Ken's posts

Brilliant, imaginative, thought-provoking, witty and caring ... here are some of our favorites from amongst Ken's posts.

Dec 6 1997: Questions
Jan 9 1998: On navels
Feb 10 1998: The continuous circle of adjustment to DQ
Mar 6 1998: The universe as a continual process of information storage
Mar 22 1998: Gaia as the primary organism
Apr 2 1992: Conceptions of Dynamic Quality
Oct 26 1998: Universal Quality and humanity's Quality
Dec 11 1998: Universal Quality
Jan 29 1999: Ken vs Fintan
Mar 22 1999: Defining Dynamic Quality
May 30 1999: Religion and mysticism
Dec 6 1999: Universal morality and human morality
Mar 2 2000: American Indians


Date: Dec. 6, 1997
Subject: Bodvar and God

Good Morning,

First, I like the subject line of this thread. It pleases me to see that Bodvar has top billing over God. When I look at the sweep of history I just hope that he will do a better job. Right On! Bodvar.

I have been following the discussion with much pleasure. I would like to see if I can sort out my ideas and present them for criticism.

I get the feeling that the discussion is still bogged down in an egocentric concept of humanity. It reads to me as if most of you are still looking at humanity as somehow special and separate from nature. This is not my feeling at all.

When I watch the wildlife and my yard dogs and cat interact I see similar motivations and anxieties that move humans. I see rudimentary thinking and planning ahead going on that are not a great leap from the position that us humans occupy. If one looks at the sweep of evolution as we currently understand it, I believe that we can see a fairly linear development of awareness and understanding that leads straight to us.

When I first read ZMM and Lila my initial concept of the term Quality was that it represented a level of advancement in human understanding and awareness that was desirable but not yet agreed upon by the mass of humanity. That it represented all of those ideas and feelings and vague yearnings that were desirable but not yet accepted into the mainstream of static quality. The horizon of intellectual and ethical human growth. I still have the same view.

My view of the universe is that it is an objective universe that has many mystical qualities because of our lack of understanding. I believe that when we are able to know everything then everything (objectwise) will fit into a coherent scheme. The sweep of the development of the universe looks logical to me. It seems to me to progress in a very objective fashion up to the present moment if we allow a little windage for our state of ignorance.

We see that the Earth came here from other parts of the universe and we still see the precursors of life coming in from space in the form of amino acids. We see the necessary energetics operating that is thought to be the motivating force for the origin of life. We see the progression of evolution that has (so far) produced us and is probably still operating.

We see plenty of time for all of this to happen. This seems to me to be a pretty coherent picture of our current position.

What I cannot see is the beginning of it all. If the Big Bang occurred was it planned. If so, it was planned well. Has the universe been in existence forever? That is a staggering concept to me, My mind just wont accept it.

Hawkins has given us radiation from black holes which, to my mind, could make the universe everlasting. If this is so then we don't need reasons. Everything just is.

If there is a beginning and an end then we are justified in looking for first causes.

Could the universe contain many other planets capable of sustaining life. If so, will they all be constrained to follow the same pattern that we have because they will be starting with the same raw materials and energy? Are there a bunch of Lila Squads out there with the same concerns and debating the same topics? Is God a planet farmer?

I don't know the answer. You pays your money and you takes your choice. I am ready for criticism.



On navels

Date: Jan 9 1998:
Subject: LS Re: ? - Sensation - Emotion - Reason


Another thought. How about origin. We could spell it origion if we wished. Or we could knock off the ori and just work with gin. More fun and wisdom that way. Might think about Genesis. Maybe a phonetic dissonance would be appropriate in the leap from non-life to life.

Anyway, I look upon the universe as a living system with the solar system as a stepchild. What would that make us. Probably a pimple on the buttocks of the universe.

I have been thinking of writing a treatise on the contemplation of my navel. Think where one could go with that. It could unfold into a discussion of everything. Remember in ZMM where the girl wrote on the front of the opera house, or maybe just one brick. Now that I think of it, one could start anywhere with anything and wind up with the Big Bang.

I want to warn the squad that I have been harboring some ideas about Pirsig's intentions that are at variance with the general opinion of the squad. When I feel confident that I have a good enough grasp of the situation I may start a furious argument before long. It seems to me that the squad may be starting down a similar path to the one the Greeks led us into so long ago.

