Beyond Edge-bound Comprehension and Modal Impotence
Combining q-holes through a pattern language
- / -
Notes prepared for Integrative Group B on the occasion of the 6th Network Meeting
(Tokyo, August 1981) of the Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development (GPID)
project of the United Nations University. Published in Patterns
of Conceptual Integration
. Brussels, UIA, 1984, pp. 149-160. [a searchable PDF
of the original article may prove preferable for some portions of the text].
Abstract: Explores the problem of disentangling the levels of confusion
which a group (or an individual) may experience when faced with a set of concepts
that is beyond its collective grasp. In such a situation special dynamics are
engendered around whatever parts of the set can be grasped. These take on characteristics
significant for psycho social organization when different parts are comprehended
by different members of the group or when the group comprehends all such parts
each in turn, namely one-at-a-time only in a temporal sequence or cycle. A pattern
language may be developed to take creative advantage of this tendency.
This "paper" is a partially ordered set of notes relating aspects
mathematics of human needs (cf Marcus and Mallmann (1))
applications of combinatorial analysis of relations between finite sets,
otherwise Known as Q-analysis(cf Atkin (2)3))
pattern language (cf Alexander (4,65))
The well-established confusion amongst those subject to the complex of societal
problems is now compounded by confusion and uncertainty amongst those whose
roles oblige them to offer insight, guidance and solutions. At all levels
of society there is a sense of impotence and despair, frequently disguised
by frantic exercises in public relations, "concrete" action, and
expressions of "positive" thinking. There is an increasingly deep-seated
sense of insecurity and a felt inability to order and control "one's
life", "to come to grips with things", "to collect one's
ideas together", or to get one's act together".
Typical responses to this condition are to see it as an opportunity for asserting
and imposing some particular ideology, value-system, belief-system, or mode
of action. Given the current complexity of society, this can only "succeed"
by forceful suppression or containment of other modes. The next decades will
presumably demonstrate the ways in which such "successes" are doomed
The difficulty for an individual or group in coming to grips with this confusion
lies partly in the very "language" which is used to think about
and order responses to it. Over the past decades the mode of response has
been largely determined through a a limited set of terms, including the following:
Such terms form a kind of "conceptual establishment" through which
all activity must be channelled. Clearly there are implicit relations between
the terms which govern the Kind of activity which can emerge as legitimate
and appear viable.
It is perhaps time to question whether these terms, and the ways in which
they ere used, do not themselves conceal a mode which is necessarily doomed
to the limited effectiveness by which social action continues to be characterized.
Their deadening and alienating effects on people have, for example, been noted
on many occasions. It is certainly fair comment to note that the use of
these terms is directly associated with the "impotence" and "sterility"
of responses to the current condition.
It is useful to ask whether other languages are emerging or can be developed
which would both help clarify the experienced sense of confusion
and empower people and groups to act without an accompanying sense
of frustration and futility. The quest is therefore for a new and more fertile
mode of action which may imply a plurality of languages. The existing mode
would then take on characteristics analogous to the role of scholastic Latin
over the recent centuries during which it was displaced as a vehicle by living
One approach to this quest is to consider the problems of comprehension
associated with the confusion which was taken above as the point of
departure. Clearly there is a multitude of theories, proposals and insightful
initiatives being generated and advocated at this time. Their very multiplicity
contributes directly to the confusion. The antagonistic and strongly competitive
relationship between their advocates ultimately leaves the process of ordering
them, balancing them, and using them, as the responsibility of the individual
user -even if he seeks security by delegating this responsibility end accepting
How can the individual understand his position in this whirl of social artefacts
? Consider Fig. 1
Each individual is effectively at the origin of such a figure. Most of the
"clarifying" insights and initiatives are however perceived as lying
outside the the boundary (whose existence implies that they would be perceived
as much distorted, if they are perceived at all). To paraphrase, it is very
much a case of "One man's insight is another man's confusion".
Combinatorial analysis of relations between finite sets (Q-analysis)
1. Q-analysis is concerned with the theory and application of mathematical
relations between finite sets ( 4, 5 ). The approach is based on the use
of sets at different hierarchical levels: N-1, N, N+1, etc. A set at one
level may act as a cover for sets at a lower level -although, if an
element of the lower level set can only be found in one element of the higher
level set, the cover then constitutes a partition.
