Not sure yet whether all the conference papers are to be published – presumably on Ant McWatt’s site would make sense, or the MoQ.org site – it will be interesting to see if and how the BBC filmed documentary and any transcripts see the light of day.
[Photographs published here.]
[Post Note : Horse has published proceedings & attendees on MoQ.org]
[Post Note : Papers are published on Ant’s site.]
[My own paper here and the accompanying slide presentation here.]
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 MoQ.org 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.