“They just hate it when people make love. And then they’ll go to a fistfight where somebody’s really hurt and all covered with bloodand they’ll just love that. Or a war and stuff like that. They’re all mixed up and they’re trying to take it out on you so you get mixed up too.”
Robert Pirsig

Lila

Tag Archives: Christopher Alexander

Christopher Alexander on Unconventional Wisdom

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…in my 43 years of living no one has ever asked me, in a meaningful social context, to speak truly about my life … about “our” life … I have not yet been a part of … is it just me or is that the way things have been in recent human history? “How could […]

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Christopher Alexander on Communal Vision

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… the path to deep communal vision begins with deep individual visions … “To go towards true belonging, we must also consider the deeper process by which people may draw from their own experience, the aspects of the environment – its necessary centers – that will genuinely contribute to deep feeling in the environment. If […]

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Christopher Alexander on Unfolding Unanimity

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I felt relief reading this … I’ve never felt drawn to participating in such excercises and usually felt discomfort when others were doing them (especially on my behalf). “When people do sit down and discuss patterns together, one by one, the remarkable unanimity which comes from these discussions is often moving and profound. During the […]

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Christopher Alexander on Gardens

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Reading this chapter made me feel that permaculture (and my relationship to it) may have injured my potential relationship with gardening … “What is the effect of living process, used repeatedly, to shape exterior space? … … in gardens, we come close to the heart of zen, to the contact with life which shows it […]

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Christopher Alexander on One Thing at a Time

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“If you do one thing at a time – just a true thing that comes from a carefully considered feeling – that means , when you do it, your own feeling is enormously increased, and you choose it because of that, and you put it there because of that … then something real, ordinary real […]

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Christopher Alexander on Structural Engineering … of Space and Solid

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“To solve the problem [of structural engineering], you need to address the alternation of space and solid in the building; and you need to approach this matter almost as if it were a problem of decoration, of playing, making the solid mass of the building so beautiful in its own right … It is too […]

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Christopher Alexander on Building Volumes

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… putting buildings in service of the land … being in service gives purpose and context and direction … being in service becomes a nourishing relationship (if you can get it right) … being in service of what wants to be instead of expecting to be served what I want … “The most crucial thing […]

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Christopher Alexander on Eyes of Lovers

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I find it challenging to allow both critical thinking and “eyes of lovers” to co-exist, inform each other, bounce around, contain  … and hopefully integrate … “To start with, we look at that land with the eyes of lovers. We see the land, appreciate its good qualities, love what is it, no matter how derelict, […]

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Christopher Alexander on Feeling of Materials

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This takes me back to the conversation Annelieke and I had about the roofing material used for the deck. I designed for corrugated sheet metal, Annelieke prefered clay tiles (which is what came to be). When Annelieke explained her position based on vague notions of magnetic fields I wasn’t comfortable with it … because neither […]

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Christopher Alexander on Program Budgeting

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This quote comes from a context of large building projects … these ideas may need to be adapted to different scales of projects … but what strikes me most about this is that it creates an alignment of motivations using a budgetary approach … instead of typical conflicts of interest which arise around money and […]

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Christopher Alexander on Concentration (dharana)

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“… thought experiments … There were serveral of us making these judgements, together. That always helped to make our judgments more reliable. With some effort, we could reach agreement of feeling on any given issue. But it is not so easy to do these experiments. Although having several people together helps, because one can then […]

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Christopher Alexander on Belonging

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“… there is a connection between ordinary human happiness and the existence of a living structure in our physical world … when architectural structure is an unfolded one … when it is created by repeated application of living processes, and by … structure preserving processes … then what comes from it is a world where […]

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Christopher Alexander on Freshness

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“What was lost in the 20th-century building was the freshness of our buildings …. it is not style that makes a building living or dead, but the freshness of its response to its surroundings; the truthful and spontaneous unfolding of order within its own fabric. … the essence of all life in any system at […]

