“It takes all the time and all the energy we have to conquer the idiocy in us.”
Carlos Castaneda

The Second Ring of Power

Tag Archives: quality

Jeff Bezos: They know it when they see it

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In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig describes teaching students to write and how much clarity and agreement there was between students about what constituted good writing (and how impossible is to define what “good writing” is) … and … wholeness anyone? Jeff Bezos confirms: “In a letter to shareholders, founder and […]
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Christopher Alexander – Experience Beyond Descartes

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where Descartes only allowed observation to focus on the outer reality of mechanisms in the world, my method requires that we focus on the inner reality of feeling as well
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Christopher Alexander – The Mirror of the Self Test

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it is not so easy to find out what we really like. It is a skill and an art to become sensitive enough to living structure so that we see it accurately
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Christopher Alexander – Liking from the Heart

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What people like can often not be trusted, because it does not come from the heart.
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Christopher Alexander – A Universal Personal

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... from the point of view of the world picture in this book, 'personal' is a profound objective quality which inheres in something, It is not idiosyncratic but universal. It refers to something true and fundamental in a thing itself.
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Christopher Alexander – Value as a Matter of Fact

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one of the most fundamental tenets of contemporary science - that value is not part of science and tht all matter is, from a scientific point of view, equally value free - can no longer be sustained
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Christopher Alexander – Fundamental Property 6: Good Shape

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good shape ... comes about when the whole is made of parts that are themselves whole in this rather simple geometric sense ... is not only making things more beautiful; it also makes them work more profoundly, more effectively.
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Christopher Alexander – Centers & Life … and Robert Pirsig

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This excerpt has, for me, a unique flavor. It is brief. I originally intended to skip it, but decided to come back to it. It will probably come across as abstract. I did not find a way to capture the essence of the next few sections which contain examples that illustrate the point Alexander is […]
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Christopher Alexander – Degrees of Life

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“In the 20th-century scientific conception, what we meant by life was defined chiefly by the life or an individual organism. We consider as an organism any carbon-oxygen-hydrogen-nitrogen system which is capable of reproducing itself, healing itself, and remaining stable for some particular lifetime … There are plenty of uncomfortable boundary problems: For example, is a […]
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Inside Grand Seiko

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“This is the minimum requirement in making a beautiful watch: First, each individual part must be beautiful.”  
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Christopher Alexander – Mechanistic: A Mental Toy

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“The mechanistic idea of order can be traced to Descartes, around 1640. He ideas was: if you want to know how something works, you can find out by pretending that it is a machine. You completely isolate the thing you are interested in … from everything else, and you invent a mechanistic model, a mental […]
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Be Just and Good

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Al Franken on arete and goodness
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Robert Pirsig on Writing

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“The basic unit of that particular process is a comparison. You take two slips and you say: “Which one comes first?”. And I don’t know of any rational way in which you can pass a rule as to which one comes first but it seems like you always know. And now you get two slips […]
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Everyone’s just about out of gumption

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“My personal feeling is that this is how any further improvement of the world will be done: by individuals making Quality decisions and that’s all. God I don’t want to have any more enthusiasm for big programs full of social planning for big masses of people that leave individual Quality out. These can be left […]
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Christopher Alexander on Essential Awe

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“… In this conception, value is not something merely grafted onto space, as a passenger might be who carries no weight and does no work. It is part of the same nearly mechanical picture of space that we have come to believe in, and respect and trust. Yet, at the same time, in a most […]
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Christopher Alexander on an Extended Physics

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“… In physics, the effort has always been to take the geometry of a material system and to derive from it, predictions about the dynamic behavior, forces, and causal interactions … which follow from a particular configuration. In art and building … Again we have geometry, but here we seek especially to derive from it, […]
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Christopher Alexander on a Gift to God

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This felt like a demanding excerpt to put together. “When the field of centers appears in something, its deep feeling appears and it is … spirit made actual, spirit made manifest … It is not an indication of God living behind all things, but it is actually God itself … As we understand this more, […]
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Christopher Alexander on Never Truly Beautiful

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“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 […]
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Christopher Alexander on Pleasing Yourself

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“In order to create living structure, we must please ourselves … And you need only please yourself. But you must please yourself truly. And to do that you must first discover your own true self, come close enough to t, and to listen to it, so that it can be pleased. Does this sound absurd? […]
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Christopher Alexander on Tears, Sadness and Unity

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This resonates deeply with me. A pursuit of happiness has never appealed or worked out for me. If what Alexander is true, then the oh-so-popular notion of “pursuit of happiness” is bound to hit a wall. My experiences of happiness seem to expire quickly, while my experiences of sadness seem resonate deeper and longer … […]
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Christopher Alexander on Inner Light

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This section of the book is filled with examples, including works of art, that demonstrate the qualities Alexander discusses. I looked up a few of these examples online and wanted to include them here, but the color rendering of low resolution images in heavily manipulated color pallettes on the screen is not true to the […]
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Christoppher Alexander on Windows to the Ground

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This (kind of?) makes up for my not excerpting sooner about centers … but without the previous, softer, experiental introduction, this may be harder to swallow ..anyways … here it is: “I am going to start with the idea that the I exists physically, that there is some plenum, not part of the physical space […]
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Christopher Alexander on “The I”

