MoQ Conference Update

Not sure yet whether all the conference papers are to be published – presumably on Ant McWatt’s site would make sense, or the site – it will be interesting to see if and how the BBC filmed documentary and any transcripts see the light of day.

[My photographs published here.]
[Horse has
published proceedings & attendees? on Original]
[Papers are
published on Ant’s site.]
[My own paper here and the accompanying slide presentation here.]
[Many broken links above – under reconstruction by the RPA in 2024.]

Whilst waiting, I thought I’d blog my incomplete thoughts …

I was only able to attend the Wednesday 6th social evening, at the Bear and Billet in Chester and then on a Dee river cruise, and the Thursday 7th conference, before zipping back to Reading as the Thursday evening social got underway. Bob and Wendy (Pirsig) both attended, as did a number of active MoQ-Discuss members and other participants with connections to organiser Ant McWatt, and the Liverpool Philosophy department. Marvellous, not just to put real human faces to names, but to see, hear and be a part of lively discussion between so many enthusiastic personalities. Bob as the self-effacing but proud father of his now self-sufficient MoQ offspring, and Wendy as enthusiastic advocate of MoQ as anyone. Horse, Maggie Hettinger, David Buchanan, Paul Turner, Mark Maxwell, Mati Palm-Leis, Gavin Gee-Clough amongst the 35-plus participants, including several who had travelled from the US, Canada and the Far East, not forgetting the sympathetic BBC TV production team of Andy and Karen. I hope Ant got a full attendee list.

The conference itself kicked-off with a welcome by Ant, including delivering an introduction penned by Bob.

Horse (custodian of and the MoQ-Discuss forum) then read a scene setting excerpt by Lao Tsu from the Tao Te Ching, suggested by Henry Gurr.

Then Paul Turner and I presented a live tour of Henry Gurr’s web-site, focussing certain passages in the narrative ZMM trip, being (a) highly accurate in terms of the real details of the geography and locations, and (b) metaphorically equivalent to the philosophical “chautauqua” woven into the narrative. The latter may be no surprise in a general sense to readers of ZMM, (the low country, the foothills and the high ground of the mind, etc) but Henry’s studies show how precise and consistent the metaphorical bridges between the journey and the chautauqua really are. Those claiming the title “Pirsig Pilgrims” need to check-in with Gennie DeWeese in Bozeman.

Then I presented my own personal view “It’s Evolutionary Psychology, Stupid” of how I came to read ZMM late in life and learn that the MoQ fitted as a world model of many issues I’d discovered in my 25 plus years general engineering management and information modelling experiences to date, and some of my speculative thinking that makes up the material blogged through Psybertron.

[I see this 1999 paper by Ant McWatt (Doug Renselle’s review here at Quantonics), covers very explicit Darwinian evolution parallels in the MoQ. I remember thinking I must be going mad when some MoQ’ers challenged the reality of evolution, but I feel vindicated in the title of my paper.]

Then Dave Boyce, one of Ant’s colleagues, read out a paper “Quality in the new Millennium” by Richard Loggins. A poetic review of the relevance of MoQ and its significance compared with the great works never fully appreciated in the lifetimes of their creators, together with a very personal view of cultural blindness and perception such as only Richard could know. (Post Note – Loggins and his paper both turn out to be hoaxes. Humorous though the content is with hindsight, a great deal of ill-feeling has been caused between the perpetrators and those embarrased by their quotes about the paper. My own reaction to the paper itself was to criticise Loggins / Glenn Bradford’s use of feigned disabilities and sympathy to excuse that “perecption as only Richard could know” as I alluded. See report here.)

The second half was led by the highlight of the day, an immensly creative and moving presentation by Dave Buchanan. Suffice to say it was a speculation on a screenplay, that portrayed the MoQ via a modern-day Orphic mythology with rock music, more details of which I can’t give here without spoiling the quality and effect of the paper itself. You people will be eternally grateful David’s delivery was recorded for posterity by the BBC crew. Inspired stuff which hit home with everyone, not least Bob, who was moved to reveal personal details of experiencing Cocteau’s film (Testament of Orpheus ?). The Orphic thread must surely grow from here.

