vegan chili and a movie
Sunday, July 17 2005
The rain we missed yesterday arrived today in force. It was so rainy that it felt like good weather for making chili. I made my usual kind, using a vegetarian mix beefed out with tempeh, onions, garlic, black beans, and diced tomatoes. I don't cook very often around the house, and when I do it's always out of a sense of guilt from all the cooking that Gretchen does.
This evening she and I watched My Architect, the biography of Louis Kahn as documented by his bastard son, Nathaniel. Kahn's career matured late in his life (when he was 52), he didn't see many of his buildings completed, and he died a half million dollars in debt, but he was nonetheless highly influential in his field. His contribution to architecture was to start with the blah boxiness of the international style and infuse it with the timelessness of ruins. His ultimate accomplishment, the capital complex of Bangladesh, looks like something you'd see in one of the Star Wars prequels, though it was built mostly by hand with stone-age technology over the course of twenty years.
Many of Kahn's statements resonated with me. His opinion, for example, that the technique of construction shouldn't be concealed in the completed work made sense to me, even though I love to make use of faux veneers and give things the premature appearance of ancientness.
Interwoven with Kahn's professional accomplishments were the particulars of his personal life, which had a wandering, arbitrary quality. He maintained two separate families in addition to his marriage, and two of his three children (including the documentary's narrator) were born outside his marriage. Though he was loving and maintained ties to all three families, there was a definite asymmetry to his relationships. Like Einstein and other great minds, he was so focused on his work that his personal hygiene and relationships suffered. Meanwhile his wife and lovers erected walls and spun elaborate fantasies to hold cognitive dissonance at bay.
While charismatic, Kahn was not a beautiful man. He had serious scars on his face and hands from a bad experience interactively marveling at furnace coals while a young lad in Estonia.
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