There are many descriptions of architecture, as an activity of the mind, as a practical pursuit, and of myriad conditions in between. It is all of these things and none of them. To know architecture, to truly know architecture, one must look past the surface—past the puzzles, the problem solving and the context, past the expectations and emotions, and past the esoteric pursuits of academics and politicians. Architecture, on the contrary, is an activity that resides solidly in the gut—it is embedded in our viscera, behind the black vest buttoned to the overcoat, through the fine white shirt, and in the belly of Orson Welles himself—and not the young prodigy—but of the tiring man of spent potential, basking in steak au poivre and beautiful women. It is also hidden in the belly of the young woman, and teenage boy—if they notice it in the confusion of the butterflies of the mind.
Architecture comes with a fold in your stomach. It is peppercorns crushed in a pan, coated in butter and thick crumbles of salt. It is seared in cognac; it is knowing what to do with a cast iron skillet, and without thinking, recognizing the beauty in what we make with our hands and our eyes. It recognizes the necessary folly of talking, of writing. It is a condition of being. It is holding a low center of gravity in your body, not standing on the balls of your feet. It is not knowing whether you are sitting or standing, but a condition of being in space—that magical substance that comes forth from our fingers, projected from your brain stem onto the inside face of your forehead. It is simply a condition of being—of operating from a deeper place, of a mind that does not reside in the head. The mind of satisfaction and hunger, of over indulgence and indigestion—of disorientation or feeling at home. It is a sensation of knowing what is and will be, and existing in it.
There are, on the surface, a lot of concerns to be had—and few of them in the end matter. Long after the purchaser and purpose are forgotten, mouldings and doors, crumbling stones and boards—things drawn and made remain—the decisions not debated or discussed, the things that simply were and are. The vision and calibration long obscured—the portions loved by use reinforced, and the portions never loved long forgotten. A broken stair and step, the path of a fat man wandering a fictitious island in the Mediterranean sea. A woman far too beautiful for her suitor, if the surface were really what was at issue—a match of the soul and body—of interior and exterior decay—of the leaking mess on the ground we are all destined to become. Architecture—the thousand little touches—stands in our stead.