The Indicator: Hysterical Realism (Or, Some Things I Thought of Doing since Being Laid Off Before Coming to My Senses)

  • 16 Sep 2010
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  • Misc
Via Treehugger.com

Go back to grad school:

This thought was like a microscopic stroke. The M.Arch was the “go-back” and my PTSD symptoms get more acute whenever I get near institutions of higher learning.

Ride my bike across the country and write about it:

If I had a bike this might be a good one. The great escape. I had it all planned out. My wife and three year-old daughter would also come along. I could tow her in a little trailer. No need for training because we’d get in shape as we went—after all we are riding bikes. The things we’d see! Live off the grid! We could write a book about our adventures on the road, the crazy people we met, the kind citizens who would open their homes and kitchens to us. How our spirits were restored by the long journey. Then there would be the book tour. Film rights. Ewan McGregor would play me. Have to get steel-framed bikes so they could be welded at any roadside gas station. None of those fancy carbon fiber frames, light as they are, because I understand they can snap. The bikes would have to be very expensive and very cool—this is why I never go to bike shops with my credit cards. Maybe we could get a sponsorship deal, ride for some cause. See Architecture for Humanity entry, below.

Ride my bike across some other country and write about that:

It would have to be somewhere in the Third World, because this is the only way white people like me can get real exotic and place ourselves in seemingly dangerous and sketchy situations that would provide good material to write about. This is what the colonies used to be for. The Grand Tour. Then the Hippie Trail, the Granola Trail, whatever you call it.  Rory Stewart in Afghanistan. Sebastian Junger in Afghanistan. Somehow, Afghanistan does not seem like a viable option. China would be rough enough as long as we stayed away from the major cities and even then it can be rough. The new wild west! We could ride all the way to Tibet or into those mysterious western regions populated by ethnic minorities. Again, Ewan McGregor could play me. After all, he did that motorcycle thing with Charley Boorman. He would just have to be willing to do it on bicycles.

Get divorced:

See above.

Become a kung fu master:

One thing I have a lot of is time. Think of those kung fu movies where the disciples are balancing on tall poles and smashing jugs of water with their fists. Perhaps I watched too much Kung Fu Theater when I was growing up. This might explain whey my neighbors act a little circumspect around me. I always thought it was just Los Angeles, but it could be they saw me practicing with a sword in my pajamas out back. Now that I don’t have to be business casual I could really embrace this role: grow my hair long, get a dragon tattoo. All I would need are a few celebrity students. Maybe work as somebody’s bodyguard or do stunts in the movies. A friend of mine used to do this. He’d get lit on fire and thrown out of windows. He was actually David Carridine’s stunt double for a while. There are days when I think I would be willing to get lit on fire. On second thought, teaching celebrities might be the better route. Now, I just have to find them.

Move to some remote location and write a novel about being an unemployed architectural professional living in a remote location:

Somebody already did this, but he was an English professor who wound up working as an unskilled (really unskilled!) construction worker. The book is titled, The Cliff Walk. It’s sure to cheer you up. Possible locations were literally all over the map. This was due to the fact that these were places where I could live for free. One option was a tent in my mother-in-law’s backyard. I bet there are more than a few tents in backyards in the major cities of the world. Maybe there is a potential thesis in this. Or think of all the roving RV colonies under bridges, near freeway onramps, moving from parking lot to parking lot. See go back to grad school option, above. The backyard did not seem remote enough. The more plausible locale was my brother’s cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s smack on the shore of Lake Superior and outside of a few perfect days, it’s freezing. A good place to think but I would probably go insane first, like in “The Shining.” If it ever came to be (the novel, not the insanity) I envision it to be something you might find in McSweeney’s. It would also be fairly short. David Foster Wallace already did the maximal thing.

Get my license so I don’t have to keep introducing myself by the asinine title of “architectural professional” (All non-US readers may kindly skip to next entry):

For a while I was having friends sneak the coveted exam study guides out of their offices to hand off to me in westside parking lots. I have amassed quite a collection of study materials. If any of you are missing a copy of something please contact me and I will return it with the appropriate level of guilt and shame for holding onto it for so long.

Sit in Coffee Bean and look busy on my laptop:

I already do this.

Start this thing I’m calling Architecture for Humanity:

You mean this has already been done? Where have I been? Doesn’t Afghanistan need good design services? Do they have a branch in Kabul?

Start a blog:

God, help us. There must be thousands devoted to architecture. As such they usually veer off into psychedelic territories. Just about anything goes because architecture naturally leads to the human condition. Plus, just how much can one say about buildings? Oh, forget it. Just look at this list. Plus, could anyone come up with a title better than Sit Down Man, You’re a Bloody Tragedy?

Learn guitar:

OK. So, I’m actually doing this. I have another friend who is learning Cajun fiddle and another unemployed friend who is learning banjo. I keep pressuring them to learn bass and drums so we can at least form an indy band and be useful. They are obviously not thinking right. We are available for parties.

Teach:

!?

Open my own firm:

This way I can lay myself off and there will be no hurt feelings and no questions about whether it was personal or not. It would indeed be personal. Come to think of it, with the talent pool in the streets of my city alone I could assemble a world-class staff. In fact, we wouldn’t even need to be in the same city. All we need are some laptops and cell phones and we are ready to roll.

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Move to China and open my own firm:

After drinks and cigs with some key players I could be doing skyscrapers, even new cities from the ground up. Or, at least while being fattened up at endless banquets, I would be assured repeatedly that I would be and this would at least keep my spirits up. The underlying valid point to this is that the economy is in double-digit growth even with an orchestrated cooling-off. Are smoking-hot economies the only way cutting edge architecture’s current business models can thrive? Or does the profession simply require extremely centralized governments? Low growth rates and sketchy numbers require extreme agility on the part of firms and free-agents. Firms with footholds in expanding economies like China and Brazil are bringing more resources to bear on these markets. I’m ready to go! As that old song goes,

Just get me to the airport put me on a plane
Hurry hurry hurry before I go insane
I can’t control my fingers I can’t control my brain
Oh no no no no no

As luck with have it, my passport just expired.


, a weekly column focusing on the culture, business and economics of architecture, is written by Guy Horton. The opinions expressed in are Guy Horton’s alone and do not represent those of ArchDaily and it’s affiliates. Based in Los Angeles, he is a frequent contributor to Architectural Record and other publications.

Cite: Horton, Guy. "The Indicator: Hysterical Realism (Or, Some Things I Thought of Doing since Being Laid Off Before Coming to My Senses)" 16 Sep 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Apr 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=78513>

8 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Solid writing sir. Let’s get the ArchDaily execs to give you a bi-weekly gig eh? Then the company card eh? That’s how she likes doin’. The fast track!

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    My life for the last 20 months!
    minus the bike, and the kung fu, and the China thing. Second thought, not my life at all.
    Love this series Guy, keep it up!

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Funny. But seriously, why don’t you try doing something that contributes to society rather than being such a whiney hipster designer?
    Habitat for Hamity could use your help. What about Haiti, or Pakistan? You don’t need to bike around in circles. There’s opportunity out there.

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