Writings and Suchlike
Creative writing is one of my passions. These texts are spread across
the last decade or so, with the bulk of them either at the start of the decade
(around 1992/93) or the end (2002 to 2006), my time in the middle was spent on my
studies and a full-time job, so I didn't get enough writing done.
- Of Design
- Rewrite of my Bachelors Thesis in a more academically-friendly format, as
opposed to the artist-friendly format of the original. This is a PDF export
from the (rough, partial) early draft.
- Play in Design
- Early workup on the topic of Play in Design, this material has been folded into Of Design above.
- Treasure Chests
- Bachelors Thesis survey section, discusses a few hundred themes and schools
of thought surrounding design theory. Discussions are far too terse in most
cases, but may be of interest while you're waiting for the rewrite.
The poems are listed here in roughly chronological order, with poems of
romance separated out into the column on the right.
Fiction & Stream of Consciousness
Much of this is old material, with a significant representation of material from
my first writer's craft course in 1992-93
- He Thinks About Emotions (1998) -- A writer is called to dinner while pondering the emotional state of his characters.
Plans change, unexpected guests arrive, priorities change.
- Throwing Stones (1996) -- This is a stream of consciousness piece. Two guards,
possibly lovers, stand guard at the meeting of a stream
and a remote road.
- Dream of Asworth (1995) -- Dream recorded in 1995, 3 scenes.
- Stratford Terminal (1995) -- A dream-smith meets a young girl as they stop in Stratford Terminal.
- Bird-Keeper (1995) -- A short excerpt from a letter, the guardian of a bird ponders the world outside.
- Mistress, Seamstress (1995) -- A blind woman learns the truth about her husband.
- What Wondrous Legacies, What a Glorious Age (1995) -- The initial image (fugitive in a corn field) was from a dream.
If I'm not mistaken, this was originally part of a letter to
my friends at University while I was away.
- Observation Affects the Outcome (1995) -- When I went to university, I finally found someone
who both could and would dance with me. It was one
of the most joyful and powerful experiences in my life
to find someone who could express themselves through
free-form dance without the need to restrain themselves.
A simple comment killed the joy, rendering me incapable
of finding it again.
- Bridges (1993) -- I wrote this to my first girlfriend,
if I'm recalling correctly,
it was in the second letter I ever wrote to her.
It describes my understanding (at the time)
of what love is really about, of the beauty
of mutual admiration and respect.
- The Second Professor (1992) -- Another response to the Police song "Don't Stand so Close to Me"
- This is not a story of romance. (1992) -- The first day of my life, with digressions.
- Professor's Endgame (1992) -- War in a classroom, student revolt
- Processional (1992) -- Response to a grove of trees in a conservation area (park).
- Planner (1992) -- The tragedy of service beyond one's limits.
- Paradise Breached (1992) -- The colonization of paradise.
- My Dog Spot (1992) -- Description of the cure for a dog's disease.
- Love in the Light (1992) -- In Writers' Craft, I gave one of my pieces to
a classmate to read. Her response was...
unencouraging. This piece, about a gollum-like
creature having an affair with a puddle
was my response to her response.
- Little Carving, Little Girl (1992) -- In response to W.B. Yeats' "The Ballad of Moll Magee". Photographs are said to steal your soul...
- Flood Plain (1992) -- Response to the Police' song "Don't Stand so Close to Me"
- Dance Hall (1992) -- I love to dance.
At this point in my life I had basically given up on
ever finding someone with whom I could dance. This
story was written to explore that fading hope.
- Arms of the Mother (1992) -- Organic child born to a crystalline parent.
- Beasts (1992) -- Fairly close to stream of consciousness, computers are such beautiful pets.
- Alone (1992) -- This was a piece for the high school newspaper's Christmas edition,
based on a story told me by a classmate (Simone Vanlimbeek).
- Flight from Wolves, Civilised and Wild (1991) -- A creature at bay, circled by enemies intent upon his
- Meditations on the Roadside (1991) -- Hot road in summer, dreamy thoughts by the roadside.
Written for and published in the school paper.
- Announcement -- White Ribbon Campaign (1991) -- We ran a peace club at our high school. We found out
about an awareness campaign to stop violence against
women (we actually found out about it the day before the campaign).
I wrote and performed this piece on the morning announcements
at the high school. To get it read, I had to explain to our
principal that I had, in fact, never had a girlfriend at the
time, and that therefore the work was entirely fictitious.
Toolboxes and Treasure Chests
My Bachelor's thesis (Bachelors of Independent Studies) was the synthesis of
a meta-theory of design theory to cover just about every theory useful to the
practicing designer. It was presented, in the main, as a series of
creative writing vignettes, with an "appendix" of sort detailing the
application of the meta-theory to particular instances of design theory.
Some of the vignettes are included here because they stand nicely on their own.
- Of Creation (1997) -- The
"creation myth" of my thesis. The thesis is based on synthesizing a
considerable number of theories about the nature and practice of design upon a
sub-structure of perceptual psychology. This myth describes the process of
creating the thesis in allegorical terms.
- Kent's Call (1997) -- It is very easy to fall into simplifying design theory,
attempting to make all ideas fit into a single, simple ideal.
This piece cautions against assuming that our understanding
of design can be any simpler than our understanding of the
human being. There is no necessarily true answer, no
necessarily perfect plan, just an organic growth of knowledge
to which we may contribute.
