Friday, April 10, 2009

Will Cleverness or Insight Save the World?

Cleverness gets a lot of press. It also gets a lot of money, power and adoration. Our fascination with cleverness reveals our belief that the mind is superior to the heart, that flash is more important than substance. As a result, architects often aspire to cleverness rather than insight. In the bargain, the landscape gets littered with glittering toys rather than structures that engage the rich mix of nature and culture.

Cleverness is cute, perky, entertaining. It's Disneyland for the mind's insatiable desire for entertainment. But, as a wise friend said, we may want the world to be like Disneyland, but nobody really lives there. On the other hand, insight is perceptive, responsive, nourishing. Cleverness screams, "Look at me. I'm incredible. Check me out." Insight whispers, "Look at the world. It's amazing. Check it out." Cleverness believes, "I am the source of the innovation and change that determines the state of the world." Insight believes, "I participate in a world that is creating and transforming itself again and again."

Our fascination with cleverness feeds an ego-centered, competitive approach to architecture and life. It separates us from nature. Even when cleverness says it is working to benefit the world, it is working to feed itself. Perhaps this is because cleverness sees itself as the world. Insight promotes an eco-centered, co-operative approach to architecture and life. It engages nature. By seeing itself as integral to the workings of nature, it cannot help but foster the renewing processes of nature. 
Ultimately, cleverness fragments and wounds the world. Insight appreciates the interconnectedness of the world and heals it.

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