From any one level, the relations between distinct sets are the subject of
0-analysis and give rise to two views of the activities between the
elements of the two sets:
global, namely an overview of the multidimensional geometric structure
which can be described as the "backcloth" or "space" which
supports all relevant action. Since the global geometry is not the same in
all directions, it is necessary to characterize it by two associated connectivity
These will be considered further in a later paragraph
local, namely relatively isolated properties on different parts
of the surface. Of these, the most significant are gaps in the pattern of
connectivity which have been termed "holes" and are discussed further
2. Interpretation of 0-analysis seems to suggest that the real experience
of the community by individual persons corresponds very closely to the global
and local structure features to be found there. It is argued that the multidimensionality
of such spaces is a matter of common intuitive experience, the limiting
case of three-dimensionality being necessary but insufficient for the full
range of such experiences.
Physicists make use of various patterns of connectivity in the classical
3-dimensional space to represent physical phenomena of various kinds including
the dynamics of systems. "Dynamics" can therefore he regarded as
synonymous with patterns", provided these patterns are associated with
a suitable unchanging geometrical geometrical backcloth. In the light of
the Einsteinian formulations of relativity, however, the connectivity of this
backcloth can be altered by special constraints so that the geometry only
permits certain positions or paths. The modified geometry then has built into
it the structure characteristic of the specialized patterns invented to describe
the paths in a rigid backcloth. The paths (e.g. of particles) are then not
those which supposed Newtonian forces induce but rather the "natural"
paths which the geometry permits.
The changes of patterns are an expression of what, in the Newtonian sense,
has been traditionally called a force. In this new framework, a change in
the pattern can be considered as defining a force experienced in the static
backcloth in which the phenomena are to be found. And since the pattern is
graded according to the level of connectivity at which it is perceived, the
force will also be characterized by the level of connectivity through which
it is experienced. Thus a t-force is associated with q-connectivity. There
are many instances where common English usage expresses an intuitive recognition
of social forces or organizational pressure experienced by people living in
3. A relation between finite sets represents a simplicial complex and this
can be intuitively appreciated as a collection of abstract convex polyhedra
in a suitable multidimensional euclidean space. The polyhedra are then connected
to each other by sharing "faces" (namely sub-polyhedra such as edges,
triangular faces, etc.). Q-analysis is the process of identifying these pieces
of the simpiicial complex which are q-connected, for all values of q.
4. Distinctions of level: Q-analysis provides a more refined approach
the ideologically sensitive issue of how levels are to be conceived and interrelated
in psycho-social systems. It also draws attention to, and clarifies, the
levels as dimensionality [e.g. higher dimensionality as higher level)
level in hierarchy (e.g. in any organizational structure)
level of sensitivity to connectivity (e.g. ability to comprehend a complex
structure, of a given level of connectivity, as a gestalt rather than by
sequentially scanning its parts)
level of psycho-social force or "pressure" resulting from changes
in the pattern of connectivity over time
level of traffic, namely the connectivity of the traffic content which
can be associated with a given level but not those "below" it.
5. Traffic and noise: Q-analysis helps to clarify the distinction
between "valid" communication traffic and "noise" in complex
organizations or in overlapping "invisible college" networks. The
interesting point is that the boundary between the two shifts according to
whether the emphasis is on "efficiency" or on psycho-social development.
Creating the opportunity for "noisy" traffic may in some circumstances
be more important than ensuring that the traffic has a minimum noise level.
It is even possible that all traffic can be usefully perceived as noise, or
vice versa, depending upon the level of connectivity to which one chooses
to be sensitive.
6. Evanescence of memory: Q-analysis, though its discussion of levels
of sensitivity to connectivity, makes it possible to discuss with greater
precision the manner in which comprehension of gestalts may be eroded over
time. Such gestalts may be problems, concepts, values, organizational structures,
Thus an individual or group may at some moment be sensitive to a complex
pattern of high connectivity. Subsequently, however, this level of comprehension
of the whole may fade in parts, reducing comprehension to that of some connected
parts, or possibly to the parts in isolation only. Comprehension of the whole
may be recovered periodically, and cultural events and artefacts can play
a significant role in bringing this about. Or they may never be recovered,
as in the case of the irreversible decline of an individual with ageing, or
a group or civilization after its "golden age".
7. Multi-level communication: Q-analysis gives precision to the recognition
that traffic of different degrees of content connectivity finds (or creates)
its appropriate level in any psycho-social structure. Communicable insights
are level hound, especially where they are of high connectivity. In other
words, at the level within which we can communicate, concepts cannot be anchored
unambiguously into terms and definitions which "travel well". Precision
introduces distortion which is only acceptable locally within any communicating
society -although "locally" most be interpreted in the non-geographical
sense in which all nuclear physicists are near neighbours, for example.
