Re: MD What have you freed lately?

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Tue Apr 20 2004 - 14:00:32 BST

  • Next message: Platt Holden: "Re: MD What have you freed lately?"

    Hi Steve Peterson,

    > On Mar 30, 2004, at 4:35 PM, Platt Holden wrote:
    > >
    > > "Dynamic Quality is the pre-intellectual cutting edge of realty, the
    > > source of all things, completely simple and always new. It was the moral
    > > force that had motivated the brujo in Zuni. It contains no pattern of
    > > fixed rewards and punishments. Its only perceived good is freedom and its
    > > only perceived evil is static quality itselfóany pattern of one-sided
    > > fixed values that tries to contain and kill the ongoing free force of
    > > life." (Lila-9)
    > >
    > > Of all the passages in Lila, none is more significant than this one. It
    > > describes how Pirsig views the mysterious mystic force he calls Dynamic
    > > Quality. First, it is a force, an energy, drawing all creatures great and
    > > small towards betterness. Second, it created and continues to create
    > > everything new under the sun. Third, its highest good is freedom from
    > > static patterns.
    > >
    > > So I keep asking myself, "What have you freed from a static pattern
    > > lately?" Unfortunately I can only answer, "Nothing special."
    > >
    > > Perhaps in raising two children Iíve had a hand in freeing them from the
    > > static patterns of childhood dependency. Thatís about it, but at least
    > > itís something.
    > >
    > > What patterns have you broken? What have you set free? How have you
    > > responded to DQ? Is there a brujo among us?
    > >
    > Pirsig had something else to say about freedom in his afterword to ZAMM:
    > "The hippies had in mind something that they wanted, and were calling it
    > ``freedom,'' but in the final analysis ``freedom'' is a purely negative
    > goal. It just says something is bad. Hippies weren't really offering any
    > alternatives other than colorful short-term ones, and some of these were
    > looking more and more like pure degeneracy. Degeneracy can be fun but it's
    > hard to keep up as a serious lifetime occupation."
    > DQ puts freedom in a positive light. The DQ/sq split suggests how we don't
    > necessarily have to speak in negative terms about freedom since freedom can
    > lead to dynamic improvement. We always knew that there was something good
    > about freedom. The MOQ helps us to articulate it.
    > However, Pirsig's connection between degeneracy and freedom still
    > applies. Though from the DQ perspective all static patterns are evil,
    > there is no dynamic improvement without static latching as Leland pointed
    > out.

    The many examples I used of how individuals freed previously static
    patterns to create new static patterns were anything but degenerate. All
    of their dynamic improvements were latched and contributed to evolution.

    > I think this is where Mark's thinking about dynamic-static tension and
    > sq-sq coherence comes in. From each static level's perspective every other
    > level is evil as is DQ in it's ongoing assault on the stability of static
    > patterns. From the DQ perspective every static pattern is evil. It is only
    > from the Quality perspective that the two are reconciled in the whole of
    > the One. Freedom may be the highest good from the DQ perspective, but from
    > the Quality perspective, DQ is only one kind of Good that needs to be
    > integrated into a "sweet spot."

    Many individuals experience 'sweet spots' without changing static
    patterns. What counts are those, like the brujo in the Zuni story, who
    bring about a break in a generic and long standing static pattern
    affecting the course of evolution towards betterness.

    > Pirsig said "This book offers another, more serious alternative to
    > material success...It gives a positive goal to work toward that does
    > not confine." There is a positive goal (sweet spot) because of static
    > latching of betterness. Without the static latching, DQ could only be
    > understood in negative terms rather than in terms of betterness.
    > Talking about DQ, freedom, and mystical experience alone without static
    > latching seems to me like the Hippie's talk in that it's not any real
    > alternative to static patterns since there is no way to be a living being
    > and be literally free of static patterns. It just doesn't make sense to
    > think of freedom from all static patterns as absolute good. Perhaps DQ,
    > freedom, and mystical experience perhaps can be fun but hard to keep up as
    > a serious lifetime occupations. I've never had a mystical experience, so I
    > don't know.

    Agree. Just having a lot of mystical experiences hardly qualifies as
    moving evolution forward.
    > Anyway, breaking static patterns does not necessarily increase freedom.
    > In fact, doing so can decrease freedom, so I think "what have you
    > freed?" needs to be clarified. Freeing a sick patient from germs is
    > good, but freeing your 13-year old from her curfew could be
    > catastrophic.

    I thought it was clear by the examples I cited that I was referring to breaking
    static patterns on the scale of the brujo rather than mundane day to day
    choices. My raising two children hardly qualifies, but I was grasping at
    > If we want to talk about freedom as a positive as we Americans love to do,
    > we should be talking about freedom to flourish or something like Mark's
    > sweet spot rather than freedom from all static patterns. Instead of being
    > a negative, I would define MOQ informed freedom as the condition of
    > openness to dynamic improvement.

    Mere openness to dynamic improvement, while admirable, accomplishes little
    unless one takes action as a result to replace a ubiquitous static pattern
    with a better one offering more freedom.

    > Social conservatives can argue that society's laws help make us free
    > since we could not flourish as human beings without society. Liberal's can
    > talk about how to create the conditions for more people to flourish.
    > Perhaps the two groups could even find some common goals if they can begin
    > to see freedom in a positive light as the sweet spot in a DQ/sq
    > relationship.

    I don't buy the notion that freedom in the MOQ is a 'sweet spot.' Freedom
    in the MOQ is DQ, a moral force whose "only perceived good is freedom and
    its only perceived evil is static quality itself-any pattern of one-sided
    fixed values that tries to contain and kill the ongoing free force of
    life." (Lila, 9) But your reminder of the need for static latching and
    possibility of degeneracy is well taken.

    Best regards,

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