The BBC guy was talking about where in civilization we came up with the idea that something "worked", not when it produced the best results, but when it operated most efficiently.

Could the vivisystem guy have been more right than I thought?

But serving a purpose is a soul's directive; it's a holistic view of the essence of a thing or operation, isn't it? You're here to do this. This process should produce that. Ma Nature works that way. Marriages and families and good, honest work work that way.

What works the other way? What measures its successes based not on the quality of the outcome, but on the statistical efficiency of the work in progress? Ah, yes, this marvelous computer. In fact, the BBC guy even mentioned that, without this rather pedantic view of the work-journey, we never could have come to create Technology in all it's awe and bulkiness. Or perhaps, I thought at the time, we would have made a different kind of Technology...but who knows?

Anybody who's read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance knows what I mean by the "Why is technology ugly?" conundrum; I have a strange feeling that perhaps that very paradox--that the things we find so useful we also find so dry and soulless--could stem from this little BBC development in Civilization. Could it be that the soul of a thing is irrevocably tied to its essential nature, not how we may have thought it was, but so that By changing the meaning of any process from serving it's purpose to doing the work efficiently, we may actually be sucking the soul out of it?!

Efficiency. It's such a plywood word...and as soon as somebody says it, I somehow know that the actual purpose of whatever work is going on is about to be lost in the interest of "efficiency". It's a strikingly paradoxical word...We hear it used all the time, supposedly to denote something working better...and yet, "efficiency" seems to be diametrically opposed to "better" results of said work. I can reconcile this, for now, by remembering that Ma Nature's operations, while "working" incredibly and undeniably well--that is, producing amazingly useful and precise results--are incredibly inefficient by our standards. Is anything wasted when Ma Nature works? No--but that's not always the most efficient way to do it; our cars are efficient largely because they produce the waste they do. Could we make a car that wasted nothing? Easily; we already nearly have. Would we call it efficient? Yes, in the advertising, because the word itself sells; but the new car is not more "efficient"--it works better, which is a completely different animal. The dirtier, cheaper-to-make cars that fall apart in five years are, to the companies that make them and the economies that they help to drive, more efficient.

It is argued all the time by people like Bucky Fuller and the Club of Rome that things which work the "best" are always more efficient in the long run. I don't feel that I can prove that--at least not at 8 a.m.--but I like the sound of it. Who wouldn't? If I had to choose between efficiency and soul, I'd certainly WANT to say, "Both!"

What do you all think? What works better---working better or working better?

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