Leaving up the Scaffolding


It’s interesting to consider what contributes to our personal internal matrix of ideas and observations. The other day I was half listening to the radio and was struck by the phrase ‘an architect doesn’t leave up the scaffolding when he has built a building‘. This was spoken by Marcus de Sautoy*, paraphrasing the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss who was explaining his reluctance to clarify the ideas underpinning his work, partly because he believed that to do so might ruin the magic. I mentioned this phrase to Dail with the observation that what we are doing with this project could be considered to be ‘leaving up the scaffolding’.

The idea resonates with us both. Usually we work quietly and only exhibit our work when it’s complete, without the ‘scaffolding’, but for In-Dialogue we have structured the project in such a way as to challenge ourselves to make explicit and public what is normally implicit and private.

We are talking to each other about making and about our ideas, putting our thoughts into words and asking questions, both helpful exercises, but also challenging because this leaves us open to potential criticism and doubt. It is no longer sufficient to work intuitively; we have to try and explain and justify the choices we are making.

Whilst trying to find the original quotation Dail found another observation made by Gauss :

‘It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment.’

That will be the subject of our next Blog Post.

*The programme which triggered this post may be downloaded as a podcast here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09gbnfj



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