Why is it that the farther back one looks the wiser people seem to get? Is it because we can't imagine anything of value coming out of our stupid neighbors. Probably something in the old saying that familiarity breeds contempt. I think somewhere we must have someone as intelligent as Socrates and Plato and Aristotle.

I just got up and my mind (excuse me, my Dynamic Quality augmented by static quality or is it the other way around. Its circular isn't it?)) hasn't assumed the weight of the world yet. When I am serious for too long I get antsy. Where did I see the question-did God have a navel? Diana, maybe the squad needs a logo showing an anthropomorphic universe with God as its navel. I seem to be fixated on navels this morning. Probably something to do with being bottle fed as an infant. If you have not looked at the squad list lately you will find that my daughter has joined the squad. She is smarter than I am, not as pretty, but smarter.



Our lives are a continuous circle of adjustment to the gleanings of Dynamic Quality.

Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998
Subject: LS What's wrong with the SOM


Your discussion of the meaning of Lila in Hindu mythology has, in my mind, confirmed my interpretation of the meaning of Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality.

Since I first read his books, and particularly since I have had the opportunity to follow the ebb and flow of the squad discussions I have looked upon the MOQ as an unavoidable, circular process which occurs in all sentient beings, and I would insist in higher creatures such as dogs, etc. although I wont start any arguments over this.

To explain my view I will start with the contents of the static levels. These static levels precondition our mindset, our Dynamic Quality, to favor certain aspects of our total field of awareness, which consists of input from our immediate surroundings plus the total content of our minds, including subconscious prickings, plus any overriding, jarring impressions which may be present. The gleanings of Dynamic Quality resulting from these urgings are immediately transferred to our consciousness, our static quality, where they are subjected to the jury of our static patterns of value, this new state of SPoV immediately preconditions our Dynamic Quality again to repeat the process. Our lives are a continuous circle of adjustment to the gleanings of Dynamic Quality.

Your, or Capra's, explanation of the meaning of Lila in Hindu Mythology seems to me to be exactly analogous to the MOQ. You will have trouble convincing me that this pattern is not what Pirsig had in mind when he wrote the passages which you quote. It seems clear to me that he was describing how one person fit into this scheme of things and how the Dynamic Quality (Lila) is an ongoing process which we cannot escape.

Pirsig has made us aware of the operation of Dynamic Quality so that we can fit the concept into our static patterns of value but it is not necessary to define, or even understand it. He is not using Moral and Good in our usual sense but as a metaphor for our drive toward greater levels of understanding. Everyone is possessed of DQ, even Bonnie and Clyde and King George the Third :-). We do not have to look very far or very deep into history to see that the MOQ is working and working pretty well.

The MOQ, in my view, relieves us of the need to agonize over false morals and requires us to apply just one standard to all decisions. Is it good for us and for the system which has produced us. My problem with the MOQ from the beginning has been that the squad seemed to be applying too narrow an interpretation to it. If it is not good for the system in which we are embedded then it is not good for us.

Even so, the MOQ will keep operating whether we are asleep or awake. Our enlightened conscious ponderings will only serve to hasten the path to higher levels of understanding.

Thanks again for your explanation of Lila. I have "The Tao of Physics" on my shelves but it has been so long since I read it all I remember is the title. I will look up your references.

Ken Clark


The development of the universe as a continual process of information storage

Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998
Subject: LS Re: The Information Force and Hugo's Rambling

LS, Bo and Hugo,

You two have given a pleasant start to my day.

I knew that Bo was going to disagree with me and was waiting for the explosion. Thanks Platt, for shielding me a little from the blast.

I do not have my ideas fully worked out as yet but it doesn't bother me to be wrong in public so I think it is a fine idea if I can wallow around with it for a while and give everybody a crack at me.

Bo, as you know, I was having difficulty tying together all of the positions that the squad had worked out before I got into the picture. I was particularly having trouble at the interface between sentience and non-sentience. Also I felt that the knee jerk reaction when SOM was mentioned was a bit overdone. Like Hugo, I still think SOM has a place in our thinking and I think we can put it to use without violating Pirsig's precepts.

I have a literal mind and I just can't seem to wrap it around the concept of Zen. I don't argue with people who can. Diana seems to have it all figured out Zenwise but it leaves me feeling unsatisfied because I don't understand it, consequently I had to find a (to me) logical, step by step, process for the workings of the MOQ, something that I could explain to a seventh grader without appealing to mysticism, just like building a block wall.