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Christopher Alexander on Feeling as Criterion and Instrument

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Unless something quotable shimmers in the appendices, this brings me to the end of book 2: “If living processes, guided by feeling for the whole, and guided by feeling, were to shape all acts of construction in society, then everything, nearly, that we know about modern society would be changed. Above all … it means […]

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Christopher Alexander – It Must Be Us

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This quote comes at the end of another significant section which I did not draw quotes from (as was the case with sequences). It describes life-creating sequences can be interlinked into process-networks … it struck me as a fascinating balance between something specifically mechanical and yet filled with life. Ready-made quotes did not jumpt out […]

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Christopher Alexander on Gene Snippets

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“… the structure of social processes we created during the 20th century, again and again create a mental catch-22 situation where the means needed to escape from the anti-living process, are prohibited by the very process we are trying to replace. … The key to the idea that will allow a system of workable morphogenetic […]

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Christopher Alexander on a Pursuit of Wholeness

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This reminded me of Pirsig’s thoughts on contrarians: “… you risk a great deal when working within a new paradigm which includes a) human relationships of trust, b) on-going decisions about trade-offs, c) the overall wisdom of how to spend a given modest amount of money to get the best from your money. It is […]

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Christopher Alexander on Frederick Taylor

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“Frederick Taylor … was one of the individuals who had the greatest influence on the 20th century. An American machinist working at the very end of the 19th century, Taylor conceived the idea of time-and-motion studies … which make the repetitive production of objects more efficient. Taylor first inspired Henry Ford’s factory at Dearborn, the […]

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Christopher Alexander on an Architecture Studio Class

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Reading this brought Itsik to my heart and mind. I know, and on a couple of occasions have witnessed him deal with this specific challenge, the studio class. Though as I read this I also thought about the “competition” format that was (probably still is) so prevalent and normative and the source of so much […]

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Christopher Alexander – Kitchen Sequence

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There was a section in book 2 dedicated to the idea of sequences … about hot important the order is in which structure preserving transformations steps are taken. There wasn’t a sweet and succinct quote that shimmered for me and in a way it (ironically) is a missing step in the overall order of quotes […]

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Christopher Alexander on Architecture in Democracy

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This is from the opening text of the third section of book 2 … looking forward to diving into it 🙂 “Processes which are living ones, are step-by-step structure-preserving adaptive processes whose main characteristics is their ability to focus on the whole, and to improve and deepen the whole … And the sequence in which […]

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Christopher Alexander – First Hint of the Ground

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hmmm …. “For the time being, you may think of the Ground as the substrate of everything … … Within the structure of nothingness there is an endless system of repeating centers, all rather weak, but all equally weak, overlapping continuously … We may … call it simply emptiness. In any case, emptiness or nothingness […]

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Christopher Alexander – Material and Light

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When I collected this quote, the words “ultimately material and light” shimmered for me. Yet I decided to skip them, I felt that they may not be nourishing for a reader who is not as involved with the text as I am. Yet as I continued collecting the quote the words came back to me. […]

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Christopher Alexander on Simplicity and Symmetry

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“… Complexity (in the bad sense) consists of distinctions which unnecessarily complicate structure. To get simplicity, on the other hand, we need a process which questions every distinction. Any distinction which is not necessary is removed. To remove a distinction we replace it by a symmetry … Gradually we get just that syncopated system of […]

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Christopher Alexander on Simplicity

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“Our modern conception of simplicity has gone wrong. Simplicity as depth has been replaced by a mechanical idea of simplicity as the geometrically banal… The things we call simple in design – cubes, spheres – appear simple conceptually because they can be represented by simple mathematical schemes. But they are not, in any real sense, […]

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Christopher Alexander on Form Language

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” … we do not start each new design from scratch. Somehow, we learn, over years, the ingredients that make a building good … the form language we use to speak the words that come out as buildings. … at any given period of history, in any particular society, there are a certain number of […]

