Friday, October 30, 2015

A vocation of care

image from here

This is one of my favourite poems by Dr Seuss. It's so hilarious and has since live in my head for as long as I can remember.

We go about doing our things every day and thus I regard the everyday as an accumulation of moments. Everyday seems mundane, repetitive and relatively predictable.

The modern lifestyle, overstimulate and tired our nerves. Indeed, why else would we seek new experiences? After all, if our primary aim is hedonism, would you mind plugging in to philosopher Robert Nozick's Experience Machine as described in his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia in 1974.

What is deemed unique to me would be typical by my neighbour, what is accidental appears as normal if it happens often enough and what is superficial and fleeting could be an essential and basic. We experience change slowly especially when we have established our personal routines in our daily lives (consider the hand that's holding your toothbrush, you don't think about which hand to use every time you brush your teeth). We accept the oddities in our world, without noticing how strange they can be. We watch with amazement at the Khoisan click language, but they communicate just like how we do with ours.

In 'sociological aesthetics' (Simmel, 1968), la vie quotidienne (everyday life) is open to aesthetic attention by connecting it with the social totality. "To involve ourselves deeply and lovingly with even the most common product, which, would be banal and repulsive in its isolated appearance, enables us to conceive of it, too, as a ray and image of the formal unity of all things from which beauty and meaning flows" (Simmel, 1968:69). To study the everyday, the concept of analysing the most common object is necessary to learn about the interactions between fragments and the environment. Examining the microscopy of common events is an interesting way to see what's extraordinary in the ordinary.

Simmel, G. (1968). The conflict in modern culture and other essays, translated by K. Peter Etzkorn, NY: Teachers College Press.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

From Spaces to Places

The rhetoric of competitiveness, of discipline and efficiency is framed by the idea of speed. The idea of slowness such as slow living, slow food or slow juicer seems to be getting popular which very much contrast with the ideal image of an effective multi taskers and the demand for higher network speed. I'm looking at how space is defined at home and how it influences our lifestyles.

The relationship that constitutes a family can be define by the layout of the home. In Singapore, HDBs mean that family members are used to live in close proximity with each other. We are far removed from natural environments. Rather than living amidst nature and open spaces, we are glued to the idiot box.

To have a garden at home is considered a luxury, it could mean you own a private land for gardening when others have to worry about their shoe racks causing obstruction in the corridor. Or unless you are lucky enough to live on the ground floor of HDB that allows you to do larger-scale gardening (see images below), also in pots, but in higher quantity. 

The garden, is there for aesthetic reasons, as means of providing food or an escape from everyday stress. A personal expression, an outlet for creativity or act as a symbol for power. The garden could be a product of people's power over nature and of power in society. For example, Sun King's Versailles is a symbol for his greatness. The land at Versailles was reshaped between 1661 and 1700 to make way for an estate that would assert the power of Louis XIV's monarchy and showcase the Sun, a symbol that he chose as self representative. His garden design reflected the dominant philosophical ideas of the time, namely the thinking of Descartes and his assertion of humans as "master and possessor of nature" (Harrison. 2008, p. 113).

I avoid going out during the weekends if possible. The crowd, the constant hustle and bustle, the smell of sweaty bodies mess up my mind. I can't think, all I wanted to do is to get away from these to home. We are adapted to sharing interior spaces filled with bright lights, noise, moving images and people so much that when suddenly being immersed in nature seems 'exotic'.

Living here after being cushioned with comforts in contemporary life may not be an easy transition. 

Harrison, R. P. (2008). Gardens: An essay on human condition. USA: The University of Chicago Press.