In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Photography and Painting
  2. Free Reads -- Fred Reed
  3. Free Reads -- Alexandra Ceely
  4. Investigative Reporting
  5. Milton Glaser on art
  6. Writing for a Living
  7. Short Stuff
  8. Hudson River School, Part II
  9. PBS Responses
  10. American Art, All Wild and Wooly

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

Friday, December 13, 2002

Photography and Painting
Michael— Steve Sailer, in a comment on my posting “The Hudson River School, Part II” suggested that readers who enjoy 19th century landscape painting, might well get a kick out of the mountain photographs of Galen Rowell. Mr. Rowell and his photographer wife, Barbara Cushman Rowell, tragically died in a plane accident this last August, but they left behind hundreds of thousands of photographs. Here is one that set me musing about the whole art/nature who-is-imitating-who question. G. Rowell, Untitled (AA957), date unknown This image immediately reminded me of one of my favorite landscapes, “Large Enclosure” (by one of my favorite artists, Caspar David Friedrich.) While these images are actually responses to two very different landscapes, the parallels are too numerous to ignore (for me, anyway): the crack-of-dawn lighting, the vertical dark oblong masses pushing up above the horizon, the compositional scheme of two “mirrored” arcs in place of a simple horizon line, one pointing down and enclosing the earth and one pointing up to enclose the sky, the patchy foreground “immersed” in water or mist, etc. Of course, I have no idea if Mr. Rowell, about whom I know almost nothing, ever saw the C. D. Friedrich painting. But assuming he did, it gets me wondering: does the photograph then serve to “document” the objectivity of the artist’s vision? ("See, this isn't a fantasy, this is the way it REALLY LOOKS!") Or has the photographer been so taken with the artist’s “subjective” image that he makes choices to deliberately override the so-called objectivity of the camera? ("Wouldn't it be cool to arrange things so my photograph will look like a famous old painting?") C. D. Friedrich, Large Enclosure, 1832 Other photographs on Mr. Rowell’s website, which you can visit here, got me to pondering your comment on the “borderline overripe palette” of Frederick Church. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a painting with color effects as strong as those common in nature photography. Does that mean painters are too timid with color? Or that photographers deliberately use the technical limitations or effects of photography to pander to our lascivious desire for ever-more voluptuous color effects? Or that painters using restrained colors are really playing it smart, because they know our visual memory corrects for over-saturated color (that's why green trees in the sunset--which aren't really green, but brown--still look green) and this mentally corrected vision is what they want to replicate? Or...? Interesting questions which I’ve never been able to fully resolve. Any thoughts? Cheers, Friedrich... posted by Friedrich at December 13, 2002 | perma-link | (25) comments

Free Reads -- Fred Reed
Friedrich -- However inclined I may be to libertarianism, I still can't help wincing at a lot of what tends to happen when business and money values trump all others. Economic efficiency is a good thing in many cases -- but in all cases? Where family life is concerned? Where friends are concerned? Where art is concerned? And I do know that libertarianism isn't just about economic efficiency, and yes, I'm all for freedom and choice. But isn't it remarkable how often arguments made in the name of libertarianism turn out to really concern economic efficiency? Hmmmm. Given my suspicion that I'm not alone in wondering about this kind of thing, I also wonder: Why are so many libertarians such eager-beaver, everything's-always-for-the-better-when-the-market-takes-over, Pangloss types? Optimism is good; idiotic optimism is idiotic. It might be a sensible and necessary thing to argue that some things that are ugly (strip malls, etc) can be a sign of economic vitality. But it's absurd to argue that blatantly ugly things aren't ugly. (Although, come to think of it, much of the official -- ie., avant-garde -- art world has been getting away with this for years.) But there are some ugly things that everyone knows are ugly. Ask random people if they'd ever, given a choice, choose to live or work in a strip mall. Despite this, some libertarians continue to insist on arguing that pigs are gazelles. After all, they have good scientific proof, or at least a wonderful theory, that predicts that even if the pig's looking a trifle piggy today, by tomorrow it'll be a thing of wealth, elegance, etc. Meanwhile, anyone who happens to be listening takes a good look, thinks, "That's a pig if I ever saw one," and leaves. So a few questions arise: do the hyper libertarians know they look like, and are behaving like, aliens? Perhaps they are aliens -- or possibly Arizona used-car salesmen. If this is indeed what they are (aliens/used-car salesman), why do they think anyone else would ever trust them, or their arguments? I mean, don't they have any audience sense? Of course, there's always the chance that the hard-core libertarians don't actually want to win people over -- that what they really enjoy is hanging with fellow-aliens and griping about what irrational idiots the rest of us are. I say all this as someone whose temperament tends to anti-statism, or at least strongly-suspicious-of-statism. It also tends, however, to adore friendship, love, art, and beauty. A long prologue to a link -- Fred Reed, having some fun with freedom and how it so often seems to play out, here. Sample passage: [Wal-Mart} puts most of the stores in the country seat out of business. With them go the restaurants, which no longer have the walk-by traffic previously generated by the stores. With the restaurants goes the sense of community that flourishes in a town with eateries and stores and a town square. But this is granola philosophy, appealing only to meddlesome lefties.... posted by Michael at December 13, 2002 | perma-link | (16) comments