This draws attention to certain implications for the development of any such
structure, whether an individual, a group or a society. The most important
of these would appear to be the impossibility of eliminating "undevelopment"
from any such structure if it is to evolve. Such structures must necessarily
continue to have traffic of very low-level connectivity co-present
with that of increasingly higher-level connectivity. The simplest illustration
is that of infants who will, when resources permit, continue to be educated
through to the level of connectivity to which they can respond. But there
will always be communication at both low and high-connectivity levels, especially
about socio-political issues. The question is then how communication at these
different levels of connectivity can be woven together within a social structure.
8. Co-presence of connectivity spectrum of "developments":
If, as suggested above, the communication problem necessarily segments comprehension
of "development", there is consequently a multiplicity of concepts
of development operative in society. Individuals and groups may "progress"
from one to another, possibly with a general tendency towards those of higher
connectivity. But other individuals and groups will emerge and find the concepts
of lower connectivity more meaningful before moving on, if they do,
to those of higher connectivity. (In this sense the "ontogenesis"
of an individual tends to repeat the "phylogenesis" of his/her society.)
Society in this sense is the arena within which individuals and groups refine
their concept of development.
But how then is the development of that society to be conceived ? Seemingly
it is less a question of some "super-dominant concept" of development,
and more a question of how the different developments are interrelated.
9. Holes and objects: The major achievement of Q-analysis probably
lies in its ability to give precision to discussion about a psycho-social
phenomenon which is, by definition, sensed beyond the boundary of (collective)
comprehension. These are represented by "holes" in the pattern of
connectivity. It has been argued that holes in a physical structure are indistinguishable
observationally from solid objects in the physical case (3). In the psycho-social
case, such holes are necessarily less substantial without losing their reality.
"Generally speaking it seems to be confirmed that action [of whatever
kind) in the community can be seen as traffic in the abstract geometry and
that this traffic must naturally avoid the holes (because it is impossible
for any such action to exist in a hole). The holes therefore appear strangely
as objects in the structure, as far as the traffic is concerned. The difference
is a logical one in that the word "q-hole" describes a static feature
of the geometry S(N) whilst the ward "q-object" describes the experience
of that hole by traffic which moves in S(N)." ( 3, p. 75)
As an "object" this phenomenon is an obstacle to communication
and comprehension and obliges those confronted with it to go "around"
it in order to sense the higher dimensionality by which it is characterized.
As a "hole" this phenomenon engenders, or is engendered by, a pattern
of communication. It appears to function both as "source" and "sink".
It is suggested that in some way which is not yet fully understood, such object/holes
act as sources of energy for the possible traffic around them.
From the initial research it would appear that such objects/holes are characteristic
of communication patterns in most complex organizations. It seems highly
probable that they can also be detected in any partially ordered pattern of
communication. As such "societal problems", "human needs",
"human values" merit examination in this light.
The special value of doing so is that it can clarify why action/discussion
in connection with them tends to be "circular" in the long-term,
however energetic it may appear in the short-term. As such it shows how social
change is blocked by the way in which conceptual traffic patterns itself
around the sensed core issue which is never confronted as such because
the connectivity pattern is inadequate to the dimensionality of the issue.
This would explain why so many issues go unresolved and why the process of
solving problems becomes institutionally of greater importance than the actual
elimination of the problem.
This approach also draws attention to the probable presence of holes/objects
of even higher dimensionality than those whose presence can be sensed relatively
easily. Such phenomena, it may be supposed, are of great significance to
10. Configurations of holes: Before being able to examine whether
a particular concept of development is more"or less adequate, further
understanding is required of how such a concept functions as a more or less
stable hole/object in relation to other hole/objects corresponding to other
concepts. How can such holes exist in relation to one another ? What is necessary
to permit transitions from one to the other ?
