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#2268 - Thursday, September 22, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz


 

 

This issue features an excerpt from The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and The Nature of the Universe, Book Four: The Luminous Ground, by Christopher Alexander. The link at Amazon.com is http://snipurl.com/hw27

The book is profusely illustrated with color plates. I took similar images of Chartres that were found using Googe Images: http://snipurl.com/hw2b

To get some background on Alexander, here's a good New York Times book review: http://snipurl.com/hw2g. Here's a paragraph from it: 

[quote] An unclassifiable work, ''The Nature of Order'' offers the results of his quest to figure out what underlying principles make his patterns work. ... Clearly influenced by Taoism, Alexander unabashedly uses words like ''wholeness''and complains of the prevailing Cartesian ''mechanistic'' view of the universe. ''The Nature of Order'' has vast ambitions; it floats a hypothesis that Alexander hopes will lead to ''a new view of space and matter'' and to a different conception of ''the fundamentals of the way the world is made.'' This theory, very crudely summarized, would be based on the understanding that order is inherent in space and systems and that they are more or less ''alive'' based on the quality of the order they manifest. [end of quotation]

In the excerpt below, the terms, "I-like centers", "living centers", "beings", refer to centers of order that are alive, that resonate with the Self, the I, or the "I Am." We're aware of such centers all the time. An example would have to do with parts of a city. A typical city has a new, uninspired, soul-less, high rise or aluminum sided section, and somewhere an old town characterized by simplicity, humanity, artistry, quality, a sense of timelessness, and openness to possibilities of being human. The old town would be said to possess many "living centers." This comparison could be made on any scale. Set a Heinz ketchup bottle and a salt shaker from an old time diner next to each other, and which has more "I-like centers"? Alexander made a study of such comparisons in one of his other books.Or place Nisargadatta Maharaj's photo alongside Jerry Falwell's, and you'll get the same idea.

Below, I've set some photographs alongside each other. Which of each pair "captures the human heart" in its fullest sense, with all imaginable possibilites: joy, sadness, life, death, wild movement, stillness, all modes and expressions; and which is stifled, limited, sucked of full life?

--Jerry

P.S. Lots of color photos in this issue. If you can't see them, sometime Sunday this issue will be uploaded to http://nonduality.com/hl2268.htm.


 

Which photo touches your true nature?

 

 


 

 

 

You may prefer to live in the high rises in the background, but which part of town resonates with your reality, the new or the old? Is there more life in a high rise balcony or in bicylce wheels, aging walls and signage, vegetables in a basket, and randomly hung clothes which bring even the air to life?

 

 

     

 

Guess which 80% of people feel has more life or "I-centers"? (The salt and pepper shakers are considered one item.) The answer is at the end of this post. Try to view the structurs themselves without considering memories associated with them.

 

 


 

 

Excerpt from The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and The Nature of the Universe, Book Four: The Luminous Ground, by Christopher Alexander.

 

7 / LOOKING AT CHARTRES

 

Let us now look at a building which is composed nearly completel y of I-like centers. I have 200 slides of Chartres, a few of them shown here. To go through them all, one after another, all 200, is a stunning experience. They show that place, that building, is a multitude -- truly a fantastic multitude -- of millions upon millions of living centers, all worked through, established, shaped, as pictures of the "I." Living centers, existing everywhere, are virtually the only things that happen there.

 

In this building you see the level of exceptional life that can be created in space. It is not overlaid by too much abstract thought. It is a beautiful, undying construction -- ultimately all ornament in structure -- in which the properties create life innocently, in centers and in which the centers themselves are multiplied, each one made deeper by the next.

 

The blue glass in the windows, the colored light: Is this not a question of material, technique? I have heard it said that we no longer know how to make such a blue glass. Yes, but even in this very important case, it is the life in the centers which makes the blue. These glass makers knew how to put just such a blue that the blue itself is so intense, it captures my soul when I look at it, I am deeply engaged, only by the blue itself -- so the makers of that glass worked for years and years just to learn how to make a tiny piece of glass which has this power to capture the human heart, to make me feel. That is a living center. Each living center has that power, above all.

 

There is little doubt, I think, that the makers of Chartres consciously created a structure filled with beings. When we examine the church, and try to count the living centers, there are hundreds of beings even in a few inches or feet of glass and stone, millions of living centers in a single bay, and perhaps as many as a hundred million in the building as a whole. Each one is so intense that it captures me, touches me. The life of the building, and its life as a center, is this fact.

 

 

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Here are photos of Chartres, but they are taked from Google Images and not from the book: The quotations are Alexander's descriptions of identical or very similar plates in his book:

 

 

Chartres -: the being on the rock, in which each tower and spire is a being, too.

 Christopher Alexander writes: "The folds of cloth are pictures of the 'I.' ... The eyes and beard are I-like beings too."

 

 "Every piece of stone and every piece of glass is a picture of the 'I.' Of all the parts of Chartres, it is perhaps here where the beings are most explicit: in the jeweled lights of the south window."

 

 

  

 "These glass makers knew how to put just such a blue that the blue itself is so intense, it captures my soul when I look at it, I am deeply engaged, only by the blue itself "

 

 

~ ~ ~

 

 

The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and The Nature of the Universe, Book Four: The Luminous Ground, by Christopher Alexander. http://snipurl.com/hw27. Expensive for a book, cheap for a work of art. If you like this issue of the Highlights, multiply it by a thousand or so and you'll have an idea of what the book is like. A nice investment.

 

80% felt the salt shaker had more life.

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