It finally came to me that the process of evolution in the universe covered the MOQ completely as well as covering the side issues which come up.

The key is (at the risk of boring everybody to death) that the development of the universe as we currently understand it is a continual process of information storage in the universe. No matter where we look this process is working. It is at work in everything, including sentience and this has been so since the origin. In my mind, this process is a natural result of the way that the physical universe works. Whether we call this process Quality, Zen, or morality, or value, or The Good, or continually greater information content, or a transcendent moral force doesn't seem to me to make any difference. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

To my mind it explains how we can have value and morality in the pre-sentient universe as well as value and morality in our sentient societies. So far it seems to explain everything that I can think of.

In the pre-sentient universe it was, of course, pre-sentient awareness. In the post sentient universe it became Dynamic Quality (still pre-sentient awareness, the Conceptually Unknown) because we then had to accommodate human awareness in the equation. It became a force for the growth of Morality, Value, or the Good in the conduct of human affairs. Still, of course, operating as it always had in the non-sentient universe. This got me over one of my problems, we could have morality and value in the pre-sentient universe as well as have morality and value in conduct of human affairs, all emanating from the same source.

In my mind this is a random force resulting from the physics of the universe which operates by impeding the flow of entropy on its way to complete randomness. We could say that all of our understanding of our position in the scheme of things hinges on negentropy. This is a force that generally speaking, always operates in the direction of greater Value and Morality because Value and Morality originates in the myriad hang-ups (platforms) supplied by the myriad latchings of information throughout evolution.

We can see that this results in a different moral position for each sentient individual but always heading in the direction of greater Morality and Value. This is the origin of Pirsig's "Many Truths" concept. We can also see that this force is operating in all life forms as well as throughout the physical universe.

The question of why this all came about and when, and where it is going I don't have a clue. Whether the force is guided by sentience or is just random is an open question, but I favor the random approach. Either way will work as well.

This is a first attempt to explain this thing. If you find these ideas make sense then pitch in and help work it out. If not, then hit me with your criticism. If you can poke holes in it then I will either have to drop it or find ways to counter your objections.

Ken Clark


Gaia as the primary organism

Date: Sun, 22 Mar 1998

Subject: LS Re: On Valuing Intellectual Ideas

Maggie and Kevin and LS,

Your discussion pinpoints some of the objections that I had with the MOQ from the start. I could see areas where the biological level should ethically take precedence over higher levels.

To be as disjointed as I can. I also think that the relation of Quantum action to the question of free will has been misunderstood. Heisenberg was speaking as a physicist and speaking only in terms of his new understanding, that is, at the subatomic level.

In my opinion it is wrong to say that quantum theory has negated determinism. Our experience tells us that the universe, from the level of atom up is predictable. In my mind, physical action at the subatomic level is also predictable even though we can't explain it at the moment. We can't have a physically predictable universe sitting on top of a totally random system.

There may have been other possibilities, but once the physics of the universe had been determined, at the big bang or shortly thereafter, the universe was a deterministic system.

Pure determinism is repugnant to most of us because we don't like to feel like pawns in a soulless system, however, there is a way out of this problem.

As long as the only tool we had to predict the future was the calculus then we could, in theory, sit down with a pencil and paper and produce that future.

Now the new idea of deterministic disorder (chaos) destroys that idea. The course of the development of the universe is constantly changing because of local conditions. A snowflake is the history of all of the conditions by which it was formed and every snowflake is different. Snowflake history is written as a progression of its edges. History is written at the leading edge of (Dynamic Quality) time on the totality of the universe just like the snowflakes. According to Chaos Theory the only way we can predict the future is to know the exact history of each individual event, whether it be the totality of the events that produced an individual or society or the intellect or the universe. This is clearly impossible. Therefore the universe is not deterministic in any practical sense even though it originated in a deterministic way. We are living in a deterministically disordered universe.

The reason I had trouble with some of Pirsig"s ideas was that I tend to go along with James Lovelock"s idea of Gaia. He proposes that the Earth, and more particularly its Biosphere, is the living entity and that life in it's many forms are the organs that support Gaia as the primary organism. If we adopt this idea it makes Pirsig"s idea of the four levels and their relative primacy subject to question in many cases. We might even adopt the idea that the biological level is the highest level.

