Since you asked…

A friend of mine has a habit of sending me emails consisting of simple, beautiful questions. Years ago he introduced me to Christopher Alexander. When Alexander died I sent him an email, and that started a discussion of Alexander’s later work. This was the context (at least for me) of his latest question-poem: What is … Continue reading Since you asked…

Polycentric virtues

Until quite recently, design has been monocentric. All the various x-centric design disciplines were named after the single protagonist of the design. User-centered. Employee-centered. Customer-centered. Citizen-centered. In search of something more general and accommodating, most designers have settled on “human-centered’. Human-centered design centers design on the experience of a person. While “human” can, of course, … Continue reading Polycentric virtues

Sacred and profane

The bits of reality that understand that they and all other bits of reality are finite participants in absolute infinitude — each its own center-point in the infinite sphere whose center is everywhere, but whose circumference is nowhere —  seem almost essentially different from the finite bits of reality that mistake themselves for the absolute … Continue reading Sacred and profane

Please do not decenter yourself

Decentering one’s self or one’s identity as a response to one’s former egocentrism or ethnocentrism is just this year’s model of altruism. Altruism is benevolence modeled on a stunted vision of individualism, which it tries to overcome by simply inverting it: Selfish people care about themselves at the expense of others, so unselfish people care … Continue reading Please do not decenter yourself

Foundations and landmarks

We seek common ground to serve as a foundation for establishing new agreements. However, common ground has another equally important, but often neglected, function: providing landmarks needed for precise triangulation of subtle but consequential disagreements. Without shared points of reference, it is impossible to trace perspectives back to their originating standpoints — which, for each … Continue reading Foundations and landmarks

Meditation on the ten-thousand everythings

….it was said that one god, Hermes Trismegistus, had dictated a variously estimited number of books (42, according to Clement of Alexandria; 20,000, according to Iamblichus; 36,525, according to the priests of Thoth, who is also Hermes), on whose pages all things were written. [Anomalogue: From what I’ve read, Hermes Trismegistus was not a god; … Continue reading Meditation on the ten-thousand everythings

“Pascal’s Sphere” by Jorges Luis Borges

 (Published in multiple collections, including Labyrinths and Other Inquisitions.) Perhaps universal history is the history of a few metaphors. I should like to sketch one chapter of that history. Six centuries before the Christian era Xenophanes of Colophon, the rhapsodist, weary of the Homeric verses he recited from city to city, attacked the poets who … Continue reading “Pascal’s Sphere” by Jorges Luis Borges

Ptolemaic social justice

To preserve the simple self-evident fact that the Earth was the center of the universe all kinds of complex mechanisms had to be devised, cranking the heavenly bodies in epicyclical orbits, around orbits of orbits. Likewise, to preserve the simple self-evident fact that the principle active cause of inequality between categories of people is prejudice … Continue reading Ptolemaic social justice