The Human Within the Architect

Photo Credit: Makenna Entrikin at Unsplash


On 16 August 2019, I delivered the opening note of  Frame Conclave 2019 on the theme of “Modern Heritage”.  This is what I said:

Being Human 

I speak today more about the quality of being human than architecture, taking this approach because disciplinary specialisation has its pitfalls.  When we, as architects, contemplate complex issues such as ‘modernity’ or ‘heritage’, we tend to look primarily through the lens of our discipline.  We often forget that before we are architects we are human beings, and what is understood at this level could radically alter the juncture where we shift from our humanness into our professional avatars, consequently reshaping the discipline’s terrain.

The erasure of humanness in our professional deliberations impacts our ability to assess significant issues such as the theme of this conference: ‘Modern Heritage’. In fact, it is an oxymoron to us. The notion of modernity we hold rests on a primacy given to freedom and autonomy of individual will, won and sustained by rebellion against the constraints placed by traditional authority. Now that modern architecture has been around long enough to be considered heritage, we lack a critical framework for dealing with the question we must confront: How can we value heritage without invoking the strictures of tradition?

As an entry into the condition of humanness, I will use a wonderful statement by the philosopher Hannah Arendt from her book The Origins of Totalitarianism.  Arendt observed that though the trauma of two world wars provoked the formation of the United Nations, and subsequently the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, rights may be recognised as universal but remain abstract and far removed from life without active recognition within a constitutional nation state.  Consequently, beyond an appeal to compassion, the world has no ethically grounded consensus on how to deal with refugees, persons who have been deprived of a state, left with nothing more than the quality of being human.  Arendt noted, “The world found nothing sacred in the abstract nakedness of being human.”

My exposition on this statement makes no claim to be an incisive interpretation of Arendt’s philosophy, and may not even remain true to it.  I use this statement as a thing in itself, because it offers a wonderful beginning to think about being human.  Firstly, it refers to the ‘nakedness of being human’, which is the best beginning, given all of us begin life as naked human beings.  I will dwell on the implications of this, go on to what is sacred in that nakedness and then speak on what is abstract about it.  After brief reflection on a key implication springing from the analysis, I will attempt to outline the impact on the discipline of architecture.

The Nakedness of Being Human

In those first days of life, the nakedness of our birth determines before we have understanding, identity, relationship, language, or any of the other foundations for relating to the world, the only thing we have is sensory awareness.  We can see an environment around us, taste sustenance, know the reassuring touch and smell of a parent, or be soothed by a lullaby. In fact, sensory awareness even precedes an awareness of the body doing the sensing, and the senses become a way of recognising that body.  Jean Piaget, in his seminal book The Child’s Conception of Space, points out that the reason why a baby puts everything in his/her mouth is to understand the limits of the body, realising that pulling the foot to put a toe in the mouth, or sucking on a finger, produces a different correspondence of sensations when compared to putting a toy in the mouth, thereby getting to know what is the body and what is not.  The baby’s compulsion to curl fingers around an adult finger placed in the palm produces a grip that explores the body’s relationship to other beings.

Modernity’s quest for Cartesian abstract truth has schooled us to forget it is through sensory awareness that we know we are alive, located within a world.  When we privilege knowledge that distances itself from embodied sensation, we deaden ourselves to the consciousness of being alive. 

We lose our anchors of sanity, as Doris Lessing so powerfully explains in The Golden Notebook when she remarks, “All sanity depends on this: that it should be a delight to feel the roughness of a carpet under smooth soles, a delight to feel heat strike the skin, a delight to stand upright, knowing that the bones are moving easily under the flesh. If this goes, then the conviction of life goes too.”

We disconnect our ideals from our emotions.  In his classic essay of 1884 What is an Emotion?, William James demonstrates that all emotions are inextricably embodied, suppressed when disconnected from the sensory body.  James asks us:

“Can one fancy the state of rage and picture no ebullition of it in the chest, no flushing of the face, no dilatation of the nostrils, no clenching of the teeth, no impulse to vigorous action, but in their stead limp muscles, calm breathing, and a placid face?………. In like manner of grief: what would it be without its tears, its sobs, its suffocation of the heart, its pang in the breast-bone? A feelingless cognition that certain circumstances are deplorable, and nothing more. Every passion in turn tells the same story. A purely disembodied human emotion is a nonentity.”

