Sunday, October 23, 2011

10.23.11 A Body in Space

A different perspective of the bathtub

There is a philosophical idea that we geeky, architectural types like to think about when we are not busy designing our way out of debt and it goes something like this: We humans are very used to thinking of ourselves as naturally correct and go around our universe using ourselves to "measure-up" our enviroment. In other words, the Leaning Tower of Pisa wouldn't be considered 'leaning' if we all walked around leaning too, nor would it be nearly as interesting! On an even more abstract level the idea is that we actually project our idea of ourselves onto things and into the spaces of our environment to get information and understand them. Now, I'll stop here with all of this and get to my point...

I wonder if being upright in the world is ever so slightly over-rated. Granted, there are distinct advantages to being upright, feet to the floor, faces to the sun like the pansies in the garden, but it is hard for me to fairly compare any other position's advantages, because I usually don't spend much time say...upsidedown. From a different vantage point, who is to say that the underside of my coffee table isn't the beautiful landscape I see in the stains that I find there, or that the ceiling fixture in the kitchen that I've been wanting to replace is just fine from the floor. Give me a glass of wine and I would never have to redecorate from down here on the floor.

I was watching Maxwell hanging upside down this week. He had gotten on top of the little round table in the playroom and was doing breakdance-style spins on it, taking a breather every few spins to hang his head backwards over the edge. I started to think about what things would look like if they measured-up to his 'projections' of himself into his surroundings. If I could design a world that fit his understanding of himself, what would that look like? Do the things that are made to "make sense" to upright people have meaningful purpose for Max the way they do for us? The legs of a chair are more like the poles of a tent, the front door is more like a hole in the wall that appears every so often, and the ceiling is canvas of patterns and shapes...

This week Max is scheduled to have a procedure that requires chemicals to be injected into his legs with the aim of interrupting the mis-guided messages being sent from Max's injured brain to his confused muscles. It will provide a window of time in which we can dive in and stretch out Max's muscles and head-off a more invasive surgical correction. Another peripheral advantage is that Max will have a chance to experience the world from a more upright position and hopefully feel comfortable enough to stay there! Where we go from there, we have to see...

Max continuously offers up opportunities to ponder a far more surreal and perhaps interesting microcosm of a universe, and with any luck, I may just have to look a little harder. I may just not be doing it from the floor as much!

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