“Moral decisions are always easy to recognize, they are where you abandon self interest.”
Frank Herbert

Chapter House Dune

Christopher Alexander on Never Truly Beautiful

“What kind of beauty could go so deep that a person would be afraid of creating it? …

Working with architects, I have experienced it again and again. Many traditional shapes, especially the most profound shapes with deep and serious centers in them, for some reason trouble modern architects profoundly. Even when an architect does want to borrow a traditional shape for a building … he often feels he has to make the shape ‘modern’ in order to feel comfortable with it …

The history of the 20th century has been one in which people do not want to see God, nor, therefore, true beauty either. The role of religion has, for many, become uncomfortable. Many people want no part of it … And for that reason, they also do not (cannot) want, in their lives, any kind of true beauty – the beauty which brings something in touch with the I – is, in effect, something in which we cannot avoid, in some part, seeing God. For this reason the underlying vocabulary of the 20th century … asserted that designers would create structures which are ‘interesting,’ ‘pleasing’, ‘fantastic,’ ‘exhilarating,’ … anything but beautiful – indeed never truly beautiful. That word has unalterable meaning, cannot be contaminated, and during the temporary insanity of the 20th century, struck a nerve which people could not tolerate.

Is it even permissible, today, to please yourself? … Much of the 20th century difficulty occurred because the vast changes that have occurred in society led ultimately to one conclusion: a person was not allowed to be comfortable with his own self. And it is this which makes wholeness so hard to achieve.

… To do that thing which comes only from the heart is so hard not only because others may laugh at us when we do it, but because we may even sneer at ourselves, and wince when we see it, and cannot face the depth and ordinariness which it encompasses. For the sense of that … feeling, when expressed in its true form, is the I which faces us.

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


Nature of Order - Table of Contents"

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