MD Fw: For the sake of Quality

From: Jonathan B. Marder (
Date: Sat May 26 2001 - 19:46:14 BST

Dan Glover indicated his wish that this be forwarded to the MD list
(he sent it to me privately, but didn't keep a copy, otherwise he would post

----- Original Message -----
From: Dan Glover <>
To: <>
Sent: Fri, 25 May 2001 20:11
Subject: Re: For the sake of Quality

Hi Jonathan

Thank you for cc-ing this to me.

>From: "Jonathan B. Marder" <>
>To: <>
>CC: <>, <>
>Subject: For the sake of Quality
>Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 16:44:57 +0300
>Dear friends and colleagues, especially Diana and Dan, and especially all
>Diana and Dan, I can't believe that you have left us. I don't know if you
>have really unsubscribed, but I took the liberty of including you as "CC:"
>recipients because I want you to think about what I have to say.


Thank you Jonathan, that was very thoughtful of you and I appreciate your
words very much. I have reconsidered and subscribed once more.

>Perhaps I more than anyone have sung the praises of the LS/MD/MF archives,
>have often encouraged people to read them. Yesterday, I came across some
>posts of Diana from BEFORE the birth of the Lila Squad. From Diana's acorn
>of an
>idea has grown something truly great and beautiful. The flurry of excellent
>recent posts from members old and new is evidence that the tree is still
>and still growing.
>Most of the recent posts are on the subject of economics/politics. Diana
>and Dan
>apparently left as a result of an argument on publication rights. IMHO, the
>arguments are connected - they are both about how to balance STATIC with
>In economics, the free market works by encouraging "free enterprise" to
>a vast array of different visions, but at the same time governments impose
>to channel the creative energy. Without those rules, dynamic systems can
>self-destruct. Economists know this. Scientists know it too - it is called
>"catastrophe theory".
>The same goes for a discussion mailing list. Lists and newgroups have a
>to come and go, but the "MoQ organization" hase grown into something quite
>remarkable. A lot of credit for this goes to Diana, who imposed strict
>order in
>"nursing" the Lila Squad into being. Inevitably, this caused dissention and
>rebellion - yes, me too - I have been a rebel too in my time, and had my
>arguments with Diana. But we have to accept that the MoQ is an organization
>rules. It may have started with the rules imposed by Diana, but we have
>evolved our own internal rules of behaviour. We also have to bow to certain
>external rules (e.g. legal and copyright issues), unless we purposely
>intend to
>REBEL against these rules. This is the issue that caused trouble for Dan's
>project "Lila's Child".


When Bodvar approached me about doing this project, neither of us were
exactly up to date on the legal ramifications of LC. Just writing to 37
contributors to obtain permission was a project itself; trying to find the
most up to date email addresses and so forth was a major headache. Neither
of us anticipated the backlash we are getting now though.

>TO DAN: I certainly recognise the hard work you put into the project, and I
>believe that you work has value. I think that we still have to find the
>best way
>to realize that value.
>IMO, LC in its current form lacks creativity! Dan, I know you can write.
>seen many of your essays, and was impressed by "Breakfast with Denny" that
>posted a while back in the MF list. Dan, you joined the Lila Squad soon
>after I
>did. We both entered quite a while AFTER the discussion and arguments
>in Lila's Child, and neither of us appear. IMO, what Lila's Child lacks is
>visible input from Dan Glover! I don't know if you can do it, but don't
>that I am against the idea of you publishing. On the contrary, I am
>cheering you
>all the way. What I suggested about publishing an essay collection was not
>necessarily intended as an alternative. There is no reason why the MoQ
>produce 2 or even 10 printed works.


I have thought long and hard on whether LC should contain any of my words
and the only conclusion I can reach is that it should not, despite what my
ego has been telling me for the past couple years. Don't you think I would
love to spice up LC with my own comments? I have so many! I have had to
literally force myself not to, quite honestly. There are pages and pages of
comments already written! Over a hundred of them! I cannot say for sure but
I suspect Robert Pirsig had the same difficult time keeping away from the
discussion group? Why not give him a chance to say what he wishes now?

I have a vision and that itself is creative. I can't tell you exactly what
that vision is for it shifts and shimmers before my mind's eye but I know it
when I see it. And of course there is no reason why others cannot also
produce 2 or 10 or even 100 printed works pertaining to the MOQ. There is so
much here! Just do it. No one is stopping any of you but you.

I am unsure why others feel the need to trample on LC, especially without
seeing my work first. I just know they do. LC may indeed be a low quality
effort but don't you think you should at least look at it first before
pronouncing it that?

Diana has a legitimate beef and I am doing my best to resolve our
differences. I will abide by her wishes whatever they may be, I promise.

