October 17, 2007


My drawings need to express the nature of the space. I need a really killer section, in which the nature of the space is described and all the details worked out and working together to reinforce the message of the building. Section A-A is probably the correct slice necessary for this, but as drawn for the Phase II critique, it is lacking. It does not adequately describe the nature of the space I can visualize in my mind. I need to determine how the space and the details, specifically the column, wall, and truss/rafter system, can work together. I need to examine all the options and iterations and determine the best possible system.

[BUT….] My mind screams. And it doesn’t matter. All my ‘buts’ sound like objections; a knee jerk defensive response. BUT – I’ve ALREADY considered! I didn’t choose the form randomly. If it is not working – tell me it’s not working – tell me how it could work better – don’t just tell me to consider it because I’ve already done that.

I am so frustrated. The critique with the outside reviewers yesterday went well. I understood their points. I thought maybe I’m finally getting better in critique; maybe I’m finally open enough and mature enough. Now she asks questions I don’t understand. I have two options – I can say “I don’t understand” or I can try to answer. Saying “I don’t understand” only works if it doesn’t become a mantra. After the sixth repetition it starts to lose its effectiveness. If after the sixth time we still fail to communicate it is unlikely we will be able to. But I can’t just drop it. We’re not trying to decide what to have for dinner tonight. She’s my teacher and she’s trying to teach me something and if I’m not learning it, giving up is not an option.

So I try to answer, but from my answer it’s obvious I don’t understand the question. Then we’re back to the same thing. She gets frustrated because it’s not as obvious that I simply don’t understand and after a while seems more like I’m not listening or I don’t care – that I’ve already made up my mind and am just trying to defend my position.

And the more I try to explain why I chose this option and why this other option won’t work – the more that seems to be the case. I’m not trying to defend my choice. I’m trying to explain what I’ve already considered. When she tells me to consider the options after I present her with the option I’ve designed it sounds like my design isn’t working, but why isn’t it working?

I start out with curiosity, a kind of interested quizzical thought. Why is that? Why would she say that? What does she mean? But I’m not used to not getting it. I’m the one who always understands, who picks the new software in half the time, masters that new math equation on the first run through, catches the philosophical argument like an easy fly ball. When my curiosity isn’t satisfied right away, frustration rises. It’s worse now.

Lurking behind that curiosity is already the suspicion, the habitual fear, “I’m not going to get this, am I? This is gonna be another bad critique, isn’t it?” So I tell myself “Breath, Monica, stay open, don’t shut down. Choose to make this the good critique. And it ends with that screaming in my head.

[BUT…] “Is she right that I’m just being defensive? BUT I really DON’T understand! Do I not understand because I’m going in with a closed mind, because I’m not allowing myself to understand? Why would I sabotage myself like that? Am I so used to having the right answer that I allow myself to become this frustrated rather than admit I’m wrong? BUT I admit I’m wrong a lot. I work with that. I’ve gotten used to it. Haven’t I? Didn’t I just finish pointed out that I didn’t know how to handle the wall detail? Why didn’t she latch onto that, where I need help, instead of the column which I’ve already figured out? Have I really figured it out, or did she latch on to it because it’s not working? BUT she didn’t ever say it wasn’t working. She didn’t say why it wasn’t working or how it could be better. BUT the questions didn’t sound rhetorical, so was I supposed to have an answer?”

[BUT…] It doesn’t matter. “But” won’t help me move ahead. “But” doesn’t solve anything. BUT what else am I supposed to do? A friend has the tagline on his email "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." -- Marcel Proust. I need new eyes.

I’ll look at it again tomorrow.

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