Architecture (George Adie, 15 July 1989)

The next question was from Probyn: “Mr Adie, this morning I’ve been very identified with an attitude of being uncertain of myself in respect to the job. I’ve worked on this job before, but I’ve always worked with someone who knew it well, so I could always rely on them to say what to do. I felt like the whole morning has just passed by in this sort of this attitude of not quite knowing what to do and or just being anxious about not knowing what to do.”

“Of course, you were in an unfamiliar positon, but you weren’t by yourself. How did you partner feel?”

“We shared pretty much the same sort of uncertainties about it.”

“What would you say?” Mr Adie turned to Probyn’s work partner.

“I agree,” he said.

“Good, well there was one trembling person with another (laughter). I thought last night, when we were putting the list together, that you two would find it would make for an interesting morning. Watch, see what goes on. Observe. You put one stone down, and if it doesn’t work out, they have to be moved again. That’s a hard kind of thought. All this sweat for nothing. It’s very interesting indeed. But these are large stones. You put one down where it doesn’t fit, and can’t deny it was like that.”

There were no illuminating revelations in this brief exchange, but after Mr Adie died, we had people forever saying that the outer work didn’t matter, only the inner work did. But as Mr Adie always said, the two go together: this is a false dichotomy in the context of the work for conscious development. To draw the distinction, and hold to it rigidly, represents the sort of hippie mentality which is destructive of the work.

Then Godfrey mentioned to Mr Adie how he had spoken to him about how he fidgeted during the meeting. “Now that was a private conversation with you, wasn’t it?” Mr Adie asked.

“Yes, but then you spoke to the group after breakfast and as you spoke, I was listening and I was aware that at that moment I was listening with a very still body. And I was also aware of a greatly heightened attention compared to what I had earlier on.”

“If you found you had better attention, then it proves to you that it’s possible. So, you have no excuse for fidgeting in the future.”


“Good. But don’t let it go, think, consider it, you need to.”

Again, no epiphanies here, but Mr Adie would notice small things, such as how a person sat, how they moved about, whether they sat still, and so on. He saw it, he mentioned it in a way he thought would help – note that he spoke privately to Godfrey about it, and when Godfrey mentioned it at the table, Mr Adie reminded him that he was making public what he did not need to. And then Mr Adie helped you keep the work going.

The next question was from Simeon: “I found the exchange with Rick and I and yourself over the lights, north workshop lights very useful this morning. I came to that meeting with you with the attitude that well, the plans look right and we just want your OK and then we get into it. And then you were querying it and you said you didn’t understand them. I felt annoyed about it.”

“Stupid old man! That sort of thing.”

“Yes, and then when you came up with a completely different way to look at it my attitude changed completely. And when I could see that it was an improvement my whole state changed. And then when you talked about my impetuousness, which I don’t think you’ve ever specifically mentioned before.”

“I just said it gently.” (Laughter).

“Yes, but never quite so directly. And I could accept that.”

“Well, you couldn’t get out of it. Not this morning.”

“No, but I found it, I had no difficulty accepting it. The amazing thing was that had it have been ten minutes or fifteen minutes before, I wasn’t in a state to accept. There are lots of questions, but how now to approach it?”

“The first thing is to see that it is your automatic way: it’s compulsory. You have to think in that way. You have to think at that speed and you just aren’t there. And to see that really is very valuable. Because when it’s like that I’m quite humourless, and I’m sure you would claim that you’ve got a sense of humour. And you have, so long as you’re not challenged in that way.” 

“Now I have learnt a way of approach which is different from my compulsory way. I see that this is just a proposal for some lighting, and I have the chance to take a free approach, free of our love of ourselves, and the fact that we haven’t seen ourselves like that and the sort of richness when I do see it. Able to accept it. Good.”

“Laziness plays a part. I notice, if I agree that anything could be better then it will mean doing it again and that I don’t want to do, so: “Let’s do it wrong, but do it.” But you see the work that had been done the drawings were good. And the thought that had been put in was good – it was enough to show it was wrong. Without that we couldn’t have ascertained that the proposal on those lines was wrong.”

“Architecture, takes part in everything really. This is why it’s such a sacred activity. And the function of an architect is to be able to produce a plan and then not carry it out. There’s so much difficulty in having made a plan, I’m sort of almost forced to carry it out. But the greatest architect must be an architect that could see and make a thousand buildings and not carry one out. But that’s not ordinary thinking at all, that’s a sort of picture. It’s rubbish in ordinary argument.”

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