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Free Reads -- Alexandra Ceely
Friedrich -- Alexandra Ceely, who runs Out of Lascaux (here), has been on a cultureblogging tear, showing how to do it with class. She reflects about working as a kind of teacher's assistant, muses about how reading books as an adult is different than it is when you're a kid, and provides a first-class illustrated introduction to the Candle Light Painters. De La Tour wasn't alone -- who knew? She also reminisces about visiting Cairo -- not a happy experience, apparently. Sample passage: My advice about seeing Egypt: if you want to see pyramids, go to Vegas. If you want to see the tombs of Saqqhara, go to the Field Museum in Chicago. They have an exact replica of the paintings and carvings. So exact, I stepped inside and realized I had been there before. I still enjoy the Ancient Egypt shows on TV. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at December 12, 2002 | perma-link | (1) comments

Investigative Reporting
Michael— You’ll be thrilled to hear that 2blowhards has a new investigative reporting scoop! According to a highly placed source in the custodial department of the SEC, an investigation is being launched into the accounting for Vivendi Universal’s modern art collection. Tipped off by a report in the New York Times--which you can read here--that the evil Franco-American conglomerate (oops, I guess that’s a bit redundant) plans to auction off the collection housed in the Seagram’s building, the watchdog agency has some tough questions to ask. According to our source, the whole deal smells fishy. “This whole deal smells fishy,” says this highly placed but anonymous official, leaning on his broom. “I mean, according to my dictionary, a corporation is not a person! What the heck does it need with an art collection, anyway?” Another anonymous sources with no particular axe to grind—you can trust us on that—speculated wildly that the art collection was a cleverly disguised accounting reserve that could be used to bolster Vivendi Universal’s corporate earnings in case of, as he put it: “a rainy day.” This extremely anonymous but fair-minded source cackled with delight: “And have you gotten a look at Vivendi’s finances lately? Let me tell you, we’re going to see Noah come paddling through here any minute now!” Yet other sources, who do nothing all day but check up obsessively on the Enron corporate scandal, have noticed a sinister link between Vivendi’s activities and a failed attempt by the evil Texas conglomerate (darn, more redundancy) to set up an art futures trading desk. Although described in the business press as an innovative attempt to create liquidity in an inefficient commodity market, according to our eyeball-rolling source, “it was really an attempt to completely corner the market in conceptual art! They were either going to force prices up by 500% or pull the plug on Soho.” When asked for comment, a corporate spokesperson said, “Since I have no idea what Vivendi Universal actually does to make money, I can only assume that this transaction is a well-thought out, strategic move by our firm. As I understand it, our next move will be to auction our underwear on eBay.” Of course, I'm paraphrasing here. Cheers, Friedrich... posted by Friedrich at December 12, 2002 | perma-link | (0) comments

