The text below was extracted from old digests of the Eno mailing list, from some thoughts on hypertext, Chris Alexander and William S. Burroughs. I had posted some info on Chris Alexander's _A Pattern Language_, a book Eno is known to have found interesting.

>From Tue Jan  4 12:27:07 1994
Subject: Christopher Alexander
I thought I'd ask if any other Eno-philes are familiar with Christopher
Alexander, the designer/architect?
I heard Brian Eno mention Mr. Alexander's writings in an interview on
KPFA in Berkeley in 1988. BE talked about finding Alexander's thinking
and writing quite fascinating, even to non-architecture oriented folks. 
A few years later I saw some reference to Chris Alexander on Usenet and
thought maybe I should explore further. But I never bothered. Then last
week my girlfriend saw something on TV on Mr. Alexander, possibly a Nova 
episode, and she was fascinated enough to seek out two books by him. 

I've only had a few minutes to browse one of the books, but I think I can see
why Eno would find it of interest. One of the books defines architecture 
and communities as a language, composed of patterns. It takes an approach
of looking at what composes a community and breaks down 235 elements or
patterns that make a community or design function in a home or building.
It even goes off into a lot of philosophical directions, covering topics
from sewage to defining elemnts of a comfortable workspace. One pattern
focuses on the importance of the bedroom for a couple. Another suggests
that children love cave-like spaces to play in and suggests building such 
into nooks under staircases, etc. 

Overall the approach is very interesting, acting as a possible handbook
for designing a comminuty or your own home, or perhaps as a reference for 
better un derstanding the functions of the elements of architecture around
us - a topic which on the face of which I would think might bore me, but
instead I found myself wanting toi stay up all night reading this book. I'll
have to get the title later, when I can pry it away from my girlfriend again.

I can see some aspects of the way Alexander abstracts his chosen medium to 
get to the building blocks beneath as similar to methods that Eno might use
in approaching his own work - abstracting his music or visuals down to patterns 
or elements that serve functions in the overall context of the work, and 
shifting and arranging those patterns to express the many (limitless?)
possibilities of the language being used. 

This is part of what I've enjoyed listening to Eno speak about - his ability to 
abstract from the creative process to define the creative systems underlying
the work are fascinating. I've found that I can see a lot of parallels in 
my own creative approaches (to music, video, writing...) to methods used
by other creative folks in different mediums. Eno has made the comparision
of music to painting to discuss his "layering" or a musical canvass from 
which he can strip away layers or add more, methaphorically mixing colors. 
I've found myself talking to writers, painters and folks of very different
disciplines and, if we can get beyond discussing our specific tools, we
can find common ideas in the way we work. 

  - Malcolm 

>From Wed Jan  5 14:59:28 1994
Subject: more on Christopher Alexander
Continuing on my literary tangent, with more details on a book that Brian
Eno finds quite interesting:
           A Pattern Language
     Towns * Buildings * Construction
          Christopher Alexander
     Sara Ishkawa * Murray Silverman
     Max Jacobson * Ingrid Fiksdahl-King
               Shlomo Angel
Published 1977
Oxford University Press, New York  ISBN 0 -19- 501919-9
Brian Eno said in 1988 that he has given away 28 copies of this book - he 
keeps giving it to friends and buying it again. (Be warned that this is
an expensive book, selling for $50 new here, but free in the local library.)
Eno describes it as being, in part, about "thinking in general about
how you design your life."
This is a companion book to _The Timeless Way Of Living_**, two halves
of a single work, from the Center for Environmental Structure, Berkeley. 

(** note, I think I got the title of the companion book wrong below, and
correct above, but I can't confirm this at this moment - the companion book
is either "..Way of Building" or "..Way of Living".)

Some excerpts from the intro:

"The Timeless Way of Building says that every society which is
alive and whole, will have it's own unique and distinct pattern
language; and further, that every individual in that society will
have a unique language, shared in part, but which as a totality is
unique to the mind of the person who has it. In this sense, in a
healthy society there will be as many pattern languages as there
are people - even though those languages are shared and similar."

>From the forward to _A Pattern Language_:

"The elements of this language are entities called patterns. Each
pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in
our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to
that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a
million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice."

The book is laid out with a consistent format for all the
patterns "... to present each pattern connected to other
patterns, so that you see the collection of all 253 patterns as a
whole, as a language, within which you can create an infinite
variety of combinations."

"In short, no pattern is an isolated entity. Each pattern can
exist in the world, only to the extent that it is supported by
other patterns: the larger patterns in which it is imbedded, the
patterns of the same size that surround it, and the smaller
patterns which are embedded in it."

>from the summary:
"A pattern of language has the structure of a network. However,
when we use the network of a language, we always use it in
*sequence*, going through the patterns, moving always from the
larger patterns to the smaller, always from the ones which create
structures, to the ones which then embellish those structures,
and those which embellish the structures...

"Since the language is in truth a network, there is no one
sequence which perfectly captures it." ...

Malcolm's observations:
I'm reminded suddenly of Julio Cortazar's (sp?) novel Hopscotch,
which had a strong impact on me when my sister gave me that book
about 12 years ago.

