While back I mentioned a project I’d undertaken. It’s a biography of the woman you see above pictured as a young girl. She was born on Bastille Day in 1920 in an aerie nestled in a valley of the mountains of central China. She led an amazing life and as proof that I’m not the only one with that opinion, behold a small portion of her papers held deep in the vault of an Ivy League archive. Access is limited and they’re tended by several learned and caring souls.
The lady has left us, but relatives, friends, colleagues, as well as a few detractors are yet around to recollect. Interestingly, the level of candor is in direct proportion to emotional proximity. The process of going through papers, reading books, and talking with these folks feels like having embarked upon a treasure hunt, the spoils of which to transmute into a fabric of essential truth.
Only part way in I’m incredibly humbled by both the scope of the undertaking as well as the tremendous responsibility I owe the entire cast of characters. In each of those with whom I’ve had the good fortune to cross paths a subtle apprehension has manifested one way or another. They know that a tale of high point short shrift would be easy, quick, and likely command rapt attention.
Nope. This is going to take a while. Besides, I’ve got to figure out how to go about it. I’ve never done anything like this before. “I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I learn how to do it.”
**Toyo Ito won the Pritzker Prize. Read about him below at 4 13 12 and 2 12 10