Milton Glaser on art
Friedrich -- Have you ever read an interview with the ad guy/illustrator Milton Glaser? I talked to him once and found him amazingly thoughtful and insightful, and far more cultured than most fine-arts people I've run into. I was just reading a q&a with him in the March-April 2002 issue of the magazine Step-by-Step Graphics, and he said something that reaffirms the gist of what I was saying in my previous posting, about art and making a living. Attaboy, Milton. He says it better, of course. He's asked about the Van Gogh model of painting, and says this: Unfortunately it's a very self-centered model. It says, "Do your work and you will convince the world to love you, pay you a lot of money, and make you famous. All you've got to do is stick to it and wait to be discovered." This is a total delusion about what really happens in the world. Unfortunately, this idea of the primacy of self-expression has infected the schools, which continue this myth. It's such a total, miserable lie. Perhaps it's perpetuated by frustrated academics who encourage the innocent to think it's true so they have the strength to go on themselves. But all it produces is a generation of bitter people who can't figure out why they can't make a living. There is something fundamentally wrong about this way of creating expectations. He's then asked about whether he ever wanted to get out of commercial art. No, I had no other ambitions. But I never fully understood the distinction between being a painter and an applied artist. Admittedly, you more often have to deal with criteria that make it hard to create a work of emotional or aesthetic significance. But once in a while, you do a book jacket, an album cover, an illustration that isn't compromised by its purpose. Some people use commercial considerations as an excuse not to do good work. They say, "Well, we're not really free." But as you know, meaningful work happens as you press through, regardless of the constraints. In fact, for many people constraints make good work possible. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at December 12, 2002 | perma-link | (2) comments

Writing for a Living
Friedrich -- I'm always pleased to see people taking writing classes, music instruction, art classes. It's a great way to enhance your involvement in the arts, and it can refine and civilize your perceptual and critical apparatus in the most pleasing ways. Plus, it's wonderful fun to make art things. The vibe in an intro-to-oil-painting classroom, in my experience, is very enjoyable and unlike what most people remember of being in class. In school, you were -- to some extent -- there merely because you had to be. In oil-painting class, everyone's there because they want to be. At the same time, it can drive me nuts that so many Americans are prone to base their involvement in the arts on the fantasy of having an arts career. Readers seem to love imagining that they too could score big. If you look at hobbyist magazines, it's incredible how much of what's published caters to (I'll just say it: exploits) the fantasy that there's a career to be had here, and maybe even a killing to be made. I've noticed that English dabbling-in-the-arts magazines don't seem to sell this fantasy quite as hard -- they're straightforwardly publications for amateurs who follow the field because they love it. Are the English more commonsensical and down-to-earth than we are? I've been lucky enough to follow the business of some of the arts pretty closely. (More closely than I ever wanted to, to be truthful.) So I'm going to use this blog occasionally to get down some of what I learned. Today: writing. The boiled-down executive-summary version of what I have to say: writing books as a "career"? Hah. The slightly longer version: English-major rube that I used to be, I early on imagined that the country was awash in busy writers, busily making livings. Then I began to wonder. Finally, I called an acquaintance who runs an authors organization and asked him flat out: how many writers in this country actually make a living at it? We backed and forth-ed a bit. Was I including writers of technical manuals? Sit-com writers? Ad copywriters? Journalists? We finally decided to focus on something along the lines of "authors who write the kinds of books you think of when you think 'books' -- ie., the kinds of books you take out of a library intending to read." So how many of them actually make a living at it? Oh, my friend said, certainly fewer than 200. Like I say: "Career"? Hah. I remember one study that showed that most authors of checking-it-out-from-the-library nonfiction actually lose money on the books they write. Why? Because they pay their own expenses, and books almost always wind up taking more time and research than an author anticipates. And fiction? I just bumped into a friend who's published a couple of books. He's about to finish the first draft of a novel. Unprompted he sighed, "I'll be happy to get $3000 dollars for it." Out of that he'll have to pay... posted by Michael at December 12, 2002 | perma-link | (7) comments

Short Stuff
Michael-- Perhaps you caught this headline from the Wall Street Journal of December 12: Europe's Space Effort is Hurt As Rocket Explodes on Launch Gee, you think? Cheers, Friedrich... posted by Friedrich at December 12, 2002 | perma-link | (1) comments

