Fine Lines

a matter of distinction

The term distinction has been devalued by marketers. We’re supposed to think of it as an attribute of snobbery when in fact we cannot live without the capacity to make distinctions, to distinguish differences, both gross and fine.

In this reading we can see the practice of making distinctions as a fundamental aspect of what it takes to act wisely.

It can be seen as fundamental to the practice of design.

This site hosts a collection of quotes and essays, ruminations on questions pertaining to how we decide.



A Notice above a Submariner’s Doorway

John McPhee in his Annals of the Former World, quotes a geologist, David Love’s translation of a notice he found over the doorway at a German Naval Officer’s School in Kiel after WWII.

Say not, “This is the Truth!” but “So it seems to me to be as I now see the things I think I see.”

Submariners have never been able to afford the myth of certainty.

A perspective on the work

“My grandfather Joe [a smith] used to say: ‘Always take as long as the job tells you, because it’ll be here when you’re not. And you don’t want folk asking what fool made that codge?'”

Alan Garner

“Faith, Hope and Impossibility” Philip Guston 1966

To will a new form is inacceptable, because will builds distortionsDesire, too, is incomplete and arbitrary. These strategies, however intimate they become, must especially be removed to clear the way for something else a situation somewhat unclear, but which in retrospect becomes a precise act….

The closer I getthe more intensely subjective I becomebut the more objective too.  Your eye gets sharper; you become continuously more and more critical.

There is no measure I can hold on to except this… making.

Philip Guston, Faith, Hope and Impossibility XXXI Artnews Annual 1966


Reading Form

A pillar of a vital culture is an active interplay between the forms people use and the meanings they contain. A definite point on the road of collapse has been passed when these distinctions are lost. This happens in both directions. People lose track of what things mean to them and those who make things …

Built to Last

The reflex to innovate, the reductio ad absurdum of the logic of making changes, is thrashing us. As with anything worth talking about it’s hard to get across just how deep the trouble goes. How far it has spread.

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