“The most perfect world is like a heap of rubble tossed down in confusion.”

—misquote of Heraclitus

“A sense of chaotic planning engulfs site after site. Subdivisions are made—but to what purpose? Building takes on a singular wildness as loaders scoop and drag soil all over the place. Excavations form shapeless mounds of debris, miniature landslides of dust, mud, sand and gravel. Dump trucks spill soil into an infinity of heaps. The dipper of the giant mining power shovel is 25 feet high and digs 140 cu. yds. (250 tons) in one bite. These processes of heavy construction have a devastating kind of primordial grandeur, and are in many ways more astonishing than the finished project—be it a road or a building. The actual disruption of the earth’s crust is at times very compelling, and seems to confirm Heraclitus’s Fragment 124, “The most beautiful world is like a heap of rubble tossed down in confusion.”

—Robert Smithson, A Sedimentation of the Mind

“Freud said many causes. Pound broke marble blocks with a hammer. Olson proposed a deunified field. Godard called the movies a world of fragments. The most beautiful world is like a heap of rubble tossed down in confusion, said Heraclitus. It seems that wherever one is one is out in the open, with ever-tightening headroom. Beckett says he’s searching for some form to accommodate the mess.”

—Clark Coolidge, Smithsonian Depositions

“The most beautiful arrangement is a pile of things poured out at random.”

—Heraclitus, Fragments, trans. Richard McKirahan

“The fairest universe is but a heap of rubbish piled up at random.”

—Heraclitus, Fragments, trans. William Harris

“For God has established these laws in such a marvellous way that even if we suppose that He creates nothing more than what I have said, and even if He does not impose any order or proportion on it but makes it of the most confused and muddled chaos that any of the poets could describe, the laws of nature are sufficient to cause the parts of this chaos to disentangle themselves and arrange themselves in such a good order that they will have the form of a most perfect world, a world in which one will be able to see not only light, but all the other things as well, both general and particular, that appear in the actual world.”

—René Descartes, Treatise on Light

“Here one cannot yet speak of the best world <mundo optimo>, for we do not yet have any concept of ends; but metaphysical perfection can surely be treated. Metaphysical perfection consists in reality. –Reality or thingness is that something is perfect as a thing… The most perfect world is thus in the metaphysical sense that which has the highest degree of reality which can ever belong to a world… Accordingly, the most perfect world of all is still only a whole of contingent substances.”

—Immanuel Kant, Lectures on Metaphysics: Metaphysik L

“[T]his most perfect world is not the most perfect being but rather merely the most perfect world: there remains an essential difference as heterogeneous.”

—Immanuel Kant, Lectures on Metaphysics: Metaphysik Herder


Most Perfect World is Garth Swanson and Rachael M. Wilson reporting from the rubbish heap, currently located in Brooklyn, New York.

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