Harmony in Architecture

[Peter Eisenman]: Let me see if I can get it to you another way. Tolstoy wrote about the man who had so many modern conveniences in Russia that when he was adjusting the chair and the furniture, etc., that he was so comfortable and so nice and so pleasant that he didn't know -- he lost all control of his physical and mental reality. There was nothing. What I'm suggesting is that if we make people so comfortable in these nice little structures of yours, that we might lull them into thinking that everything's all right, Jack, which it isn't. And so the role of art or architecture might be just to remind people that everything wasn't all right. And I'm not convinced, by the way, that it is all right.

[Christopher Alexander]: I can't, as a maker of things, I just can't understand it. I do not have a concept of things in which I can even talk about making something in the frame of mind you are describing. I mean, to take a simple example, when I make a table I say to myself: "All right, I'm going to make a table, and I'm going to try to make a good table". And of course, then from there on I go to the ultimate resources I have and what I know, how well I can make it. But for me to then introduce some kind of little edge, which starts trying to be a literary comment, and then somehow the table is supposed to be at the same time a good table, but it also is supposed to be I don't know what; a comment on nuclear warfare, making a little joke, doing various other things ... I'm practically naive; it doesn't make sense to me.

-- "Contrasting Concepts of Harmony in Architecture: The 1982 Debate between Christopher Alexander and Peter Eisenman,"