Embodied sensation forms the core of knowing one is alive, sane and capable of emotion, but I would not argue that this should be the primary epistemological foundation.  That would run the danger of capture by short-sighted narcissism.  We must critique and contextualise our sensations through our thoughts and ideals. It is the all too frequent failure of the reverse I draw your attention to: the fact that we do not validate our thoughts and ideals with our sensory consciousness, placing faith in alienating abstractions distanced from emotion, personal engagement, fulfilment and the energy of being alive.  

This brings us to the question of what is sacred in the nakedness of being human.

The Sacred Nakedness of Being Human

Our bodies contain inherent artistic talent, creating new beauty on such an everyday basis we fail to grant that creativity its due significance.  As John O’Donohue remarks in Walking on the Pastures of Wonder, even the act of speaking is an artistic act: out of the silence within, we coax sound and meaning.   Realising this, you can see so many other ways this creativity manifests itself every day.   We walk and coax purpose out of stillness, we focus our gaze and coax significance out of the inconsequential, we laugh and coax joy out of indifference, we love and coax community and conviviality out of solitude, we dance and coax exhilaration out of detachment.

This sacred creativity is so powerful we must learn to come to terms with it, and many of us fail in that quest. O’Donohue observes, “One of the sad things is that so many people are frightened by the wonder of their own presence. They are dying to tie themselves into a system, a role, an image or a predetermined identity that other people have actually settled for them.”  The reason for this fear is that while modernity privileged our autonomy and freedom to liberate us from capricious dominations of power, the individualisation of that freedom offered little guidance on how to root it within larger horizons of purpose or community.  Our current form of modernity has at its core an existential angst of loneliness, our fear of which induces us to cling to the predetermined to convince ourselves we are not alone.

As Rebecca Solnit tells us in A Field Guide to Getting Lostwe must learn how to navigate the unknown, to wander, get lost, yet be secure we can return.  We must be like the experienced woodsman who can wander deep into an unknown forest but knows how to come back because he has learnt how to read the signs: the sun, the stars, the slope of the land, the soils, smells, wind and sounds of the forest.

The answer is in front of our eyes.  We fail to see it because the models of knowledge we are schooled in are so far removed from how we intuitively live.  Take the example of friendship.  You do not find friends by first defining the truth or philosophy of friendship.  If you tried that, you probably would not have friends.  You find friends by opening your heart to strangers, spending time with them, listening to them, and when you find that the same things offer you laughter, fun, sorrow, or boredom in those resonances you discover what is larger than either you or your friend, you validate your own creativity, recognise the same creativity in your friend, and you find authenticity in that uncovered common ground. In friendship, we read the signs and know where to drop anchor.

The authenticity that awaits our discovery is not restricted to engagement with people: it is woven into the nature of the world, in art, in music, in nature.  The musician Pushkar Lele speaks of beginning training in music since a young age, but after fifteen years had reached a plateau he could not transcend.  To break free of this constraint he sought change through a new guru, and began tutelage under Pandit Vijay Sardeshmukh.  Lele expected his new guru to reveal the key to the higher realm he sought, but was pushed back to basics with a directive that for the next six months, for eight hours a day, he should sing only a single note: Sa, the first note of the octave.  Lele found this a pedantic thing to do, but since tradition demands obedience to the guru, he did what he was told.  One day, he sang the Sa his guru wished to hear, Sardeshmukh smiled, and Lele realised till that moment he had never hit the exact centre of a note before. If you trace the lineage of this epiphany, Sardeshmukh’s guru was Kumar Gandharva, and one of Gandharva’s gurus in his early years was (unusually for that time) a woman, Anjanibai Malpekar. Kumar Gandharva, in an interview, speaks of a lesson learnt from Anjanibai Malpekar: you start with a single note and then rigorous training gradually reveals to you an entire octave within that note.

There is magic in these subtle differences.  Imagine two professionally trained musicians, one who is good, and the other who is truly great.  The good musician cannot be faulted on any lack of tunefulness or errors in rendering a composition.  It is in subtle differences of microtone and timing that the great musician breaks away into a higher sacred realm.  This magic cannot be logically understood, for it depends on an embodied tacit knowledge that is beyond our capacity to speak about.  It can only be uncovered through demanding experiential practice.  Indian tradition has a name for this form of practice – sadhana– a rigorous, repetitive, ego-transcending practice of surrender with focused attention.  Sadhana breeds viveka (discernment) that awakens awareness of the subtle beauty of the world.  

