Tuesday, July 28, 2009

貝聿銘 and the test of time

Today, David Brooks’ column in the NY Times is entitled “The Power of Posterity”.
In it, he explains how he believes that human endeavor comes from a motivation based upon a primordial sense of posterity. That great things, efforts, beliefs, really come from the value that what we do here while alive really, if we ponder it, affects people whom we’ll never meet.

Interesting to consider. I immediately thought of a sequence from a film, a narrative about architecture, delivered by I.M. Pei as he discussed what he felt defines great architecture. He says that “unless it stands the test of time”, we’ll never know. Therefore he believes that great architecture endures in the many ways that a space, a building can endure. His statement is worthy of a book. Pei was speaking about Louis Kahn, in particular the Salk Institute building in La Jolla, California. The film, called “My Architect”, directed and produced by his son Nathaniel Kahn, searches for Louis Kahn, the man, the architect, the lover, the father, the guru.

The test of time is a relative term, measured differently by each individual and based upon experience and perspective. But the idea of posterity, whether one believes in a higher power or not, seems to me to be something that we humans can agree upon without too much difficulty and it feels to be a possible departure point for individual and collective peace. It definitely sits well as an idea to ground the artist before taking flight.

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