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“Some experiences of I, within the things of the world, and especially within the things of nature, is shared, I think, by every human being, in some degree … I look at the waterfall and say I find it pleasing … In a second, also mild, version of this experience, I enjoy the waterfall, and […]
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Christopher Alexander on a Real Relatedness

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I was this person who’s relatedness was damaged by dead structures (physical and metaphysical) of the world. It makes me wonder if being at Bhudeva is a phase of cleansing and re-nourishing? Will I one day look back at it as my “great retreat”? I acknowledge, I want to see, I am willing to experience […]
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Christopher Alexander on Devotional Atmosphere

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“As a matter of observation, it is simply true to say that many of the most beautiful works of art in the world’s history, and many of the most profoundly living structures, large and small, that human beings have created, have been created within … a … mystical religious context. … What, then, about the […]
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Christopher Alexander on Ultra Mechanistic

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For more on this dear-to-me subject see Robert Pirsig’s Lila and the work of Rupert Sheldrake … and this is just the opening of the book “Scientists often like to say that the materialist view of present-day science is potentially consistent with early any view of ethics or religion because it says nothing about these […]
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Christopher Alexander on Inert Matter

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” … our view of matter is flawed … The substance which the 20th century world was made of remained the inert, mechanical space-time of Descartes, Newton and Einstein, of quantum mechanics and the string theorists. This mechanical substance is our cake. So far, our spiritual views and ethical views are only frosting on this […]
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Christopher Alexander on Wabi to Sabi – Rusty Beauty

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I am starting to feel a build up of “missing” excerpts … from the first phase of my reading Alexander (before I started excerpting) and from some things which didn’t feel “excerptable” … in this case roughness. “… to get the perfect adaptation which is required by the unfolding of a field of centers, you […]
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Christopher Alexander on Traditional Elements

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a beautiful illustration of the nature and manifestation of static quality “In a natural unfolding of the building – the wholeness of that configuration itself – generates centers at various key points … Consider an imaginary process in which a generalized building is conceived, in outlines, as a hazy volume … even without knowledge of […]
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Reading Lila – Good

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Take care of your goodness
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Reading Lila – Enlightment

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Christ, Lincoln, Gandhi ... that’s what they were really involved in, the cleansing of the world through the absorption of karmic garbage. They didn’t pass it on.
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Reading Lila – Dharma

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Dharma is Quality itself, the principle of ‘rightness’ which gives structure and purpose to the evolution of all life ...
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Reading Lila – Rta

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The mythos is the social culture and the rhetoric which the culture must invent before philosophy becomes possible
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Reading Lila – Meditation

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Just as mystics traditionally seek monasteries and ashrams ... so are the insane treated by isolation in places of relative calm and austerity and silence.
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Reading Lila – Shock

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The value of shock treatment is not that it returns a lunatic to normal cultural patterns. It certainly does not do that. It’s value is that it destroys all patterns ... cultural and private, and leaves the patient temporarily in a Dynamic state ...
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Reading Lila – Religion

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Religious mysticism is one of those delusions that isn’t called insane only because there are so many people involved ...
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Reading Lila – Dynamic

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Dynamic Quality is a higher moral order than scientific truth, and it is as immoral for philosophers of science to try to suppress Dynamic Quality as it is for church authorities to suppress scientific method. Dynamic value is an integral part of science. It is the cutting edge of scientific progress itself.
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Reading Lila – Contrarians

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Sometimes the insane and the contrarians and the ones who are closest to suicide are the most valuable people society has ...
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Reading Lila – Sanity

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... the insane person is running a private unapproved film which he happens to like better than the current cultural one ...
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Reading Lila – Do You See the Light?

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When a cartoonist wants to show someone getting a great idea he puts an electric bulb over the character’s head. Everybody understands ... Why?
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Reading Lila – Facts & Culture

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Your static value system filters out the undesirable opinions & preserves the desirable ones ... it isn't just opinions that get filtered out. It’s also data.
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Reading Lila – Insanity

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Insanity isn’t an ‘object’ of observation. It’s an alteration of observation itself ...
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Reading Lila – Ruthlessness

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Today we are living in an intellectual and technological paradise and a moral and social nightmare.
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Reading Lila – Hippies

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The intellect’s evolutionary purpose has never been to discover an ultimate meaning of the universe. That is a relatively recent fad. It’s historical purpose has been to help a society find food, detect danger, and defeat enemies.
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Reading Lila – Paradise

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Paradise was always at the end of some intellectual, technological ride, but you knew that when you got there paradise wouldn’t be there either.
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Reading Lila – Indians & Cowboys

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The moral values that were replacing the old European Victorian ones were the moral values of American Indians: kindness to children,maximum freedom, openness of speech, love of simplicity, affinity for nature.
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Reading Lila – Intellect

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When the social climate changes from preposterous social restraint of all intellect to a relative abandonment of all social patterns, the result is a hurricane of social forces.
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Reading Lila – World War I

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Biology beat death billions of years ago. Society beat biology thousands of years ago. But intellect and society are still fighting it out...
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Reading Lila – Celebrity

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You can measure the quality of a university by comparing the relative strengths of the celebrity patterns and the intellectual patterns.
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Reading Lila – Science

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If scientists had simply said Copernicus was right and Ptolemy was wrong without any willingness to further investigate the subject, then science would have simply become another minor religious creed.
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