MF Cults, Free-Thinkers and Monkeys

From: Valence (
Date: Sun Sep 11 2005 - 09:07:04 BST

  • Next message: david buchanan: "RE: MF Cults, Free-Thinkers and Monkeys"

    Hi Erin and all,
    Hope no one minds I re-titled the thread with something a bit more fun. I
    just hate those boring subject lines. Anyway, sorry I didn't get a starter
    post out on this. But to be honest I'm not sure one was really necessary.
    All we're really doing is talking about some well used words in terms of the
    MoQ. This one should be easy for everyone.

    I think that there it is easier for me to approach these questions as
    free-thinking and cultish thinking as a continuum of different types of

    Using Pirsig's vocabulary, it's tempting to take your continuum and replace
    the "free-thinking" end with "dynamic thinking" and the "cultish thinking"
    end with "static thinking". DQ alone is chaotic and SQ alone stagnates so
    we can speculate that to be too far to either side of the continuum is a
    negative thing. A completely dynamic thinker would probably be an incoherent
    mess (a la Pirsig during the break that followed the "avalanche") and a
    completely static thinker would be incapable of any kind of learning or
    growth. We'd have to assume that the highest quality place in the continuum
    will be somewhere near the middle (depending on one whether favors a
    skeptical or accepting bias towards new ideas). A "flexability" of thought.
    Hmm, I'll have to think about that some more.

    It is hard to answer yes/no to this being a cult or classifying
    whether members are "free-thinkers" or "cult members" because the
    discussions seem to be like a roller coaster with its highs and lows....

    I'm reminded of the following passage from ZMM:

    "The most striking example of value rigidity I can think of is the old south
    Indian Monkey Trap, which depends on value rigidity for its effectiveness. A
    hollowed-out coconut chained to a stake makes the trap. A monkey can put its
    hand though a small hole in the coconut and grab some rice inside. The
    monkey can put its hand into the hole but cannot take its fist out with rice
    in it. The monkey's value rigidity traps it when it reaches in. The rice
    cannot be revalued. He cannot see that freedom without rice is more valuable
    than capture with it."

    Although it predates the MoQ, the passage seems relevant to the issues at
    hand (at least via analogy). I think that a dangerous level of "value
    rigidity" is precisely the dangerous quality that makes a given group or
    person appear to be "cultish". And I say "dangerous level" because I think
    we have to admit that we're all value rigid in some senses, as we should be,
    since life can't get by DQ alone (in fact, I'm suddenly moved to wonder what
    the substantial difference is between "value rigidity" and "static
    latching"? I mean, aside from the fact that one has a negative connotation
    and the other a positive). The cultish thinker is the thinker who has
    completely closed the door on DQ. And I think the problem of value rigidity
    in the MD discussions is what you're pointing at when you say...

    When you close off information/vocabulary in the discussions you are closing
    the door on DQ.

    Yeah. Having a chance at getting one's hand out of the coconut means
    remaining open to reevaluation no matter how much one loves the rice.

    Ok, it's late, got to get to bed now.

    Take care

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