With these ideas in mind, I look upon Dynamic Quality as having existed since the beginning and as being the force for greater information content in the universe. This force I look upon as a continually increasing level of morality which is caused by the process of evolution and the selection that results. That which is "better" locks in and becomes a base for further information. The result of these ideas is that the questions of local morality with which we judge the human race should be viewed in the context of "Gaia". The universe is a moral order.

The Earth is already carrying more people than we can supply with a barely adequate diet of 2000 calories per day. We are already overcrowded. Now, should we selectively kill off people down to about 2 billion, which is thought to be the sustainable capacity of the Earth. No, I don't think so. A more humane approach would be to educate people to reproduce at a replacement level and then reduce that until the 2 billion level is reached. Again, a violation of the social and intellectual levels. We can continue what we are doing and ignore the whole thing and let Gaia take care of the problem. This will eventually happen. Which is more moral? Do we apply human intellect or do we allow Gaia intellect to operate? What would be the answer of Plato and Aristotle who had none of these problems in their time? What makes them apples do like that?

Ken Clark


Conceptions of Dynamic Quality

Date: April 2, 1998
Subject: Conceptions of Dynamic Quality


I have been thinking about a resolution of our different viewpoints of the Metaphysics of Quality, slowly working up to an answer. I have to leave for a few days so I thought I would dump on you my current thinking.

First, the philosophers do not speak to me, I can read them and seem to understand what they are saying but five minutes later it is gone, consequently I have had to construct my own view of our place in the universe.

Long before I encountered the MOQ I had what was to me a satisfying view of the process that has dumped me on top of Cornshell Mountain in Oklahoma. When I read ZMM and later Lila I thought that it was a system of thought that was more satisfying and pleasant than the soft deterministic view that I had previously held, in other words, Pirsig's thought was not a world changing revelation to me, more a shift in emphasis. What little specialized training I had had (biology) inclined me to think in terms of our overall situation in the universe and to fit our particular human condition into that overall view. This line of thinking led me to the view that, while humanity was a natural and foregone conclusion of the physical process of the universe, our intelligence and reasoning ability without sufficient understanding of the overall process in which we were embedded placed us largely in opposition to that physical process. To overstate the case, our presence in the process has caused us to occupy a position in the universe, and in particular the Earth (Gaia) somewhat similar to a cancer in the human body. I think that this situation will eventually be resolved either through increasing understanding or through the juggernaut of universal evolution rolling over us. In my mind, we are not the last word. We have some billions of years ahead for evolution to coerce our compatibility.

To get back to our differences, Bodvar, I think that they are caused by your concept of humanity being primary in the process (correct me if I am wrong), while my view envisions humanity as simply a stage in the process of overall universal evolution.

In my view, Dynamic Quality (the force for greater information content, or Quality, or value) was injected into the universal evolutionary process at the beginning and is the same force that is still attempting to guide the actions of humanity. In this view, humanity is reacting to Dynamic Quality and static value according to the best information that we currently have and is slowly progressing toward greater compatibility with the universe and Gaia. Morality should be viewed through the eyes of the universe (Gaia) and not through the narrower concerns of humanity.

To my mind the universe began as a strictly deterministic process which was modified by Deterministic Disorder which makes the process effectively not deterministic because of the dependence of deterministic disorder on the ambient conditions prevailing for each Quality Event. Each physical function and each human individual is operating in the current ambient conditions coupled with (in the case of humanity) the current condition of static value. Thus, each physical event and each sentient individual has His/her/its own truth which is constantly changing.

Give me your thoughts on these ideas and I will get back to you next week.



Universal Quality and humanity's Quality

Date: Oct. 26, 1998
Subject: November dicussions


I have been watching the flow of ideas in the squad and I'm getting more confused all the time.

The thing that seems clear to me is that Universal Quality and Quality as applied to the concerns of humanity are two completely different things. We can speak of universal (inorganic) Quality and see the beauty of the Universe as it has evolved. If we disregard humanity we can project the operation of inorganic Quality right through to either the big crunch or to the big blah of ultimate entropy. This is the Quality generated universe that was established and set in motion at the time of the Big Bang and in which Quality must still be operating. This Dynamic Quality was undisturbed by life up until the time of the development of sentience.

