I, Pencil My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read

February 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

“You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery—more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, the wise G. K. Chesterton observed, “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”

“Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Especially when it is realized that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U.S.A. each year.”

“Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background.”

“Actually, millions of human beings have had a hand in my creation, no one of whom even knows more than a very few of the others. Now, you may say that I go too far in relating the picker of a coffee berry in far off Brazil and food growers elsewhere to my creation; that this is an extreme position. I shall stand by my claim. There isn’t a single person in all these millions, including the president of the pencil company, who contributes more than a tiny, infinitesimal bit of know-how. From the standpoint of know-how the only difference between the miner of graphite in Ceylon and the logger in Oregon is in the type of know-how. Neither the miner nor the logger can be dispensed with, any more than can the chemist at the factory or the worker in the oil field—paraffin being a by-product of petroleum.”

Here is an astounding fact: Neither the worker in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit of metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less, perhaps, than does a child in the first grade. Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or may not be among these items.”

“There is a fact still more astounding: the absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being.”

I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, zinc, copper, graphite, and so on. But to these miracles which manifest themselves in Nature an even more extraordinary miracle has been added: the configuration of creative human energies—millions of tiny know-hows configurating naturally and spontaneously in response to human necessity and desire and in the absence of any human master-minding! Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree.

RP.25

The above is what I meant when writing, “If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing.” For, if one is aware that these know-hows will naturally, yes, automatically, arrange themselves into creative and productive patterns in response to human necessity and demand—that is, in the absence of governmental or any other coercive masterminding—then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people. Freedom is impossible without this faith.

RP.26

Once government has had a monopoly of a creative activity such, for instance, as the delivery of the mails, most individuals will believe that the mails could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely. And here is the reason: Each one acknowledges that he himself doesn’t know how to do all the things incident to mail delivery. He also recognizes that no other individual could do it. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation’s mail delivery any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to make a pencil. Now, in the absence of faith in free people—in the unawareness that millions of tiny know-hows would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity—the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that mail can be delivered only by governmental “master-minding.””

http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.html

“What is a computer? Various metaphors have organized entire careers” B. Verplank

January 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

Tilda Swinton

December 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Best bits:

“And I was just about to reply to this letter and I went up to say goodnight to my children, and they were 8 and a half at this moment, and my son, who is a very fanciful being, said to me – I was giving him a dream * mimics tracing a circle on his forehead*(…) – and he suddenly said to me: “mama, what were people’s dreams like before cinema was invented?” and I.. *mimics head exploding” it was uuuunbelievable and I went downstairs and I wrote a reply and I said “hold.. your horses” ”

Bit about conversations that last through the years and movies being the afterthought/materialization of those conversations

Bit about planting your feet.”I learnt that – and this is very heavy – I learnt that the mountain does come to Mohammed”.
” (…) you’re reaally bringing yourself with you, you’re not leaving yourself outside.

Conquest of the skies

December 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

-note to self: remember the arches of the wings

Smart street corners

October 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

First building with a fully integrated computational design and robotic fabrication process

July 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

http://www.dezeen.com/2014/06/24/landesgartenschau-exhibition-hall-at-university-of-stuttgart-robot-prefabricated-plywood/

Kinetic wall

June 21, 2014 § Leave a comment