Follow that, Mark Maxwell. Mark continued with a paper on his questions concerning the coherence of dynamic quality or “sweet spot” that lies between static quality on the one hand and totally disordered chaos at the other extreme. Mark’s search for that elusive dynamic quality, illustrated with his father’s bow and references to Eugen Herrigel.

Mati Palm-Leis then presented his paper on the difficulties of getting Bob’s work approved as a valid academic / doctoral research topic, and some recommendations to make progress in future, Ant McWatt being the sole success so far. A number of those present with specific interests in this problem led to some lively debate.

Talking of academia and education, Gavin Gee-Clough delivered an, at times vitriolic, tirade against the low-quality culture of education by imitation, mediated with an enthralling mix of sex and drugs and rock and roll. Worth experiencing for the QOTSA quote alone.

Several impromptu statements and questions were made by others that led to some real quality debate, terminated only by the caretaker needing us to vacate and lock-up the room. Pity I couldn’t stay for the full post-conference social.

17 thoughts on “MoQ Conference Update”

  1. sounds like you are somewhat a celebrity in the MOQ crowd. very cool. It also sounds like you enjoyed the conference and the particpants.Had you met pirsig prior to this?

    ” Gavin Gee-Clough delivered an, at times vitriolic, tirade against the low-quality culture of education by imitation, mediated with an enthralling mix of sex and drugs and rock and roll.”

    I wrote this to Geoganna recently.

    “I think many approach college education as something to get through, to get good grades from and to get good jobs with… that and drinking and screwing around a lot.

    I think Alan Bloom touched on this in “The Closing of the American Mind?.”

  2. Celebrity ? I think not. Very un-Zen. Just fortunate.
    (I think only Ant had met Bob before.)

    I love the ambiguity seeing my words in your quote. It was the presentation (and not education) that was “mediated by the sex and drugs and rock and roll”. Excellent.

    I’ve noticed that Alan Bloom reference before, must read it.

  3. Here’s a nice overview of the book. Seems I misspelled his first name. (hope georganna is on vacation).

    “I love the ambiguity seeing my words in your quote. It was the presentation (and not education) that was “mediated by the sex and drugs and rock and roll?.”

    Sometimes I think I only get about i/2 of what you say.

  4. Sounds like a good time had by all. Look forward to reading the papers.

  5. Ah yes, I remember the Allan Bloom stuff now … all that stuff about rock & roll being degenerate, led to lots of disagreements on MoQ-Discuss.

    People show their prejudices in what they choose to attack. Better to be constructive IMHO. Anyway, moving on.

  6. Hi David, real pity you couldn’t make it, I believe 7/7 will turn out to be quite a special date. It’s along time since I had such a huge injection of positive vibes.

    Must find a way to meet up with you in Oz in the next month or so. I’ll e-mail you.

  7. “People show their prejudices in what they choose to attack.”

    Is this a truism I should investigate?
    this sounds something like “you only see the faults in others that you yourself have”

    Ah, the sixties, the age of enlightenment, if you weren’t too stoned to notice.

  8. I assert that Robert did not have a nervous breakdown as described in Zen … but a spiritual transformation. Eckhart Tolle speaks of the stillness or presence in the present moment at the moment of sense perception. This is the narrow gate of life as Jesus said. This IS quality! This moment! right now!

    I think Robert made himself wrong for what was happening to him and the people around him who are trapped in the egoic state of mind didn’t know what the hell was going on.

    Robert Pirsig is a Bodhisattva

  9. Zachrey,

    There is no doubt, if you read Pirsig’s words in the timeline, that the thing that “really drove him mad” was that people around him could not see what he was seeing, rather than his own emlightenment.

    I do believe he saw something important.

    Having met and corresponded with Bob, I doubt he is anything other than a normal, highly intelligent, but imperfect, human being, who happens also to be a good writer.

  10. Pingback: Psybertron Asks
  11. “Sometimes I think I only get about i/2 of what you say.”
    (comment #3. by alice on 07.13.2005)
    Not only does she only get 1/2 of what you say, but it’s the imaginary half
    (= i/2).

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