Hopscotch offers a chance to read the book from start to finish, ending
after a certain chapter, with the assurance that you had captured
the main essence of the book. Yet it also offered many additional
chapters, and the book followed a non-linear time format jumping
between the gritty reality of an idolized bohemian jazz culture of
Paris in the 20's or 30's juxtaposed with life as a worker in an
insane asylum in South America (Brazil?). At the end of each
chapter in the book you were presented with an optional sequence
to follow other than the linear chapter 1-NNN format it was bound
in, with the encouragement to follow the book in two precise
options or in any sequence you pleased. I might as well put a
plug in for Cortazar's other works too, especially his short
stories - Blow Up was an early short story of his that became the
foundation for a film circa 1966, if I recall correctly...

Anyway, I'd highly recommend _A Pattern Language_ for those looking to 
broaden horizons in thinking about space, buildings and our surroundings, 
patterns, and languages...



>From! Fri Jan  7 22:15:20 1994
Subject: More on Christopher Alexander
It must be a function of my advancing years, but I've *finally*
found something I might have been interested in before Brian Eno
told everyone about it (besides Richard Rorty - although I confess
that, since my primary encounter with him was "Philosophy and the 
Mirror of Nature", I thought he'd taken leave of his senses when he
started laying out the "Congency, Irony, and Solidarity" stuff that
Eno appropriates so shamelessly). Malcolm's stock as a cool guy has
risen in my estime yet again.
The book "A Pattern Language" of which folks speak is the second volume
in what is thus far a 6-volume series of volumes which articulate the
implementation of Alexander's theories about designing, building, and
dealing with the concept of habitable spaces. All of them are published
by Oxford University Press, and, as mentioned, they'll all set you 
back some bucks [I have found Volumes 4 and 6 in the occasional remainder
bin during my travels and snapped them up right away for friends]. Of
them, "A Pattern Language" is the most fun to read, and one of the A1
best "bathroom books" in the Universe (just leave it in there, and read
a little every time you're there. I discovered it in the bathroom of
a friend who was a city planner in 1978, and thereafter bought my first
of, perhaps, 7 copies [my '78 first edition left with an old love years
ago, who looted it from - you guessed it - my bathroom]. Here's a listing
of the volumes thus far:

Vol. 1: The Timeless Way of Building
Vol. 2: A Pattern Language
Vol. 3: The Oregon Experiment
Vol. 4: The Production of Houses
Vol. 5: The Linz Cafe
Vol. 6: A New Theory of Urban Design

As a perusal of the titles may suggest, The first volume lays out CA's
basic philosophical position, which is a development from the book that
really put him on the map - "Notes on the Synthesis of Form" [Harvard
Press published my old paperback edition, dated 1977 - it's a ninth
printing of the original 1964 edition]. NotSoF is, compared to TTWoB,
less photographically illustrated [magic marker drawings instead of
those lovely pictures] and more theoretical in the sense of coming from
a time in which folks probably pursued a different thing when they
spoke of "solving problems" when doing architecture [this *was* the
60s, remember]. The remaining volumes on the other side of "A Pattern
Language" are extensions of the Pattern Language itself in process in
a variety of different situations; I think that perhaps it's possible
that more people might be interested in interrogating what the patterns
might *be* than actually seeing the results in the hands of groups of
persons who've, so to speak, *memorized* all the Oblique Strategies and
use them without really thinking about it, so some of you may really not
want to read much more beyond "A Pattern Language". While APL has a
real place in my heart, I almost find the later books to be a bit more
interesting for me in terms of watching how the patterns change and inflect
in the hearts of *persons* using them. As a reader of the books, I think
I first found the layout of APL as a kind of set of things which 
changed the way I thought about space - a set of little theorems that I
could horse around with [that is, their utility pointed back towards
*me* and let me feel really clever]; sort of like Eccliastes or the
I Ching. But over the years, my sense of them has changed to the point
that I now read the later volumes and return to the pattern language
to feel a sense of the *persons* that emerge from the aphorisms and
illustrations and the stories about where we went and what we did when
we got there and there was this thing to make. (Incidentally, at one point,
there was to be a book which did for the notion of "ornament" what APL
did for structure. It's mentioned in the earlier books, but never 
happened. When PostModern architecture really hit the fans, I found
myself thinking again what sort of volume it might have been....

In terms of whatever aesthetic one would hazard for Enoism [a bit of
a joke, really - since the Domed One seems to loathe ISMs in general
and balk particularly at any pronouncement which would serve to delimit
his behaviour or inquiry], there is much that the average reader would
find interesting: Alexander's notion that building and designing is 
best left in the (guided) hands of an Observant bunch of non-specialists
who'll *use* the space they build. The "network" patterning which is 
used to organize the "Pattern Language" book [this would, incidentally,
make a great piece of Hypertext. Anyone at Oxford want to hire me to
put the CDROM together?], which allows you to scope from microissues to
macroissues with tremendous ease [the whole book is a kind of set of
linked objects, in fact - inheritance and all!], and the issue of how
collaboration affects outcome.

