Is design humility possible?
I’m looking back at this rich thread and thankful so many people took the time to participate. The conversation touched upon exposure, tension, awareness and surface, among many other ideas, and we conjured up Bruno Latour, Kahn, Eisenman and Kengo Kuma. The two-week duration was luxurious — enough time for ideas to simmer, develop and branch, and ample space to focus. Much of my own engagement online is confined to short bursts of 140 characters or less, so the longer format has been especially refreshing.
Several commenters mentioned something about “removing the ego,” or a lack of ego or dissociation of the self from the creative process. I went back to the opening statement to see if I had suggested this in my choice of words, and unfortunately there is a hint of that in “Cage’s removal of judgement from his decision-making…” Just to clarify: the ego cannot be removed from any process, creative or otherwise. It’s central to the self and mediates between all aspects of the psyche and the external world. In fact, my own interest lies in what’s possible when the ego is very much present — strong, resilient and healthy — and flexible enough to allow decision-making to flow in from the external world (nature, chance operations, etc.). Instead of imposing judgement or personal taste from within, creativity might open up to something new — wider, larger views of beauty.
Thanks to the Philip Johnson Glass House folks for celebrating John Cage’s 100th with this provocative discussion, and for allowing me to host. I remain fascinated by Cage’s way of working. We’re still learning. I tried to explore this and my own definition of “design humility” in a forthcoming article, to be published this spring in the third issue of The Manual. Please look for it and let’s continue the discussion here!