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July 05, 2003

The Nature of Order, Now

Friedrich --

FYI, Volume One of Christopher Alexander's much-anticipated, much-delayed magnum opus The Nature of Order is finally available. This Blowhard is, as you know, a big fan, and imagines that anyone intrigued by our occasional discussions about architecture and cities -- or who found our interviews with Alexander's colleague Nikos Salingaros provocative (they begin here) -- will enjoy the book too. Whether Alexander's assertions and arguments finally convince as science -- which is the main goal of the book -- I'm certainly not qualified to say. But, just between you and me, I don't care that much, because a good 80% of what Alexander thinks and writes I find completely convincing on a human basis; his view of art is both commonsensical yet compatible with many people's intuitions about beauty and what its existence may imply about the existence of a spiritual dimension. 80%! That's pretty damn good. And, in any case, the book is a staggering thing, argued accessibly and directly but in searching depth, as well as beautifully illustrated and produced. Plus, there's always the fun of wrestling with the question, Christopher Alexander: greatest art-thought genius of the age? Or loony Messiah wannabe?

It's a pricey volume, and if you aren't in the mood to impoverish yourself, you can explore Alexander's thinking and approach online at his Pattern Language site here. But if you've got a few spare bucks available and look forward to doing some reading that'll give your mind a major shake 'n' bake, go for the book. Amazon offers a bit of a price break here.



posted by Michael at July 5, 2003


Are you sure about the link to Amazon?

Posted by: David Sucher on July 5, 2003 07:41 PM

Oops, should work now. Thanks for the catch, David.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 5, 2003 08:55 PM

That's not impoverishing if you're used to buying computer books! I think after recovering from our upcoming move I'll have to snag a copy.

Posted by: David Mercer on July 6, 2003 12:40 PM

Bravo for your support of Alexander, a strange, elegant, passionate, and hugely influential if unappreciated thinker/writer. Intriguingly, he enjoys a huge footprint today among computer programmers, who see in his notion of a "pattern language" a metaphor for writing more elegant code, that which reflects the "timeless way of building" he writes of. Such folks as Will Wright (creator of the Sims) generously concedes his debt to Alexander, while folks such as Bill Joy of Sun are also admitted fans.

To me the question of science/not science doesn't matter so much. His earlier books straddle the area between rigid rules (citing the height of a connecting wall) and general principles for creating more natural spaces witih grace. They aren't instruction manuals, but simple and graceful guides that help you see, and think, with fresh eyes.

Posted by: Tom Ehrenfeld on August 31, 2003 10:34 PM

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