The Quarry

The quarry is an interesting design pattern. Our daily lives need nurture, and while some of the nutrients are free or at least easily available, there are some that require hard work: Seek out the sources, mine them with skills and stamina, and transport and transform the goods into desired place and shape.

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We all should have our own personal quarries (which is why I declared them a design pattern, not for computer science but for the architecture of our own lives). My personal quarries, in a pre-internet life, used to be bookstores. They had their own personality that you needed to get acquainted with, invited into, so to speak. There were unforgettable moments, for instance, when I went into one of these quarries in Marseille, found Marcel Béalu’s L’Expérience de la nuit, and was told by the wise person at the cash register c’est une très beau livre. Indeed it is.

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Another key experience was my visit to a museum book store in a city I hadn’t been before. I was instantly struck by a déjà vu experience next to none: I had been in this bookstore before. To prove this to myself, I went straight to a shelf in a particular aisle and retrieved the book I knew was there. I don’t believe in these things, and they don’t happen to me.

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It took me a few hours to remember that I had been to a another museum a few years back, and visited their museum store, which had the exact same layout as the one that caused my déjà vu. This was long ago, and in Europe, and I was not familiar with the fact that store owners had discovered design patterns and used them for cheap and successful replication.

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Since then, times have changed again. Not only are my book quarries mostly gone, but even the chains of near identical book stores have largely disappeared, replaced by electronic online retailers. I don’t object the internet (how could I). But I believe that we need to resist the total commercialization of our lives. We can do so by creating little quarries for others. Maybe.

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The pictures here are from the Old State House Quarry in McCormick’s Creek State Park. Southern Indiana is limestone country, and the lime stone from this particular quarry was quarried in the late 19th century.

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