This beauty cannot be possessed, for it inhabits a realm that is not solely human.  When you listen to a masterful musician, you lose yourself in another world defined by the fact that both you and the musician are captivated by the larger voice of music.  We can only be captivated by such larger voices, even the greatest mastery has not the least dominance over them.  This captivation happens in many art forms; it can even happen in your consciousness of nature.  To reveal it in an art form requires a personal mastery achieved through great sadhana, but once it is revealed it is instantly recognisable even to the relatively uninitiated, as long as they are willing to suspend judgment and surrender their bodies to the experience.  

To know such a world is to know the world as an enchanted place, full of spirit and magic. Our ancestors saw the world this way. Then modernity located freedom within human agency, giving a primacy to this agency that led to an objectifying disenchantment of the world: the reason why ecological disharmony is the dominant crisis of our times.  

An enchanted world is a deep well of meaning that never runs dry.  To live in such a world is to live in wonder, an act of joyful surrender.  In The Theopoetics Podcast, Rev. José Francisco Morales Torres explains to us, “We have no control of wonder.  We can’t say, ‘I’m going to wonder now’, and have that experience of awe.  Wonder is completely out of our hands.  One who is experiencing wonder is the object of wonder, the recipient of wonder……it is not only something that we cannot fabricate or control, it acts on us.  Even though it is coming from without, it is experienced within.  It’s in that in-between place that wonder happens.”

There is no rule book for this: the most one can do is to train oneself to be receptive to wonder so that we may know the bliss of being alive within a union of an enchanted world and our innermost being. To be bewitched by wonder is to know the greatest joy, the greatest freedom, that is possible.  It occurs naturally in young children, and every day we observe in them this sacred nakedness of being human.  Yet, it seems to somehow escape our notice that we are schooling our children out of this natural, delightful, sublime state through modernity’s greatest error that equates freedom with an atomised personal wilfulness.

This brings me to what is abstract in the nakedness of being human.

The Abstract Nakedness of Being Human

I use the word ‘abstract’ in the dictionary sense: something that is general, that cannot be particularised to a specific instance.  When applied to the nakedness of being human, it becomes a paradox.  There is a line popularly attributed to Margaret Mead (although no primary source can be found), “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”  Whatever its source, there is truth to this line.  Look at any individual anywhere in the world, and you will observe that a person exactly like him/her has never existed in history before, and never will. What is abstract about us is a mind-boggling degree of uniqueness, and this has implications that are hugely significant.  

It means that each one of us speaks with a completely unique voice, yet the common ground we find when we interact, when we recognise an enchanted world, reveals that this unique voice can speak of the sacred and universal.  This is what the famous dancer Martha Graham meant in a letter to her dear friend Agnes de Mille when she wrote, “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And, if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.”   

When the universal speaks through your unique freshness, it resists a weakness we are all vulnerable to: the anaesthesia of habit.  Try and recollect the very first time you drove a car.  The nervousness of the first-time experience made you hyper-alert, taking note of everything on and along the road.  Now shift to being an experienced driver on a route to which you are habituated.  You can drive on auto-pilot, preoccupied with other thoughts, arriving at your destination with little memory of the journey.   Habit is an anaesthetic that blinds us to what is in front of our eyes.  Even the most sacred realm, once it becomes habitual, becomes something we will fail to see.  

The mere presence of a unique voice is not sufficient: that voice must break free from cliché, using its creativity to speak with a poetic exactitude that awakens resistance to the entropy of life.  When this happens, the universal is reborn every day in the unique, and this is the heart of what it is to be truly alive.  To be creative is to take on the sacred responsibility of sustaining this great chain of being.

