Good shape

One of the 15 fundamental properties.

Good shape is the way that the strength of a given center depends on its actual shape, and the way this effect requires that even the shape, its boundary, and the space around it are made up of strong centers.

A shape we see as good is a shape which is itself, as a shape, made up from multiple coherent centers.

The elements of any good shape are always good shapes themselves.

A good shape is a center which is made up of powerful intense centers, which have good shape themselves.

The simplest and most elementary good shapes are made from elementary figures. Thus the first thing to realize is that in most cases the good shape, no matter how complex, is built up from the simplest elementary figures.

The regularity of the simple shapes creates a potential for much more complex systems of cross-relationships in space which can never be attained by loose organic kinds of shape. *And what seem like complex centers are made of simpler centers which are also alive — and it is these centers above all which give the complex ones their life.

A partial list of properties required to make a good shape, and for the elements from which a good shape is made: 1. High degree of internal symmetries 2. Bilateral symmetry (almost always) 3. A well-marked center (not necessarily at the geometric middle) 4. The spaces it creates next to it are also positive (Positive space) 5. It is very strongly distinct from what surrounds it 6. It is relatively compact (i.e., not very different in overall outline from something between 1:1 and 1:2 — exceptions may go as high as 1:4, but almost never higher) 7. It has closure, a feeling of being closed and complete

All in all, in my experience, in the build-up of a good shape the following elements are the most common: square, line segment, arrowhead, hook, triangle, row of dots, circle, rosette, diamond, S-shape, half circle, star, steps, cross, waves, spiral, tree, octagon. The things which we identify as “good” shape are just those complex shapes which are most strongly made up of centers.

Although is may seem surprising to someone raised in the mechanist-functionalist tradition, good shape in buildings, rooms, gardens, streets, plays a vital role in the way they work. Essentially, what happens is that the thing which works effectively has — must have — more centers in it and, by virtue of having more centers, has better shape. So the good shape is not only making things more beautiful; it also makes them work more profoundly, more effectively.

In a well-working thing, all the space between the parts as to have good shape. This special rule is really just part of a more general rule, which says that in a thing which is alive almost every visible part, at every level, has good shape, and is therefore a living center.

The essence of “good shape,” then, is that each part of space is positive and definite. As a result we also tend to see simple good figures within a good shape, and good shapes tend to made from simple figures. This is the basic rule.

In nature

A good shape is a geometric figure — often curved — which has in it some major center that is intensified by various minor centers.

Interplay with other properties

Good shape is a shape which contains powerful centers within the Boundaries of the shape.

#book/The Nature of Order/1 The Phenomenon of Life/5 Fifteen fundamental properties#

#book/The Nature of Order/1 The Phenomenon of Life/6 The fifteen properties in nature#

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