Platt Holden (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mon, 29 Sep 1997 01:54:57 +0100
Diana is correct in asserting that Pirsig's four levels of value patterns
cannot be explained intellectually.
So what are we to do? How can we possible get someone to understand us by
directly experiencing the four value patterns?
I used the high school curricula to define the four levels because 1) most
people have had the high school experience, and 2) while in high school
have sprinkled iron filings over a magnet, viewed pond water through a
microscope, touched a cultural artifact, written a book report and solved a
problem in plane geometry. The distinctions between those kinds of
experience are clear even though we can never know what it's really like to
be an iron filing, a little critter swimming in pond scum or Buddhist monk
living in Hong Kong.
So when sitting around discussing the MOQ with friends and someone asks me
to define an inorganic value pattern I say, "In high school physics class
did you ever sprinkle iron filings on a magnet and see the filings cluster
around the poles? Well, that's an inorganic value pattern."
The challenge for me has always been to find ways to explain the MOQ to
people who have no interest in philosophy and/or are so set in the static
pattern of subject/object that to say the world is values engenders either
an incredulous stare, a patronizing smile or an gently phrased retort like
"Are you nuts?" As Pirsig says in Chapter 9, "If you're going to talk
about Quality at all you have to be ready to answer someone like Rigel. You
have to have a ready-made Metaphysics of Quality that you can snap at him
like some catechism. Phaedrus didn't have a Catechism of Quality and that's
why he got hit."
>From now on I'm going to keep a chocolate bar handy so when someone asks,
"What's an organic value pattern?" I'll answer, "Eat this."
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