The difficulty of the task

The beauty of a living structure made of beings can, in my experience, only be fully understood once a person has struggled to create this structure, found out how hard it is, failed, failed, failed again, and then succeeded.

Creation does not happen easily. But I have found out that readers of this book often believe, from the text and from the examples, that it is actually not to hard to do. They assume they understand what is involved. “A center, after all — what is so hard about making that!” But the “something” they create, while assuming they understand it, is then shockingly unlike the real thing, because it lacks beings — often almost entirely.

It is the slap in the face, the difficulty between the spoken word and the idea, the actual geometric substance and its difficulty, which one must experience to find out how awesome this structure is.

Consider this. If I look at your face, or at your hand, or at a tree, I see positive space, definite shapes, selves, beings, which I can love. I see the gaps between your fingers are positive. The leaf of the tree is a being. The shape between your wrist and your shirt is a being and has positive shape. The space between the tree and the ground, is positive and is a being. Nature does this almost everywhere. But to draw it is immensely hard. Even knowing how to create a two-dimensional arrangement in which these gaps between the fingers, and the finger nails, and the space below your hand, and the gap between the wrist and the shirtsleeve are all beings is immensely difficult to do. So difficult that only a few artists — Matisse, Leonardo, Dürer, Vermeer, Bonnard, and a few unknown great ones who made brass and stone etchings — have been able to do it consistently. Of the millions of people on earth who have known how to draw, just a handful could create this multi-being structure, even when copying from nature, from a structure which already has the being structure in it. That is how hard it is to do.

To do it in a building is perhaps even harder, since here we are not copying, but we have to arrange, create, and shape the building so that every stone, every brick, every window, every gap between two rooms, every space outside every door, is a thing to love, an actual being.

(Pages 97-99)

Notes mentioning this note

Here are all the notes in this garden, along with their links, visualized as a graph.