Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What I want to be when I grow up

I stumbled across this little gem yesterday. It's a creation of Clifton Burt based on a haiku by John Maeda. I found that it spoke to me on several levels.

Personally, this is what I am and what I enjoy being. I throw myself at projects and think about their implications and applications afterward.

What I love about this sign is how concisely it engages the viewer in a debate about order of operations and simultaneously extols active thought and reflection as a noble virtue. In science, the question is often raised about the value judgments and whether or not scientists adequately contemplate the implications of their work ahead of time. By specifically reversing the order and making it an ideal for which to strive, it makes us question its validity.

What I don't love about this is that it's not really a haiku. This has nothing to do with skepticism or art or anything like that. It's just a rant about the misinterpretation of an intricate art form upon appropriation. A haiku is a Japanese form of poetry with its roots in Zen Buddhism which focuses primarily on the contemplation and reverence of nature. Upon appropriation, western culture retained only the syllabic structure which is not only less important than the conceptual structure but also loses meaning when you change languages. I guess this does have some relations to skepticism. Every time I (and now you) see something someone calls a haiku, I think about how much can be lost in translation between language and culture and I think more critically about our imported culture.


  1. Would you rather think about the things you've built, or discuss them?

  2. That's an excellent question. I think I would want to do both most of the time. I think that discussions would also generally require thought, though I've definitely met some people who have demonstrated otherwise :D