“... everyone who comes into contact with a child is a teacher who incessantly describes the world to him, until the moment when the child is capable of perceiving the world as it is described. According to Don Juan, we have no memory of that portentous moment, simply because none of us could possibly have had any point of reference to compare it to anything else. From that moment on, however, the child is a member. He knows the description of the world; and his membership becomes full fledged, I suppose, when he is capable of making all the proper perceptual interpretations which, by conforming to that description, validate it ...”
Carlos Castaneda

Journey to Ixtlan

Christopher Alexander – It Is the Process …

” … Look at this Hispano-Moresque tile of the 15th century. When we first look at it, we see a beautiful design, harmonious, orderly, well conceived, beautiful space and color. In contemporary terms, all this would appear to be part of the design of the tile, since it is the geometry of the finished tile, it seems to us, that causes this. We think of beauty as a result of design.

But when I handled this tile … and started to ask myself how I would make a tile like this, the thing took on quite a different character …

I believe the design was made by laying thick rope into the soft clay. It is the rope which allowed the maker form such complex shapes … In my studio my assistant went further to understand how it had been done, and made a clay impression of the tile’s surface in reverse. This reverse – a raised embossed impression taken in modeling clay – was even more impressive, and more beautiful than the tile itself. I realized that this – the negative impression – must have been the actual thing which the maker made, and that the tile was then cast from it in clay.

The further I went to understand the actual process which had been used to make the tile, the more I realized that it was this process, more than anything, which governs the beauty of the design. Perhaps nine-tenths of its character, its beauty, comes simply from the process that the maker followed. The design, what we nowadays think of as the design, followed. It as almost a residue from the all important process. The design is indeed beautiful, yes. But it can only be made as beautiful as it is within the technique, or process, used to make it. And once one uses this technique, the design … follows almost without thinking, just as a result of following the process.

… An attempt to follow the same drawing, but with different techniques, will fall flat on its face. And if I change the technique (process), the the design must change too. This design follows almost without effort from this technique. It is the process, not the design, that is doing all the hard work, and which is even paving the way for the design.

Thus the making, the physical process of shaping, carving, crying, glazing, ad firing tile are the ways in which this tile gets its form, its life, even its design …

This gradual rubbing together of phenomena to get the right result, the slow process of getting things right, is almost unknown to us today.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order Book 2: The Process of Creating Life

Nature of Order - Table of Contents"