Sunday, February 19, 2012

THE QUALITY WITHOUT A NAME

Sea Point Beach, Kittery ME:  2/17/12

The fact that this quality cannot be named does not mean that it is vague or imprecise. It is impossible to name because it is unerringly precise. Words fail to capture it because it is much more precise than any word. 

The word which we most often use to talk about the quality without a name is the word "alive." There is a sense in which the distinction between something alive and something lifeless is much more general, and far more profound, than the distinction between living things and nonliving things, or between life and death. Things which are living may be lifeless; nonliving things may be alive. A man who is walking and talking can be alive; or he can be lifeless. Beethoven's last quartets are alive; so are the waves at the ocean shore...*

* Quote from A Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander


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