|Thinking It Through - Indigenous Kiwiana Building
In Moscow everyone drives at night without turning their car lights on. In Vancouver many people drive in bright sunlight without turning their car lights off.
The only people who are really out of step are those who not only busy themselves writing standards to define when car lights should or should not be turned on or off, but also attempt to impose their values on other people, through national standards or other techniques of centralised power.
There are no average people. There are no "normal" people. It is normal to be eccentric, like everyone else. It is normal to be different.
No one lives at the centre of the world.
Each person relates to each other person around the surface of our world sphere in a great network of eccentricity.
There are, to be sure, many people who think that they are sanding at the centre of the world, but other people recognise that the egocentric person is simply more eccentric than the person who accepts that they are eccentric.
There are, to be sure, many people who think that they are normal or average, and they too imagine that they are standing at the centre of the world. There are even scientists and mathematicians who spend their whole lives trying to discover what exactly "normality" is. It is only their lack of vision which prevents them from seeing how eccentric they are in adopting what is clearly a very odd position.
In the natural order, diversity of species is not a problem, but rather a key to survival, enrichment, and mutually beneficial interaction.
In the cultural order diversity is not a problem, but rather a source of delight, stimulation, and finally self-understanding and self-enrichment.
In the political order it is essential that diversity is not seen as a problem. The politics of uniformity are he politics of oppression. This moment in history is presenting us with the opportunity to establish new political, professional and social structures which recognise that no one lives at the centre of the world.
When the world is seen as a spherical network of relationships linking positions of eccentricity, it matters little whether there are many people standing at any one position, or only a few. When life is no longer seen as a numbers game it is possible to recognise that there are not minority and majority cultures.
The mighty rimu tree is not threatened by the humble bush orchid. The humble bush orchid is not threatened by the mighty rimu tree. A person walking through the forest may choose to look up in awe or down in wonder. A wise person does both and is enriched by the relationship which exists between the mighty and the almost invisible.
A this moment in history, all over the world, the cry for the recognition of each unique person, each unique culture, and each unique place, is providing a common thread which is linking questions of politics, culture, environment and urban design.
The monolithic centralised power structures of Russia or Eastern Europe have slipped away into history. In spite of the difficulties Gorbachev struggled to establish a new order. In Canada Mulroney did not seem to recognise that there was a question.
The question in Canada is not that of overcoming different ethnic groups. It is rather that of establishing structures, both political and architectural, which celebrate differences, and recognise them in a way which will enable the structures to enrich each other.
The global city is a network of relationships between positions of eccentricity. Rome is Rome, not New York of London.
Every city is a network of relationships between positions of eccentricity. It is simplistic to suggest that different people see the one city differently. Different people actually live in different cites which have a common location.
Urban design processes, planning schemes, or valuation patterns, which assume that people live at the centre of the world will always lead to misunderstanding, conflict and aggression.
Every building is also a network of relationships between positions of eccentricity. A client may well demand architecture which will declare that the client lives at the centre of the world, but the architect knows that the building is a mirror of the client, not the reality.
The cry for the recognition of uniqueness is not taking place only in Lithuania or Yugoslavia. It is a cry in every New Zealand heart, every New Zealand city, and every New Zealand building.
Once upon a time no one lived at the centre of the world. Nothing has changed.
It would be a significant step towards peace and harmony to recognise that the world was meant to be that way.