I don't think that "normative" is exactly the word I'm looking for, but
I think that perhaps Anderson's basic approach and aesthetic *does*
depart from Eno's somewhat in the sense that CA and his work group are,
I think groping toward a kind of universal set of patterns which
underlie *all* good building and design, and that their suggestion of the
ubiquity of such "patterns" *does*, in some way, constitute a kind of
norm which Eno would, in the end, not buy lock, stock, and barrel. I
think that, to the degree that I've read and understood CA's work, that
it is the *pattern* which - sufficiently realized or revealed in the
midst of the exercise of collective idiosyncracy - bequeaths to the
final product its "rightness", and that CA would see that rightness as
having something very like the "essential" quality that Eno seems to
deride or distrust whenever he does an interview or writes. Moreover,
I think that Eno is (given his antiessentialist position) right to see
any discussions or attempts to "document" his own style [see his
behaviour in the recent video release of the John Cale documentary
"Words For the Dying", for example] as an attempt to "find" such 
patterns - and that he reacts to that tendency an an attempt to plant
the flag of Essentialism

Yikes! Forgive me for going on, but this is work that I have read and
loved for quite a number of years. I do go on, but do so in the hope
that you may at least be curious enough to consider checking your local
library for a copy of *at least* "A Pattern Language"; if architecture
has the equivalent of the "Oblique Strategies", then this is it.

With every good wish,
Gregory Taylor 

Christopher Alexander, William Burroughs, HyperText

From Tue Jan 11 19:15:46 1994

Thanks to Gregory for his insights in the Chris Alexander <--> Eno
tangent. I'd be interested in hearing from any others who have had any
exposure and reaction to Alexander's work.

Some more related tangents:

I've been getting into some hypertext creation, particularly on the Eno
Web project, and seeing Alexander's reference to language as a
non-linear medium struck me... reminding me that the idea behind
hypertext is to approach information/data(grahpics/sound/video) as a
non-linear language to be navigated on personal needs and whims.

Yes, _A Pattern Language_ would make great hypertext, perhaps even a
great tool to help hypertext desginers learn to appreciate the
elements and quality of the environments they design. I've also just
heard that some Japanese hypertext artist is working on a project to
turn Thoreau's Walden Pond into a hyperstack, and he has apparently
described the project as becoming a focus on finding the patterns
inside the existing work.

OK, so suddenly non-linearity leaps out at me from everywhere as life
continues in "shuffle-play" mode. Tonight I was reading an interview
with William S. Burroughs and I found yet another
pointer to ideas of creative language as a non-linear medium:

(from: William Burroughs -- A Sketch
John C. Kramer, M.D. Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry,
   University of California of Medicine, Irvine, California 92717.
~Journal of Psychoactive Drugs~ Vol. 13(1):95-97 Jan-Mar, 1981)

"And then we talked about writing. Burroughs was turned on to his
style through a suggestion of his friend, Brion Gysin, a
painter. Gysin had said that writing was 50 years behind
painting. What Burroughs decided was to apply the montage method to
``That would be,'' he said, ``actually closer to the facts of
perception than would, say, a sequential narrative. For example, you
walk down the street. You see it and you put it on canvas. That's what
they did first.  But that's not how you really se e it or remember
it. It's more jumbled.  There are the street signs and the vendors and
the houses and people walking. You don't see them like a
photograph. You look at diverse images.  Painting it that way is
montage. I merely applied it to writing. So there's nothing very new

``Do you rearrange with great thought or do you toss it up in the air
and however it comes down...?''

``Both. You get a random factor. Your choice comes in what you use.''

``If it doesn't sound right you toss it out and try again?''

``Yeah. You see the random factor in life every time you look out the
window or walk down the street. Your consciousness is being
continually cut by random factors. I try to make this explicit by
taking words and cutting them up. That's what happens all the time
anyway. That's my theory about art. Art is making you aware of what
you know and don't know you know. That is, the actual facts of

``When Cezanne's paintings were first exhibited people didn't realize
that this was an apple, that was a pear, seen from a certain
angle. They were so upset they actually attacked the canvasses with
umbrellas. Now, anybody, any child, would know what it is.

``The same way Joyce made people aware of their own streams of
consciousness... on one level, that is. Consciousness is much more
complex than that. Now we don't feel that Joyce is at all

``Didn't Joyce spend a hell of a lot of time putting complex phrases
together, each with several meanings?''

``No doubt about that. He spent 20 years on ~Finnegan's Wake~. It's
very difficult to read.''
  . . . . . . .

Of course I'd been aware of Burroughs' cut-ups for years, but I'd
never thought about the randomness of them as related to something
like the Oblique Strategies until all these elements shuffled by me in
near in random sequence in recent days. And imagine a hypertext
version of Naked Lunch! I wonder if you could devise a program to link
the text with random links.

Can anyone think of any Eno pieces that might be considered "cut-ups"?
Any random or not so random re-arrangements? I know the music for the
video installation in San Francisco used random juxtapositions of
loops of music - sort of a deconstruction reconstructed randomly. And
some things like the appearance of a vocal track from King's Lead Hat
appearing cut out of context and instered backwards into a Cluster &
Eno track might also constitute musical cut-ups that could be compared
to the Burroughs techniques.