Purveyor. Not of goods, but of good ideas

Thursday, January 26, 2006

ARCHITECTURE: The Power of No

Terry Teachout, the great and eclectic arts critic, today posted on his blog a poignant portrait of unfamiliar idleness entitled Call me Bartleby.

His musings on the joys of saying no to obligation and doggedly pursued experience put me in mind of an observation shared with me about ten years ago by the photographer Fred Eberstadt. I was talking to him about my dream house and I mentioned the importance of a semi-sheltered place, half inside and half outside, from which to observe the passing world. Otherwise known as a porch.

"The most important component of a successful porch," he said, "is not the view. It's the ability to turn both your chair and back away from the view, if you choose."

Why would anyone want to do that? I thought at the time. Now I better know the power and importance of such a choice. Apparently, so does Terry.

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