But there is another crucial dimension: the unique voice does not speak only once, it lives for a length of time and speaks repeatedly.  How these repetitions are woven together is crucial.  In a TED talk, Daniel Kahneman, a behavioural economist and Nobel laureate, narrates a story about a man who was listening to a recording of a symphony, and the sound of it was sublime.  But towards the end, in the last couple of minutes, there was a distortion that produced a horrible screeching sound.  The man, quite upset, complained that it had ruined the whole thing.  But it had not ruined the experience of listening, for a majority of the moments spent listening were genuinely enjoyable.  It had ruined the memory of listening.  Kahneman posits that we have two selves: an experiencing self that lives in the present, and a remembering self, a story teller who weaves experiences together into a narrative.  While both are crucial, the kind of happiness the two selves feel is very different.  The happiness of the experiencing self depends on the quality of the experienced moment; and if I connect this to what I have spoken earlier, it is tied to the degree of wonder in the experienced moment.  The happiness of the remembering self depends on the structure of the story it writes, and a lot depends on how the story ends.  If the narrative contains an experience of unavoidable pain close to the end, the story is read as unhappy.  Another narrative may contain a greater quantum of pain, but if that pain lies in the first half and the story ends without pain, then it is more likely to be read as happy.

How experiences are shaped by the story written by the remembering self is crucial.  Does experience become devalued by straightjacketing into an inflexible and predetermined story?   Or can a story be written that increases the space within experience for wonder?  More importantly, how does the story that my remembering self writes come together with the story written by others?  Clearly, it is important to understand how we come together collectively around stories. For this, we must turn to the major story type we have used for this purpose across cultures and through the course of history: namely, myth.

What I say here on myth is substantively shaped by Jean-François Lyotard’s analysis in The Postmodern Condition, where he dissects structures of narrative knowledge in traditional oral cultures.  This is an epistemology radically different from that of modernity. Today, with our faith in individual human agency, our knowledge structures revolve around the notion of expertise, where the story of the expert is granted greater significance than the stories of non-experts.  But in structures of knowledge driven by myth, there is a cyclical reclamation of knowledge and expertise.

When I listen to my grandmother narrate a myth to me, I know that she gained the authority to tell the myth because she listened to it earlier.  In my listening now, I am receiving the authority to tell at a later time.  The story of the myth contains questions related to ethics, divinity, nature, and culture that encompass both teller and listener.  There is no privileged position of expertise or authority, for knowledge is recycled in a manner that allows everyone to occupy all the three possible positions of teller, listener and story.  The cyclical nature of the system privileges the eternal rhythm of retelling as much as the accent of a specific time-bound telling.

This mythic rhythm is the heart of culture and democracy, and we must resist the politics of power that seeks to disrupt and erase the act of retelling by claiming an ancient authenticity that will freeze the myth forever.  In a mythic rhythm, whether any predefined source of authenticity exists or not is irrelevant; the crux of the issue lies in the extent to which one is personally transformed by each act of retelling.  This is why all the great myths push us into the unknown, placing a challenge early in the story that forces the main protagonist to abandon the familiar and comfortable, spend the greater part of the narrative in unknown perilous territory, face danger by calling upon all magic available, be transformed by successful passage through the abyss, and confront, on return, the question of how to apply the gift of this transformation to the place where one belongs.   Put this together with the fact that we are embodied beings imbued with the sensory acuity of being alive, containing a powerful and sacred creativity, driven by a tacit awareness of an enchanted world that is beyond our capacity to capture in words, and we realise that the truth of our existence can only be known by the stories we choose to inhabit.  Permeate these stories with wonder, retell them in a rhythm that keeps infecting us with wonder, and they will determine who we become.

Just because we are sometimes children who listen to stories with a wonder that drops our jaws and opens our eyes wide does not ensure that we will effectively internalise that wonder.  For wonder to continue, the mythic rhythm must continue after we listen to another tell the story.  Retelling must sustain even when we are alone.  An inner voice within us is a crucial narrator who must also speak if we are to live the truth of our great stories.

The Inner Voice

At this point, I return to Hannah Arendt, for she emphasised the need to have an inner voice, asking what the basis of recognition is when you acknowledge the rights of another.  She did not believe this could be achieved through pity or charity, for that would not challenge the underlying asymmetry of power that was the heart of the problem. Even empathy could fall short on this count.  For a full recognition of the other, it is necessary to extricate from within yourself a framework that is equally applicable to yourself and the other.   This is possible only when you have an inner voice that can divide and critique yourself, and that voice should be able to cast the same comparative gaze at both yourself and the other.  Without this voice, you have no framework for a moral ground that covers both of you. You lose the ability to recognise the sacred nakedness of being human, both within yourself and the other.  Your moral code starts depending on clichéd defences rather than ethical awareness, and you become capable of doing evil without thinking of yourself as an evil person.  This led to Arendt’s famous characterisation, the “banality of evil”, in her report as an observer at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi who was one of the major organisers of the Holocaust.  She noted Eichmann’s ordinariness, his apparent sanity (plus the unanimous clinical diagnosis of sanity by six psychiatrists), and the way he carried out the most horrific acts without ever thinking of himself as evil, believing he was merely faithful to orders that contained a moral purpose. All of us may never reach the level of evil that Eichmann personified, but when our inner voice does not speak with sufficient clarity, there is cause to question whether we are living to the ethical standard demanded by the sacred and abstract nakedness of being human.

