Concluding section

In these examples, I have perhaps given glimpses of what I mean by making and revealing the sadness in a work. That is real unity. When this is achieved, or touched, to the extent that it is achieved, then, that is what I mean by reaching and touching the I, the blazing one.

Does it prove that the blazing one actually exists? Of course it does not prove it. It is conceivable that what I have described here is only going on within the realm of psychology, that it is a kind of mental trick I play on myself, to reach life in things. The fact that it does work, that it does sometimes reach objective life in structures — even in practical engineering structures like a bridge — might be dismissed as evidence only of the curious way the mind works.

But the so-definite fact of this sadness which enters things, and the fact that through this sadness we — all of us, I, you, and the person I have never known — all experience life in those things — it is hard to believe that it is only a trick or mental state. The sense of the thing reached — a sadness which connects me to the I in these cases — does appear to me as an actual thing which I reach, which then becomes visible, like a foggy landscape on a brilliant day, becomes visible through the darkening lace of the thin gossamer window curtain.

In the beginning, when Alexander first criticized the Descartes-inspired rationalist/materialist world view, and of course because I had just read George Lakoff shortly before with his work still on my mind, I assumed that Alexander and Lakoff were very similar in their striving for a new and better world view that would allow the experiencing (human) being to become part of the model of the world, and not just be considered an unimportant, meaningless observer in a transcendent reality.

It becomes now clear to me that Alexander was very aptly able to describe the shortcomings of the rationalist/materialist world view, but never achieved to fully leave it behind himself. Perhaps because he wasn’t aware of a better model of the world, and it was surely not in his domain to come up with a better one all by himself. Instead he tried as best as he could to add that missing piece that we experience in an almost spiritual way, and make it somehow fit into a slightly improved but still fundamentally rationalist/materialist picture of the world, perhaps to reach out to those scientists and have a slim chance at getting enough of their attention to consider that property to be missing from our world view.

Alexander speaks of the “psychological” explanation of these phenomena in a condescending way, as if an explanation based on human psychology would somehow be inferior to a physical one. I can only assume that this is caused by the shallow understanding of psychology at the time, which likely reduces to the dichotomy between objectivism and subjectivism. As scientists, if there are only these two (extreme) options, it is obvious that only objectivism can be considered somewhat possible whereas subjectivism must be the inferior model. But our understanding has evolved. Just as Alexander fights against a world picture that is not able to explain fundamental aspects of human experience, Lakoff does too, and he does provide a complete new model of the world that has the expressiveness to incorporate human experience. I am convinced that rather than looking at potential physical explanations in the realm of quantum mechanics (though certainly interesting) there are lots of low-hanging fruit in exploring psychological explanations based on Lakoff’s model of Experientialism instead.

(Page 259)

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