>Its all about how to realize such a goal. Regarding the essay collection
>idea, I
>was extremely flattered to receive Diana's nomination as
>coordinator/editor, but
>I'm not sure I'm up to the task:
>Diana says the coordinator needs:
> >2. Editorial skills, ie the ability to pull the essays
> >together with a common theme, plus the ability to write and
> >help others write coherent essays.
>I don't consider myself a good writer, though I am a good critic. We
>have several essays on the MoQ website, and it would be a good idea to
>collectively discuss the interesting ones and encourage the authors to
>improve/update/restructure to make them as good as possible. I can't do
>this on
>my own, and don't want to.
> >3. Thorough knowledge of ZMM and LILA.
>We are all partly qualified. I think we need some feedback from the author
>the books. I have never corresponded with RMP, but I know Diana has. Would
>he be
>interested in the project? His public support (possibly including writing a
>preface) would be almost essential.


Robert Pirsig is interested in LC and though I really had no intentions of
ever corresponding with him, I am doing precisely that as the work calls for
it. My hands shake as I am writing to him! Thankfully, I have Bodvar to lean
on and none of the LC work would have been possible without his support and
belief in me. I owe him more thanks than words can give.

> >4. A degree (preferably phd) in philosophy . . .
>I am not a "qualified" philospher like Elephant. I think that Diana is
>that a book of this type needs an editor with impeccable academic
>credentials as
>a philosopher. Maybe he doesn't have to do all the work, but could share
>load with one or more other editors.
>Do we have any other qualified philosophers among us who would be


I could lie and tell everyone I have a degree and I doubt many would
disbelieve the lie. I freely admit not to having one, however. I do feel
there is something about a full cup that pertains here. A philosopher with
impeccable credentials is not (in my opinion) going to be interested in what
we write here, be it essays, emails, etc. Why should they be? Their
credentials are impeccable and there is no reason to be involved in
something as obscure as the MOQ. They will be only interested in real
philosophy, or so I surmise.

> >1. Has the will to make it happen.
>First on Diana's list, I left it till last. Here is that *will* word again
>of this month's topic in the MF list). I don't think that this project
>rest on the egotistical will of the editor. As soon as people talk about
>publishing and copyrights, EGO always rears its ugly head.


LC has been the most intellectually challenging project I have ever been
involved in. I don't know if I would call it "will" so much as I felt
driven, almost by an outside force, to make every effort at completing this
project once I took it on. I would conseratively estimate the time I have
put into it so far as about 2000 hours and I imagine there are about as many
to put in yet before it is completed. Ego has been a constant battle for me
too, I admit.

Let's face it. We are not the only ones struggling with copyright laws and
the legal implications of the Internet. Even attorneys seem to be able to
come to no hard and fast agreement and I am no attorney. Maybe it should be
a lawyer that writes the book?

>I see an essay
>collection as a product of the COLLECTIVE WILL of the LS/MoQ, i.e. the
>of an evelutionary process. We have to somehow evolve towards the target,
>but do
>it without being goal oriented. Pirsig admits that the title of ZAMM was
>influenced by the title "Zen and the Art of Archery", something I only
>as an on-line extract, and I can't even remember the name of the author.
>What I
>did glean was the idea that the archer must avoid the goal-centered idea
>the whole purpose is for him to put the arrow in the bullseye; the ideal is
>the archer to selflessly and serenely release the arrow, with a certainty
>confidence that the arrow would fly a "true" path.


Zen in the Art of Archery is that rare book that can truly touch the spirit
of what our existence here is. As Robert Pirsig was inspired to name his
first book after it, I was inspired by Pirsig's Lila to name LC after it.

If I were to add my words to LC I would be trying to guide the arrow to its
target instead of just letting it fly of its own accord to hit its true
mark. Can you see that?

>In conclusion, if we are headed towards a book of essays, let's not start
>setting this as a target, but let's keep the discussions and the website
>going, and allow them to evolve into whatever is best. In one of my
>moods, I thought about how to start editing, and even about a title - "The
>Garden" in recognition of the fact that the essays could be considered the
>of the trees that grew from the seeds Robert Pirsig planted with "Zen and
>Art ..." and Lila. I mention this not to propose it as a title, but to
>remind us
>that we have to tend the garden and allow it to grow some more.
>Otherwise, we might just find ourselves shooting arrows at each other.


I appreciate your words. It is so hard to come up with a good title. Lila's
Child came to me as almost an afterthought. Originally, as Bodvar might
remember, I had named the work "Lila's Daughter," stealing the idea from
Galileo's Daughter, a book I was reading at the time I started LC (please
don't tell the author :)). It sounded stilted and off somehow though. I did
not like it much.

The doll in Lila haunts me. It always has. Though it is just a piece of
junk, a funky plastic toy doll, Phaedrus has the most eerie conversation
with it I think I have ever heard. Madness is like a child's doll. That doll
and the child Lila lost so many years ago is what inspired me to the name
"Lila's Child." I like the way it rolls off my tongue too. :)

Thanks again for writing and forwarding your post to me.


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