Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Core Experience

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:21 PM

"It never occurred to me that someone could so explicitly reject
the core experience of something like Chartres."

Christopher Alexander to Peter Eisenman, 1982

For a less dramatic core experience , see Hitchcock.


Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:14 AM

"If this weren't a public situation, I'd be tempted to get into this on a
psychiatric level." — Christopher Alexander to Peter Eisenman, 1982

Scene from the sequel to Unbreakable  and Split  

Not to mention elevation .

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Unfolding

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 9:20 AM

From the website of Richard P. Gabriel

" As part of my studies, I came up with a 'theory of poetry' 
based loosely on Christopher Alexander’s 'Nature of Order.' "
[The Alexander link is mine, not Gabriel’s.]

A phrase from this  journal a year ago today — "poetic order" —
links to the theory of Gabriel —

From Gabriel's "The Nature of Poetic Order" —

Positive Space

• Positive space is the characteristic of a center
that moves outward from itself, seemingly oozing life
rather than collapsing on itself
• An image that resonates is showing positive space
• A word that has many connotations that fit with the
other centers in the poem is showing positive space
• It is an expansion outward rather than a contraction
inward, and it shows that the poem is unfolding
in front of us and not dying

Related material —

From a post of April 26, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017

New Kids on a Block:

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:59 PM

A Midnight Special for Charles Wallace

Peter Block —

Old Kid on Peter Block —

See the remarks today of Harvard philosophy professor Sean D. Kelly
in The New York Times :

Alexander's "15 properties that create the wholeness and aliveness" —

This is the sort of bullshit that seems to go over well at Harvard.
See Christopher Alexander in this journal.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Philosophy and Architecture

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:45 PM

An originally French-Canadian professor of mathematics
at Villanova University reportedly died at 91 on Dec. 28, 2015.

See a eulogy from Legacy.com.

See also The French Mathematician  and the following image,
related to the architectural philosophy of Christopher Alexander,
from this journal on the above date.

Related material:

Remarks on philosophy and architecture at Villanova.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Objective Quality

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:26 AM

Software writer Richard P. Gabriel describes some work of design
philosopher Christopher Alexander in the 1960's at Harvard:

A more interesting account of these 35 structures:

"It is commonly known that there is a bijection between
the 35 unordered triples of a 7-set [i.e., the 35 partitions
of an 8-set into two 4-sets] and the 35 lines of PG(3,2)
such that lines intersect if and only if the corresponding
triples have exactly one element in common."
— "Generalized Polygons and Semipartial Geometries,"
by F. De Clerck, J. A. Thas, and H. Van Maldeghem,
April 1996 minicourse, example 5 on page 6.

For some context, see Eightfold Geometry by Steven H. Cullinane.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 3:01 PM

"Why don't you come with me, little girl,
on a magic carpet ride?" — Steppenwolf lyrics

Related material for fans of Christopher Alexander
(see previous post) — "The 'Life' of a Carpet."

“The Quality Without a Name”

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 8:00 AM

The title phrase, paraphrased without quotes in
the previous post, is from Christopher Alexander’s book
The Timeless Way of Building  (Oxford University Press, 1979).

A quote from the publisher:

“Now, at last, there is a coherent theory
which describes in modern terms
an architecture as ancient as
human society itself.”

Three paragraphs from the book (pp. xiii-xiv):

19. Within this process, every individual act
of building is a process in which space gets
differentiated. It is not a process of addition,
in which preformed parts are combined to
create a whole, but a process of unfolding,
like the evolution of an embryo, in which
the whole precedes the parts, and actualy
gives birth to then, by splitting.

20. The process of unfolding goes step by step,
one pattern at a time. Each step brings just one
pattern to life; and the intensity of the result
depends on the intensity of each one of these
individual steps.

21. From a sequence of these individual patterns,
whole buildings with the character of nature
will form themselves within your thoughts,
as easily as sentences.

Compare to, and contrast with, these illustrations of “Boolean space”:

(See also similar illustrations from Berkeley and Purdue.)

