Friday, July 02, 2010

Tom's Cosmological Bookclub

I'm having a second crack at Christopher Alexander's 4 volume cosmological magnum opus, The Nature of Order, this time trying to use book 4, The Luminous Ground, as the entry point.

One of the many hurdles to accessing this text is the price, now a steal on Amazon at $60.18, but you can also read it on Google Books, although from what I gather, the more you read it there the more pages will become hidden, so it is a kind of bizarre experience.

Anyhow chapters 8 - 11 sound like just what I need right now:

  • The Goal of Tears
  • Making Wholeness Heals the Maker
  • Pleasing Yourself
  • The Face of God

Here's an excerpt which won't disappear from chapter 8 regarding a school Alexander helped design:

And now, so many years later, when people are asked what is is about the school that means most to them, many say "the lake." It has become first on many people's list of things they like about the campus. What people originally told us, half ashamed, about their dreams of water and small paths where they could think about their lectures, was something real. Now that the lake is there, this real feeling has room to exist, and has become more real. The connection people expressed as an aspect of their inner selves was not an artificial concept but an inner reality which has been proven in practice.

This lake shows what I mean by "sadness." Of course, superficially, it is mainly happy. The ducks are swimming, the light is beautiful, people walk arm in arm around the lake. But if you compare it with an asphalt playground, the more usual core of a high school -- that asphalt does not allow your sadness to exist. It hardens your heart, you have to stifle your feelings, you can hardly allow yourself to feel anything. But this lake, even though it allows happiness to exist, is much closer to tears. If you have tears, you can feel them at the sight of the lake, or of the wind ruffles on the surface of the water. Its very existence in the school even allows your tears. You become the kind of person who can shed tears -- your tears are closer to the surface of your existence.

I am, of course, curious what Doyle might make of this.

1 comment:

doyle said...

I just came in from pulling out a few square, extending my garden, after wiling away most of the morning developing curriculum.

While doing so, I exposed all kinds of critters and colonies, a reminder, again, that while we think we know something, all kinds of conscious things are happening around us we cannot know.

And I got to thinking about mythology and the fantastic stories we create for ourselves, which still pale next to the edge of my garden.

And then I came in to rest, and read this.

And it fuck near knocked me over. Because it states the obvious so well. We only started playing with agriculture 12 thousand years ago or so, and now most of us don't even do that.

But the words fail me (again).

(Note to self: don't read Umberto Ecco and Tuttle SVC within a few hours of each other. Really. Don't.)