I was fascinated with geometry at age ten. Living on a farm in Midwest America, I attended a one room schoolhouse where the library consisted of a metal cabinet next to my desk. I could reach over and pull out a book of Euclidean geometry, which I often did.
I intuitively understood, that my sense perceptions of geometry preceded and were more important than the written analysis of Euclid. I think of them, or as Euclid termed them the Propositions as being apperceptions of the geometric figures. I’m now in my eighties and the place of ‘perceptions’, that is to say ‘sense perceptions’ preceding the text is ever more correct in all matters of mathematics. In my book, Geometric Wholeness of the Self, I describe this philosophically.
Not far from our farm in the Midwest, was the Farnsworth House. This famous house was designed by the world famous architect, Mies Van Der Rohe. The setting of the house is in a rural pasture beside a stream. This beautiful structure, enclosed entirely in floor to ceiling glass, is one of the modern architecture’s outstanding architectural statements. It is a prime exemplar of the modern style.
One Sunday morning I drove by this famous residence and saw Dr. Edith Farnsworth standing in her night gown preparing breakfast in her floor to ceiling glass kitchen. It occurred to me that some innovative, powerful architects can work inopportune conditions for their clients. The owner may, however, be satisfied that her investment was for a greater good – as was said about Mies’ work, architecture for the ages.
Later, my interest in geometry would lead me to study under this famous architect Mies Van Der Rohe; but I never forgot my childhood experience of his architecture. As a young man I decided I would become an architect and I enrolled in Mies Van Der Rohe’s School of Architecture at ITT in Chicago. My beginning class was with a lead pencil drafting parallel lines on high quality expensive paper. The second semester we advanced to drawing brick masonry patterns. Mies examined my work and gave his approval. But I was dissatisfied with this rigid discipline.
I enrolled at the School of Design where most of the faculty were Europeans who had taught at the Bauhaus in Germany. This was a school teaching Modern design and rchitecture the athe Nazi’s had closed down. enrolled. The Foundation Course was patterned after the Bauhaus method in Germany. I was a young man just off the farm and I soon became so sensually stimulated to the point where I felt mentally unstable.
In my room I had a 78 rpm record player. When listening to a high pitch flute rendition of Bach’s Brandenberg Concertos I experienced an ecstatic state, to the degree that I feared for my stability, such that I never exposed my self to that situation again. Later, to complete my studies in architecture I enrolled in the School of Architecture in Raleigh, North Carolina. There, a transcendental ecstatic experiences would again occur when a design emerged on my drawing board; but this was an ecstatic experience under the watchful eye of my much revered professor. This was to be my guiding endeavor for the coming years of my architectural practice.
On my first day at the School of Architecture in North Carolina I had a memorable experience with Professor Horacio Caminos. He was from Argentina, where he had emigrated because of a repressive dictatorship there. He knew some 30 – 40 word of English when he approached my desk. I was drawing his design assignment when he saw a color I had mixed, a soft yellow green color about which he remarked favorable. My experience with professor Caminos is told here because it was a connection he made with my sense perception that is still with me today.
Recalling this event, as a student, confirms a philosophical principle I have, that a priori sense perception is the beginning of all forms of creativity.
Intrinsic to our perception is the place of geometry as it was, and is, in our cultural beginnings.