I will rest my case for the importance of this inner voice by citing three other people who believed it to be of crucial significance: people with whom all here today are probably more familiar with than Hannah Arendt.  The first you will know because he is one of India’s most famous citizens, significant to the point that we bestow him with titles like “Father of the Nation” or “Mahatma”: Mohandas K. Gandhi.  And you will know the other two because they laid the pioneering ground for what we so easily term today as ‘modern architecture’: Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright.

On Gandhi, I am indebted for what I say to Tridip Suhrud, who in his wonderful introduction to the recent critical edition of Gandhi’s autobiography, noted Gandhi’s key recognition of an inner voice that he called the ‘antaryami’, which led to “his conviction that the story of the strivings of his soul was being written at the urging of the ‘antaryami’, the ‘dweller within’ or the ‘spirit’.  It was not given to Gandhi to modify what came to him from the antaryami…..in the final instance, Gandhi’s notion of in-dwelling is the antaryami who spoke to him in a ‘small still voice’ and whose exhortations Gandhi submitted to. It is in this that Gandhi’s conviction that he was writing an ‘atmakatha’ inheres.  The atmakatha is not only the story of the soul in search of Truth; it is a story that is shaped by the antaryami.”

Gandhi was very clear that his life must be represented by an ‘atmakatha’ or story of a soul, far distanced from the dominant tradition of autobiography where an entire life is captured in a singular narrative.  In an atmakatha, the periodicity of dialogue with the antaryami is central.  So the story was broken into independent weekly episodes published in his journal Navjivan, written in Gujarati because that was the language his antaryami spoke.  They later appeared in English translation in his other journal Young India. What is most interesting is that when factual errors in some episodes were pointed out to Gandhi, he acknowledged them but did not offer any corrective clarifications in subsequent episodes.  Truth to him was rooted in inner quest, not external fact.  Consistency across episodes was not a priority; he probably would have been suspicious of too high a degree of consistency for that would indicate that his antaryamiwas not a truly critical voice.  In Gandhi, this ongoing dialogue with his antaryami epitomised an internal mythic rhythm, where the cadence of retelling stories of significance was woven with the spiritual transformations wrought by specific retellings shaped by the antaryami. We do a disservice to Gandhi by iconising him as a perfect saint, failing to recognise in him what we all must be: a human, faulty, often torn by self-doubt, at times overly obsessive, but anchored by an unwavering sacred commitment to the guiding wisdom of the antaryami.

Coming to what Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright had to say about an inner voice, their statements are self-explanatory, so I will cite them without commentary, other than to observe that these quotations come, in both cases, from texts written toward the end of life; texts aiming to look back at a life’s work and extract key learnings of significance to be offered to the future.

In an essay titled ‘Nothing is Transmissible but Thought’ published in the collection Mise Au PointCorbusier said, “In the final account, the dialogue is reduced to a man alone, face to face with himself, the struggle of Jacob with the angel, within man himself!  There is only one judge.  Your conscience, – in other words, yourself.  Thus: very small or very large, but able to ascend from the disgusting to the sublime, it depends on each individual from the very beginning.”

Frank Lloyd Wright, in a long text titled ‘A Testament’, said, Constantly I have referred to a more ‘humane’ architecture, so I will try to explain what humane means to me, an architect.  Like organic architecture, the quality of humanity is interior to man.  As the solar system is reckoned in terms of light-years, so may the inner light be what we are calling humanity.  This element, Man as light, is beyond all reckoning……….Mankind has various names for this interior light, “the soul” for instance…..And so when Jesus said “the kingdom of God is within you,” I believe this is what he meant. But his disciples betrayed his meaning when they removed the Father, supreme light, from within the human heart to inhabit a realm of his own, because it was too difficult for human beings to find faith in man.  So Christianity, itself misled, put out the interior light in order to organize worship of life as exterior light.  Man is now too subject to his intellect instead of true to his own spirit. Whenever this inner light of man is submerged in the darkness of discord and failure, he has invented “Satan” to explain the shadow.  Insofar as light becomes thus inorganic, humanity will never discover the unity of mankind.  Only by interior light is this possible.”

