The satisfaction of Unintelligent Design

In one of the New Towns near us today as we like the lake as a place to stroll around while the little one rides his bike just in front of us.  Struck once again by my ambivalence towards New Towns.  They’re all very convenient and ordered, and just the way you’d design it if you were able to do so.

And yet … 

The process of evolution by natural selection committed some errors. In Operational Research terms we have entered some local optima rather than achieving a global optimum.  Our bodies have yet to adapt to a vertical position, as our aching backs atest.  More tellingly the way that our eyes evolved left the blood vessels which feed the retina flowing along the top of it – partially obscuring the retina.  If designed from scratch the blood supply would be round the back, just as the wonderful service roads and bicycle underpasses serve the citizens of new towns.  

My chosen home town of Harpenden shows the residue of hundreds of thousands of disparate town planning and building decisions that have washed over each other and scrunched the residual shoreline of the current town.  And it’s gloriously imperfect – the way the road narrows on Station Road and always threatens head on collision, and the practical impossibility of cycling anywhere with a small child being cases in point.

And yet …

I prefer Harpenden.  Perhaps imperfection – a rich, complex, multi-layered imperfection recognises itself, and cherishes the symmetry rather than failing to click with the intelligent design.

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2 thoughts on “The satisfaction of Unintelligent Design

  1. Yes. Nicely put! And I prefer a Mandelbrot set to a tesselated pattern. Even though my new computer won’t run Winfract.

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