After the development of sentience a new, and hitherto unknown factor entered into the operation of Quality. Sentience enabled humanity to make choices that would affect the operation of Quality in the universe. The result of this development is where I consider Dynamic Quality to have entered the picture. In my opinion Dynamic Quality is a term that is better applied to the modifications that human sentience has imposed on our relation to the universe. The driving force of Dynamic Quality is different from the driving force of the Quality that has produced the universe. In my view Dynamic Quality is purely a human function that is, in many cases, at odds with universal Quality. I think that many, if not all, of the difficulties the Squad has in defining Dynamic Quality results from the attempt to marry these two concepts. From a purely human standpoint the definition of Dynamic Quality is a simple concept which Pirsig makes clear in "Lila". It is the readiness of mind, before cognizance, which is established by all of our previous history. That which predisposes our minds to favor certain choices from the ongoing, undifferentiated, sea of choices with which we are continually being presented by the ongoing force of the universe along with our individual mindsets imposed by our individual histories. This is what is meant by the "many truths" idea. Each individual has a different history which results in a different thrust of Dynamic Quality for each individual. It seems clear to me that we have two conflicting (in some cases) thrusts of Quality operating, a universal one, and a human one. Defining the two as one is difficult. I think it can't be done with clarity. I think this will also present a large platypi when we try to define the MoQ in relation to the self. With regard to time, I think that we have a similar problem that we have with the MOQ.

Universal time is a consequence of the interaction of mass and energy. If no mass intervened between here and the Big Bang then we could possibly look all of the way back to the Big Bang and no time would have elapsed. In other words, we could see the Big Bang as it was happening. As it is, time is affected (slowed) by the amount of matter intervening. Light has not always traveled at the _speed of light_ as we see it. This probably means that we will never be able to see back to the big bang although we seem to be getting close judging by some of the later reports. Universal time is relative, not absolute.

In our day to day activities we are not aware of universal time because distances are too small in our perceptible world. The time that affects us is Sun time which is a consequence of our placement in the solar system. Our daily and biological functions are determined by our pathway around the Sun. It is true that it takes about 8 minutes for light to travel from the Sun to the Earth and there is an inorganic 8 minute lag in our perceptions but we are not normally aware of this and it is not significant as far as DQ is concerned. Human DQ is based on our local perceptions. Inorganic DQ is based on the relative time of the universe which is a consequence of the relative speed of light. (Remember the Michelson, Morley experiment which determined that the speed of light was independent of the direction in which it was measured?) This did away with the Aether and placed us in a relative universe. Light always travels at the same speed regardless of our relative direction of motion. Just the wavelength changes to accommodate our relative motion. It is the click-click between the electrostatic and electromagnetic presentations of a light wave that adjusts to relative motion. Motion away from the light source, longer wavelengths, more distance per click, same speed. Toward a light source, shorter clicks, less distance per click, same speed. I regard this disparity between Sun time and Universal time as another source of conflict between non-sentient Quality and sentient Quality. Keep in mind that time can be affected (light can be slowed) by gravity independently of relative motion. It is a completely relative universe.

There are other discussions going on in the Squad that I disagree with but this is about all I can handle right now.



Universal Quality

Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998
Subject: MD Universal Quality


It seems that the rock on which we are foundering is our different interpretations of Dynamic Quality.

Donny writes:
But you're not talking about DQ. Pirsig's DQ is the undefinable, "pre-intellectual" (that is: pre-S-O division) aesthetic continuem. It is not a concept... In a literal sense it is nothing -- NO-thing -- a non-concept.

Clark writes ;
(Everyone jumps on the "undefinable" word in Pirsig's definition of DQ. By undefinable he simply means that the DQ concepts that are being enabled have not entered out static consciousness yet. The process of DQ and SQ are not indefinable).

I agree with pirsig's definition of DQ but I interpret it differently than you do. As I see Dynamic Quality it is simply our unrealized mindset as it is conditioned by all of the influences that are currently being generated by the state of the physical universe plus all of the influences that are currently being generated by the state of our static understanding of our position in the universe, including the ideas and prejudices that our current understanding has generated.

DQ then is the non-cognizant state of readiness to accept new information from our field of awareness which has been generated by the current state of our understanding of our position in the universe. including the totality of our static quality latchings.

Before sentience, Dynamic Quality is simply the current condition of the ongoing state of the universe which allows further latchings to occur.

