RE: MD Does she or not?

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Aug 03 2003 - 02:36:45 BST

  • Next message: Steve Peterson: "Re: MD Does she or not?"

    > dmb said:
    > Hmmm. That's almost an answer. You think the quotes support your
    > interpretation? Please show me how. Show me your reasoning. Don't just
    > assert it or declare it. Take me from the quote to your conclusion; that
    > Lila has intellectual quality. I don't think you can get there from here.

    Steve said:
    When Pirsig discussed the question, "does Lila have quality?" he ultimately
    corrected himself and said that, technically, Quality has Lila. In other
    words, Lila is a forest of static patterns. She does not have intellectual
    quality in the sense of having high intellectual quality. On the contrary,
    Lila participates in some extremely low quality intellectual patterns of
    value like believing her doll is a baby.

    dmb says:
    He corrected himself and said she has quality? Intellectual quality? I'd
    like to see that. As Rick reminded me, Pirsig does later come to the
    question of her Dynamic quality, but this further discussion is not a
    correction or undoing of what he's already said. Quite the contrary. It only
    adds depth to what has already been said. Anyway, let me say something about
    "low quality intellectual patterns". I don't think its quite right to call
    Lila's belief in her doll by that label. Such a belief isn't intellectual at
    all, high, low or otherwise. That belief just doesn't fit into the 4th
    level. By intellectual standards her belief holds no value whatsoever except
    as a diagnosic tool to get at her mental illness, just as the captain did.
    This is why I objected to "horrible intellectual values". Its all quality,
    all four levels of static quality, and so its all good and valuable. The
    evolutionary morality, the one that splits the question of Lila wide open
    like a watermelon, says we out to look at the world in terms of different
    kinds of quality. So of course Lila is after quality too, the question is

    Steve said:
    I'm simply arguing that Lila participates in intellectual patterns of value
    as does any human being according to the quotes supplied by Rick on the
    subject and the fact that Pirsig defines intellect as simply thinking, not
    that Lila is an intellectual.

    dmb says:
    I asked you to take me from the quotes to your conclusion, but all you did
    was mention then and re-assert the conclusion. Then you add a most dubious
    definition, from a different book and from a different unmentioned context.
    And this is then used to conclude that Pirsig acutally meant the opposite of
    what he said; that she's has none. I'm a little freaked out that nobody
    seems to have a problem with this kind of work. I think that is awfully
    sloppy and thin. In any case, I still can't see how you got there.

    Steve said:
    In the first quote, you see high and low quality referenced as you did in
    the many quotes provided by Platt. It's a scale that she's far down on.
    He's not talking about an on/off switch. 'Nowhere' is an exaggeration of
    her position on the scale. It means to me that she is even worse off
    intellectually than she is socially. It makes as much sense to interpret it
    this way as to see that, "she doesn't even see social quality" and "socially
    she's pretty far down the scale" don't contradict one another.

    dmb says:
    But, but, but, it DOESN'T make sense. They DO contradict each other. And I
    already aknowledged that. I just said it wasn't a very big deal....
    Let me back up and just talk about this character. Please, stay with me
    here. I've already addressed the high/low thing. Its really just that I
    think its better, more consistent with the MOQ's evolutionary morality, to
    speak of a LACK of intellectual values or of anti-intellectual values rather
    than "horrible intellectual values". But this concern in combination with
    the insistence that there is no on/off switch implies that I've said there
    is no room for grey areas or subtle things. That's not even close to what
    I'm trying to say. Really. I'm looking at the big picture and it seems clear
    to me that what he said about Lila is consistent with the structure of the
    MOQ and only demonstrates its evolutionary morality. What he says about her
    in those two quotes is also consistent with her attitudes and behaviors...

    If I recall her story rightly and have understood what is going on with

    She failed as a wife and mother, so much so that her baby died and her
    family broke up. I imagine she took it very hard. Who wouldn't? That kind of
    thing will drive a person over the edge. It seeems to me that she wasn't
    always so bad, but her tragic life destroyed what she might have been.
    Failing at the social level, perhaps in order to live with herself, to
    convince her self that motherhood and family are not important, she went out
    an wrecked a few. Maybe she learned early on that men reacted to her in a
    certain way and fell back on that as a refuge. At least it was some kind of
    goodness in her life, some kind of pleasure she could manage. Maybe it was
    only after a few years of one night stands that she realized she could get
    money out of it too. I'd guess she descended into the biological as the next
    best thing. Sure she talks and has something like a desire for friendship,
    even if it is with pimps and married mean, so I think we have to grant that
    she has some social skills and must has some small grasp of social values,
    but she is depicted as making some pretty ugly moves even on that level.
    "Pretty far down the scale" seems better to me because a character with none
    at all would be a pretty uninteresting thing. And how could a person
    function at all without at least a little, you know?

    But I don't think that discrepancy is a big deal because it seems pretty
    clear what he's saying with characters. In real life things are never so
    clean and clear, but in a fictional work you can show the value systems in
    simplified way. Are there real life people who seem equally motivated by
    biological and social values. Are there individuals who are perfectly
    capable of understanding intellectual concepts, but live by social values
    instead? Are there intellectuals who also like sex, money and fame?
    Yes.Yes.Yes. Its a very complex forest indeed. He's showing us what these
    differing levels of values look like as they are exhibited in people because
    people is where they live. That's where you'll find them in the real world.
    Sure, there are ideas in books, but it takes one with intellectual values to
    make it into anything more than paper and ink. I honestly don't know how you
    could, or why you'd want to, seperate people from the equation.


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