cant believe your sing is gone...
years ago, today, Frank Lloyd Wrght died.
who knew him were shocked. How can I explain a 92
year old man who had more life in him than most 21
year olds ever do? How can I explain the way I feel
his presence - to this day - every time I design a
building? How his work still reaches out to me in
a demanding, personal way? How can a relationship
like this conveyed to anyone who was not there?
seems like yesterday - and, it seems like forever.
can be a tired and overworked word. Frank Lloyd Wright
was a genius. He was born a few year after
the Civil War - he died within a decade of us going
to the moon. He practiced his architecture for over
70 years. When he died, he was a few years into his
fourth cycle of artistic recreation. At the end of
his time, his buildings were are fresh and relevant
as ever - they are today.
did not know him long nor did I know him well in the
conventional sense of the word. We had, perhaps, a
few hours of personal one-on-one dialogs between us.
But I knew
Frank Lloyd Wright as I believe few have. With him,
I avoided two mistakes that many made: I neither lost
myself to him, nor did I try to make him into something
that he was not. I took him as he was - and let him
be what he was.
Lloyd Wright was my
master. He remains my master.
do not believe that you can ever find your true voice
without a master. It is questionable if you can ever
learn how to make a human being without the experience.
The relationship embodies a process that is essential
to the development of any great art - and to the art
of living. Mind-stuff and soul-stuff emerges
from this kind of experience.
is almost entirely lost in this noisy, superficial,
impatient world we have all made and now live in.
And, of course, our educational system
continues to churn out product like sausage - the
expression of the industrial model at its worst. It
does not lead out - it stuffs.
lived his work. He provoked learning. He connected
the lesson to results. He took joy in the process.
He was a force that you had to react to. When
people engaged him and lived in his buildings, they
changed. And always the mischief - the
trickster - was just below the surface.
was, of course, one of the most misunderstood persons
that I know of. But what was missed most - by almost
everyone - was the humor. If you did not see the twinkle
in Wrights eye - you saw nothing.
applying the tag genius
to someone it should be understood for what it is
- and is not. It is seen as a gift. And, in a way
it is. It is received not made. It is, however,
more like a curse. The issue of genius is not the
issue - the issue is how do people respond
to it. Generally, very poorly.
may be given - accomplishment is earned. In many ways,
accomplishment is much harder for a genius - think
about it. A genius is given a challenge - s/he has
to make something of it. S/he has to do it
in a world that was not made of it.
House built around 1932 to 1934
Photo by Lisa Piazza February 2000
Wright built the Willey House after many dry years
with little work. It has always been a favorite of
mine. It represented a new departure of his work (although
you can see it in the Roberts
House) and leads to the Usonian
Houses soon after. At this time in his life, Wright
was written off, presumed dead or irrelevant. He was
in his 60's. After this came the Usonians,
Water and almost half his executed works.
you want to understand one dimension of genius, study
this comeback. Of course to him it was
not a comeback, he never left.
knew Frank Lloyd Wright late in his life. By then,
he had come to terms with himself. He had constructed
this persona that the world saw as him.
Just beneath the surface peered out a mischievous
child that was indeed having a very good time of it
you wanted to talk to Frank Lloyd Wright all you had
to do was directly, honestly, address that child.
This was also true, by the way, with Ayn Rand. I expect
it is common with the breed.
is not to be confused with talent. Genius has and
develops talent if it is to come out.
Talent does not always have genius. The gift of genius
is a given, its manifestation is in the hands
of the genus and those few (around him or her) that
take on the somewhat thankless task of being a midwife
to the event.
genius, by the way, is an entirely different thing.
This is not what I am talking about here. It is not
individual genius added up. Group genius
works on another scale and does not require individual
genius - this is good news. Nature is clever and redundant.
essay is not about group genius. It is about Frank
Lloyd Wright and how he dealt with his own genius.
It is about what it was like to brush against this
genius when it was in full bloom. The thing about
genius is that it blooms late in life. Talent becomes
genius actualized under the proper circumstances.
That is if it is not killed off along the way.
extraordinary thing about Wright was that he did not
let it die.
he grew it to the end.
problem, you see, with the gift of genius
is that it is not yours to do with what you want.
It is a responsibility. It is a mission that may,
in fact, take you places were you do not want to go.
It may put you in circumstances that you do not like.
And once it possesses you, it can kill you if you
do not learn how to manage a life that gives into
it. One reason why genius is so rare is
that few are willing to accept its terms. As a society,
we do a poor job in preparing for it. It is
reason why it is necessary for a young person to have
a master is to apprentice to this energy
we call genius. There is no other way to learn it
except from someone who has a measure of success with
it. Without this guidance the would-be genius is likely
to turn away in frustration, burn out or self-destruct.
The master both teaches a path and infuses
the spirit of it. This is the way.
April 9, 1999
voice of this document:
VISION STRATEGY EVALUATION
April 9, 1999
December 19, 2000
20000301.9301.mt 2000002.123917.mt 20000402.8116.mt
this document is about 65 % finished)
© Matt Taylor 1999, 2000, 2001