This is the han hanging outside Treeleaf Zendo in Tsukuba, Japan. I just participated in a 2-day online retreat with the Treeleaf sangha around the world. The han functions as a sort of wooden “bell”, struck to start the retreat. It reads:
“Life and death are the great matter. To waste time is a pity. All is impermanent and passes swiftly away. Time waits for no one.”
Before we get started, there is an important detail we must clear up. Our hero’s name is not, as you might think, WALL-E. Moreover, it definitely isn’t WALL•E. His name is WALL·E, and that dot is an interpunct, not a hyphen or a bullet.
“A populist right-wing leader. A persecuted minority race. Fear invading the households of every family on the wrong side of the fence. Meanwhile the rest of America carries on, oblivious to the ugly changes within.
…only those safe from fascism and its practices are likely to think that there might be a benefit in exchanging ideas with fascists. What for such a privileged group is a matter of a potentially productive difference in opinion is, for many of us, a matter of basic survival. The essential quality of fascism (and its attendant racism) is that it kills people and destroys their lives—and it does so because it openly aims so.
Often there’s just a small movement of heart that indicates that, oops, now I’m just wasting time. Or that I’m looking for something to amuse myself. It’s ironic, really: social media both plugs us into bad news and offers candy-like distractions from it. It creates the problem and then pretends to solve it—all because we’d rather have some interesting formations [any physical or mental concepts] to amuse ourselves. I’ve found it really interesting to observe these subtle movements of mind.
Another thing I learned on my visit to Topographie Des Terrors in Berlin was how the Nazis subtly twisted the meaning of “protective custody”. That term is typically thought of as a measure to safeguard an individual who might be harmed. It’s not always a positive term – “custody” after all is not freedom and in US prisons, protective custody often subjects the person being protected to solitary confinement.
Beginning in 1933, the Nazis began placing people deemed subversive to the Reich under protective custody, presumably so they would not be harmed by German people upset with their disruptive influence in society. But really, protective custody was a euphemism for jailing Jews, homosexuals, the disabled, Communists, the elderly, Roma, “work-shy”, and political opponents outside of the normal judicial system.
With the reinterpretation of “protective custody” (Schutzhaft) in 1933, police power became independent of judicial controls. In Nazi terminology, protective custody meant the arrest – without judicial review – of real and potential opponents of the regime. “Protective custody” prisoners were not confined within the normal prison system but in concentration camps under the exclusive authority of the SS (Schutzstaffel; the elite guard of the Nazi state).
In Germany the words ‘protective custody’ have a double meaning. Originally the term meant the incarceration of people who were threatened by others and who were guarded for their own safety so that they might be protected from their enemies. Now, however, men in protective custody are mostly those who are brought, for the ‘protection of the people and the State,’ into a concentration camp without hearing, without court sentence, without the possibility of redress, and for an indefinite time.
Language, as Orwell and others have long noted, is a powerful tool of fascists and authoritarians. In addition to “protective custody”, the Nazis referred to their plans for Jewish genocide as the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” and murdering people as subjecting them to “special treatment”. It all sounds so civilized and palatable, easily digestible to normal folks.
“The greatest frustration is feeling like you’re getting too much criticism from too many people (which, according to #2, means your design is not yet good). This is either because a) you’re working under too many constraints; b) you’re not exploring solutions broadly enough; or c) the problem is beyond your current skill level.”
Design must be an innovative, highly creative, cross-disciplinary tool responsive to the needs of men. It must be more research-oriented, and we must stop defiling the earth itself with poorly-designed objects and structures.