Friday, May 12, 2006

Design History with the group formerly known as "Mary and the Wonderettes"



Today, Friday, I had my Design History Class (AKA, "The Chair Class").
10 (T-E-N H-O-U-R-S L-A-T-E-R), we emerge from the big table downstairs.
I have found that, to explain this phenomenon to an "outsider," is close to impossible.
Most people walk away thinking Hank is an ego-maniacal, control freak who thrives on setting us all off-balance.

Sometimes I don't disagree.

What I do know is that, for whatever reason...for reasons I don't have to understand RIGHT NOW, something special happens down in, what I like to call, the basement of Portfolio Center during these times. I don't know if it is the product of sleep deprivation...or how we are forced to simply be in the presence of one another....or if it is hearing the same key phrases from Hank over and over again. Whatever it is, it is as painful as it is beautiful, as annoying as it is fascinating...it is an adventure, a journey into a new reality for all of us as human beings and designers.

The reality is that it is not the "magic" of Hank that makes it happen; it is truly what happens when we connect to each other and form relationships...when we begin to appreciate the uniqueness and beauty that is in each of us. Hank does PUSH us, relentlessly, to share...to be personal...to dig deep within us...to, literally and figuratively "put it out on the table..." Most of us resist on some level because I think, on some core level, we do not trust. We do not trust ourselves and therefore others to accept and embrace our most intimate truths. What we learn in this process, however, is that, ultimately, the challenge is not outside of ourselves, but within. It is not the others we fear, but the self-rejecting tendencies we all have. As the saying goes, "the answer to the question lies within the question itself."

In any case, I give up on explaining the experience...who really cares? What matters is that it is changing my life and the lives of those around me...that, in and of itself, is a compelling enough reason to continue...and continue to analyze and question every last bit of it.

7 comments:

aud said...

FUCKIN A Mary... thanks for this blog. I get the same weird looks and comments as to why I would spend my entire sunday in one class or start before the rooster crows.

Today, I got my ass chewed out and it evoked feelings of sitting on the field, drenched in sweat as coach scolded us for the shitty effort we just gave.

At the time I didn't understand, I wanted to fight back and run around the room screaming with the rest of the dogs. It's true, I do need to be pushed and I guess I can try and appreciate all the fuckin suggestions as to expand my mind. I have never cussed so much in my life thanks to you hankster, nor have I ever heard so many F bombs in one day.

I have to remember it's about the experience and being pushed to no end and not being satisfied with shitty work or effort. I agree, it is painful yet pretty fuckin beautiful.

S'cuse the language.

MCALDWELLC said...

Fuckin right Audrey. It is about being fucking pushed..and you have to fucking remember that most of the time...you are just a projection screen that Hank is fucking using to illustrate his fucking point of the day when you find yourself the target of fucking harsh feedback.

This is not always true, but it could've fucking been anyone of us up there and fucking Hank would've fucking railed on our concept...try not to take it as a personal assault...it's not that. It's about pushing an idea to the limit. Once you can remove that sense of attack from the dialogue, you can hear what he's saying more clearly.

Sometimes it's fucking hard to do that, though...especially when you are fucking sleep deprived and your ass has fucking fallen asleep from sitting for 10 hours.

aud said...

p.s. did you set up the concert at the penitentiaries of rural Georgia? I'm eager to dance again.

Bjorn said...

Beautiful entry, Mary.

Wonder is one of hank's favorite words. Mine, too.
Surviving Hanks class is a rite of passage. I've never head him say the word can't. It's always - let's do it. FIND. MAKE. BE.

minus five said...

hank always sounded like the charlie brown teacher to me after the first hour or two. but i have always appreciated his passion. and if he or any of those teachers are hard on you, be thankful for it. i'd rather someone tell me my stuff was shit in front of a hundred people than spare my feelings because they felt i couldn't do better.

Jason said...

Sounds like someone has had an epihpany.

Hank's class must be working. The real challenge won't be until next quarter, when everything changes. You really question everything. The process of instructors, the nature of the project, and most of all, the message of the work.

minus five said...

and mary, how long is it going to be before you post a new entry? i'm dying over here.