… Motivation … necessitates the definition of a particular stance toward life …
This is from the essay ‘Sounding the Depths: Origins, Theory, and Representation’ found in The Landscape Imagination: Collected Essays of James Corner 1990– 2010 (2014):
… [Some] people may tell us of the lifetime commitment necessary to learn and master myriad technical skills, in which case theory would just get in the way. This may be true. In much of contemporary discourse, there is considerable divergent rhetoric having little to do with a profession that is primarily a material endeavor, striving toward a greater artfulness and grace in its attendant skills.
However, there is a distinction between craft and motivation, between the skill of making and the purpose that motivates the skill. Craft may often win professional design competitions. It can be repeated and, to a degree, taught. Its skills can be deployed without any reference to feelings, history, or ideas. Motivation, however, necessitates the definition of a particular stance toward life — some idea of a culture’s relationship toward the world and existential problems.
[line break added] It employs the feeling found in cultural memory and personal experience to generate meaning, wonder, and expression. Motivation engenders a heightened sense of purpose. At its greatest, it is an epiphany, a revelation, a new way of seeing the world. A built landscape [Corner’s field is landscape architecture] may well survive blemishes of craft, but will rarely survive a creative stillbirth.
This relation between craft and motivation, the how and the why, is the forgotten role of theory.
[ … ]
… Theory’s original mediatory role between the human and the divine, the immediate and the eternal, appears to have ended. Theory today has been functionalized into a set of operational rules and procedures of primarily technological character: design methodologies, typologies, linguistic rules of formalism, functionalism, behaviorism, and so on. The result is that, for us as human beings, the mythical, metaphoric depth of the natural and cultural worlds has been neutralized, subject now to instrumentation and control.
… Today, stillborn landscapes are produced en masse around the globe. In the topography of pure reason, homogenous and without hiding places, the enigmatic encounter with things and places is flattened, without depth or horizon, devoid of imagination or greater meaning.