Hudson River School, Part II
Michael— As promised, I am continuing with the history of the Hudson River School as the torch was passed from Thomas Cole to the second generation. But before discussing the specific artists, I wanted to sketch out some of the cultural issues that affected their work. The settling (and exploitation) of the West was the great American project of this era. However, the relationship between the wealthy patrons of the Hudson River School—who virtually all lived in the urban East—and the rural or wilderness parts of the country were complex. The landscapes of the Hudson River were originally chosen as motifs because they were easily accessible to New York City-based artists; they are, in essence, tourist vistas. (It’s no accident that commercial tourism and the Hudson River school sprang up at roughly the same time, the 1820s, or that the geographical range of the Hudson River school expanded along with the growth of the railroads and steamship lines.) These paintings embodied the only personal relationship the Eastern urban elite was likely to have with undeveloped nature, i.e., that of a tourist. The Hudson River landscapes also addressed a more general cultural problem of the wealthy, urbanized Eastern elite. For generations European settlers had been used to an essentially practical or “business” relationship with North America—it was a good place to live and extract cash. But now this more leisured elite wanted to find an aesthetic relationship to this vast territory, and their cultural apparatus, oriented towards European models, wasn’t helping. As Rebecca Bedell in her book, “The Anatomy of Nature” notes: Americans had long suffered from an inferiority complex about their continent. It had been stigmatized as “The New World,” a savage place devoid of historical associations and bereft of intellectual and aesthetic stimuli. In…the American landscape many found answers to these accusations…In the great falls of Niagara and in the sculptured towers and ravines of the Southwest, Americans found substitutes for the castles and cathedrals of Europe. They could take pride in the sublimity, vastness and beauty of their country’s natural wonders. More generally still, Americans of this era, being an intensely religious people as well as very interested in science and technology, were seeking to reconcile these two belief systems, an attempt that generated an intense interest in geology. Religion and geology were involved in an exciting dialogue at this time, as Rebecca Bedell points out: …in the early 1820s, it was still widely believed that the earth was approximately six thousand years old, formed, as the Archbishop Ussher of Ireland had calculated, on 26 October 4004 B.C…By the 1830s, however, this view of the earth’s history no longer seemed tenable. In that decade Charles Lyell, in his extraordinarily influential Principles of Geology (1830-33), argued compelling for an earth of immense antiquity, a structurally dynamic earth whose surface had undergone slow but continual transformations since its origins in the almost incalculable depths of the past. Whether or not this new geologic worldview was compatible or incompatible with revealed... posted by Friedrich at December 12, 2002 | perma-link | (4) comments

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

PBS Responses
Friedrich -- As you remember, a few weeks ago we were lucky enough to be the first blog linked to by the great Arts & Letters Daily, for a posting griping about how boring PBS documentaries can be. What an honor! And what a treat, too: we got as much traffic over the next 3 days as we usually get over the course of about 25 days. A number of visitors emailed to let us know what they thought of the posting; amazingly, an email or two on the subject is still coming in every few days. But I thought now would be a good time to go back and sum up the response. A total of 64 emails so far. Pro-2Blowhards or anti-PBS: 51. Pro-PBS or anti-2Blowhards: 5. Miscellaneous: 8. Feelin’ good! [Dances end-zone victory dance.] A few comments from the badly outnumbered pro-PBS or anti-2Blowhards faction: At the risk of being labelled by you as some kind of PC ex hippie or the like, I confess to not watching any of the sitcom rubbish churned out by the commercial interests of the US TV industry, and to being a great fan of Ken Burns, and PBS in general. The essay seemed like it was written by an 11th grader who procrastinated too long, and had to finish the 8 page essay before bedtime. I am one of the silent army of PBS viewers who stick with it all, good and bad, because the commercial alternatives are so horrible. Better any amount (well, almost any) of guitar twanging and sepia photos ... than 2 minutes of the Network Horror being shown at the same time. Sorry you were bored, but mayhaps you care not for education, information, or learning in general? Unless it's presented with flashy/speedy/graphics or other computer-generated illusions? PBS is the only channel TV worth watching. (This woman’s email signature included a quote from Gandhi) As a matter of fact, I do enjoy the pace's contrast to commercial TV's rat-a-tat-tat. Also, I can putter on my computer and housework without missing much if I step away from the program. Some comments from the triumphant anti-PBS or pro-2Blowhards faction: They have certainly lost their former hard-core audience, who have fled in disgust from their PBS channels for better fare elsewhere - and it is not difficult to find. At the same time, they have not attracted new audiences simply because their programs are BAD, and no one wants to watch bad and boring programs. I saw this show (the documentary about Stephen Foster we were griping about) quite some time ago. I was amazed at how they got away with running interminable shots of windows and mirrors. Thank you for voicing an opinion many of us keep quietly to ourselves.  I thought I was the only one who thought the same way. I haven't been able to watch any of those documentaries on PBS for years, I have felt that way about PBS for years, but I thought the... posted by Michael at December 11, 2002 | perma-link | (3) comments

