“I found that a man can rise from the normal to a higher level of consciousness by a continuous biological process, as regular as any other activity of the body, and that at no stage is it necessary or even desirable for him either to neglect his flesh or to deny a place to the human feelings in his heart.”
Gopi Krishna

Kundalini – The Evolutionary Energy in Man

Christopher Alexander on Cars in Neighborhoods

n

… though the subject of a neighborhood is of lesser interest to me …this is a wonderful example of direct reasoning and priorities … and this is just one example … is it any wonder that our sense of community has been eroded … and the funny thing is that I too always appreciated the spacious roads and organized parking lots … and I too rarely walked anywhere … except to and from my car … which makes me wonder how we have also eroded our sense of like … replacing wholeness with superficial comforts … and then searching and searching … and not finding a sense of wholeness

“… A neighborhood should be a place where you would rather walk than drive your car, where people feel ree to walk, meet, enjoy themselves, a place where children can play safely almost anywhere; …

In a neighborhood modified by a living process, the car must therefore be made to play second fiddle to the pedestrian … It is convenient, the car can reach almost every house, almost every workshop, but it is not allowed to dominate the situation, nor to create conditions which threaten the well-being of the pedestrian world …

To achieve this we give in the unfolding process, priority to the process that established the pedestrian structure, and we expect this … to be coherent, dominated by local symmetries which form the land into nice pieces …

… The process of setting in parking, lanes for cars … comes later. And we expect that the paths for cars will be somewhat tortured. It makes the car slow down when it is in the neighborhood. The car can easily negotiate bends, curves, etc. On the other hand, for the pedestrian, unless there are views, and a coherent sense of the space, the pedestrian world will not easily be grasped. So (contrary to most 20th-century thinking) the car si given irregular streets and parking, while the pedestrian is pampered, made to feel kind, allowed to feel at home.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

 

Posted in AltEco, Community, Design, Expanding, inside, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Unconventional Wisdom

n

…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 I ever have guessed, when I began working with the people of Chikusadai in Japan, that they would, above all, revere the insects, that they wanted a world where insects – and above all cicadas – would be safe – because they felt that in such a world, once the insects are all right, then they, the people themselves – would be all right too …

No outsider can do justice to these human phenomena. Usually, they can be described only from inside by the people who are part of them …

When people think about this, they CAN articulate it. They know what is needed to give them – for their place – surroundings in which life can be lived. And when they dream of a world, imagined by people for themselves, they come closer to a life which grants true freedom …

When people are given the freedom to speak truly about their lives, they have an unconventional wisdom, an idiosyncratic quality, which brings forth unique centers, unique living structure in each situation. That is what we mean by their culture or their ‘way’. It is a shared vision … not part of the conventional professional wisdom of architects and planners …

It is this, which receives expression through the medium of a collective pattern language. It celebrates human uniqueness, the enormous variety of human effort, human desire, human aspiration.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

 

Posted in AltEco, Community, Design, Expanding, inside, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Communal Vision

n

… 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 you ask me how to get the deepest stuff from people, the stuff which matters most, I would not have them meet all together, under conditions of imagined communality. I would rather talk quietly, to one person at a time, drawing from each individual his, her, their most important feelings, and their most authentic visions …

Once one reaches that level of depth, what is being said is then rarely idiosyncratic or private. It moves from that realm, enters a new realm of psychology, reality of feeling, becomes something which will raise a deep effect in all of us. At least, that is my experience.

… I think this work has to be done by an architect. Or, if you like, an architect-psychiatrist. A person, anyway, who cares about people, who cares about the real forces flowing in people, the real visions which people have in them, who loves those visions, and who is then willing to write those visions down, step by step, one by one, in the form of a communal language which can be used and shared by everyone in that community.

… A drawing is too monolithic; even when it contains separable elements, it is much harder to take its elements apart or to discuss them separately. But with a picture made of words, you can discuss the elements one by one throw some out when they don’t work, improve them, work gradually to a proper understanding and agreement based on debate and refinement.

