Liking something from the heart

<- The mirror of the self

What we do as artists, in the realm of building, really depends on what we like. What society builds depends on ideas that are shared about what people like. But contemporary ideas of what is likable are extremely confused.

It is a current dogma that you may like what you wish, and that it is an essential part of democratic freedom to like whatever you decide to like. This occurs at a time when the mass media have taken over our ideas of what is likable to an extent unknown in human history. Thus if one were pessimistic, one might even say that there is very little authentic liking in our time. What people like can often not be trusted, because it does not come from the heart.

Liking something from the heart means that it makes us more whole in ourselves. It has a healing effect on us. It makes us more human. It even increases the life in us. Further, I believe that this liking from the heart is connected to perception of real structures in the world, that it goes to the very root of the way things are, and that it is the only way in which we can see structures as they really are.

As we begin to appreciate this liking from the heart, we shall find out a number of important things about it:

  1. The things we like (from the heart) make us feel wholesome when we are near them.
  2. We also feel wholesome when we are making these things. As we make them, and after making them, we feel whole in ourselves, healed, and right with the world.
  3. The more accurate we are about what we really like, in this sense of liking from the heart, the more we find out that we agree with other people about which these things are.
  4. What we like from the heart coincides with the objective structure of wholeness or life in a thing. As we get to know the “it” which we like from the heart, we begin to see that this is the deepest thing there is. It applies to all judgements — not just about buildings and works of art, but also about actions, people, everything.
  5. There is an empirical way in which we can help ourselves to find out what we really like from the heart. Nevertheless, it is not easy to find what we really like, and it is by no means automatic to be in touch with it. It takes effort, hard work, and personal enlightenment to understand it and to feel it. It requires liberation from opinions and concepts and ego to experience deep liking.
  6. The reasons for the existence of this deep liking are mysterious, not obvious. To plumb them we shall have to examine the nature of things — even, ultimately, the nature of matter itself — very carefully. Nevertheless the reasons are empirical. We may determine, empirically, to what extent a thing has the ability to rouse this deep liking in us. It is not a private matter.
  7. Somehow, the experience of real liking has to do with self. As we find out which things awaken real liking in ourselves, we find ourselves more in touch than before with our own selves.
  8. When we find out the things we really like, we are also more in touch with all that is.

The essential thing is that, when we really like something, we generally agree on it. This is so shockingly different from modern ideas that it needs to be discussed very carefully.

The main breakthrough in understanding will come when we are able to distinguish the everyday kind of liking (where we obviously do not agree about what we like) from the deeper kind of liking where […] we do agree. Ultimately it will be this deeper kind of liking, where we agree, that forms the basis for good judgement in the realm of architecture.

The crux of my argument will be to show that the deeper kind of liking not only exists but also corresponds exactly to the presence of living structure, and to objective and structural life.

Discussion of the aspects of matter which create a connection between matter and self is highly complex, and my attempt to define the connection cover a large part of Book 4. Whatever this self really may be, it is, in any case, personal. It is abstract, universal, underlying all things, yet so intensely personal that throughout Book 4 I refer to it most often as the “I”. In Book 4, I suggest that this aspect of matter in which all living structure is rooted may have to be considered material, certainly a part of psychology, possibly a part of physics, and that it is this feature of the world which explains the experimental findings described in the present chapter.

#book/The Nature of Order/1 The Phenomenon of Life/8 The mirror of the self#

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