All that got me wondering what he thought actually does spark human perception of spatial relationships. His reply was that it's primarily visual.
I agreed that sight is important, for sure, but at the same time I had a flash about it being more than that. Not long after that email exchange, I came across an essay psychologist/yoga teacher Devika Eifert had given me in Montreal (she is now in Toronto) which makes a strong case for its connection with the ear. I sent it to Professor Rybczynski, of course, to add to the mix of questions that can be asked about how we experience space.
I think it's complex, the experience of space, of different types of space. Take for example, as a class of buildings or structures, those which are constructed/intended for worship. All have, whether they are churches, cathedrals, mosques, altars, synagogues, temples, plain Meeting houses, makeshift altars in the backyard, have a unitary operational purpose in common. The purpose is plain, no matter how or where they manifest, no matter how different they appear. They must all serve, must be meant to serve, as places for people to come together with a sense of purposeful humility for the sake of what we have the conceit to call "community."
Whether or not the place of worship manifests any connection to one of the Great Traditions is an outlying question.The essential goal of the teachings, regardless of form, is to provide a moral compass that will be operational within whatever the specific cultural tradition of the person or group responsible for its construction. The ultimate mandate, to help people distinguish and choose forms of behavior that benefit an entire community as well as an individual, the "Virtue of the Golden Rule" delivered in a form that makes sense to its audience, whose central mandate is the same, no matter where the group geographically and/or historically originates
Abstain from doing evil. Learn to do good.
Although the range of human behaviors is huge, in the main at one end are those which offend. At the other, those which promote although neither is likely to be absolute in the eyes of other groups with opposing or contradictory systems. The dichotomy cannot be simple if there is no absolute agreement as to what behaviors are acceptable and which are not.
"From your lips to God's ears," as the ironic prayer goes, but when is life that simple?
Complete agreement there ain't. Despite the simple dictum "Thou shalt not kill" restated one way or another in a variety of forms by every identified, identifiable religious ethos, the last time I heard the slaughter of some human being lauded was awfully recent.
Far too recent. I'm not a fan of gore despite appreciation of detective fiction as a genre. Go figure. And never mind, Thank You, poppycock about war being OK because "defense" makes killing OK.
If that argument can be used to justify bestiality, torture, rape, or genocide in any form, I can't accept it. Can't accept any part of it.
Vis a vis the architectural constructions in which such activities take place, I was talking about buildings specifically designed for worship rather than for enlarging garrison economies. My original train of thought was leading to how events happen in their own time for human organizations as well as human individuals, and to how Life constantly presents behavioral choices to groups as well as to individuals, to organizations as conglomerates of individuals.
Plus here's something else: There's a tricky piece in this problem which is - well, tricky. That is: Any and all communication is subject to interpretation.
Arcosanti - no exception to this truism - has encountered crossroads repeatedly over the years. The leadership style of Paolo Soleri ranged from visionary to micromanagement. "Neighborhood" development didn't play a large part in his design theory. His early insistence that Arcosanti was to be called a construction site only, could not be called a community, was not why he earned a few fistfuls of design awards. His priorities did not include work time being spent on talk about community.
Over the course of years, there were people who left the project simply (or not simply) because they were frustrated by this inability to accommodate, much less to account for, plan for, or organize systematically, its ongoing social evolution or development. Still, leaving didn't mean the place hadn't affected them. What I wonder is: How? Why?
What has been important about the idea of arcology? How has it made a difference in the lives of those who give it time and energy, either in brief or over a longer term? What about the place matters to them?
Paolo told me, once, he thought people took with them as much as they gave, that they got as much as they received. He didn't elaborate on what he meant and I forgot to ask him to explain in detail. But I'm curious - very curious - even more so now than I was a few decades ago, about all those people who've contributed to the phenomenon called Arcosanti. What have they got in common other than having experienced - over the course of more than 50 years - that shared space?
This is A Big Question.