Not pleasing yourself

It is not so easy to please yourself. Why? Because pleasing yourself is not just having fun or following your whim. Truly pleasing yourself means, in the deepest sense, giving pleasure to yourself, making yourself truly pleased. That is only another way of reaching the I, substantially reaching the eternal self, reaching what Zen calls No mind, reaching what the sufis call drunk in God. That is hard because today, it is not something that society encourages, not something society can easily tolerate.

You must make each thing, shape each thing, so that you really like it, so that it really pleases you.

I have suggested that this apparently simple statement lies at the core of the nature of order. All life will come from my activities if, as a maker, I do what I truly like. Living structure, the creation of living structure, requires only that the people designing it, planning it, and making it are doing what they like, what truly pleases them. We will never be able to contribute to the world’s horrible buildings — too prevalent in recent years — if we make things that we like.

The makers of these image-ridden, ugly buildings did not truly please themselves. Pleasing oneself is harder than what they did. They made things which seemed to please others, and in which they seemed to please themselves. But truthfully, what they did, was more often done out of wilfulness, out of a desire to be somebody, a desire to be important or successful, a desire to be good according to the images and standards of mid-20th-century professional architecture.

All that is very, very different from pleasing oneself. That, in our time, has become very rare.

(Pages 275-276)

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