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, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

I get a big bang off the ideas of Christopher Alexander, George Santayana, and Edward O. Wilson. Their ideas are so complex but somehow they seem to have a common substance. I enjoy the structure of their thinking and think they must have broad implications for innovation, creativity, and design. And more deeply for thought, insight, and wisdom.

But I struggle to sort out the rhythm of their thoughts. Every time I pick up one of their books, I hear a quiet song from my subconscious that therein lies the key to many of our most sophisticated opportunities.

In The Sense of Beauty (1896), Santayana linked eccentricity to awakening:

“… if a circle is presented, the eye will fall upon its centre, as to the centre of gravity, as it were, of the balanced attractions of all the points; and there will be, in that position, an indifference and sameness of sensation …

It is a form, which, although beautiful in its purity and simplicity, and wonderful in its continuity, lacks any stimulating quality …

The straight line offers a curious object for analysis. It is not for the eye a very easy form to grasp. We bend it or leave it …

The straight line, when made the direct object of attention is, of course, followed by the eye and not seen in one eccentric position.

In the curves we call flowing and graceful, we have, on the contrary, a more natural and rhythmical set of movements … certain points make rhymes and assonance … we find ourselves at every turn reawakening …”

Eccentricity implies deviating from a form or path. Coming from the Greek word kentein meaning “to prick” it has intoxicating connotations.

So often, too often, I hear people looking for a “line of sight”. Some mythical path from the present to some impossibly certain future. And in eyes of the person being asked for this dream I see a flicker of disbelief, a soul crushing resignation, and joyless acceptance.

We can’t give line of sight and, if Santayana is right, we don’t even want it. We’ve bought into something unnatural. Our world is full of flowing, eccentric lines but our minds are bent on straightening them. As Alan Watts was fond of saying, our world is wiggly and yet we fight for euclidean lines and boxes.

Ask yourself a simple question: Is the word “consensus” inspiring? Doesn’t your heart bleed when you hear that word? Can you imagine a life spent building consensus?

Are we made for a middle ground? Are we made to sit in circles and argue for something nothing like it should be and everything like the things we so naturally abhor?

My dream is to work with people that embrace fragmentation and chaos — people that dance within it. People who know that a line of sight anywhere into the future is a hilarious and morbid expectation. People who know that dancing is not about finishing but about moving. People who see that “certain points make rhymes and assonance … and find at every turn reawakening.”

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