… Have someone … who is not concerned to impose an egocentric image on the community – coordinating the work of putting this language together, so that it can be made coherent and useful – and, if possible, poetic.

Do all this with careful awareness of deep morphology so that … the system of patterns and sequences becomes generative, capable of conjuring up a whole geometric world when it is let loose.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

 

Posted in AltEco, Community, Design, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Unfolding Unanimity

n

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 seventies and eighties of the last century, the then prevailing rhetoric of pluralism tried to persuade us that because we are ll different, we live in a world of competing interests, and tha unanimity is not available or reachable. Yet the language of “interests” “conflicts” and “compromise” … came chiefly from the special interests of particular players who want to do something one-side – usually to do with money. It is these one-sided interests which have to be balanced , or negotiated – in my view, because they are not quite legitimate in the first place.

Ordinary people, who are not pushing a special economic interest, rarely have such profound conflicts. The reality of daily life … is largely shared in its deeper aspects, and remarkably uniform …

The process of taking individual generic patterns one by one, getting them right in isolation, then gradually adding them to a “bank” of good patterns, is quite different from the process that used to be followed in the late 20th century community design  … an architect enters the community and gathers people around, then people draw together on a huge piece of paper … all trying to put their ideas and visions into the process. This design charrette is intended to create communal agreement, and a communal vision …

The problem is, that this charrette procedure creates an illusion of communality and of understanding without necessarily creating the real thing: true understanding …

At its worst, the practice of design charrettes is a kind of political scam which is meant to create the sensation or impression of cooperation and collective work – but actually does not. This rather postmodern approach, in which it is the image of what si going on that matters, not the reality can be disastrous …

.. A drawing is not a good medium for a process, which requires serious and mature reflection, one item at a time … [only then] people can arrive at things which are then mutually satisfying, realistic, a genuine part of their vision of the world. “

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

 

 

Posted in AltEco, Community, Design, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Gardens

n

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 to us as orderly and uncontrollable, wild and cultivated, dispassionate and unkempt … it is in gardens, above all, that most of us have an opportuity to express it an an ordinary level, to try it, practice it

a garden is a structure … which creates and contains living centers … it needs to be understood as an extension of the building … The exterior structure is as vital a part of the structure of the whole, as the building … you cannot forget it, or reduce it, without severely damaging the whole. This exterior structure is what brings life to the world

Oddly, the wildness of an unfolded garden does not become most natural without support. It becomes most vivid, when supported by a delicate system of small walls, edges, terraces .. which refer to centers that are in the land and have been formed by structures built before … The loosely, carefully made centers … let loose, what is seeking to happen there, as if of its own accord …

It is the least constrained part of our environment, the place where each of us is most free to do what we want. So we can express ourselves; we can have our heart’s desire; we really can do what we WANT to do …

To get the wild true garden by unfolding, all we have to do, really, is what every good gardener does. Like a painter placing one color at a time, most carefully, giving each precious drop of color its life, we must pay attention to each place, flower by flower, bush by bush, one bit at a time, and sk what its character is …

Of course, I am concerned with sunshine and shade, water, drainage, soil condition … But … in making a living world, we must above all be concerned with centers. Centers govern life. The fundamental process asks us again and again to see, feel the centers latent in the land

The beat of informality against the discipline of geometric order, can led to the most splendid qualities … the relation of the cultivated to the wild … Allow the mess, where it wants to be, as a natural counterpart to the cultivated and pruned and tamed.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

 

Posted in AltEco, Design, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on One Thing at a Time

n

“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 life, will come into being there”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

Posted in Design, Expanding, inside, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Structural Engineering … of Space and Solid

n

“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 often forgotten that a building is, above all, a load-bearing structure. The most significant thing about what we call a buildins is that it is a disposition of material weighing several hundred or several thousand tons. The question is, how do we arrange these thousands of tons to make something with powerful sense, with psychic force?

