I've enough history here for this to happen, for people to have an opinion about what they think I'm doing. Small town stuff. Sometimes - now, for instance - with a vengeance.
"When women gossip the result is someone doesn't sleep at night! Sleep at night!" (from Benjamin Britten's opera, "Peter Grimes")
Well, maybe my abode lacks not much in the way of conventional amenities, so maybe I do look settled. But I don't feel settled.
On the surface, no doubt, the place may seem fixed, give an impression of the familiar. Parrot (his name is Rochester, I decided) perches outside as he did in Victoria - although now he's upright rather than upside down. Some very nice pieces of dark furniture that Dennis once touched and used have places near the kitchen. A couple more, lighter in color, occupy the room in which I sleep.
Photos of Dennis hint at how he smiled, how he laughed with me, how he beamed radiant, patient indulgence at me. How he tolerated - cheered - my whims.
Very little about any of it makes me feel assured that I am here to stay. Why that is, I don't exactly know. Can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's because there were so many sailboats on Kootenay Lake that all I could think when I saw them was, Ah, Dennis would have wanted to see this! Maybe it's because, although I was told when I arrived, ready to take physical possession of my apartment in the Lodge (as it's called), ready to treat the place as if it were my own, that "There are no rules regarding tenancy. Just no loud noise-making after 11 pm" but my minor attempt to bring cheer into the common room, which was to place a virtually brand new juicer on an empty counter in its kitchen so that all the tenants (there are 10 of us, a few of whom have major health problems, who would very likely benefit from fresh-made juices) could use it, was met with: "You can't do that!" by the person who drops in to collect our rent checks and once a week plays bridge w/3 of her pals in the very same common room that I as a tenant may not use to share the use of a juicer. My statement that it would be fun to have an art exhibit - the Lodge has two longish corridors on which hang, at present, a collection of Rockwell prints, a few paintings and prints that seem to have been done by local artists or donated by former tenants - was met with: "No! You can't do that here." Maybe it's because, a few days ago, when it started getting too cold outdoors for my house plants, I placed them in the light of the windows of the common room where there is much sunlight, and also therefore a near-constant temperature (unlike my apartment, which has scarcely any direct sunlight and is therefore generally cool) I found, the next morning, that someone had moved them all outside. Outside the building.
All of this reminds me, a bit, of the social capriciousness I observed (and experienced) at Arcosanti. Alas,
Well, because: The urban laboratory is an experiment, yes; but what is being tested? As the late Jeff Cook, a friend of the Soleri family who taught architecture at ASU, wondered: What is the experiment? What is being tested?
To which I might add: What testing methods are being used? How are the subjects selected? Is the selection random? Who collects the data? How is it managed? Who reviews the results? How are the results evaluated? Is there a comparison study or a control group? Where? How are the results communicated and to whom? To what authority? How are the results reviewed?
And so on...but I suspect - no, I am sure - those were not the questions in Paolo's mind when he first undertook construction of Arcosanti.
His vision was focused on construction; on his wish to see if the urban structures that flew from his agile mind through his agile fingers were more efficient, more economic, more energy-wise. Easier to heat in winter, keep cool in summer, easier to move about in. I am sure he imagined, he believed, that the experiment, the "real" experiment, whatever it was, would begin after all of the construction had been completed. When a few thousand people could come together to live, could gather together in the prototype 'arcology' because it would be complete, a total habitat, ready for occupancy.
Mann plannt und Gott lacht...
The experiment begins with us, with we who will lay claim to being its builders. We are its experiment, as much as it is ours.