Monday, December 9, 2002

American Art, All Wild and Wooly
Friedrich -- Perhaps we ought to come right out and say it: American culture and art are strange and wild. What's best in this culture, and what has the most vitality, often doesn't come in traditional packages -- a fact that can drive people crazy with annoyance and perplexity. American culture can be very hard to comprehend, particuarly for people who yearn for something more respectable, or more Euro-style. But there's another way of viewing this fact, and that's as something marvelous, rich, and forever surprising. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that part of what we're both getting at in our postings about 19th century American art is how far-out and deeply moving that art can be. It's a case that isn't often argued these days. 19th century American art is an era that's frequently looked down on, and even dismissed, by those with modernist and post-modernist educations. It's seen as a matter of lousy imitations of European art. Judged by traditional Euro standards, much of it certainly does look hick. How typical is this attitude? Just yesterday, out for lunch in Chelsea, the Wife and I were seated a few feet away from a couple of women artists. Midway through dessert, I overheard one of them say, "Well, until the '20s and '30s, when we finally got some real art in this country..." It's a common belief among educated people that America just didn't get it until the arrival of modernism. Before the Armory Show, our art was clueless crap; before the Method, our actors were grandstanding naifs. Well, balls to all that. Take a look at pre-modernist American art without the academic and Euro blinders on, and what you discover is a lot of freewheeling and very strange art. It was, it seems to me, a great and adventurous era, many-sided, experimental, democratic, and unself-conscious. The genteel and the rudely populist coexisted in ways that post-modernists can only dream about. It seems to me that Felix (writing a comment in reply to your recent posting on the Hudson River School) falls into the trap of seeing Cole's work, for instance, through academic (ie., "avant-garde") eyes. Felix finds "Victorian kitsch" in Coles' work; he describes Cole as an "autodidact," and a "slightly mad historical curiosity." I think he's being quite perceptive. Where I part company with him is when he concludes that because of this, Cole was a bad artist. The fact has always been that much of the best American art has had elements of kitsch and the sentimental, and many of our best artists could be accurately described as "autodidacts," and "slightly mad historical curiosities." He's the top: Bojangles None of this makes Cole a good artist -- but none of it disqualifies him from being a good artist either. Much of the best American art has always been hard to respect, and hard to rank highly (let alone enjoy), if what you're applying are traditional European terms. The oddballness of much American art... posted by Michael at December 9, 2002 | perma-link | (14) comments

