Place of Mind

What in the world has Psychology to do with Architecture and vice versa?

So Fort Hood--So Cal

My lips are chapped, and I have no more tears…

October 29

A few days before my 100-year-old mother’s death this summer, she said she had only one regret: not being able to see her family in California again.

But then I realized that I had my MacBook (with its built-in webcam) in my briefcase. A few phone calls later and my mother was using iChat to speak with and see her great-grandchildren for the first time in years.

I am, as you may probably know by now, a mere 71.  I am currently visiting my eldest daughter and three of my grandchildren in Southern California.  As I doodled around this AM I got my Personal Tech e-mail from the NYT.  The above two paragraphs are how the lead article Helping Grandpa Get His Tech On (author, Eric Taub) begins. 

What heartbreaking tragicomedy!  Is one to laugh or to cry?  For me, my lips are chapped, and I have no more tears…  Let’s have a virtual chat with great-grandma!  Will the wonders of modern technology ever cease?  Clearly—visit by MacBook and iChat is far preferable to walking, or taking a train, or a bus, or a hansom, or a trolley, or an automobile, or a cyclo, or an aeoroplane or a Zeppelin, to visit great grandma….  Good Lord!  Only one regret? Is there even the remotest pang of feeling left in Eric Taub as to how he is treating his mother? Is he utterly anesthetized from normal human emotions?  Isn’t he embarrassed?  Is this a put-on?  What is going on here, anyhow?

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Two Days Later (All Hallows Eve) http://www.illusionsgallery.com/All-Hallows-eve-L.jpg

Sorry for the interruption in and of my narrative. My firstborn and two of my grand children and I witnessed a preenactment of the Resurrection of the Dead yesternight in Alta Dena – and I’m yet in recovery mode.  You have, I know, all been asking yourselves whether and when and if this blog will ever get to its presumptive subject matter:  Architecture and Psychology—and I do believe that by some happenstance we just got there.  Is the blunting of affect with which

A week later – November 6th –Back—In Boulder

these blogs have been concerning themselves—or perhaps inappropriate affect—or perhaps the uses of artificial appendages—such as works of architecture and all of the other products of human ingenuity to blunt feeling or to substitute inappropriate and self-deceptive substitute feelings for realistic ones, that is in play here?

Fort Hood

It is with sadness that I pick out this paragraph from my previous blog:

Does or did it feel like Wartime to you this Morning?  Have we become unconscious of the circumstance that we are in and of a State of War? What psychology are we using--what psychology is being deployed to keep this 19 year-old war going?  It seems that there is some unbridgeable Gulf between this war and the University of Colorado Campus, with its talented students staging a performance of La Traviata--the fundraising dean--the Utterly Normal Campus with some--what is it --some 30,0000 draft-age youngsters partying...  No, it's not Götterdämmerung Berlin Staatsoper 1945;  it's more bizarre--the young students over here are utterly disconnected from their dying young or not-so-young active duty compatriots Over There.

The Berserk Psychiatrist who did a Kamikaze run on Fort Hood yesterafternoon—did he bring The War home?  Has he been able to awaken us to the reality of a nineteen-year war?  Should he have been subjected to compulsory Positive Psychology  http://vimeo.com/7283341?

It is as if Fight Club were imploding into True Romance.

iChat

I Chat with you like this.  This is deeply ironic. Body bags and burn victims.  Is it then possible to architect a man-made world that does not merely blunt feeling?  Not to Worry--Keep Smiling.  Stay Tuned.  

As for me-I know not what to feel--or what to do, as my lips are chapped, and I have no more tears.

Joseph Juhász is an environmental psychologist who is professor of architecture and environmental design at the University of Colorado.

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