The Politics of Patterns
This critique, written in the early 1990s was a first attempt to introduce the as yet unpublished but impending work of Christopher Alexander on The Nature of Order. Since then, the work has been published, but the critique presented here remains valid, highlighting the paradigmatic conflict that has always been at the heart of Christopher Alexander's work - whether he is an aesthete - an authoritarian idealist attached to elitist ideals of absolutism whose theories ignore the realities of universal poverty and suffering - or a sage who sees through the myths and fantasies of modernist and postmodernist superficialities to a timeless universe of the spirit. His work has always been uncompromising and frequently unpopular, but is has nevertheless been profound and prolific.
I personally come down on the side of politics with a Marxist flavour, but there is no denying that the spiritual has largely been elided from design discourse, and that we are much the worse for it. Alexander's strength is that he reinserts it. Perhaps there has to be room for both theories - the social and the spiritual, integrated into a creative, compassionate and liberating whole. That task is perhaps the task of every designer in his or her lifetime - for us to become whole ourselves through the search for and creation of a wholistic design - as Freire might have said: "In healing the world, we heal ourselves".
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