- Lost Verse of Kent's Call (1997) -- The particular structure of the thesis tended to suggest that
individual tools and ideas could be used a la carte, composed
together into whatever form was desired. This section introduced
the need for subtlety, balance and judgment in design, the
overriding vision and consistency without which mechanistic
- Lament of the Vellum (1997) -- In the end, the plan, the organizational structure of the thesis,
is not the important idea. It is the material between the bones,
the ideas and inspirations which are supported by the structure,
which will allow us to become better designers.
- Need and the Ability to Cope
(1997) -- From the section describing the basic tenets of perceptual
psychology, this newspaper article discusses a gestalt concept of
beauty explained in terms of low-level perceptual mechanics. Designer's
reactions to such attempts to reduce design have been predictable.
- Depth in Design (1997) -- The introduction to the (large) section on depth in design.
- Intellectual Depth Introduced (1997) -- Part of the introduction of the physical/intellectual axis of depth.
Physical depth is immediately apparent as a multitude of details. A
forest is physically very complex (deep) because of the number of
sub-elements which make up the environment. Intellectual depth,
however, can arise in physically simple or complex environments. In
essence, it is the perception that a pattern exists, or that an
understanding of the organisational principle of an environment could
be formed. For a designer, by extension, it can be thought of as
including generative patterns which the user may detect when within
- The Two Valleys (1997) -- Explores the distinction between depth generated through
abundance and depth generated through refinement. For instance, paisley or
Persian carpets are abundantly deep (lots of detail), while the
entasis of a Greek column shows refined depth (the overall form
seems simple, but is slightly warped according to an underlying
system of rules).
- Experience and the Ability to Cope with Environments (1997) -- Mock-up advertisement for a brain storage facility seen in Grandfather and the Brain Stores.
- Grandfather and the Brain Stores (1997) -- Originally presented on the same page as "Experience and the Ability to Cope",
this section explores the nature of
memory and experience, and the interaction of these with the concept of self
and self-determination. The newspaper advertisement explores a positive and
useful conceptualization of the mechanistic interpretation, while the diary
of the young man explores a few of the more sinister aspects.
- There's Complexity for You (1997) -- As we become more familiar with certain types of complexity, we become
better at recognising the patterns. Previously fascinating designs become
boring. We search for new patterns in more complex environments. In
a society where only a small fraction of society studies art, this leads
to a serious gap between what interests those who study art, and those who
- Here's Complexity for Us (1997) -- Continues the same theme as There's Complexity for You, looking at the other side of the equation,
the "dumbing down" effect of the media, the tendency to provide only that
information which is considered palatable or acceptable to the majority. This process
makes it unlikely that the media consumers to challenge assumptions about the
way their world works. It also tends to encourage mental laziness, complacency and
resistance to change.
- Scribing Play (1997) -- One of the
great choice of creation is to play with ideas. When we become too serious and
constrained, too respectful of authority, power and the status quo, we lose
the ability to change the system, to play our role of social critic.
- Programme, 25th Symposium on Sadism in Design
(1997) -- Having long since become a respectable ideal for practising
designers, the symposium brings together some touchy-feely
- T.D.S. Embattled (1997) -- The Design School finds itself the subject of an inquiry regarding the teaching of sadism in design.
- Wasps Nests (1997) -- Our associations with particular stimuli are
largely based on our education and experiences.
As a result, it's sometimes hard to guess
what the user's reaction to a particular stimuli will be.
- Identification vs. Identification (1997) -- Perception is an iterative process,
with lower-level identification of patterns
allowing higher-level identification to occur.
There are often key low-level identifications
without which we find higher-level identification
- Bee-stings and Balm (1997) -- Our environment, including our state of mind
dramatically affects our interpretation of
stimuli within our environment. This Gestalt
principal is explored in the middle of the night.
- Principles of User-centred Design (1997) -- Designers have used many methodologies for understanding the needs of their users.
This interview with one of the survivors of the war (the same world as Rabid
Functionalism) lists a general hierarchy of techniques for user-needs analysis.
- "Foam-less" Functionalism (1997) -- The same universe as "Rabid Functionalism", tells the media story
of the softening of functionalism and athleticism and their
eventual joining, a movement led by one of the (fictitious)
children in the attic of "The Time Before".
- Purification and Beauty in Simplicity (1997) -- One of the most fun sections in the thesis (though not particularly because of the subject matter),
the fun little story of a priest preaching minimalism to the masses.
- "Rabid" Functionalism (1997) -- What do men think about when they kiss a woman?
What else but the spreading of the cause of
functionalism and the passion of that dream?
Written in the same universe as The Time Before.
- The Time Before (1997) -- Functionalists crouch in an attic as aesthetics perform a
door-to-door search in the last stages of the war.
- The Limit (1997) -- Efficiency and simplicity in design can be used to
search for more "beautiful" designs, and/or to
create more functional designs. For many, the
search for the one is the search for the other.
- Home to Dinner (1997) -- I got a lot of support from friends and family during
the period where I was writing my thesis. Of course,
most of them never read it...
- Questions of Judgement and Subtlety (1997) -- Building on the idea of personal exposure to design altering the ability
of the individual to recognise patterns, explores the need to use more
subtle, inflected designs when dealing with those more likely to be exposed
to design on a regular basis. Incidentally plays off a stereotype that
first hit me in my architecture school interview, that of the country hick
(I grew up in the country) who can't understand "real" city-style art.
Introduces the subject of judgement based on audience and purpose.
- Questions of Consistency (1997) -- To imply intellectual depth, it is necessary to have consistent vision
in design. This is the story of my 8th grade graduation, and the
lesson learned in preparing for it.