonderful medicines ...

For those of you who have followed this blog since its inception, my darkest period lasted for about a year between winter 2010 and 2011. During that time, I tried to committ suicide twice, and almost succeeded the last time. What saved me at that time was my little brother, and ECT, electroconvulsive therapy, which I received about a dozen times (or more, can't remember; ECT does that to you, screws up your memory). But that is not the whole story. Since I first had to resign from my job in London in autumn 2010, I was immediately put on medicines. I felt like shit emotionally and listened gracefully to all those well-meaning words of "there's help out there", "you don't have to feel this way", and "don't reject the medicines."

So I went to a GP, from Iceland, in my hometown. Tough guy. He put me on Prozac. I felt like being dragged through a concentration camp for two weeks, dizzy, angry, had trouble thinking, suffered from adrenaline rushes and severe anxiety. After those two weeks of hell, he said: "these pills are not supposed to work like this. On most people, they work, but on a few, they don't. You are obviously one of them." So he prescribed exercise, eating healthy, setting lower goals, and so on. Perfectly reasonable tactics. However, I kept thinking, as the depression didn't disappear, that he must be wrong. There must be some magic pill out there that can take all this crap away ...

I signed in at the psychiatric hospital about a week later. What would then begin was more than a year of absolute hell. I tried so many medicines, and all of them gave me all kinds of horrible side-effects, without changing my actual mood, the reason for taking them in the first place. All they did was fucking up my brain. I've written earlier here about hallucinations, voices and "word salad" recitations when I'm tired. Now I realise that these were *caused* by the medicines, these very medicines that were supposed to take such things away.

I think you can all see by now why I'm writing this, yes, I'm trying to quit zyprexa and citalopram, once again, one final time before it's too late. This time I tried to do it sensibly: tapering down for three months, starting in the end of December. As long as I was on it, no matter the dose, things were fine, not much trouble, but not much relief either. I knew that the real challenge would be to finally come off them completely, but I wasn't prepared for this that I'm going through right now. Let me summarise:

The positives:
- I am my real self again! The one I was before I got sick in the first place: confident, daring, provocative, and determined. I am not scared any longer, of everything everywhere.
- I don't have any anxiety. This is absolutely amazing, actually.
- I don't have any hallucinations or delusions.

The negatives:
- I begin every morning by vomiting once or twice in the toilet. I can't eat anything until 2 PM, as I would simply not be able to keep it in my system.
- I sleep about half as much as I did on the pills, between 3 and 6 hours each night. This is actually quite good. Some people coming off zyprexa simply don't get any sleep at all.
- My stomach hurst constantly, my muscles hurt constantly. My head feels like it's either 30 cm thick, or not part of my body.
- I just generally feel like an abused bag of meat, rather than a human being.

I really, really, really, really regret ever being fooled to start taking these medicines. I felt like shit on them, and I feel like shit off them. I can't help thinking that the only one I should've listened to was that harsh doctor from Iceland. Exercise, good food, and sleep.

If pills made you feel better, good for you. They didn't for me. All they did was screwing up my personality, my brain and my body. Now I sit here by the computer at a Sunday evening, going through all kinds of withdrawal hell, sweating and freezing, absolutely blocked in my head, not able to think (even less so to work, despite having only a week left to previews), and so tired I just want to sleep for 18 hours.

The only flip side of all of this is that I'm tougher now. I'm taking the fight. God knows it is hard, especially in an environment like this. But I've learnt, the hard way, that taking the fight is the only thing we can do to make things better - for others, and for ourselves.


Pinata Afternoon

So, it has come to an end. Probably the most difficult and demanding term I've had since I began at the AA. Today, we handed in the Technical Studies books, and were assessed. I wasn't happy with mine, at least not as a whole, as I felt like I only hit my stride in the past two weeks, certainly coinciding with the realisations I've written off recently on this blog. I did have a serious fear of being forced to complete to pass, which would have been much worse than the instant pass I received in third year, since I have - regardless of my lack of focus and inability to manage a larger project - worked much, much harder on this. I know that hard work itself is not enough. I know that page count doesn't matter. You have to be daring. You have to be challenging. The things I didn't have the guts to do eventually were the drawbacks of my TS.

In the light of this, I am accepting the pass. I am disappointed of course, because I would've loved to show what I really could do given the focus I found recently, but, at the same time, I think the assessment from the TS tutors, as a whole, was fair. The two strongest TS:s in the unit received a nomination for high pass. Me and another girl received pass, both of us struggling, despite working hard as always. They don't reward promise, they reward what's on the table. And you can't ask for more.

In sum: a complete to pass would have been cruel, a pass is valid, and a nomination for high pass would have been an opportunity. The AA has once again responded as I thought it would. Be sure: I haven't lost faith in the ethos of the school. What I've lost faith in is the cowardice of not pursuing your own convictions, doing so in order to do what you suspect others "think is right", which was my mistake. Too many opinions, too little courage.

Now comes the challenge of working with what I have, not reinventing or abandoning it, as I did in fourth year, but making it my project, my agenda, my responsibility. The other day, I read a quote from Asif Khan, recent graduate of the AA and quickly carving out a career in London: "if you believe in what you’re doing, then your tutors and examiners will too." I wish I had realised this earlier, but at least I haven't graduated yet. Still one term left to fuck it all and go out with a bang, and then I have the rest of my career to fuck up the profession.