Do as I Say, Not as I Do?

There’s an assumed hypocrisy in saying one thing and doing another, but in reality, in complex situations, there is always some motivation. And as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, after Brunsson, there are good reasons, hypocrisy is an essential life skill anyway.

The other way round, “Do as I do, not as I say” there’s an easy / in-built presumption that it’s harder for me to articulate what is needed in a way that will help you, than it is for you to follow my example. And there may be many reasons for that from my intellectual & communications inadequacy to some tactical constraint or inconvenience.

The way cited in my title, “Do as I say, not as I do” it’s harder to justify, but no less real and complex.

The example memeing around my head at the moment arose from my interview / dialogue with Sevilla King. As a supporter of Pirsig’s 4-layer evolutionary metaphysics, I’m also an advocate of the “Eastern” world-view that says direct participation in, paying (moral) attention to, the immediate world is the source of all Quality. There is also, in any event, a learning from mental health experience – frustrations with the limitations of “the church of reason” – at the root of Pirsig’s work. Many such advocates engage in mindful, meditative practices, even retreats away from everyday life distractions. I never have, but appreciate those that do and the mental health value they achieve.

At least I never have by that kind of “mindful” name. I might justify my passion with intellectual elaboration of “good metaphysics” for the urgent benefit of wider human decision-making, as an excuse that I’m “too busy” with that project. But in fact my meditative time-outs are direct engagements with the world at two or three levels.

Live music events are one; especially loud shared visceral experience with performers and audience, but also the poetic content.

Another is hiking; whether coast or high-ground. I can sit staring out and listening to the sound of the sea for ages in the former, or laying face-up to the sky listening to the skylarks and curlew in the latter, thinking about nothing but the experience. In fact the header image here is me sitting in exactly that mode on a bench amidst gently steaming Yellowstone geysers.

And, Cathedrals – or cathedral-like natural or man-made spaces; Ironically, given the Pirsigian allusion to the Church of Reason in sharing the Feininger image – “Church of the Minorites II”, cathedrals are a good context too. Whether religious, artistic or even say a utilitarian bridge – sitting and taking in the atmosphere of a cathedral-sized human construct can be just as engaging.

[See also “How the Light Gets In” re that Minorites image – and in many cathedral like spaces, like Sagrada Familia in real life – Leonard Cohen (poet / music) and the Institute of Art and Ideas festivals.]

[See also “Attention as a Moral Act” – Rowson, McGilchrist etc.]


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