The question is how configurations of holes can be identified and/or
designed. It is the configuration of the holes which provides the minimum
structure to stabilize and give form to the co-presence of the differing concepts
of development. Such configurations, in order to fulfil their function, must
presumably exist within two boundary conditions:
the connectivity between elements bounding holes must no be so great
as to erode or destroy the identity of the holes so connected
the connectivity between elements bounding holes must be great enough
so that the integrity of the configuration as a whole is maintained
A further question is then the manner whereby "better" holes are
to be identified or reached within such configurations. Now from one point
of view it is necessary to avoid introducing an element of evaluation, because
from each hole the perception of other holes will he distorted so that no
communicable assessment can be usefully formulated. On the other hand,
it may prove to be the case that, at the level of the configuration as a whole,
more than one such configuration can be identified/ designed in order to interrelate
the perspectives associated with the set of holes. And at this level, without
privileging any particular hole, more adequate inter relationships between
the elements making up the holes can be identified.
introducing evaluative judgements into the relationships between the
holes within a particular configuration can only contribute to the dynamics
between such holes in terms of perceived advantage/disadvantage. Excessive
emphasis on this runs the risk of tearing the configuration apart. In this
sense the configuration as a whole functions as a kind of "macro-hole"
around which such traffic/noise circulates
the identities associated with the holes can be respected in each of
the configurations in a series constituting progressively more adequate
or richer formulations of the relationships between "developments".
The transitions between these successive configurations can be described
with some precision such that continuity is in effect maintained. Although
this "series" can usefully guide evolution of the "development
set", there is a sense in which the more "primitive" configurations
in the series are as valuable as those which-are: more-complex.
The characteristics of basic configuration of holes are examined in separate
papers on tensegrity structures (From networking to tensegrity organization).
11. Human development: Q-analysis provides another way of discussing and
certain aspects of human development.
It opens the possibility of defining the
individual in terms of overlapping sets of characteristics whose
can be explored with greater clarity at a new level of significance. This is of
particular importance as a new language with which people can understand
themselves experientially and
communicate that understanding. A great
advantage is that it
provides pointers to those aspects of human development associated with greater
and the sensitivity stages whereby any intellectual
understanding of it can be "experientialized".
The concept of holes/objects
provides a very useful way of clarifying the manner
in which an individual's "internal dialogue" can get locked into
patterns of reflection", or onto seemingly unresolvable issues. As discussed
above, however, rather than attempting to favour the development of some of
at the expense of others, the dimension of human development which merits
is that associated with "richer" configurations
of these localized features.
It is the progress through the
alternative perspectives provided by such configurat
ions which constitutes the "changing self-image of man". The range of such
configurations suggests the interesting questions: In how many distinct ways
man usefully perceive himself ? How are
less useful transitions between configurat
ions to be distinguished ?
As discussed above, and elsewhere (4 ), an important goal of human development
would seem to be associated with the ability to shift flexibly between
rather than with irreversible shifts towards configurations of higher
(In traditional tales, the sage or the hero retain a special skill in
The structural language of
Q-analysis also provides a useful means of discussing such
diverse issues as: identity-and individuation [in terms of structural
mystical or ecstatic union (as a limiting case of high sensitivity to high
connectivity), rites of passage (transitions between configurations), oriental
emphasis on breathing exercises (an experiential metaphor for a cycle of transitions
between configurations), psychedelic drug experiences (uncontrolled shifts to
alternative configurations of higher or lower sensed connectivity).
Social development: As in the
case of human development, it is the concept of
holes/objects which provides valuable insights for social development. It is
probable that most continuing societal problems should be seen as
especially given the well-established record of unfruitful action in response
them -however vigorous and dedicated.
Typical examples are: peace/disarmament,
development, human rights, environment, etc.
In such cases Q-analysis could provide understanding of why any action tends
to be drawn into a vortex of futility, however much it satisfies short-term
political needs for visible "positive" action. The participants
in the action find themselves circulating" around a central concern of
which they are unable to obtain an overview, due to the geometries of the
overlapping conceptual and organizational structures through which they work
(or which they somehow engender).
The term "futility" used
above is however only appropriate if the sole consideration
were the elimination of such problems.
In fact the existence of such problems is
extremely important to the organization of society, to social development, and
the direct or indirect employment of many people. Just as the
is vital to the economy of many countries, so is the "social problem" business
to many sectors of society. Eliminating
social problems would be a disaster for many
people, especially problem-oriented intellectuals, or the employees of problem
As in the case of human development, it is possible that a more fruitful
approach is to identify the configuration of such problem-solving bodies around
the holes which engender their activity. The configuration may itself be
seen as engendered by the macro-crisis hole which absorbs the development
initiatives of society at this time and gives rise to the immense volume of
action/communication traffic around the surface of the configuration.
Whilst it is probably neither feasible no desirable to eliminate such configurations
in the name of efficiency, it is possible that the emphasis could be shifted
towards alternative configurations which respect the original geometry but
are more attractive because they develop it by elaboration and enrichment.
