LS Re: Patterns, maps, levels and spectra

Jonathan B. Marder (
Sun, 9 Aug 1998 17:40:55 +0100

Hi Diana, Theo, Maggie, Clark, Horse, Magnus, Squad,

Diana wrote:-
>The social pattern of New York, on the other hand doesn't benefit
>anything but itself. In fact it sometimes even works against the


However, we shouldn't forget that the social patterns evolved in service
of those bodies (the citizens).
As I wrote in my earlier piece, there is something troubling when social
behaviour patterns "forget" their origins - and I believe that Pirsig
himself said something similar.

>Theo & Jonathan
>I share your concerns about "what's good is freedom from domination by
>_any_ static pattern". But chap 24 is not the end of the story. Pirsig
>deals with the problem in chap 30 and he does make a distinction
>goodness and change.
Actually, Pirsig's discussion of the daily ritual of a Buddhist monk
does offer a reasonable solution. By settling into regular ritualistic
patterns, one gets to take various things for granted. I don't wait
anxiously every morning to make sure the sun rises and am not obsessed
with where the next meal is coming from. This gives me space to
experience new things (like reading the LS debates). New planets were
discovered by observing "deviations" in the expected orbits - but only
after Kepler firmly established what those expected orbits were. When I
drive, I change gears, indicate turns and stop at red lights like a
semi-automaton. If I didn't do this, I probably wouldn't notice the
(unexpected) child chasing a ball into the road. Thus static patterns
provide the latching which allows new experience, and INCREASES our
powers of perception.

Maggie wrote:-
>'Nother stray thought:
>Is "curiosity" in animal behavior something important to this

Curiosity is a pattern breaker. In an earlier post I talked about
protein folding problems, which are often tackled by a large scale
"Monte Carlo" simulation. This involves calculating the energy of an
arbitrary starting arrangement, and then incrementing the arrangement to
make the energy decrease (mostly by trial and error). Different
simulations vary not in the way the energy calculation is done, but in
how the incrementation is done. This is a critical function - how you
look for a better fit. The pattern breaking algorithm determines how you
deviate (increment) from the previous state, and how fast you do it. In
genetics, the pattern breakers are gene recombination and mutation. In
behaviour, curiosity also serves as a pattern breaker - causing one to
try something new just out of "curiosity" without obvious gain.
Both Horse and Clark wrote that Pirsig's 4-level MoQ was a tool to
facilitate understanding:-
>The MoQ is NOT reality, it is the map with which we find our way
>around adding to it as we go.
>The four levels of SPoV are an artifact that Pirsig
>constructed to make explanation easier.

On the other hand, Clark also says:-
> Jonathan, I have difficulty with the concept that patterns have no
>existence unless they are perceived.

Ken, I realise that my young son provided the answer. "Daddy, was that a
REAL story, or was it made up?" (his words). I answered that it was both
real and made up. He then realised the problem with his original
question. All stories are real. All patterns are real. The story which
has never been told is not (yet) a story. The pattern which has not yet
been perceived has yet to exist.

Pirsig's MoQ definitely DOES exist, and is a map shared in the Lila
Squad. The arguments we have in interpreting the map similar to the ones
theologians have in interpreting the bible. The whole point of the Squad
is to make the map as useful as possible.

On fuzziness and complexity:-
Magnus wrote:-
>Jonathan, the four levels have nothing whatsoever to do with
>complexity theory. If you reduce them to that, they lose all of their
>explanatory power.

Why the word "reduce"? I'm not an expert on complexity, but I always
thought that an important feature of a complex system was that its
properties were GREATER than the sum of its components. I think that
Pirsig himself has opened the door to complexity theory, though he only
developed the idea very slightly. Magnus, if you remove complexity from
the MoQ, that's when it loses any explanatory power.

On the issue of fuzziness, it seems that the levels are part of a
spectrum. Everyone in our culture (except babies and the colour blind)
can distinguish absolutely between green and yellow. Yet, you cannot
exactly say at which point in the visual spectrum green becomes yellow.
Similarly, Pirsig's levels may each be distinct, but the boundaries
between them may be fuzzy.


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