When your favorite guitarist cites an obscure 1,100-page book about architecture as a major influence on his band’s creative output, you check it out. According to Trey Anastasio, the work of Christopher Alexander informed much of the early Phish festival designs — the sorts of immersive, idiosyncratic events that would spawn Bonnaroo, Coachella, etc. The book, “A Pattern Language,” is essentially a handbook for how people develop systems and intentionally interact with one another inside of a complex society. Real breezy stuff, sure, but it’s actually very meditative.
This 1996 presentation is about as dense as it gets, but if you listen closely you’ll find that all he’s talking about is freedom. One of the phrases he returns to is “unfolding wholeness.” This is an incredibly psychedelic concept, and it’s vital for anyone doing creative work (which is to say anyone leading an individual life). It’s also very helpful for remembering how to get by with others in an increasingly atomized and overtly hostile American culture.
“No pattern is an isolated entity. When you build a thing you cannot merely build that thing in isolation, but must also repair the world around it.”
Because it’s still on my mind, this is a great angle into understanding the total clusterfuck within the Browns organization right now.
Anyway, I could go on and on about that. RIP Christopher Alexander, a true giant.