To do it, we essentially have to think of the structure as big and the space as small. The structure is made of big and massive members … And the building will be beautiful , or not, according to the pattern of these members in three dimensions …

Structural mass is almost always distributed with rhythm …

The process of creating the structure consists mainly of work we do in the centers, trying to make them stronger and more intense. The process of making the centers intense, and the process of making the structure powerful and able to withstand forces, are the essence of the thing. We master the art of making this structure ar that moment when we see the system of load-bearing elements (structure) and the system of rooms (spatial centers) as one and the same problem …

This is virtually pure art. It is not, as peoeple sometimes like to say, a mixture of practical and art. It is pure art.

… what the fundamental process does to make a building beautiful, is to make the structure part and parcel of the space … The structural elements form a composition in their own right, as do the spaces: two beautiful systems of centers, each with its own weight and substance, each interlocked and interdependent with the other.

So, a good building, in the end, is a dense packing of pure pattern in three dimensions, in which every piece, every part, is positive. This is not so easy to achieve …

What is most remarkable of all, is that the structure which is created by a feeling for centers and by a conscious and deliberate aim towards the feeling of the whole, will often turn out to be an efficient structure … engineering structure … efficient, stable, well behaved, coherent … Why this happens is a deep matter, too difficult to analyze here. “

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

 

Posted in Design, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Addiction: a crisis of disconnection

n

“… the path out of unhealthy bonds is to form healthy bonds …

for too long we’ve talked only about individual recovery from addiction

but we need now to talk about social recovery …”

via Esko Kipli

Posted in AltEco, Intake, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Building Volumes

n

… 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 to understand throughout the volume-creating processes, is that IT IS THE LAND WHICH MATTERS. The purpose of the buildings is to bring life to the land. The building volumes are the tools with which we undertake this task. This is a radical point of view. It puts the building in a humble position making it a tool, the clay from which we mold the pace. But it is the land and its space, as they become activated by this clay, which really matter.

… It is remarkable to realize that it is this uncompromising attitude of attention to the land which also makes the building volumes subtle and beautiful. That is truly surprising. The land itself, and our love for it, is enough to give the actual building volumes their shape …

Like a person who, in being helpful, becomes more graceful, more beautiful as a person, the building volumes become beautiful as they help the land.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

 

Posted in AltEco, Design, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Eyes of Lovers

n

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, still we love what is best in it. And then, as lovers of it, we have to imagine that by putting a building there, we can make the place better. This is often hard to imagine. In a natural landscape, is it really possible that the bushes, the buttercups, the small blue flowers on the hedge are made better by putting a building somewhere? But I persist … I begin to see a glimpse of the way that the whole land might become better if I put a building there … I get a glimmer of an idea that this land can actually be improved, made better …”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

 

Posted in AltEco, Design, Expanding, inside, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Feeling of Materials

n

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 of us know much about it … not substantial knowledge that we can relate to with any depth. However it is clear that the metal roof would have been a much less involved roof … I chose it because it was cheap and easy for me to build. The choice to go with clay tiles was much more demanding (the roof structure had to be changed / reinforced) and more involved … and in the end not that much more expensive. I also felt, and still feel that a green roof was the most “living” option … but it felt beyond my capacity when the buld was taking place.

“The feeling of a material does not depend on what it is – it depends on how it is handled.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

Posted in AltEco, Design, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Program Budgeting

n

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 budgets:

“Money is the lifeblood of every building. How it is garnered and spent determines the outcome and the artistic life and soul of the finished building. It is the overall global pattern of expenditure which controls the way feeling can occur,because it is this which controls the overall pattern of material, in quantity and quality …

… starting with the money, and allowing the overview of money to guide the process every day and at every stage of work, help unfolding, because it is only in this procedural atmosphere that one truly has a grasp of the whole at every stage.