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Christopher Alexander on Holding the Feeling Constant

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“… our ability as artists depends very largely on our ability to experience, formulate, and carry such a feeling – first to feel it and witness it, then to carry it forward, remember it, keep it alive within us, and insist on it … … you hold the feeling constant … you keep it alive […]

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Christopher Alexander on Deep Feeling and Emotional Substance

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“… The Word “feeling” has been contaminated. It is confused with emotions – with feelings (in the plural) sch as wonder, sadness, anger – which confuse rather than help because they make us ask ourselves, which kind of feeling should I follow? The feeling I am talking about is unitary. It is feeling in the […]

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Christopher Alexander on Uniqueness

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“Almost the most distinctive mark of living process lies in one aspect of the geometry of the results. Simply put, Every part of the world that has life, and every part of every part, becomes UNIQUE. It becomes unique because each part is adapted to its context and because, in the large, no two contexts […]

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Christopher Alexander – Illuminated by Existence

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“I am not trying to be clever. I am not trying to follow any special archetype, ancient or modern. I am just trying to make that thing, which, when its centers have been created, will most honestly make me feel a tremor, make me feel that my life is (even if only slightly) illuminated by […]

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Christopher Alexander on The Void

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This is out of reading sequence. In thinking about Annelieke in the very present moment, the Void came back to me from book one: “In the most profound centers which have perfect wholeness, there is at the heart a void which is like water, infinite in depth, surrounded by and contrasted with the clutter of […]

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Christopher Alexander – Move with Certainty

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“As the living process goes forward, repeating the fundamental process again and again … one feature is built up at a time … How do you determine these steps which must be taken, and their sequence? … The most basic instruction I can give you as a guide for a living process, is that you […]

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Christopher Alexander on First Steps and Ripples in Design

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“… As any designer will tell you, it is the first steps in a design process which count for most. The first few strokes which create the form, carry within them the destiny of the rest. How then, in a living process, do we take the first steps of design so that a beautiful, coherent […]

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Christopher Alexander on Feedback

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“To make the feedback meaningful in a step-by-step process, the process must be open ended, hence partly unpredictable. It must lack a fixed predetermined end-state. This is necessary because adapatation itself means nothing if changes cannot be made in response to the process of adaptation. By definition, such changes cannot be foreseen. … For a […]

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Christopher Alexander on Vinyasa

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“Possibly the most basic and necessary feature of any living process is the fact that it goes gradually. The living structure emerges, slowly, step by step, and as the process goes forward step by step there is continuous feedback which allows the process to guide the system towards greater wholeness, and coherence, and adaptation.” Christopher […]

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Generative vs. Descriptive

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“Does the DNA contain a full description of the organism to which it will give rise? The answer is no. The genome contains instead a program of instructions for making the organism – a generative program … A descriptive program, like a blueprint or a plan, describes an object in some detail, whereas a generative […]

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One Wholesome Thing at a Time

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“Each process does something – just one thing – which is important, practical and creates good feeling. Then it does another. Then it does another. There is no manipulation and distortion of the structure, trying to predict where it is going, trying to make sure everything is OK. There is a sublime confidence, and practicality […]

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Christopher Alexander on Creativity

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“In a living system what is to be always grows out of what is, supports it, extends its structure smoothly and continuously, elaborates new form – sometimes startling new form – but without ever violating the structure which exists. … Creativity comes about when we discover the new within a structure already latent in the […]

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Unfolding Wholeness and Structure Preserving Transformations

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“Any part of the world we build will have life if it is ceated by structure preserving transformations [ {where} centers will always tend to form in such a way as to preserve and enhance previous structure – and this means, in such a way as to help sustain other existing and emerging centers ], […]

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Christopher Alexander on Ornament

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“As the whole emerges, the universe becomes ornamented by it … In this understanding a flower, or a river, or a person, or a building all have the same potential role. Each of them may be judged by the extent to which this pure blissful structure comes into being, and by the extent to which […]

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