A great advantage is that Q-analysis provides a measure of the obstruction
to changes in the pattern of connectivity at any given level.
A major hindrance to social development is that initiatives are elaborated
on the basis of the perception that some people are "right" (well-informed,
objective, tolerant, etc) whereas others are "wrong" (misguided,
intolerant, self-interested, etc). Effort are usually made to contain, repress
or eliminate the latter. In fact as the record of every such initiative shows,
those who considered themselves "right" had significant blindspots,
and the arguments of those who were "wrong" were not without validity.
It is even possible that lasting social development only results from the
interaction of such initiating and constraining tendencies, but only
when some"creative compromise is achieved to correct for the self-righteousness
and bigotry of each tendency.
Through its use of "anti-vertices" Q-analysis offers a powerful
tool for handling such essential differences with greater clarity. This appears
important, not only in the light of the preceding paragraph, but because of
the way in which social development is fuelled by difference. The drive to
social development is fuelled, paradoxically, by the differences which that
development (as presently conceived) strives to eliminate. Once eliminated
the society would be in danger of stagnation or of instabilities in reaction
to that stagnation. For this reason a more creative attitude is required
to those ever-present conditions which engender difference, namely: ignorance,
apathy, intolerance, etc. They can usefully be considered as "fuel elements".
But energy can only be usefully generated from them if they are bound into
a suitable configuration with those elements which react to them. The question
is how to detect or design configurations which can channel and focus social
energy in this way.
The above argument implies the existence of one kind of social "energy"
which is vital to the life and development of society. Analysis of configurations
may well bring to light other kinds of social energies which have to be kept
in balance. Oriental traditions highlight the existence of many distinct sets
of energies "nested" in relation to one another ( ). But the
difficulty is to sense the complementarity between them. Without this understanding,
the manner in which they function as a "team" is unrecognized and
those identifying with particular energies are trapped in the dynamics of
the configuration in question.
Pattern language: a timeless way of building
Q-analysis provides us with a remarkable tool for analysis. It has not yet been
developed to the point where we can use it for building new social structures.
lacks, perhaps necessarily, the essential art of design or synthesis. For this
reason it is useful to consider another remarkable development of recent years,
namely the elaboration of a pattern language (6, 7, 8 ). Ironically, both
Q-analysis and this pattern language have been applied to the design-type
of two complex universities, Essex and Oregon (3,9). The
complementarity of the
two approaches remains to be recognized.
2. The main contribution of the pattern language is perhaps an understanding
of how constraints can be creatively handled to enhance the quality
of life as experienced by those functioning in a complex institutional
setting. It focuses on the democratization of the design process.
To date the concern has been primarily with the impact on the physical design
(buildings, towns, regions), but many social and organizational questions
are necessarily considered in a new way.
3. Despite its practicality, the essential charm from a development perspective
is its emphasis on maximizing expression of what is termed the "quality
without a name" - it being nameless because of the recognized limitations
of each label so freely bandied about in social policy making. And it is
precisely in the caution with which patterns are developed to "contain"
this subtle, many facetted, quality that much of value could be derived for
human and social development in a wider sense.
4. The major
achievement lies in the detection and extensive description of 253 patterns
which can be combined in different ways by the user (group) to form the unique
language significant to that user. It
requires little imagination to see the
challenge of elaborating a similar set of psycho-social patterns with which a
user (group) could elaborate a language to design alternative institutions and
5. A significant feature of the presentation of the pattern language is its
success as a form of presentation -despite its practicality and its foundation
on well-argued theoretical grounds. It is no exaggeration to note that the
"nameless quality" which the initiative aims to maximize is present
in the presentation itself, as the following chapter abstracts may illustrate:
(see Insert 1).
Annex I: The Timeless Way
(Reproduced from Christopher Alexander The Timeless Way
of Building. New York,
Oxford University Press, 1979 (vol. I)
A building or a town will only be alive to the ex tent
that it is governed by the timeless way.
1. It is a process which brings order out of nothing tut ourselves;
it cannot be attained, but it will happen of its own accord, if "we "will
only let it.
To seek the timeless way we must first know the quality without a
2. There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life
and spirit in a man, a town, a building, or a wilderness. This quality
is objective and precise, but it cannot be named,
3. The search, which we make for this quality, in our own lives,
is the central search of any person, and the crux of any individual
person's story. It is the search for those moments and situations
when we are most alive.
4. In order to define this quality in buildings and in towns, we
must begin by understanding that every place is given its character
by certain patterns of events that keep on happening there.
