“I can't understand anything in general unless I'm carrying along in my mind a specific example and watching it go.”
Richard Feynman

Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman

Christopher Alexander on Searching for Being


“Many years ago I lived in India. In the village where I lived, at night especially, some sounds travel a long way … I remember walking around in the fields at night, and once hearing in the very far distance, very, very far off, a flute playing in the night. You could barely pick out the strains of that flute music. Twilight time; and there I was just listening, and trying to, trying to get that haunting melody; I could just hear it, and then I could just partially hear it. It was way, way off in the distance.

Searching for the being in a thing is rather like that, whether you’re searching for it in a building, or in a window, even in a windowsill. I get a glimpse fo something that is starting to happen. I hear something like this haunting strange distant flute. My feeling is like the quality of hearing such a sound. Then I look at the thing that I am doing – the building , or the window – and I ask myself: Is it in fact carrying that haunting sound, or not?

… It is hard work to see the wholeness. But if I do work hard, don’t take the thing for granted, don’t assume that I am doing the right thing, but if I do search for the wholeness, and keep assuming that there may be more to see, if I can only strain my ears a little harder, then I can move towards it, and gradually produce it more and more.

… I do my best to bring this half-heard whisper of a being out in the material.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 4: The Luminous Ground

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