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  • John Diamond-Nigh

#Coherence, #disappearance and #soul

Adieu to a thoughtful reader of this blog, #Ripp #Smith, a close friend of Lynne and myself, so kind, so wise, an exuberantly antic man, a gentleman risen from old Atlanta gentry, so of course beautifully grained by this oblique and camellia South. His jokes were the best. His sculpture like nothing I’ve seen. I hope his Rat Madonna finds its way to the Vatican. The worst part of these last months was the loss of his wingspread arms closing into mammoth hugs. So, friend, one final hug. Wherever you are, you can’t be contagious now.

The words #urban #glue I learned from Norman #Foster, one of Britain’s pre-eminent architects. His notion comes close to my notion of space, so my ears pricked up.

Think of urban design, he suggests, like this: You walk for an hour, or ride a bike or take a cab from point A to point B. More than a street, or a street musician or a post office, things elide into a larger composition, not a mere sawtooth of jagged incidents and phenomena. Like a great Basque recipe, all of the ingredients blend beyond their distinctive tonalities into one exalted coherence. Most of us take that for granted; few of us stop to think of how mystical such coherence really is. The glue is not just what holds experience together like school toddlers roped in a row; it is a chemical tissue, proto-dissolving, expanding and enhancing adjacent experiences into a new, novelistic union.

I say #novel, because the novel, I suppose, has done this best. Lynne is setting forth to write one. Lynne is the world’s most diligent preparer. It knocks my socks off watching all the ragged, noisy jigsaw pieces rustling in vague discontent on her desk. Just knitting and hairsaloning those chunks into one similitude of truth––mon dieu! I never imagined, seeing it anatomized like this, that a novel would have so many parts, all to be bent, woven or enchanted into something wonderfully delusory and whole.

What is the use of a great building, or a great work of art if the person who sees it has just missed the bus or been jostled on the sidewalk by a mob of partying barbers from Greenville? What does a guy hitting on your wife in a Louvre café do to the Mona Lisa? Foster thinks a lot about how, on just about any aesthetic level, we should think about larger contexts, synthesizing weaves, the smoothing of disruptions into a single key. Lunch, subway, sex, office, rain, umbrella, home.

Is the #single #artifact obsolete? I have a client who lives in a condo with a glass wall facing a majestic view of the city beyond. On the glass wall hangs a painting, beside that stands a marvelous lamp (if I say so myself). Far beyond the wall brews an infinite misty evening––skyline, weather, painting, the usual blissful conversation, clairvoyant martini or wine––just heavenly . . . but the painting has disappeared. In old temples and cathedrals, the icons disappeared in a dream of incense, in a liturgy of veneration.

#Inside is outside. The Japanese photographer and interior designer Hiroshi #Sugimoto calls it #uchi wa soto. Are we aware of our heart beating inside us? Our liver at work, the stumbles and shuffles in our nerves? Or how they all cohere? Do we even know where our pituitary gland is? Sugimoto began designing interiors out of a dissatisfaction with conventional space and its harsh unsuitedness to his own antiques, photographs, furniture. He made the spaces he wanted, in which the artifacts dissolve beneath a wand of choral serenity. An #inversion from actual to numinous. To #unseen.

Such would be my dream, to take over old homes, completely update them, ordain a subtle communion of art, furniture, food, perhaps a single antique, perhaps a garden outside––places where people could live for a while, where the hidden anatomy of their soul could be seen in a shadow and then as quickly be gone.

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