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The Road (Mostly) Not Taken

May 17, 2015

cb4“A Road diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Safety and Innovation: the dance between comfort and expression, the pull between tradition and what’s happening now is within each of us, so its natural its found in what we create.

Pop Music panders to 8th grade emotions with 6th grade linguistics and ad jingle musicality, New Music excuses atonality and screeching dissonance with academic jargon and high intent.

Cat videos on the Internet make us laugh, and distract from a huge stream of distraction. Full-on Trolling for a cause – Left Wing or Right Wing uses distraction to foment outrage.

Ranchburgers and McMansions are the stylistic lap dogs to preconceived images of what is both appropriate and resellable in houses. Sculpted or Rube Goldberg Bot Houses allow architects to muse with clients’ money.

A nice rental or a condo allows occupancy in a home with zero commitment, building something or taking on a wreck to reno makes your home a second job.

Humans excel at extremes: we are not-so-good at both-and.

We leap to a defendable posture in art, politics and lifestyle because most of us are not very clear on our ultimate values, and its easier to pick a flow and go with it. I have completely opted out of any fashion expression: I wear 2 or 3 “outfits”: mostly black, mostly machine washable: my hair gets one style when cut: shorter.

Its easier, and if you choose not to compete (in my case in the world of fashion) you cannot lose.

Where we live is, whether we like it or not, a mirror of what we value. Embracing a non-compete clause in the choices you make in your home can deny what you value, cost you money short and long term, and simply fly in the face of what your land offers or imposes on your home.

– Does your house HAVE to have a front door facing the street? Does Katy Perry need tub thumping bass?

The point is Katy’s bass and the Center Hall’s face facade are just as simplistic as the meme’s of Fine Arts Correctness:

– If you are a Serious Architect is it really impossible to have a roof that expresses a purpose of protection (versus abstracted artfulness)? If you are a serious musician is harmony a cop-out?

– If you want to be Green is it required that your home use soybean or reclaimed blue jean insulation, even if its cost will never be recovered in a lifetime of reduced heating bills?

Just like I opted out of couture, you can opt out of cop-outs: even the defendable ones: being a contrarian reactionary is not what this is about: its about pausing in the cacophony of the day-to-day and pulling back to seeing where you are.

And acting on what you believe in.

That may just mean a Center Hall home for you: it may be a blackened out shipping container with sliding glass door facade: the answers, in the end, are not the issue.

Style is not the issue: its expressing who you are, when no one is looking: when you are in the dark, in the woods, and the choice, finally, becomes clear: for Robert Frost the less travelled path made sense, for others well worn wheel ruts are the answer.

For me, in designing homes, there is the third choice: the one for you or anyone who has thought enough to know that values start from the evaluator, not with Correctness.

Most will go with the flow because any flow requires majority participation to become a flow. Those who find an edge in denying the flow are just as safe in their world of their fellow deniers as those mindless flowing.

The hardest road is the one that is the one least likely to be nameable by others: because it has your name, not a style’s, a movement’s or a website’s.

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