Some great news for the week is that there looks to be a great Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance documentary in the works. See above a clip of an interview with David Buchanan who I've spoken with many times online over the years.
David has an unparalleled understanding of the Metaphysics of Quality - particularly around how it relates to the philosophical tradition of american pragmatism. I'm sure with his involvement (no matter how small) the quality of this documentary will be greatly increased!
I believe the creators are currently looking for funding which you can do whilst they travel the route of the book - here.
Best of luck to them and hopefully this will kick off some well needed - renewed interest in Pirsig's original book.
There's a great short documentary on the uniquely strong value the University of Chicago places on the intellectual value of free speech. And before I go on - there's actually much crossover here with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The university was attended by the author Robert Pirsig where he had an infamous showdown with the Chair of the Committee on Analysis of Ideas and Study of Methods. And it was the universities president Robert Maynard Hutchins who was a close colleague of the Chair and who had reformed the university into a mirror of what Pirsig uniqely terms in ZMM 'Aristotilean Quality'. But as also mentioned in the book; this reform led to a clash against those who wanted a more value-free 'scientific' education, as well as an eventual clash with Pirsig who didn't agree with the low quality Aristotilean definition of Quality..
Phædrus didn't know quite what to make of this clash. But it certainly seemed to be close to the area he wished to work in. He also felt that no values can be fixed but that this is no reason why values should be ignored or that values do not exist as reality. He also felt antagonistic to the Aristotelian tradition as a definer of values, but he didn't feel this tradition should be left unreckoned with. The answer to all this was somehow deeply enmeshed in it and he wanted to know more.
Robert Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
And in along the same lines in the movie..
'Hutchins' envisaged something like a military academy for the mind. One grounded in a demanding core curriculum.'
Rob Montz - 'Silence U Pt. 3: Can the University of Chicago solve the campus free speech crisis?'
Despite a very clear disagreement about the metaphysical place of Quality - it's clear however, that the Metaphysics of Quality (MOQ) supports the University of Chicago's latest stand for free speech discussed in the documentary. As always - we can use the language of the MOQ to break down the problem into its core evolutionary components and beautifully show why it's moral..
Firstly, the MOQ agrees that students around the world shouldn't need to be shielded from certain ideas they find painful or confronting. Such thinking comes from one of biological suffering where society morally supports and comforts those in pain. But ideas are intellectual, not biological, and so it's moral for our culture to allow a voice to ideas that are challenging to confront and this will eventually change our ideas for the better.
'Those species that don't suffer don't survive. Suffering is the negative face of the Quality that drives the whole process. All these battles between patterns of evolution go on within suffering individuals.. And Lila's battle is everybody's battle, you know?'
Robert Pirsig - Lila
And secondly, the MOQ also agrees that students shouldn't demand universities refuse to 'give a platform' to ideas they disagree with. Whilst universities and colleges are cultural institutions, they are much more than this and seeing them as exclusively cultural, is to undercut the intellectual values they are set up to protect and preserve. In other words - it is true that who they give a platform to is in some way a cultural statement, however few cultural statements could be better than for an intellectual forum to actively demonstrate the intellectual value of free speach. Giving a voice to those ideas on the periphery or in opposition to those they agree with is just such an intellectual demonstration.
Thirdly, if they are concerned about the strength of certain bad ideas to take hold within the culture, then it's possible they have not appropriately confronted the issues themselves or rightly asked that of others. Which indeed according to the MOQ is the intellectually moral, and perhaps socially difficult thing to do.
And so finally, in this battle for free speech - in all cases it's clearly between those who are seeing things through a social lens at the expense of intellectual morality. Of course equipped with the Metaphysics of Quality - students could avoid grave errors in logic such as this and be far more likely to choose those ideas that are the best. But until that point, the MOQ still uniqely and rightly calls those seeing things through the social lens as immoral and acting against the intellectual quality of evolution and what's right.
"An idol, that's what this doll was. It was a genuine religious idol of an abandoned religion of one. It had all those formidable characteristics that idols always have. That's what spooked him. Once they've been ritualized and adored, these idols change in value. You can no more throw them away casually than you can throw an old church statue on the dump.
He wondered what they actually did with old abandoned church statues. Did they have a desanctification ceremony of some sort? "
Robert Pirsig - Lila
It's good to take care for the objects around you and dispose of them in the same caring manner you possesed whilst they were valuable to have around.
The Japanese appear to uniquely appreciate this within their modern culture. Such an appreciation is supported by the Metaphysics of Quality.
If there was anything in particular that 'primed' me to understand Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila aside from being raised the thoughtful, caring person I am. It would be a movie called 'Fight Club'.
For me, watching as a youthful Westerner - the ideas of Chuck Palahniuk were a revelation. Here was the idea that rather than finding freedom by running away from something, it could be found right here in front you.
Such thinking is supported by the MOQ and shown to be one of the two types of freedom discussed in the book Lila. That is; the freedom to be found running away from something which we're commonly used to, and the less commonly known freedom found by working through the pain of something right in front of you.
This was a freedom of the East which I knew little about - and now that I practice Zazen - still know nothing about it! :-)
"In the West progress seems to proceed by a series of spasms of alternating freedom and ritual. A revolution of freedom against old rituals produces a new order, which soon becomes another old ritual for the next generation to revolt against, on and on. In the Orient there are plenty of conflicts but historically this particular kind of conflict has not been as dominant. Phaedrus thought it was because dharma includes both static and Dynamic Quality without contradiction."