Detail of the above image —

Note the “unfolding,” as Christopher Alexander would have it.

These “Boolean” spaces of 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 points
are also Galois  spaces.  See the diamond theorem —

Sunday, February 8, 2004

Sunday February 8, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 2:00 PM

The Quality of Diamond

On February 3, 2004, archivist and abstract painter Ward Jackson died at 75.  From today’s New York Times:

“Inspired by painters like Piet Mondrian and Josef Albers, Mr. Jackson made austere, hard-edged geometric compositions, typically on diamond-shaped canvases.”

On a 2003 exhibit by Pablo Helguera that included Mr. Jackson:

Parallel Lives

Parallel Lives recounts and recontextualizes real episodes from the lives of five disparate individuals including Florence Foster Jenkins, arguably the world’s worst opera singer; Giulio Camillo, a Renaissance mystic who aimed to build a memory container for all things; Friedrich Froebel, the inventor of the kindergarten education system, the members of the last existing Shaker community, and Ward Jackson, the lifelong archivist of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Parallel Lives pays homage to Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) and his system of philosophical hermeneutics built through an exploration of historicity, language, and art. This exhibition, which draws its title from the classic work by Plutarch, is a project that explores biography as a medium, drawing from the earlier innovation of the biographical practice in works like Marcel Schwob’s “Imaginary Lives” (1896) and John Aubrey’s “Brief Lives” (1681). Through display means, the project blends the lives of these individuals into one basic story, visually stating the relationship between individualism and society as best summarized by Gadamer’s famous phrase: “we all are others, and we all are a self.”

On February 3, the day that Jackson died, there were five different log24.net entries:

  1. The Quality with No Name 
  2. Speaking Globally
  3. Lila
  4. Theory of Design
  5. Retiring Faculty.

Parallels with the Helguera exhibit:

Florence Foster Jenkins: Janet Jackson in (2) above.

Giulio Camillo: Myself as compiler of the synchronistic excerpts in (5).

Friedrich Froebel: David Wade in (4).

The last Shakers: Christopher Alexander and his acolytes in (1).

Ward Jackson: On Feb. 3, Jackson became a permanent part of Quality — i.e., Reality — itself, as described in (3).

Some thoughts of Hans-Georg Gadamer
relevant to Jackson’s death:

Gadamer, Art, and Play

by G.T. Karnezis

The pleasure it [art] elicits “is the joy of knowledge.” It does not operate as an enchantment but “a transformation into the true.” Art, then, would seem to be an essentializing agent insofar as it reveals what is essential. Gadamer asks us to see reality as a horizon of “still undecided possibilities,” of unfulfilled expectations, of contingency. If, in a particular case, however, “a meaningful whole completes and fulfills itself in reality,” it is like a drama. If someone sees the whole of reality as a closed circle of meaning” he will be able to speak “of the comedy and tragedy of life” (genres becoming ways of conceiving reality). In such cases where reality “is understood as a play, there emerges the reality of what play is, which we call the play of art.” As such, art is a realization: “By means of it everyone recognizes that that is how things are.” Reality, in this viewpoint, is what has not been transformed. Art is defined as “the raising up of this reality to its truth.”

As noted in entry (3) above
on the day that Jackson died,

“All the world’s a stage.”

William Shakespeare

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Tuesday February 3, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:11 AM

The Quality with No Name

And what is good, Phædrus,
and what is not good…
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

— Epigraph to
   Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance

Brad Appleton discusses a phrase of Christopher Alexander:

“The ‘Quality Without A Name‘ (abbreviated as the acronym QWAN) is the quality that imparts incommunicable beauty and immeasurable value to a structure….

Alexander proposes the existence of an objective quality of aesthetic beauty that is universally recognizable. He claims there are certain timeless attributes and properties which are considered beautiful and aesthetically pleasing to all people in all cultures (not just ‘in the eye of the beholder’). It is these fundamental properties which combine to generate the QWAN….”

See, too, The Alexander-Pirsig Connection.

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