whether you are writing, making, thinking, or just simply living the present, whether we are dealing with a physical or mental construct, we all are Worldbuilders by being conceived as this particular organism. Some people abandon this default job once they grow up and leave home to pursue a specific narrative in an already constructed world, not realizing that the point of being part of a world, an open sandbox, is to play, enjoy the resources, make more things, and be nice to your friends in the same sandbox. Large, urban worlds today make people quit building/making for consuming, as we were born into piles of ready-made objects in mass quantity; we are consumers of objects, cultures, ideologies, and more often than desirable- your own destinies— they seem to come in choices like coffee options at Starbucks (lucky you if you have that many options) and you seem to pick one of them as if you had no other choice, like a choice to walk out the door and maybe brew something you grow yourself… Thankfully as design students, we have been somewhat trained to see the void, empty spaces to play and break into, the constructed constraints and within the consensus reality.
A CMS (Comparative Media Studies, they don’t have a course number- what?) creative writing workshop titled Worldbuilding is run by Junot Diaz, a pulitzer prize winner and McArthur Fellow. (Sorry guys, there is already a wait list.) Within the first fifteen minutes of the three hour class, he talked about two general ways of world building production: the Architects’ way and the Gardeners’ way. The discussion didn’t go very far, but of course I grabbed it and shoved it in my chest. You know the first kind quite well – we establish rules and conditions, and you operate/narrate within that. Here and now in Boston, and of course MIT (as opposed to on top of the Himalayas, for example), look like it was done the Architects’ way. The Gardeners, on the other hand, first put down the basic ingredients into the very basic dirt. The Gardeners’ job then is to water and just make sure things don’t turn into a disaster- maybe kill some bugs, put in some fertilizer, trim this and that, weeds aren’t too bad if they’re not killing my plants… Even then, those plans of action are not set as a dead language; there are so many ways to solve a bug problem or maintaining nutrients without fertilizer. Gardeners let things grow, monitoring and minimally managing from afar… And there comes chipmunks and rabbits and the birds. Maybe the gardeners didn’t expect them there. Even if they did, they didn’t have to spend any energy on the deliberate plan 27.2: How to manipulate cute animals into my backyard. The world has its own forces – nature always has all sorts of vector fields. Sometimes if you pause and sit back, it is always quite a spectacle. Everything. Everywhere.
“Boy!” said the little boy.
Have you been to a place with so many flowers? (A few weeks ago was my first time seeing so many flower gardens. There was even a inhabitable scale spiral [in plan] made out of flowers. Each garden there has a corresponding diagram near the entrance [in addition to incredible captions on the website] so you could learn their names as you go…) There are things that gardens and parks can do that no other human construct can. There are things that resonate with all humans; generally those things are fundamentals.
Slightly related, recently I stumbled upon a strange house with purple fence in Central Square. A friend invited me to go see his new apartment one afternoon, and we went across the street. The house has writings on its pink exterior and its purple fence. Little mailboxes here and there with little notes. It felt slightly like my old dormitory that just got shut down due to structural problems, but with its guts splattered on its skin. One of the writings says: “freedom is a special tree, it can only be grown by a fierce guardener.”
My heart skipped a beat with the misspelling. Not often something sums up the ocean’s worth of thoughts and feelings for me like that. Not in one little pun like that.
And I’m done with the consciousness flow for today- thanks for sticking around. Now back to the grid.