… In program budgeting, a cost plan is made starting even before design begins. This cost plan is an assignment of budget amounts allocated to different categories of work. To start with the cost plan is made intuitively, to capture how much one wants to spend in these categories.

… One guesses and can feel the result of spending 14% on foundations, 22% on roof structure, etc. The purpose is to find a set of numbers which are realistic, and yet create the best possible depth of feeling that can be attained within the given budget envelope. For a team with experience, numbers like these translate directly and intuitively into a sense fo how the building will turn out …

Of course the allocations in the first cost plan are subsequently tested and modified continually, as the work goes forward …

The assumption throughout is that the numbers will remain within the framework set. What floats is the design, not the price. One assumes that “something” can always be done for any sum suggested, and the subcontractors and general manager must make do with that so as not to disturb the whole – the whole, in this instance, being the overall budget distribution that has been allocated in the cost plan.

Thus, as the building design develops, each subcontractor … instead of being show the drawings and asked to bid the work, he is told the sum allocated, and asked what he can do that is best for the project within that sum of money.

… the benchmark of the process is that the allocation which has been made gives the failsafe distribution: in the best interest of the building overall, and it is unwise for any one operation to be allowed to drive it out of balance, merely because something has been drawn or specified, which is expensive. Rather, one takes the attitude, let this allocated amount be fixed, and – unless exceptional conditions dictate otherwise – whatever can be done for that amount will serve the project well. “

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

Posted in AltEco, Design, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Concentration (dharana)

n

“… 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 get confirmation, ad unity of judgement, it is nto something anyone can do.  The reason is that it takes quite a lot of concentration t keep on thinking about the real situation … one has constantly to realize that it is an experiment … and an experiment about the evolving design, which does not exist yet. That takes experience, and concentration. But it is possible, and it is tremendously useful. After doing it, one feels more certain about the design, and experience has shown often that this confidence is reliable. After such experiments, the real places which result do have – nearly always – the right feeling, a wonderful feeling. When done right, there is carry-over from the experiment to the real thing one builds.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

Posted in Design, Meditation, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside, Yoga | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Belonging

n

“… 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 people are able to feel happy. They can be themselves, more easily. They are more free – free in spirit, free in their emotions.

And … that on the contrary, within the dead structure we have become used to as the normal 20th-21st-century environment, this freedom, this blissful state, is almost unattainable.

… What is the character of the kind of world where we experience emotional possession of the places we are in? It is a world in which the find adaptation between people and their buildings and gardens and streets is so subtle, goes so deeply to the core of human experience, that the people who then live and work and play in that environment feel as if they belong there, as if it belongs to them, as if they are a part of it, as if, like an old shoe, it is completely and utterly theirs.

… Historically, this quality … came about as a result of a long process – often years, even centuries long … But in our era, the opportunity for this very long time span is less available. We live in a time where things move quickly, where society evolves at a very great speed, where people are highly mobile, where things change at a great speed … we must invent new kinds of process which can [created belongingness] … in some new form, and by different means…

… The true landscape of architecture … is that arrangement of materials, windows, seats, roofs … which, as nearly as possible, helps us arrive at this blissful state. It is generated by the free application of a living adaptive process.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

Posted in AltEco, Design, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Freshness

n

“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 all, lies in the adaptive response of each new development in the system to the previous existing state …

… Although the adaptive sequences are highly ordered, and seem predefined, because they define steps and transformations in a disciplines sequence, it is the character of these sequences to help the user, the artist, the builder RESPOND to what is there, rather than to IMPOSE on what is there. And this too, stands as the foundation of any world where we experience true belonging. It cannot be achieved by a mechanical framework,by any mechanical system, nor by any stereotyped or stylistic response.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 3: A Vision of a Living World

Posted in AltEco, Design, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 3, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Dutch Police Training Eagles to Take Down Drones

n

I have a feeling that given how surreal reality is becoming … that telling jokes its going to be more difficult in the future.

source

Posted in Intake, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Yanis Varoufakis in Conversation and Democracy and Europe

n

(the conversation is with Gerardo Pisarello, Barcelona’s First Deputy Mayor).

