The first week in New York was not a gentle immersion, but it was a spectacular one. I suppose it was the only appropriate way to join the party; with aggression and excitement.
I've made so many promises to myself that will inevitably be broken. How many times have I been here and I still haven't seen Seagram's Plaza? Ridiculous. I still haven't visited the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. I'm going to spend more time in the East Village, and less time in Brooklyn. I'm going to visit Governor's Island. I'm going to visit James' neighborhood in Queens. I'm going to try Richard Chang's Momofuku. I'm going to use my student discount at MoMa and the Guggenheim. I will socialize, share and explore, even when my instincts tell me otherwise. I will make breakfast and coffee at home at least twice a week, and my apartment will only serve as a means to sleep and shower. The city is a shared, urban laboratory and I plan on treating it as such.
Similar to Los Angeles, New York is one giant, dynamic, confusing and often misunderstood symbol. I've been thinking constantly about its meaning, and the fact that it has so much meaning. California seems to be an experiment in individualism, while this place seems rooted a more shared sense of opportunity. The generalization is that Californians are proud of how they have shaped themselves and created personal success, while New Yorkers take pride in what they have collectively achieved. I cannot think of an American city in which so many people are filled with an overwhelming sense of pride to have taken part in its formation. Is this an accurate statement or not? What I find more interesting is how these broad notions seem to have remained at the core of the cities since their inception. I find myself wondering if much has changed since their respective beginnings. It is very likely I will be proven wrong by my classmates and instructors.
There is no doubt in my mind that I have found the right place. Columbia's faculty has a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, very little of which appears to be rooted in a sense of pretention or willful distance from the students. There is a collective understanding that great ideas come from above and below; an ideology that is rarely sincerely adhered to.
Enrique Walker, our instructor for our urban theory class called Metropolis, spoke to us about the roots of Columbia's unique pedagogical system. One analogy that has stuck with me is his comparison between the monastery and the cultural center, the former being a place that provides answers while the latter triggers curiosity and heterogeneity. Therefore the cultural center is by definition, urban. This was an excellent place to start, indeed.
Studio has also begun, and Mark Wasiuta is my instructor. The topic is damage control. More on that eventually.