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Pattern Language

tromboncino with pattern

Isn’t this stunning. It’s the seed end of a tromboncino, a cross section slice.  The seeds are not developed yet. I was about to cook it, but couldn’t resist a photo first.

When you are primed to notice something, you see it everywhere. I wonder whether we see patterns everywhere because we are a pattern-seeking animal, or whether patterns really are everywhere, the whole universe reflected in a tromboncino slice, or a seashell or a weather map?  Whether finding patterns allows us to impose some artificial order on the infinite scale of wonder in the universe, or whether we find patterns beautiful because we recognise some truth about the universe in them?

David Holmgren’s 7th permaculture principle is “design from patterns to details”.  It means that once you “learn” an ecosystem well enough, once you have observed it enough, you start to notice that although every instance is unique, there are bigger patterns operating.  You start to think in systems theory, rather than classic, one way, cause and effect.

And systems theory is, I think, the next great “Enlightenment” that will change our view of the world as thoroughly and profoundly as the last enlightenment did.  The last enlightenment brought us the scientific method.  I love science. I believe science is the best way we currently have to understand reality, and from there, the meaning of life.  But permaculture is a branch of systems theory, that says that the picture is bigger than the scientific method can manage.  In the real world, there are no constants.  There are no side effects. Variables change and multiply, every action has not just an equal an opposite reaction but an infinite number of roll on effects.  Everything is connected sounds all cosmic until you reflect that it’s a simple, obvious, statement of fact. Applied science gives way to applied art.

Nothing like a tromboncino to make one all philosophic!

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Liesel March 8, 2013, 8:51 pm

    Oh, goodness, yes. I’m doing a PhD on urban agriculture and local government law, and the biggest hurdle has been the requirement to express in a linear, scientific method sense what is actually a web or ecology. Maybe I should just put your photo of the tromboncino in as a coversheet 🙂

  • Vanessa March 8, 2013, 9:53 pm

    Food for thought indeed. Sometimes I believe our current culture leads us to overthink things instead of developing a feel for patterns and blurring the line between art and science.

  • narf7 March 9, 2013, 6:39 am

    Everything aims for equilibrium and perfect patternation is part of that striving, what a beautiful vegetable! I wonder what kind of gorgeous patterns that would make on some cloth with some dye…

  • Linda March 9, 2013, 7:26 am

    Liesel, you are welcome!

  • Linda March 9, 2013, 7:28 am

    Hi narf7, I wonder too. I know it is hard to get anything to stick to tromboncino – I’ve tried making trombo parmesan but all the usual coatings – flour, eggs, batter – just fall off. It does soak up liquid tho….

  • Linda March 9, 2013, 7:30 am

    Hi Vanessa, maybe art is just science with infinite variables, and science is just art held still for a moment.

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