Paolo Soleri once said that "virtue and value are to be found beneath the heap of seldom-inspiring ineptitudes."
At the time, I found the phrasing odd but I figured I knew what he meant so it took me a while to decide that it was his odd phrasing (so characteristic of his writing) that may largely account for why he has been so rarely cited in critical writing on architecture.
But In 2003, after he asked me to help him with some writing he was doing, I had a conversation with him that gave me hope:
Background first, then how it went.
I'd offered to help him with his writing when I first met him: a mere 50 years later, he took me up on that offer
But when I handed him his hard copy after I'd blue penciled it, he pretty well gasped in shock after he'd read through my markings.
But that isn't what I wrote!" says he
"Paolo!" I answer. "You know how when you make drawings for a building, the first sketch you make isn't exactly how the building turns out, it isn't even how the final drawing looks? Writing is like that!"
He got it right away, comprehended in a flash - but obviously he'd never thought of it before. Words that fell from his pen, he'd imagined, were cast in stone. (Or, concrete...)
After that, although I didn't see him let go of a basal faith that his written words were irremediable, he did his best to let those of us who were working on his editorial team help him put his ideas into plainer English (even if everyone on the team knew that anything he wrote, whatever its subject was, would be at best a very thin echo of what he was able to convey in his drawings),
The reason I'm bringing this up now is thatthinki ng about it reminded that Italy will honor the "virtue and value" of its native son's legacy as a year-long event in 2019 - only 2 years away! - because 2019 is the year of what would have been his 100th birthday.
And while his homeland is already busy as it can be, striving to make as much of him as it can, what I'm wondering is what will Arconauts around the globe do - what can they do - to honor/express their own stake in having helped abet his indomitable will to design and construct the spectacular architectural geometries he envisioned for ArCosanti?
Chatting with others who had worked closely with him, I was given the idea of encouraging us to share personal recollections, anecdotal stories about what the experience of working with him was like.
To help facilitate that pursuit - just to have a place to begin - I'll kick in a few stories of my own, starting with the one here; I also started re-formatting the Conversations page on this website so if you wish to offer your thoughts immediately, in addition to leaving comments here, there's a place to wax on as much as you like.
I'll also investigate how we might do this on various other websites, probably including some social media, for which, most likely there should be several monitors, people who might or might not get directly involved in the conversation to preserve focus and maintain composure, .But in the main, I'm mostly thinking "let it rip" - and we'll just see what happens....
What think you, gentle reader?