[MD] killing truth, again

Dan Glover daneglover at gmail.com
Sat Dec 1 17:06:48 PST 2012

Hello everyone

On Sat, Dec 1, 2012 at 2:28 PM, david buchanan <dmbuchanan at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Ron said:
> ...The trick is and I think this is what was hindering me, is to not look at experience, that perceptual flux, as disassociated with meaning. What really interests me is how the term "precision" and it's operable functional meaning as it directly relates to the perceptual flux integrates, because it seems to me to be rather odd that precision is so directly related to that which is allways and eternally changing.
> dmb says:
> Well, just think about the title of the book for moment. Let me frame the issue that interests you in those terms just to see what it looks like.
> How can motorcycle maintenance, which demands so much technical precision, be considered an art form? The mechanic operates on hard steel and the thing functions or it doesn't. Neither art not Zen have nothing to do with being an excellent mechanic. Things like beauty, aesthetic qualities, moods or peace of mind can't possibly have anything to do with the rightness or wrongness or mechanical (or conceptual) precision, right? Nope. It's not right. That's exactly the kind of view Pirsig is trying to overcome and we see this in the title: Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
> "A motorcycle functions entirely in accordance with the laws of reason, and a study of the art of motorcycle maintenance is really a miniature study of the art of rationality itself." (ZAMM 98)
> “That’s all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel. There’s no part in it, no shape in it, that is not out of someone’s mind. …I’ve noticed that people who have never worked with steel have trouble seeing this – that the motorcycle is primarily a mental phenomenon. They associate metal with given shapes – pipes, rods, girders, tools, parts – all of them fixed and inviolable, and think of it as primarily physical. But a person who does machining or foundry work or forge work or welding sees ‘steel’ as having no shape at all. Steel can be any shape you want if you are skilled enough, and any shape but the one you want if you are not [skilled enough].” (102-3)
> You can tell by the page numbers that these quotes come fairly early in the book and he's still just talking about bikes in terms of classic rationality but we can also see that whenever he seems to be talking about motorcycle maintenance, he's really talking about the underlying structures of thought. Later, in chapters 24 and 25 and after he has instructed us in the art of rhetoric and climbed to the top of that spiritual mountain, he returns to the topic of motorcycle maintenance but now he can talk about his "new spiritual rationality" and about science that is no longer value-free.
> "I talked about caring the first day and then realized I couldn't say anything meaningful about caring until its inverse side, Quality, is understood. I think it's important now to tie care to Quality by pointing out that care and Quality are internal and external aspects of the same thing. A person who sees Quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares. A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who's bound to have some characteristics of Quality." (ZAMM 275)
> "If you want to build a factory, or fix a motorcycle, or set a nation right without getting stuck, then classical, structured, dualistic subject-object knowledge, although necessary, isn’t enough. You have to have some feeling for the quality of the work. You have to have a sense of what’s good. That is what carries you forward. This sense isn’t just something you’re born with, although you are born with it. It’s also something you can develop. It’s not just ‘intuition,’ not just unexplainable ‘skill’ or ‘talent.’ It’s the direct result of contact with basic reality, Quality, which dualistic reason has in the past tended to conceal.” ZAMM 284
> "To say that they [motorcycle mechanics or philosophers or whatever] are not artists is to misunderstand the nature of art. They have patience, care and attentiveness to what they're doing, but more than this - there's a kind of inner peace of mind that isn't contrived but results from a kind of harmony with the work in which there is no leader and no follower... The kind of mechanic I'm talking about doesn't make this separation. One says of him that he is 'interested' in what he's doing, that he's 'involved' in his work. What produces this involvement is, at the cutting edge of consciousness, an absence of any sense of separateness of subject and object. ...When one isn't dominated by feelings of separateness from what he's working on, the one can be said to 'care' about what he's doing. That is what caring really is, a feeling of identification with what one's doing. When one has this feeling then he also sees the inverse side of caring, Quality itself." (ZAMM 296-7)
> Then, deep into Lila, we see this same basic idea; the way toward Dynamic Quality is through really getting down into the static patterns, to free yourself through mastery of the static forms...
> "Zen monks' daily life is nothing but on ritual after another. Hour after hour, day after day, all his life. They don't tell him to shatter those static patterns to discover the unwritten Dharma, they want him to get those patterns perfect. The explanation for this contradiction is the belief that you don't free yourself from static patterns by fighting them with other contrary static patterns, that is called bad Karma chasing its tail. You free yourself from static patterns by putting them to sleep. That is you master them with such proficiency, that they become an unconscious part of your nature. You get so used to them you completely forget them and they are gone. There at the center of the most monotonous boredom of static ritualistic patterns, the dynamic freedom is found." (LILA 385)

During a discussion with David Harding we touched upon this point
quite a bit. I maintained there is a difference between seeking zen
enlightenment and the performance of art, be it motorcycle
maintenance, music, philosophy, writing, painting, whathaveyou. Art
always resides on a reference point. Take motorcycle maintenance...
the artful mechanic does not master the needed skills to the point
they are completely forgotten. If that happened, there would be no
reference point. To see Quality in one's work a person must immerse
themselves completely. If anything, the artful mechanic forgets the
self for a time as the work becomes more involved. The skill sets
cannot be forgotten though. Otherwise they will butcher the job. It
would be like a drunk attempting to fine tune a motorcycle. The act of
caring would be non-existent.

On the other hand, a zen monk seeking enlightenment attempts to master
the ritualistic patterns of daily life to the extent they dissolve. So
it can be said they just eat, they just work, they just sit. Now, it
may be tempting to seek a correlation between these two states of
being but I would suggest the monk is pursuing a mystical ideal while
the artful mechanic is pursuing an intellectual, rational ideal.
Still, who would one rather choose to work on their bike... a drunken
mechanic who knows all the ins and outs of motorcycle maintenance? Or
a monk who would become fully immersed in the work to the point they
become the bike?

So, basically what we are really talking about isn't fixing
motorcycles. It is fixing the self. When we are faced with a stuck
bolt or a difficult situation in life we don't blame the bolt or
grumble about the situation. Rather, we turn around to look inside the
self for the failure that we face. If we are able to face life with
great peace of mind we will find ourselves better able to deal with
all the crap that comes our way.

As an example, let's look at Ron's retort to my suggestion that people
quit attempting to sidetrack discussions by contributing posts that
have no value, such as his who's on first:

Dan had accused:
 They had better be big and ugly as the
riot gun I keep in the closet holds 9 shells and does its own talking.

REally Dan? jesus christ what a drama queen..listen to yourself man,,
you sound like a nerd.

"does it's own talkin"..

even when your attempting to talk tough and threatening you come off
like a douche.

..Think will ya?  just fukn think for a change.

Now, it is okay for Ron to attempt a bit of humor but when I do it
suddenly I am accusing him of something. I am a douche and a nerd. No,
I really don't have a shotgun in the closet; anyone who knows me knows
I abhor firearms. But still, make no mistake, we both know that who
wrote me said off-line post, which of course knowing its source I
didn't really take seriously. Can anyone look at this post of Ron's
(or his other two 'replies') and surmise he has great peace of mind?

No. I think not.

So... if anyone wishes to become an artful philosopher I would suggest
they get up right now and look into a mirror. Instead of posting
hateful posts and disrespecting others here, turn around to look
within. It is one thing to get heated while debating some of these
points but hate like Ron's is indicative of a much deeper affliction
that only he can address. It is like kicking the motorcycle you're
working on and calling it names when you cannot seem to get it to run
right. It isn't going to solve a thing.




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