Preservation groups | Random Musings

RICHARD P. FEYNMAN, FLOWERS & HISTORIC BUNGALOWS

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“I have a friend who’s an artist & has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say ‘look how beautiful it is,’ & I’ll agree. Then he says, ‘I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart & it becomes a dull thing,’ & I think that he’s kind of nutty,” states Richard Feynman, scientist, teacher, raconteur of renown & not incidentally, an accomplished conga drummer.
“First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people & to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is … I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes.
The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery & the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.”
Richard P. Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman

OK, BUT WHAT DOES PHYSICS HAVE TO DO WITH BUNGALOWS?

I never really understood why I take such joy in learning, talking & writing about bungalows. Why am I compelled to know these things about bungalows? What force makes me read Jane Powell’s books, with their truly dreadful puns & teeny-tiny print again & again? Why is every day off spent visiting old house museums & driving around vintage neighborhoods & end with a visit to an antique store?

Thank you, Richard P. Feynman. It’s to experience the other dimensions of bungalows.

When I look at a bungalow, I see its rich philosophical, aesthetic & emotional history- the degradation of the culture caused by the Industrial Revolution. I honor the memory of the wee ones who worked barefoot in the factories to provide a morsel of bread for their families & I honor William Morris’ goal to revitalize this debased society through aesthetics.
I see the long extinct old growth forests & the hard & dangerous lives of the men who cut them down. I see the boys lost in war & the mothers who grieved for them. I see the celebration of new lives being conceived, born & dying on big brass beds.
historic bungalow advertisementI see architecture born of the culture & technology of the times.  I see Stickley’s perception of the intrinsic beauty of the log cabin. I see the joyous anticipation of a family waiting at the station, for their kit house being delivered by the 5 o’clock  train. I see the joy of recapturing the details lost to trends, foolish decisions, economic necessity & outright greed.
I see neighborhoods once united by trolleys tragically bifurcated by highways, but now joyfully united by purpose. In my heart, I see those with whom I have shared this purpose. Some of them are only a phone call away, & some of them, I mourn.
Looking at a bungalow is a rich, comforting, calming but refreshing experience for me. The purpose of my blog is to memorialize those who created & lived in these wonderful houses, those who taught me so much about them & fought with me for their preservation & to share all this with you, so that when you look at a bungalow, you too can see it in all its dimensions.

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