St Victor's Advice / Karen J Lauseng
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St Victor's Advice, Twenty-First Day of July

I am angry with myself, I am not doing what I should.  Time is pressing,
each day means delay.  I cannot make a decision: I do not make a
start.  Am I afraid? - - - No, I think not.  My hesitation arises from an
unwillingness to grapple with reality.  I know only too well that
enthusiasm will create finality at one stroke.  I shall be swept along
towards the end - - the end which is sadness and regret for what is
being, while the unknown, in which I delight is hope for what is
impossible; and what is impossible is beautiful as are only those
forms imagined by men.  My delay prolongs the feeling that the
impossible is possible.  Imagination dies as soon as it comes down to
earth.  I delight in buildings in the air.  Reality is commonplace, apart
from the pleasure of bringing it into being.  As to closing the work
site - - the place is like a book one has read a hundred times:  what
was absorbing and novel has become routine, the plot is tiresomely
repeated and rehashed.  Stale kitchen smells linger when a meal has
lasted too long.  As things are, I rise from the table with hunger
unappeased, like a monk.  The aroma of humble fare will remind me in
passing that my stomach is still empty, and I shall feel a sudden
hunger for my unfinished activity.  


There is a laziness, too, in my present inaction, and lack of courage.  
Creation happens when boldness is released at the very moment that
something brilliant is done.  Timidity produces nothing of value, and
the timid are legion.  They think of themselves, of other people, and
of what people might say.  They wonder if they are sufficiently original
or sufficiently with the trend.  They do not do what they like.  The
pusillanimous creator with a critical eye says, "No, that's not enough,"
or "No, that's too much."  That "too much" that "not enough" have to
satisfy and flatter and
be the soul of the work;  it is a great deal to ask
of it.  Drawing with the right hand and holding back with the left,
keeping an eye on one's own eye - - - that's too many eyes.  Courage
lies in being oneself, in showing complete independence, in loving
what one loves, in discovering the deep roots of one's feelings.  A
work must not be a copy, one of a group, but unique, sound and
untainted, springing from the heart, the intelligence, the sensibility.  
A real work is truth direct and honest.  It is simply a declaration of
one's knowledge to the whole world.  In architecture, the only guides
are craftsmanship and experience: all of the rest is instinct,
spontaneity, decision, and the release of all one's accumulated
energy.  Never is one's courage courageous enough, never is one's
sincerity sincere enough nor one's frankness frank enough.  You
have to take the greatest possible risks; even recklessness seems a
bit half-hearted.  


The best works are those that are at the limits of real life; they stand
out among a thousand others when they prompt the remark - "What
courage that must have taken."  Enduring work follows from a leap
into the void, into unknown territory, icy waters of murderous rock.  If
today I am in the grip of fear, as I am for every enterprise, the reason
lies in the unknown; I have no faith that I shall be able to create even
a mediocre thing.  I no longer believe that the impetus to start a new
work springs from the spirit of those already accomplished;  the past
is dead.
This article was given
to me several years ago
by a friend.  I have no
idea where it originated,
however I have found
the message helpful
when I am having
difficulties.  It is my
hope that you will find
these words helpful as
well.  

karen@kjartworks.net