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PHD-DESIGN  2000

PHD-DESIGN 2000

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Subject:

Re: bicycles and reflectors

From:

Richard Buchanan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Richard Buchanan <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 18 Oct 2000 13:42:10 -0400 (EDT)

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (57 lines)

Norm,

Thanks for your reply.  I am delighted by your articulation of these
issues and by what I believe is a serious move from semantics to inquiry
in your thought.

There may be more resources available for your approach than you have
perhaps found yet in the literature of other parts of the world.  As an
example, I wonder if "dreaming" is closely related to the Platonic
understanding of "myth."  The term "myth" is seriously damaged in
contemporary usage, but its original meaning is much more powerful than
is usually understood.  Myth is a kind of narrative, balanced with Logos
or argument as an alternative to insight when the subject is very
difficult to understand.  Myth is a pathway to insight concerning the
relations of things that are otherwise, because of the contingencies of
experience, not readily accessible.  Today, we often think of myth as
"not true."  But in the original meaning, myth is often "true" in its
significance, if not always in its literal representation.

One may even suggest that designs are, in essence, forms of dreamings. 
And there are a few designers--and some very good ones--who see in
design the creation of myths.  Have you ever read Kenji Ekuan's "The
Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox"?  There is a recent translation
published by the MIT Press.  

Myths lead to participation in a way that arguments often do not.  And
it is cultural participation that is the goal of fourth-order design, I
think.

You are on to something quite significant, whether or not my
interpretation is heading the right way.  It appears to me that you have
moved through artifact and image design to another kind or another
approach to design.  It also appears that we may share a similar
understanding of 3rd- and 4th-order design--at least, we are asking
similar questions about the relation of design and culture.

By the way, I feel something of the pain that you must feel in trying to
find a language to convey your thoughts on these matters.  It comes
through your writing.  I also feel you creating a new semantic
expression of the inquiry you are beginning.  We move from old
interpretations to new interpretations through inquiry.  But when we
come back from inquiry, we often need a new semantics to express what we
have discovered.  Not a small problem.

I think our faculty and students would be very interested in seeing your
ideas developed and shared.  Would you ever consider a visit for more
than a brief time to someplace like Carnegie Mellon?  --I guess this
should be a discussion off-line.  In any case, I hope we will meet up
again in Perth.  Are you planning to attend?

Best wishes,

Dick 


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