It’s a good talk … but over-reaching. When Varoufakis starts to lay out his “4 stage plan” I noticed how the energy and clarity and relevancy (applicability) of his ideas faded. It is a good example of ambitious thinking that attempts to reach out too far into an unknown future. An alternative could be a step-by-small-step unfolding living process.

I very much agree with the first step “transparency”. I stronly disagree with the mentality of “demanding it” … I believe it to be pointless. Those from whom we want/expect transparency are comfortable without it. Why would they change that and what leverage can be used to “demand” it of them? The word “demand” speaks to me of a forceful approach. What if it was possible to create transparency while demonstrating to “the powers that be” that it is actually a desirable change for them to embrace?

Posted in AltEco, Greece, Intake, Oameni, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

There goes the speed of light!?

n

source

“… measurements taken over three years showed neutrinos pumped from CERN near Geneva to Gran Sasso in Italy had arrived 60 nanoseconds quicker than light would have done.”

… cute scientists struggling

what if this isn’t a “speed of light issue” but another hint that the constants of nature are not as constant as we want them to be?

Posted in Intake, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Christopher Alexander on Feeling as Criterion and Instrument

n

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 that people would have a self awareness, a knowledge of reality and wholeness as it is, quite different from the ignorance of inner feeling we came to accept as normal in the 20th-century.

The idea that feeling itself can become both criterion and instrument – that what is done, no matter how large or how small, can become personal, connected to the personal self of all human beings – and that this process then opens the door to a new form of society.

… Of course, there are hundreds of thousands of specific social processes which may have the ability to increase the life of the whole. Certainly, I am not insisting that there is any one super process, or only one kind of viable process. Rather, I am specifically insisting  that there is only one class of living processes – albeit a very large class indeed – and that any particular process must, if it is to be a good one, belong to this class.

… By inventing and re-inventing version of the fundamental process in appropriate social forms, and applying these forms of process to all acts of making and building and repairing, this worldwide operation then contains within itself, the seeds or core of the biological unfolding process that occurs in nature, now applied to human society.

A process, like the process of biology, which is attuned to human nature, makes more sense of human feeling and human common sense … you move forward in small, tiny steps. Each step accomplishes something concrete and good – oe center at a time. Each step is taken forward, judged bu the impact it has on the whole. We are continuously evaluating the whole for its deep feeling, for its usefulness, for the support it gives to human experience.

… The small, step-by-step process … is also the most satisfying, the most nourishing – because it creates, at each step, something that makes us – the makers – feel more wholesome, something that makes us feel alive while we are doing it … And … a similar healing effect takes place in the whole. Since it is the whole we are always looking to at each step, the whole which is transformed and made to have a deeper feeling, a lovely feeling consistent with everyday longings – then the whole … will in the end serve us, give us a kind of world which is the world in which we want to live.”

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

 

Posted in AltEco, Design, Expanding, inside, Nature of Order, Nature of Order Book 2, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Bitcoin experiment crashes into the cliffs of human nature

n

One of the core developers of Bitcoin has left the project and written extensively about how it has unfolded (via Matt Mullenweg). I felt relief when I read this.

I am uncomfortable with Bitcoin. I have done some inquiry into its nature and I believe it is in some ways an interesting experiment. But I have and continue to feel that one of its greatests faults is that it is designed to bypass the need for trust … if we are going to move into sustainable communal future we are going to need to learn to trust (ourselves and others), to nourish trust, to create human processes that uncover and heal mistrust … we are going to need technologies that enable us to build trust … not to bypass the need for it.

The above mentioned article demonstrates how diverse and subtly related human processes have undermined the Bitcoin effort. To me this seemed inevitable. The techological challenges Bitcoin faced are, in my mind, correlated to faults in its inception.

 

 

Posted in AltEco, Intake, Money, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment