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I have enough life experience to know for a fact that the words most often spoken in hippie construction are, Hey, that’s really cool.  We should put a foundation under it.  Old homesteads.  Experimental housing.  Barns and sheds.  Makeshift housing.  All that originality.  All that grace and character.  So much history in that structure.    Composting as we speak.

A lot of structures have been rescued by foundations, while some remain standing by the force of their own internal miracle.  Other structures, you should just go ahead and let them fall down.

The biggest problem with foundations with making it solid at the very bottom of things, is that they are a fiction.  You can think you have made one, but geology will always have its way with it.

The turn of the 20th century saw a major mathematical program in academia called foundations—the search for a few self-evident concepts—definitions or principles—out of which you could derive all of mathematical truth.  The idea was to articulate the basic stuff, like maybe what a number is, and the bare-bones logical rules, like something can’t be true and not-true at the same time.  Get those basics together.  And show that you could build all of mathematics out of it.  Foundations.  Part of the march towards the digital age.

The program was a complete failure.  It seemed straightforward enough.  2 + 2 = 4.  That’s so cool we should put a foundation under it. Turns out, somebody proved that you can’t.  There’s just no way you can come up with a basic set of foundational statements to hold up math.  And even when you try, somebody can take the opposite statements and use them for a foundation to make a math that’s completely different.

Probably the best known example of this happened in geometry.  Regular old Euclidean geometry—the geometry for building houses—has, as one of it’s foundational statements parallel lines don’t meet.  But if you ask, What if they do meet? you could invent a whole different kind of geometry.  People have.  Geometries of warped spaces in many dimensions that some people dream will be useful for building spaceships.

The upshot is, even when the foundation seems pretty solid, it can be interesting to check it out.

Consider, for example, the many distinguished careers and contracts related to the breeding and carving up of living creatures to see what they’re like inside, or injecting chemicals into their brains to see what they’ll do.  This is all founded on standards, regulations, and complexities of ethics and belief that make these practices good for us, because the creatures are so much like us, except for in the kinds of things that can hurt them.

To perpetrate a genocide, you have to work into the foundation of your world that some humans are sub-human.  Savages.  Cockroaches.   With those kinds of ideas you can enslave people.  Even people you can’t see.  They’ve gotten used to living like that.  It’s a higher wage than they could get anywhere else.

A lot of people think it’s fun to start fires and blow things up.   Something in the power of that energy release.  A bunch of them have gotten together and invented a version of peace and prosperity that’s got a foundation cobbled from mutually assured destruction.

So you can put a foundation under just about anything.  Although no foundation is going to last—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

A lot of people don’t realize when they are contemplating a structure, that 75% of the work is in the foundation.  And the other 75% is the finish work.