All posts for the month May, 2003

More on Pirsig Timelines – Interesting pages from the English (Anglistik und Americanistik) Dept at Vienna University, which hosts an “Easy Rider Anthology” (complete with obligatory soundtrack – betcha can’t guess which tune) with a good analysis of ZAMM, including some detective work on dates. [See earlier timeline post.]

Recent (post ZAMM 1974 / post Lila 1991) output from Pirsig includes ….

SODV – Subjects, Objects, Data and Values – delivered to the Einstein meets Magritte conference in Belgium in 1995 (17:00 – 18:00, Plenary session 11, Thursday, June 1, 1995) . Paper maintained and annotated by Doug Renselle on the Quantonics site. Excellent paper much analysed by MOQites and the Lila Sqaud, which focuses on the connection between the Quantum world views and the Metaphysics of Quality. Worth a read [as I noted much earlier here]. Note also that Heylighen was one of the coordinators, the conference was at the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels (VUB). Illya Prigogine also one of the contributors.

Annotations to Lila’s Child compiled by Dan Glover from the Lila Squad dicussion board hosted on MOQ Focus since 1997. Compilation published this year including extensive comment and annotation from Pirsig miself. Pirsig’s comments are interesting but large parts of the correpondence suffer from the over-zealous disciples interpretion, and disagreement about interpretion, of the sacred scripture syndrome. One or two pragmatic views in there worth digging for. I certainly hold with the static & dynamic levels view, thought I’m less fixated with precisley how many levels since every layer is three layers ad-infinitum anyway. The emergence and evolution between the layers in the key IMHO. I wonder if the original four layers have some relationship to quantum processing as has been suggested for the four DNA bases in Quantum Genetics ? [and here]

Vol 36 No.3 Presidents Letter September 2001[Quote]
The historical bifurcation of technical and liberal education may result in technological advances that are not always well-informed or in the long-term, best interest of society. Pirsig in the neo-classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, points to a possible cause,Whats wrong with technology is that its not connected in any real way with matters of the spirit and of the heart. And so it does blind, ugly things quite by accident and gets hated for that.

Historically we have trained engineers in very narrow vocationally oriented disciplines ready to be productive on the job as soon as they graduate. Indeed, Woodrow Wilson relegated the skillful servant of society along mechanical lines to the non-ruling class. We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger classto forgo the privilege of a liberal education.

Fortunately, history is not destiny and Pirsig provides a ray of hope. The way to resolve the conflict is to break down the barriers of dualistic thought that prevent a real understanding of what technology isnot an exploitation of nature, but a fusion of nature and the human spirit into a new kind of creation that transcends both. [Unquote]

Another engineer sees Pirsig as a ray of hope. See my plea about the “engineering” skills needed to get a planeload of anthropologists airborne in my review of Dawkins’ Devil’s Chaplain too.

Quality – Truth and Beauty ? Interesting exchange here started when Ray Kurzweil initiated a Mind eXchange thread in Jan 2002 on “Why is beauty making a comeback”. Someone points out that Pirsig’s “quality” is what they are talking about, whilst another (ironically fortunately) suggests that neither is on-topic for a thread on AI. Many a true word spoken in irony.

Struck by this quote from Salman Rushdie’s Ground Beneath Her Feet, 1999 [Quote] But Sir Darius Xerxes Cama wasn’t listening. He was standing at the great window of the library, staring out at the Arabian Sea. “The only people who see the whole picture,” he murmured, “are the ones who step out of the frame.” [Unquote]. Via Jonathan Marder writing in MOQ Focus.

The reason it struck me is Pirsig has a similar liking of stepping out of the frame too [Quote from ZAMM Chapter 1] In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. [Unquote] See also my comment on Paul Kelly’s blog about the fact that I drive a convertible car !

Blogged earlier about Gimbo driving over the second Severn river crossing “in a zen-like state”. Robbie just reminded me that DNA’s Holistic Detective Dirk Gently used the Zen driving technique – following the driver in front on the assumption that he knew where he was going and that it was probably a place worth going to. (The catch being that if there is no one in front you must apply the rule to the person behind ?)

That Baloney Generator – This was one of the items I also picked out in my review of Pinker. This link is to Searchlight an interesting Blog by cmac (?) at Chicago Uni. (Recently recommended list includes Lila !) David Gurteen also commented on the baloney generator. In Pinker’s words [Quote] The conscious mind — the self or soul — is a spin doctor, not the commander in chief.[Unquote]

Avoiding the Charybdis of Scientific Fundamentalism – A paper from Dr James Willis given to an audience of medical practitioners last year. Those of you following my blog will notice I’m working my way through James’ work and find that he voices the need to avoid the extremes of scientific fundamentalism as he calls it (hyper-rationalism as I’ve said) with a passion and humour born of hard-bitten experience. In our context here – don’t ever assume knowledge can be represented by some fixed ontology backed with numbers. (I’ve just obtained another of his books, Friend’s in Low Places.)