Struggling with motivations for and concentration on several large tasks / projects in my lap:

      • The Robert Pirsig Association – with 2024 being the 50th Anniversary of his seminal work in ZMM – “we” have only recently created the RPA and plans for #ZMM50th – “P”.
      • Writing The Book(s) – two in fact – Book “F” a fictional (historical & fantasy) narrative and Book “T” a systems-thinking philosophical text. “T” first with key aspects then worked into the “chautauqua” inside “F”. Both have significant outlines and section drafts. Both a long way from finished.
      • Doctoral Research – I have “D” the “Systems Thinking (Mental – Personal and Cultural) Ecosystem” doctoral research proposal and personal statement created and already shared with interested systems and management, practitioners and academics. Remaining problem is tailoring the scope to academics who are not only interested but have the understanding and bandwidth to be doctoral supervisors at their academic institution. (Oh, and then actually achieving it.)

They’re not unconnected of course.

Pirsig informs my intellectual journey (but see *) and some aspects of his thesis are explicitly developed in mine, both books and the research. Obviously the chautauqua within the novel is a model inspired explicitly by Pirsig as well as implicitly by many other writers of philosophical novels. Similarly the systems thinking shapes (architects) the whole as well as being the important subject matter – Pirsig was a systems thinker. The doctoral research lends credibility to the wider writing, and so on.

I was prompted to summarise the state of play following a chat yesterday with Anatoly Levenchuk and Victor Agroskin – two Russian colleagues I’ve previously referred to as the smartest guys I’ve ever met. Not simply reinforced but positively inspired by two aspects: firstly by the fact that the connections above were immediately evident in just a brief chat and already noted almost two years earlier in the chat history, and secondly that, in that same time Anatoly has created a tremendous amount of relevant material.

Too many to list but here a few examples

Book “The Intellectual Stack”

Book “Personal Engineering”

Now I have
— Modeling and attention management
(by Medvedeva and Lubenchenko, not by me. This is informal ontology course.)
— Systems Thinking
— Methodology
— Systems Engineering
— Personal Engineering
— Systems Management (=organizational engineering)
— Intellectual Stack

All of it share the same ontology based on 3rd generation of systems thinking. Here is the text in English of short description of 3rd generation systems thinking literature:

Even personal productivity and attention management in there 🙂

(*) Of course the thought journey and subject matter these past 20+ years has been a lot more than Pirsig, so much so that until the RPA / #ZMM50th idea took off I had effectively left explicit Pirsig considerations behind: Cybernetics to 3rd Generation “Systems Thinking”; Human individual and collective, thinking and agency, physio-biological and cultural; From system ontologies to fundamental (metaphysical) realities of existence – process and informational / epistemological “ontologies”. Not to mention the 30 years of full-lifecycle real-life systems working experience, physical facilities, management systems, technology systems and information models. (Austin to Zeman by way of … too many to name drop here.)

Anatoly and I have quite different motivations despite deep alignment on the subject matter. He is very much focussed on the applied and the mechanistic, on methodologies and textbooks – a practical resource. I am much more focussed on the philosophical foundations and architecture of the whole systems thinking ecosystem – an intellectual resource.

The Resolution: to prioritise my own deliverables. Maybe the priority is “T” (The Technical Text) which may contribute not only to “F” (The Fictional Narrative) but years of prior research and writing into a potentially shorter version of “D” (The Doctoral Thesis)? My involvement in “P” (The Robert Pirsig Association) can only be short-term / part-time.


Post Notes:

24 Nov – Obviously these priorities are bound around by all the usual domestic priorities, and (aaaggghhh!!!) by yet another new “freethought” project just arrived Thursday evening – still early draft / confidential. I support, but so far said no to active participation, until “T” is done, anyway.

1 Dec – Until I create “T” my Research Proposal and accompanying Personal Statement are probably the best outline for both “T” and “D”.


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