The statements of these two great architects offer an appropriate frame for me to make a concluding shift of emphasis from humanness to architecture.

The Terrain of Architecture as a Discipline

I will briefly outline seven key vectors along which our discipline could reshape itself based on a full recognition of being human:

1.      Recognition of the Sensory Inhabiting Subject:

We locate meaning in our work in the intentions of the architect: how it reflects the architect’s creativity and vision for society. Without discounting this unduly, we need a reversal of emphasis where the inhabiting subject becomes the dominant source of meaning, lending his/her consciousness to a dialogue with architecture’s aura.  The memories that accrue from this dialogue become embedded into the work, an aesthetic that develops over time.  This is an aesthetic of absorption, that stands in contrast to the aesthetic of expression we have foregrounded so far.  Design must orient toward how it emancipates and empowers this dialogue.

2.      Heritage as a Contemporary Moment:

We must stop seeing heritage as an authenticity handed to us from the past, but as a contemporary moment where we choose what is worth remembering.  To continually and critically examine heritage is to construct society’s mythic rhythm, where the pulse of our remembering goes with the accent of specific choices of memory, and we weave all this into a multitude of shared stories that shape who we are.

3.      Criticism as Inner Voice:

For empathy with the inhabiting subject and the discernment to know heritage, we need an inner voice of criticism.  This has to happen within each of us, but we also need a wider culture of criticism, and this is something we sorely lack in India. We must take heed of Alan Colquhoun’s qualification that criticism is not about judgment, about declaring a work to be good or bad; its purpose is to get behind the appearance of the work that strikes us and uncover its ideology.

4.      Re-Imagining the Civic Realm:

Civic space and public space are not synonymous.  We must transcend our current notion of a public realm in our cities dedicated solely to passive citizens consuming movement, consumption, recreation and leisure; citizens who can be lonely in the middle of a crowd.  To be civic is to foreground engagement with others, and we must rethink the shared realm of our cities to envision how we empower the discovery of resonances with each other and the world.  We must create the institutions that will inclusively achieve this, and will need to collaborate with philosophers, sociologists, politicians, and others, offering for this purpose our unique expertise in structuring space.  

5.      Education and the Pedagogic Core:

Educating architects is not only about transmitting knowledge or building thresholds of competence.  It is primarily about inducing students into pursuing personal mastery through sadhana, awakening the inner sacred creativity that leads to a lifetime dedicated to being a learner steeped in wonder.  For this, the pedagogic connection that infects the student with the teacher’s passion is central.  The teacher must also embody passion’s twin sister ‘compassion’ to ensure that the spark of passion fires what it must.  Pedagogy cannot be reduced to an instrumental means for teaching: it must form the core.

6.      The Practice as a Place:

Although practice is the primary means by which architecture happens, it is a poorly researched or understood notion.  We rely mainly on two anecdotal models: the business organisation and the creative personality.  Neither are adequate.  The business organisation is designed to think more about business than architecture. And while there is no doubt the creative personality model has created masterful architecture, it has served the profession poorly, propagating a culture of heroes and followers rather than a widespread reflective culture that taps everyone’s sacred creativity.  We must recast practice as a place that shelters reflective recognition of the core of what it is to be human within space.  We tend to think largely about the practice of architecture.  We must turn more attention to the architecture of practice.

7.      An Architecture of the Background:

We must rethink what we want our architecture to achieve. Our practice must neither prioritise commercial success nor be consumed by how it can be a vehicle for earning wide acclaim of personal genius.  The goal must be more rooted, contextualised and modest; dedicated to an architecture that earns respect, affection and honour in the communities within which we practice.

A Concluding Note

We would do well to reflect on a line from the old comic strip Pogo that states “We have met the enemy and he is us”, stop circling the wagons around the autonomy of our discipline, and refrain from placing all blame for our woes on some insensitive other.  We must look deep within ourselves to touch the essential core of our humanness and know its resonance with the humanness of the constituencies we must serve.  As a profession, we must learn to recognise what is sacred in the abstract nakedness of being human.

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