> Hi David
> I fear I've been short with you and I am sorry about that... I get
> that way when I am on the brink of finishing a manuscript; attempting
> to tie up loose ends and bring the story full circle begins taking up
> most of my waking moments as well as the entirety of my dreams. Your
> 'yeahs' began to sound a bit condescending (I know that's not how you
> meant it) and I became put out by it. I've tried to do better here...
That's okay Dan. If you need more time to respond to me so that you can finish off your manuscript I don't mind. No rush.
>> One more time..
>>> Of course not. Right practice pertains to all artistic endeavors.
>>> Consider for a moment a baseball player going through a hitting slump.
>>> He has practiced countless hours, played innumerable games, and faced
>>> many and diverse pitching opponents. Now he cannot seem to get a hit
>>> to save his life. So what does he do?
>>> He goes back to basics. He works with coaches examining his swing for
>>> flaws. He spends extra time in the batting cage working out the kinks
>>> that may have crept into his game. The one thing he does not do is
>>> seek to forget those carefully honed skills until they're gone.
>> Yes, but how do kinks creep into his game? If he has previously mastered the art of batting, I think it is because he has lost sight of the undefined source of all things and that his batting has become too rigid and static. In other words he has 'lost touch'.
>> I agree with you, I don't think the way to get back in touch is to purposefully 'forget' those patterns. But I don't think that is what Pirsig is talking about when he uses that term. What I think he is talking about is that if you do something enough times over and practice it enough times over - eventually you'll master it without even having to think about it. At this stage you could be said to have 'forgotten' how to bat and are a masterful batter.
> I don't think so. That seems like saying once a person has mastered
> the art of writing they forget how to write. I tend to look at any
> artful endeavor as a Dynamic unfolding... one which the artist is
> never in control. And I think that is what Evans is saying as well...
> that there must always be a static reference point in the Dynamics of
> letting go.
If someone has mastered the art of writing they *do* forget. They don't forget *how* to write but indeed they forget they are writing at all. The act of writing and who they are becomes one in the same. There is no separation between the writer and what is being written.
I think the static reference point simply means that he has to make sure he is doing something he has mastered or else he will get lost in chaos and the quality goes bad..
>>> Now... if he is into meditation, he may sit quietly at times. And he
>>> may see how the mindfulness of meditation may spill over into greater
>>> attention in his aim to hit a baseball. But those skills are never
>>> gone, and if they are, he may as well retire.
>> Well, I think that so long as his physicality stays, with practice, he can always be a masterful and professional batter.
> Not if he forgets how to hit the ball!
I still don't think that's what Pirsig means where he writes this..
"That is, you master them with such proficiency that they become an unconscious part of your nature. You get so used to them you completely forget them and they are gone. There in the center of the most monotonous boredom of static ritualistic patterns the Dynamic freedom is found."
When I use the term forgets, I'm using it in that sense. If a hitter has mastered the art of batting, they forget they are batting. There is no separation between the hitter and the hit. It all disappears into 'it'.
>>>> David H:
>>>> While, as Zen Buddhism claims, we don't need to go to school to experience Dynamic Quality, it does take training and sacrifice to get good at something and experience Dynamic Quality on a regular basis...
>>> I agree it takes right practice to become skilled at any endeavor.
>>> However, experiencing Dynamic Quality is more about letting go. We
>>> experience Dynamic Quality all the time. We just cover it up in a
>>> shimmering cloak of intellectualism.
>> Yeah. And as I am arguing here, the only way we can let go on a regular basis is through practice.
> I would say one way of letting go is through right practice... but we
> experience Dynamic Quality directly any time we 'lose' ourselves in
> the moment while fully engaged
Yes, and as I am arguing that is only accomplished, on a regular basis, via 'mastery' of a particular static quality.
>>>> Yeah. But where does that new form come from?
>>> Ah! Now that is an interesting question! I should think anything
>>> completely new and un-looked for arises in response to Dynamic
>>> Quality. In order to uncover it, we steep ourselves in whatever we
>>> happen to be engaged in at the moment and then forget about it. That
>>> isn't to say the original form is gone, however! Without that as a
>>> reference, the new form has no foundation.
>> Indeed. We can certainly get something new by doing something else but that doesn't solve anything. The only way to really solve things is by engaging the static quality which is the 'problem' and mastering it to the point where it no longer is (sq).
> If we have nothing to latch onto, no reference point, then the Dynamic
> advance is meaningless.
That's right. I agree. However the latches always come later. They're after the DQ. Dynamic Quality is first. Dynamic Quality is the source of all things. Including those new, better forms that create harmony from the old...
>>> Dave H:
>>>> I think it's only from mastering of the old form that the new, better, form can appear. The old forms are still there as Bill Evans claims - they're just made better as a result of mastering the old forms to the point where he 'mastered them with such proficiency, that they become an unconscious part of his nature. He got so used to them that he completely forgot them and they were gone. There in the most monotonous boredom the Dynamic Quality could be found.' And as DQ is the source of all new things, new patterns were created.
>>> Again, we may forget about the original form but it is always there,
>>> lurking under the surface, waiting for a moment of clarity when we
>>> suddenly see how we can weave something new into the old. I would say
>>> Dynamic Quality isn't found in boredom so much as in the 'ah-ha!'
>>> moments when everything becomes clear, if only for an instant.
>> I think that generally it is boredom which we find just before the 'ah-ha' moments of clarity. Well this is certainly true of me. Like trying to read ZMM or Lila for the first time. I'll have read a paragraph over and over again until I'm so bored of reading it and then... ah-ha!
> Really! I seem to have the opposite experience. Indeed, if I find
> reading to be boring I am unable to continue reading it... which is
> why I am not into philosophy as a rule. I find it all so very dry.
> I've read ZMM and Lila many times and each time I get a different take
> on them since my life experiences have grown and evolved.
I'm not into Philosophology(studying or reading other peoples work) much either. ZMM and Lila were the first philosophy books I ever read. Can't say I've read another completely since or indeed many other books at all. So much of Philosophy is so convoluted and before I read ZMM I found it all so very confused... Like there was something obvious everyone seemed to be missing.. ZMM blew me away with the clarity of why I felt the way I did..
But that kind of boredom or frustration isn't what I'm talking about. I mean that when I find something that is a challenge or is good, like ZMM or Lila, it's actually a challenge to be bored with it. To understand it and to be so used to it that it actually becomes 'boring' is what I mean.
However, I think once you begin to find it boring it's at that point one is close to mastery of it. You have absorbed it completely. It's no longer a task to have what you are reading harmonise with what you know from experience. But it's only from the processing of passages from the book in my head, over and over again that I ever approached anywhere near the understanding that I do have of ZMM and Lila.
Unintentionally I'd treat certain passages like a koan.. Asking questions, like how he can say something where he has said something before which seemed to contradict it... We all do this. We're all on this unintentional quest to find harmony with what we're reading. And in RMP's writing, I ended up finding harmony. A lot of harmony. So much harmony in fact that the two books are the first thing I've ever read where there wasn't a single thing I ended up disagreeing with. All the contradictions were due to my own misunderstandings... But that doesn't matter. You can actually find harmony like that with any book ever written. If you can think of beautifully coherent ways in which an author has written what they have - no matter how badly they have written it - then you have solved the sq of their writing and you can be said to have mastered their writing..