This interpretation seems to me to be in accordance with Pirsig's definition of Quality.

Further, I can see no requirement for a mystical interpretation of DQ in this view. I dislike the idea of a universe based on mysticism because I prefer to live in a universe over which the possibility exists that I might possibly have some control, however slight, but mainly over which i might have some predictive power. Mysticism throws this out the window and we are just rattling around in a completely unpredictable universe. Such a situation demands that we invoke a God with whom we can plead for favors and possible manipulation of the physical forces.

Donny writes:
Now, the definition of "mysticism" in philosophy (get this, BODVAR!) is that the root source and ultimate ground of reality is beyond definition, catagory, intelectual (S-O) understanding. BY DEFINITION the MOQ is a mysticism! Now you can talk about your force for greater info but that's not DQ; you're just appropreating Pirsig's term.

Clark writes:
As we can now see, the philosophical definition of mysticism does not apply to DQ.

A lucky thing too because if it did we would be stuck in a universe over which we did not have even predictive power and would be completely dependent the unpredictable actions of some sort of loose cannon without recourse except for begging.

Donny writes:
Something is hydrogen or helium by NOT being something else (like
>oxygen, zinc or just empty space). Hydrogen as-opposed to
>not-hydrogen. That's still relativly defined -- defined relative to
>something. Everything w/in the world of "daylight consciousness" and
>aristotilian logic (A is not not-A) exists relativily

Clark writes:
Does this mean that if we want to identify hydrogen then we have to compare it to everything that exists is the universe to be sure we do not have another match.

Seriously, this is a perfect example of SO thinking and one with which I agree.

In my view SO thinking is necessary for an understanding of our position in the universe and does not violate Pirsig's ideas.

In my view, SO thinking is not incompatible with Dynamic Quality. In fact, if we discard Mysticism then SO thinking is a necessary adjunct to the MOQ. I think that this is the case.

Donny writes:
Do you see what you're doing here?

'First there is the sand (universe) -- the obhect that REALLY IS out there whether we know of it or not. Then there is the man and beach, (sentience and universe) and THEN DQ and sq become a RELATIONSHIP between them.' (That's paraphrasing, but am I acurate?)

That's -- I believe -- what pirsig called "SOM," is it not? You have first the man (subject) and beach (object) and then quality becomes a relationship between the two -- secondary.

For RMP, quality is primary. The man (sentience) and the sand (universe) arise out of Absolute Quality. They are two different types of "static latchings," or what I prefer to call "moral rhythms."

This is the big paradigm shift from SOM to MOQ.

Clark writes:
Either I have failed to make myself clear or you have misinterpreted what I said.

The beach represents the universe which was brought into being by Dynamic Quality. Quality came into existence at the beginning and is responsible for the physical organization of the universe. I am not prepared to say why the organization of the physical universe fell out as it did but our current understanding indicates that it did originate in this way. Once we accept this idea then everything that has happened since can be logically reconstructed. The universe originated as an object under the influence of DQ. As the universe matured and became more complex it acquired many of the attributes of a living system. The idea that the universe is indeed a living system is beginning to attract more adherents. The idea has been advanced that the prebiotic molecules originated in space (research supports this) and then could have been dusted throughout the universe.

Life then arose in the biosphere and, in due course, sentience

Yes, I do see what I am doing there. the trouble is that you are not interpreting it correctly. My view of the universe and the human situation is that it is primarily a SO system. Notice that I did not say SOM which is something else altogether.

In my view the universe is a subject -object universe which I do not regard as being incompatible with Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality. If we discard the SO view then we have to crank the MOQ into mysticism which I am absolutely opposed to. As I said before, I do not wish to rattle around in a mystical universe over which I have no understanding or even the possibility of understanding. A Subject-Object view does not preclude the MOQ.

Apropos of nothing, your thinkers stretching back through the years were not playing with a full deck because they did not have the benefit of the still limited understanding which science has given us. I think that any attempt to construct a coherent picture of our situation in the universe must be based on the reasonably firm knowledge that we have amassed through the years. Still lots of room to grow.

I think that my view of the MOQ is compatible with Pirsig's view and I agree that the universe is Quality, Morality, Value based but I do not think that this demands a mystical approach.

Again, I do not wish to turn my intellectual freedom over to an unpredictable mystical entity.