Hudson River School, Part I
Michael— I assume you remember a few weeks ago one of our devoted readers, Felix Salmon, dismissed the Hudson River School as: …a derivative and parochial set of painters taken seriously by almost nobody outside the NE of the US and who have shown their lasting influence precisely nowhere. Not content with that blast, he described the accomplishment of the primary founder of the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole, as being limited to: …taking Netherlandish landscape painting, blowing it up a bit in size, and painting medium-sized mountains instead of fields with cows. I’d like to thank Felix for his comment, because it resulted in my spending a lot of time looking at, and reading about, the Hudson River School painters, which I found extremely rewarding. Nonetheless, while Felix will have to make up his own mind about the Hudson River School, I’m not sure his comments constitute the last word on the accomplishments of this group of artists. If Felix had confined his remarks solely to the eldest and least inspired of the Hudson River painters, Thomas Doughty (1793-1856), there wouldn’t be a great deal for me to take issue with. While I would be rather slow to dismiss the human accomplishment involved in making a career as a self-taught painter in America in the first few decades of the nineteenth century—especially as a pioneer in what was at the time a virtually nonexistent genre, landscape—it must be admitted that Doughty was a derivative painter. His work utilizes formulas developed by the Dutch--such as low, rounded hills near water surmounted by large, clear skies--although it owes even more to the works of Claude Lorrain, as the following example will make fairly clear. (As always, these are thumbnails and I would urge you to click on them to see the "big picture.") T. Doughty, Farmstead in the Valley, 1820; Claude,Idyllic Landscape, c. 1663 However, when we get to Thomas Cole (1801-1848), Felix’s description simply won’t do: we’re dealing with a far more ambitious and inventive artist. Cole was born in the English Midlands, in a well-to-do family of textile manufacturers, but his father’s business failed. Cole had to leave school, and was apprenticed to a calico designer and wood engraver in a textile factory, a humiliating and terrifying experience that left him with a life-long horror of sliding into the working class. He migrated to the United States with his family in 1818, where he settled in Philadelphia and worked as an engraver. As Robert Hughes notes: [Cole] saw, in Philadelphia, works by portraitists Gilbert Stuart and Thomas Sully, whose names “came to my ears like the titles of great conquerors.”…Without formal training, he learned the rudiments of oil painting from a traveling portrait limner. But they were only rudiments. Without access to life classes or any intensive advice, he never learned to draw the human face or body competently. (Neither could his hero, Claude Lorrain.) Nonetheless, Cole found in landscape painting an arena for his artistic energies. At the... posted by Friedrich at December 9, 2002 | perma-link | (8) comments

Nikos Salingaros, Christopher Alexander
Friedrich -- In my usual wooly-headedness, I overlooked a note left for us a couple of weeks back by Nikos Salingaros, the University of Texas physicist who has been doing such fascinating work on cities, buildings, beauty, and ratios, sometimes in collaboration with Christopher ("A Pattern Language") Alexander. Here's what he wrote: Distinguished colleagues, I read some of the comments about Christopher Alexander, and also on my paper with Bruce West. I'm very pleased to see an interest in these topics. As to Christopher's work, let me give a link to one of my papers on Pattern Languages: It is important to let your group of readers know that a significant convergence is now taking place in our view of the world. Christopher's new book "The Nature of Order" will soon be out (check with, which will set the tone for an overhaul of current thinking about art, architecture, urbanism, aesthetics, and many other human endeavors. I am pleased to be a part in all of this, having prepared the way with some publications linking human creations to scientific laws. Some of my papers are mentioned occasionally on this site. Let me also mention the forthcoming issue of the webzine Katarxis, which will be released in January (, and of which I happen to be co-editor. Best wishes to all, Nikos Salingaros I second, and very loudly, Salingaros' enthusiasm for the webzine Katarxis (readable here), and for Alexander's A Pattern Language (buyable here), which thousands of people have found is capable of blowing open their aesthetic thinking; just as great, it seems to me, is Alexander's The Timeless Way of Building. Alexander is a gigantic, almost mythical figure -- I've had architects tell me they didn't really get architecture until they read his work. And his thinking resonates in many directions. As Michael Snider pointed out in a comment, there are software developers who are devoted to, and making use of, Alexander's concept of patterns. But I also urge any and all readers interested in such questions as patterns, genetics, beauty, the relationships between chaos theory and art, pleasure, evolved systems, etc, to take a look around Prof. Salingaros' own website, here. His pathbreaking research and thinking will give anyone's brain a firm, enlightening and pleasurable rattle. As for Christopher Alexander's The Nature of Order, I got a look at a bootleg copy some years ago -- Alexander has been said to be on the verge of publishing the book for a quite a while now, and copies have been circulating. The version I saw was about 1000 pages long. It struck me as very brilliant, quite mad, and possibly a classic -- in its all-encompassing, visionary-oracle, responding-to-everything, once-and-for-all fervor, it put me in mind of Hegel, or of "The City of God." I can't wait to see the version he decides to publish. An interview by Wendy Kohn with Alexander about "The Nature of Order" can be read here. Sample passage: Wendy Kohn: You know, we didn’t... posted by Michael at December 9, 2002 | perma-link | (0) comments