FACE VALUE – MARK RAGGATT
1. Name, age, location?
Mark Raggatt, 35, Melbourne
2. What do you do?
I’m an architect. Part of being an architect means I’m also a writer, editor and teacher. We all want to do things that intrigue us, and fortunately I work in a practice and an industry that allows that. As I get older, those things coalesce into their own sort of hybrid.
3. What would you rather be doing?
Sometimes I would rather be with my family, or maybe when the children are fighting, I’d rather be at work. But I think you can turn what you do into the thing you’d rather be doing, now more than ever.
4. How have you changed in the last five years?
Five years ago I had a lot more aggro in me and much less patience. At 35, I’m young enough to want to know more and wonder what’s next, and not yet old enough to wag my finger or become cynical. I feel like 35 is the age I’d like to stay.
5. Who do you look up to?
I look up to my wife a lot; I think she’s amazing. I have no idea how she’s managed to build her career and her family, and maintained a happy relationship through all that. It’s remarkable.
6. How do you look after yourself?
It’s a strange phrase: ‘looking after yourself’. I’m not sure that looking after yourself has the desired effect. That said, I go to church on Sundays, sing hymns and say old prayers. It’s sustaining and comes with tea and biscuits.
7. Do you think men need to moisturise?
I don’t know. I don’t moisturise, but I don’t do anything. I don’t even use deodorant. I’m not opposed to the idea, but it doesn’t occur to me to use it. It’s starting to occur to me now when I look in the mirror and think, ‘what is that?’
8: What do you care about?
I care about my family more than I feel comfortable with. You know those people where if someone hurts their kid on the footy field, they go berserk? You kind of judge them and think, ‘come on mate, it’s only a game’, but I can totally see myself doing that. It’s as if caring about something that much can turn you into some other kind of beast. There are times I still feel that passionate about ideas: things deeply thought rather than deeply felt, perhaps. With my work, I see it as a vocation. It’s something you dedicate a life to, and something that takes you a lifetime to complete. If something takes you a lifetime to complete, you better bloody care about it. Architecture matters because we’re building the places we all have to live in, but it also matters personally because like any creative practice, you invest your own person in that work. It’s a bit like those stonemasons in the middle ages who would carve these intricate gargoyles way up high where no one would ever see them, as a dedication to God. You can’t do the best by your client if you view it as just a means to an end. It has to be something you all believe in, otherwise how can you make anything good?
9. What don’t you care about?
If something catches my eye or attention, then I can care about it, so I find myself being interested in things that are not very interesting. There are things that are frustrating and a hindrance, but even those things are interesting in their own way. I find bureaucracy really hard and the mindset intensely frustrating, but I find the bureaucrat as a person interesting, like: what drives them to be like that? So even things that appear uninteresting, very quickly when you get underneath the surface, becomes fascinating.
10. How important is honesty to you?
I think lying is deeply uncomfortable. I don’t see the point of it, really. Lies are complicated and ultimately they don’t get you where you want to be. The only way to get to somewhere real is to be honest, as brutal as you need to be. The truth can be hurtful, but to avoid it is a shortcut. If you care about something, shortcuts aren’t an option.
11. When was the last time you were wrong?
Probably this morning, trying to get three children out the door. I think getting cranky at your kids is the wrong way to go about raising them. You only teach them to be cranky adults. People are really worried about how to be a parent, which is understandable. You fuck up every day and it would be helpful if we told each other that: it’s alright, I do that too.
12. What’s the most brutal truth you’ve faced?
Some years ago, I realised I was becoming a person I didn’t want to be, filled with shit I didn’t like. I saw that I’m a fallen person and I needed other people and I needed faith. I was the only one to blame for all that. But radical change doesn’t happen, at least not for me. It’s like a bloody big tanker; it takes a long time to turn it around. Give me another 35 years and we’ll see.