My career is turning out like scrambled eggs that looked for 10 years more like an omelet, that I’m now slicing up for fried rice. Along the way I’ve been throwing in turmeric, apples, and all sorts of things that don’t go.
So here’s a confession: I was meant to have been researching cyclespace for the past 15 years. The Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) I won in 1996, was based on such a proposal. It was my supervisor who steered me into reading abstruse art theory. The government was funding me to examine the integration of cycling infrastructure into high density residential developments, like the ones I’d been designing in Singapore.
If it were the case that I had just 6 months to live, then perhaps I’d feel bitter. But based on how I’ve been riding, I feel as though I’ve got another century left in this body, and in any case, an art theoretical take on cyclespace architecture is so much more interesting than the raw data collection work I would now be doing had I not learned to think through the Humanities. (I’ve been reading that tedious journal Australian Planner this week, and am thinking: no wonder our cities have all gone to shit! Papers by Tods about TODs. All the authors wear loose pleated trousers.)
So anyway, as I was saying, careers can take circuitous courses. Mindless courses of least resistance, most often. Though in my case I find myself heading in a direction I originally set out on, yet for 15 years was forgetting. Do I feel a dire need to make up for lost time? On the contrary! I feel the past 15 years have equipped me to add something new to the discussion.
The poststructuralist/postmodern thinking that runs in my veins now, means I will take a qualitative approach to the subject. I won’t see commuters as cogs in cities like clocks, going about their instrumentalist lives, the way planners think we all do. Teaching architectural history, and now leading study tours around Europe, I think gives me an historical perspective on current developments. Plus, once in a while, I find I’m able to apply what I know from philosophy to the world around me right now. I’m not so smart that I can have immediate intellectual insights, but if I bear down on a topic, original thoughts do come in time. My weakest points are recall and spelling, but isn’t that why god gave us google?