Re: MD Undeniable Facts

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Tue Apr 22 2003 - 14:26:09 BST

  • Next message: johnny moral: "Re: MD Undeniable Facts"

    Hi Johnny, Wim:

    > Steve asked
    > >You said an animal will defy the laws of physics. (Could you explain what
    > >you meant? I'll continue assuming this is true.)
    > You replied:
    > "A simple example: birds fly, defying the law of gravity. All progress in
    > evolution is towards greater freedom from the demands of lower levels. All
    > great creation is likewise a freeing up of something formerly locked in a
    > static pattern."
    > Why do you have to imply that the lower levels are just like chains,
    > locking things up and impinging on freedom? Isn't there a way you can get
    > your point across without demeaning "lower" levels and static patterns?
    > Why can't we think of static patterns of all levels more like ground, like
    > a foundation from which (and within which) we can act?

    What's your point? Don't you step on bugs?

    > Birds do not defy the law of gravity. To fly, they use static patterns
    > such as wings and air pressure, and they rely on the law of gravity without
    > trying to thwart or undermine it. Gravity isn't demanding that nothing
    > fly. The evolution of flying birds is the result of static patterns building
    > on earlier static patterns, always doing what they should.

    Pirsig differs:

    "The law of gravity, for example, is perhaps the most ruthlessly static
    pattern of order in the universe. So, correspondingly, there is no single
    living thing that does not thumb its nose at that law day in and day out.
    One could almost define life as the organized disobedience of the law of
    gravity. One could show that the degree to which an organism disobeys
    this law is a measure of its degree of evolution. Thus, while the simple
    protozoa just barely get around on their cilia, earthworms manage to
    control their distance and direction, birds fly into the sky, and man goes
    all the way to the moon." (11)

    >Artists likewise
    > evolved their art by building on static patterns, applying patterns to
    > other patterns. True, they regulary throw out conventions that have gotten
    > tired and confining and try new compositions and colors and methods, but
    > that evolution is called for by the static pattern, the code of art, that
    > says that they shouldn't just copy everything all the time, they should try
    > and innovate and impress and excite people with art that inspires.

    Where did you find that "code of art?" Is that yours or somebody else's
    idea? It's certainly not mine.

    > Someone asked recently how you can discern evolution from degeneracy, good
    > change from bad. Someone else offered an answer that it is by looking to
    > see if a "good" static pattern is left in its wake. (I think it was Wim
    > and Sam?). I agree with that, but you can tell in advance too: you can
    > look at existing static patterns (what else is there to look at?) and
    > predict what would be a good change. We take a pattern we like and try to
    > make it stronger. Sometimes a change is made without predicting what will
    > happen, just applying one pattern to another pattern to see what happens,
    > and we don't see if it is better or worse until afterwards, but I think
    > most of the time we push in the direction that static patterns suggest to
    > us is "forward". We may not be right all the time, often we will decide
    > that what we thought was going to be good was actually bad, but most of the
    > time we can tell.

    A few examples of how "we" do all these things would help clarify your
    > To me, you seem like the person who is advocating an "anything goes"
    > morality, by maligning static patterns as something to be defied. When I
    > deny that there is an absolute good or truth, I am not saying that there is
    > no good or truth, I am saying that they are found in our shared static
    > patterns, which are not all shared by everyone (hence not absolute). But
    > they are mostly shared. The more shared they are, the more absolute they
    > are. Doesn't "absolute" just mean "static"? A truth that was dynamic
    > wouldn't be very absolute, though I certainly believe that as static
    > patterns change, truth changes. This is why I feel static patterns need
    > more respect, and not maligned as being chains that bind our freedom. By
    > respecting them, we treat them as absolutes so we can build on them.

    Huh? I don't follow you. Just in case you're wondering, I completely
    agree with Wim when he says:

    "It is the value of change that cannot be predicted on the basis of static
    patterns of value that constitutes Dynamic Change. Strengthening
    existing static patterns of value constitutes static quality."

    I also agree with Pirsig when he says:

    "Dynamic Quality comes as a sort of surprise. What the record did was
    weaken for a moment your existing static patterns in such a way that
    the Dynamic Quality all around you shone through. It was free, without
    static forms." (9)

    Your "Metaphysics of Expectations" precludes Dynamic surprises. Too
    bad, because those "surprises" created you and me.


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