5. These patterns of events are always interlocked with certain
geometric patterns in the space. Indeed, as we shall see, each building
and each town is ulti mately made out of these patterns in the space,
and out of nothing else: they are the atoms and the mole cules from
which a building or a town is made.
6. The specific patterns out of which a building or a town is made
may be alive or dead. To the extent they are alive, they let our
inner forces loose, and set us free; but when they are dead, they
keep us locked in inner conflict.
7. The more living patterns there are in a place- a room,
a building, or a town-the more it comes to life as an entirety,
the more it glows, the more it has that self-maintaining fire which
is the quality without a name.
8. And when a building has this fire, then it becomes a part of
nature. Like ocean waves, or blades of grass, its parts are governed
by the endless play of repetition and variety created in the presence
of the fact that all things pass. This is the quality itself.
To reach the quality without a name we must then build a living pattern
language as a gate.
9. This quality in buildings and in towns cannot be made, but only
generated, indirectly, by the ordinary actions of the people, just
as a flower cannot be made, but only generated from the seed.
10. The people can shape buildings for themselves, and have done
it for centuries, by using languages which I call pattern languages.
A pattern language gives each person who uses it the power to create
an infinite variety of new and unique buildings, just as his ordinary
language gives him the power to create an infinite variety of sentences.
11. These pattern languages are not confined to vil lages and farm
society. All acts of building are gov erned by a pattern language
of some sort, and the patterns in the world are there, entirely because
they are created by the pattern languages which people use,
12. And, beyond that, it is not just the shape of towns and buildings
which comes from pattern lan guages-// is their quality as well.
Even the life and beauty of the most awe-inspiring great religious
build ings came from the languages their builders used.
13. But in our time the languages have broken down. Since they
are no longer shared, the processes which keep them deep have broken
down; and it is therefore virtually impossible for anybody, in our
time, to make a building live.
14. To work our way towards a shared and living lan guage once
again, we must first learn how to discover patterns which are deep,
and capable of generating life.
15. We may then gradually improve these patterns which we share,
by testing them against experience: we can determine, very simply,
whether these pat terns make our surroundings live, or not, by recog
nizing how they make us feel.
16. Once wee have understood how to discover indi vidual patterns
which are alive, wee may then make a language for ourselves for any
building task we face. The structure of the language is created by
the net work of connections among individual patterns: and the language
lives, or not, as a totality, to the degree these patterns form a
17. Then finally, from separate languages for differ ent building
tasks, we can create a larger structure still, a structure of structures,
evolving constantly, which is the common language for a town. This
is the gate.
Once we have built the gate, we can pass through it to the practice
of the timeless way.
18. Now we shall begin to see in detail how the rich and complex
order of a town can grow from thousands of creative acts. For once
we have a common pattern language in our town, we shall all have
the power to make our streets and buddings live, through our most
ordinary acts. The language, like a seed, is the genetic system which
gives our millions of small acts the power to form a whole.
10. Within this process, every individual act of build ing 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 un folding, like the evolution of an embryo, in
which the whole precedes the parts, and actually gives birth to them,
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 in tensity
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.
22. In the same way, groups of people can conceive their larger
public buildings, on the ground, by fol lowing a common pattern language,
almost as if they had a single mind.
23. Once the buildings are conceived like this, they can be built,
directly, from a few simple marks made in the ground-again within
a common language, but directly, and without the use of drawings.
24. Next, several acts of building, each one done to repair and
magnify the product of the previous acts, will slowly generate a
larger and more complex whole than any single act can generate.
25. Finally, within the framework of a common lan guage, millions
of individual acts of building will together generate a town which
is alive, and whole, and unpredictable, without control. This is
the slow emergence of the quality without a name, as if from nothing.
26. And as the whole emerges, we shall see it take that ageless
character which gives the timeless way its name. This character is
a specific, morphological char acter, sharp and precise, which must
come into being any time a building or a town becomes alive: it is
the physical embodiment, in buildings, of the quality with out and name.
THE KERNEL OF THE WAY
And yet the timeless way is not complete, and will not fully generate
the quality without a name, until we leave the gate behind.
27. Indeed this ageless character has nothing, in the end, to do
with languages. The language, and the processes which stem from it,
merely release the fun damental order which is native to us. They
do not teach us, they only remind us of what we know al ready, and
of what we shall discover time and time again, when we give up our
ideas and opinions, and do exactly what emerges from ourselves.
Carlos Mallmann and Solomon Marcus.
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