I don't know whether I have replied to all of your criticisms or not but I am getting tired and my clarity of thought is degrading. Hit me again with anything I have not answered.

Ken Clark


Ken vs Fintan

Date: Jan. 29, 1999
Subject: Space is twisted, says spaceman


I have been waiting for someone to bring up the subject of left handedness. I have the word to bark on on this question.

It seems that when God was forming the universe he formed one planet with his left hand and one with his right hand at the same time to save time. We just happen to be one of the ones that was formed by the left hand and so all of our organic molecules have a left handed twist. This left handed preference can be verified by observing the penis of a boar hog. It is formed like a corkscrew with a spiral to the left. The way to verify the validity of this proposition is to observe the penis's of boar hogs on a planet formed by Gods right hand. It will be found that they all have a spiral to the right. Glad to be of assistance. Let me know if there is anything else I can help with.

Ken Clark


Defining Dynamic Quality

Date: March 22, 1999
Subject: The 99% Solution

Glove and all other 99 percenters,

I have been gnawing my thumb and trying to stay out of this for a week or so and I can hold out no longer.

I think that the point at which everyone is stopped is on the definition of Dynamic Quality.

My take on Dynamic Quality is that it is the energy and the conditions that were initially set up at the birth of the universe. It is the store of energy plus the presumed 75/25 split between Hydrogen and Helium that resulted from the "Big Bang", plus the fundamental laws of the universe such as gravity and time. As such DQ set the possibilities and supplied the energy that resulted in all else. From this beginning the process was established which resulted in the starry universe which resulted in a continually increasing range of possibilities which resulted in our current concept of the universe. DQ is the force that drives the universe toward greater possibility as well as toward greater entropy. I tend to believe that when Pirsig says that DQ is unknowable and indefinable he just means that we cannot know what its origins were. The operation of DQ seems clear to me.

Driven by DQ every possibility was tried. Some of these results ended in a dead end when no further possibilities were available. Some of these results allowed interactions with the outputs from other QE and SQ interactions which generated further possibilities. In this way DQ creates and destroys. All the while driving the universe toward a state of greater complexity.

Quality Events result from DQ acting on the range of possibilities available.

Static Quality results from the interaction of two or more compatible QEs which produce a latched level of complexity which is made available for further universal growth in complexity through further QEs driven by DQ. During the inorganic phase observation consisted of DQ driven QEs which produced SQ latches. Sentience was not present or necessary for the development of further complexity in the universe. Again, Sentience is not necessary for observation to occur. Observation simply means that further possibilities exist.

The levels emerged as DQ drove QEs to explore alll possibilities. Whether these results were a foregone conclusion is a good question. A similar question is: If the universe started over again with the same set of initial conditions would it wind up at the exact same spot that we occupy now. I don't know the answer to that. It would seem to make sense that it would. The reason that everything looks good to us as we look back on our understanding of the universe is because that universe has operated to produce us. It all looks good to us because it has led to us. I imagine that if we could ask every element and every life form in the universe if the development of the universe was all good they would all say yes for similar reasons.

As Pirsig says, the entire universe, including us, is a collection of Dharmas. We are perched on a pinnacle of Value because we have resulted from a process driven by Dynamic Quality.

When sentience entered the universe the operation of DQ changed. We humans now have the capability of influencing the operation of Dynamic Quality in our corner of the universe. We have the ability to alter the progression of life forms on Earth. Whether this is good or bad I don't know. It would seem to be bad but if we relinquished the ability to manipulate the biosphere we would have to drastically alter our relationship to the biosphere. Which way is ultimately better for humanity

I don't know.

I tend to think that the levels are an artifact advanced by Pirsig to make explanation easier. We get into trouble when we try to make the workings of DQ, QE, and SQ fit neatly into each level with no interaction

I will leave you with a question.

What happens when DQ is all used up. What happens when we reach a state of complete entropy? Will it start all over again?

Got to go work outside. I still have lots of questions and opinions.



