Time to Pretend.

Added on by Skyler Fike.

I am probably in over my head. I certainly have no idea what I am doing. I took on the subject of architecture and reform with confidence and in my little head (one brilliant to me but no one else really knows about it yet) I have already redeemed this struggling profession. On the cusp of enacting world-wide professional architectural reform (it's okay, you can laugh), today I embarked on the next leg of the thesis process. Clueless.

The small library was my haven. Leather-bound books and coffee were the scent of my day. My workspace--part of it at least--an elliptical seven-foot conference table, all to myself. The primary weapon of choice--one unused and certainly under-appreciated prior to today--the whiteboard. My old Canon Rebel and his three-legged friend worked to document the struggle--hours of static filming for a few seconds of sped-up process footage--as something purely aesthetic but still contributing something nonetheless. It's a start, I suppose. Six marked-on then erased whiteboard canvases aided in loosening my mind from the permanence of pen and paper. It worked brilliantly. I am grateful to have finally experimented with a method that I had gladly ignored since grade school.

Interspersed throughout the day, of course, were Instagram posts and panoramic shots. I question sometimes whether the process of documentation is truly worth it. It seems to detract from the work of the mission and it's significance, all to simply show that the progress itself happened, like a glorified "Skyler was here" written in chalk on the sidewalk. Whether or not it is important, documenting progress using film (read: digital video) and photography during a creative process itself is a challenge; it forces me to be clear and transparent in my methods and approach. I'll try to stick with it.

Aside from documentation, progress today was forward-moving but all over the spectrum. It was exciting to see the puzzle pieces of my thoughts unfold, even if just a little bit; however, it was discouraging to see how little I truly know about the profession of architecture and the social issues of the day. I have observed things and now I write about things. In other words, I assume. I feel like I'm pretending, and somehow I am still convincing others that I know what I am talking about. In the next three months I will have written an engaging essay merging seamlessly these two things about which I hardly know any truth. It's like I'm in the middle of that scene in Good Will Hunting where Sean (played by Robin Williams) and Will (Matt Damon) are sitting on a bench in the park after an enraged conflict in Sean's office the day before. Will pridefully crosses into a dangerous boundary of Sean's heart and soul, telling him that he married the wrong woman. Sean reacts. The following day Sean calmly reveals to Will how little he knows about the universe despite his intellectual prodigy. Will, the genius, is silent, struck with what looks like his first dose of actual truth.

I'm no genius, and certainly not a prodigy, but I am venturing into hostile and unfamiliar terrain regardless of my own presupposed familiarity. I just prefer not to be held against the wall, choked, and told "time's up."

However, despite the hostility and the contradicting emotions of my heart and mind, I barrel onward, pretending, but learning along the way. I continue with my questions and assumptions as I sift through months of notes and piles of books and a few years of professional experience, searching for any good thing to use as evidence in this ploy I call, creatively: Thesis. It's a good thing I've got the whiteboard, though. It's the only thing keeping me productive and convincing me I'm on the right track.

I recently watched a video on YouTube of a graduation commencement speech given by Neil Gaiman at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. In the wake of a "transitional world" where everything seems to be freelance and rules are continually changing, Gaiman recalls a conversation:

Someone asked me recently how to do something she thought was going to be difficult, in this case recording an audio book, and I suggested she pretend that she was someone who could do it. Not pretend to do it, but pretend she was someone who could. She put up a notice to this effect on the studio wall, and she said it helped...So be wise, because the world needs more wisdom, and if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and then just behave like they would.

I am not an architect (yet). I certainly lack the kind of experience and expertise which would help justify my position in my urges and charges toward truly seasoned architects. And I've never written about social issues or reform. I suppose, though, even in the midst of my inexperience the only thing I can do is learn as much as possible and, well, pretend.