Our current project—and I do realize I haven’t updated on the previous two, which I have yet to document properly—is to create a ‘writer’s retreat’: a space scaled for one person on an isolated lakeside site. While we are furthering our investigations into relative proportion from the previous projects, this one is meant to introduce the concept notion of concept or conceptual content. This isn’t to say our projects haven’t had ‘concepts’ before now, but now we are focusing on what a concept is, how it is used, and how it is distinguished from ideas like parti and program.
At any rate, each instructor is conducting this project a little differently. A few had their students choose specific authors for whom the retreat is intended. I think that may be what Arianne is having my section do, but I’ve sort of gone in a different direction. I chose Virginia Woolf, but the retreat isn’t for her as much as it is inspired by and derived from her work and particular philosophy of narrative style. I’ve been a bit passive in the actual design process, and have instead focused on reading a lot of criticism and analysis as well as bits of Virginia Woolf’s diaries. She describes how she wants to write using words and phrases with definite spatial, material, and what I find to be ultimately architectural connotations:
“Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions—trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel... Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; but a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surround us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.”
“Suppose one thing should open out of another... doesn’t that give the looseness & lightness I want...”
“I should say a good deal about The Hours, and my discovery; how I dig out beautiful caves behind my characters; ...The idea is that the caves shall connect, & each comes to daylight at the present moment.”
These are very exciting ideas to me, but what they mean for my project is proving hard to pin down. J. Hillis Miller mentions “her attention to minutiae of the mind and to apparently insignificant details of the external world”... how is something like that translated into an inhabitable form or a structure by a lake? I guess that’s the point, so maybe I’m not too far off after all.
My problem is that I think faster than I produce. By the time I’ve finished something, whether model or drawing, the concept has already scrambled ahead, often more than a single traceable step. I worry my processes and progressions look broken, desultory at best, inconsistent at worst. Punctuated equilibria. I’ll get there, of course, but I’d like more to show for my work than some highlighted photocopies with sketches vining up the margins.