Religion and mysticism

Date: May 30, 1999
Subject: Pirsig's Present

Hello Carmen and squad,

Thank you for your nice letter. It is nice to know that I am not "crying in the wilderness"

The experience I had in my childhood (B 1925) was very similar to yours. I was raised in the US south where "religion" was force fed everybody and was a far cry from "the good". Luckily my parents were not fanatic about it but did pay lip service so that I did not have a big load of guilt and shame to get rid of. It seems as far back as I can remember I recognized the fact that the religion of the South was a bunch of bull and was used mainly as a source of control and, historically, to justify things like slavery and other sorts of warped beliefs. Although I have had very little contact with organized religion it seems that it is slowly getting better but still a long way from the ideal. It is still used to justify alll sorts of badly skewed philosophies. That is why I am so wary of any sort of mysticism. There is no way to rationally understand what the position of a mystic is. I just feel better and cleaner if I stick to beliefs that are verifiable or explainable and are based on a solid, knowable foundation. I think that to put a child in the position that you found yourself in should be actionable in a court of law. Anyway, I am very pleased that you were able to find the strength to break away. That should allow you to establish, if you haven't already, a new philosophy for your life and I think the MoQ is the best place to start that I have seen.

I find no mystery in either Quallity or Dynamic Quality. In my mind Quality is the driving force for good that came into being at the birth of the Universe and is still that same force. It is mysterious in that I don't know how it originated or where it came from. It is not mysterious in its functioning. I also believe that Dynamic Quality applies to humanity only and is the searching, questioning force that operates in our minds subliminally and collates and projects the totality of our memories and current influences into our consciousness where it becomes sq. Again, it is not knowable because it operates below the level of consciousness but it is not impossible to describe what it does. In other words, I think the emphasis on DQ as being unknowable is not justified.

My understanding of the MoQ is that it is at bottom an empirical means of ordering our lives. It is true that questions arise which are not empirically answerable but I think that this is because of the increasing complexity of the universe under the impetus of Quality and that those questions are empirically answerable if our minds could penetrate the complexity. To me this does not justify admitting mysticism into the MoQ. We can just sit back and let DQ sort it out for us.

Like you, I think that the MoQ is a workable and rational "religion" that does not demand that we deny common sense. It does not require the carrot of "everlasting life" to make us see its value and it can be taught to children of all ages without warping their minds. It is a philosophy of life that would transform the world if it were adopted universally. It is for these reasons that I keep plugging away for the empirical interpretation of Pirsig's philosophy. I would hate to see such a world changing idea bastardized into a mixture of the old religions. I think that Pirsig's view of the MoQ was empirical and that it should stay that way.

Keep in touch and let me know what you think if I have not shocked you too much.



Universal morality and human morality

Date: Dec. 6, 1999
Subject: Setbacks and blunders
(nb this actually came from Roger but by request we've included it)


I just think of how interesting and exciting it would be if the entire population of the Earth were aware of our situation with regard to the universe and we could all devote ourselves to compatibility with the Earth. Interesting. I agree that the universe and Earth are both moral places, of course that morality is universal morality and many times may not look too good to humanity. One of the arguments that I used to make was that universal morality and human morality are two different things.

They are still two different things.

Mary and I share many of the same ideas. We grew up together. She taught me most of what I know.

I have blundered around all over the place. Better quit.


Yea, my life has its share of blunders too. But that's why we won't But I would not be surprised if nature throws us a few fast balls of her own. The advancement of Quality seems to correlate with not just an advance in complexity, but of organization as well. As long as you are right about two moralities then we will be competing and hurting each other (man and nature). When we merge into a common morality (whatever the hell that means) things will make the next evolutionary leap forward to higher quality.

I don't believe much in the "purpose of the universe" stuff, but if I notice one consistent pattern, it is an advance in organization, complexity and universal morality.

But again, there will be set-backs on the way.


PS -- If you ever doubt the increase in value....just think of Mary.



Date: March 2, 2000
Subject: Chapters 1-3, quickly

Diana and Bodvar,

I don't wish to keep harping in the Indians but I think it is important to understand their impact on the book.

I have no Indian blood (I am a cross between a Razorback and a Post Oak Runner) but I have lived among them most of my life and have lots of Indian friends and acquaintanances. I said in a previous message that I live in Tahlequah, Oklahoma which is the Capitol of the Cherokee Nation Both of you seem to have reached the conclusion that the apparent reticence and shyness of the Indian is due to the repressing effect of whites and that Indians would be just like whites strictly among themselves.

This is just not true. What you interpret as reticence and shyness is just the way Indians approach life even alone or just among themselves. They have very little (or no) small talk.

Give me a little time and maybe I can scare up an Indian to write you a message explaining all of this.

Ken Clark