Thursday, October 29, 2009

These visions of Johanna/Jeanette are now all that remain.

As I mentioned previously I'm a tad behind in my posts on Zen and the Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. So this is a bit of a catch up.

Pirsig talks of two realities and a conflict between them. I'll try to explain.

There is the world as we see it right here and right now. That's a reality of appearance. The other is the more scientific reality of the world explained (the scientific world that explains the reasons why things are as they are).

For instance - the radio is playing at the moment - my reality right now is listening to a (poor) song on a radio show. The other reality belongs to the radio waves that have produced the sound and the mechanisms within the radio that reproduce the sounds being broadcast from an office somewhere in New Zealand.

As you can tell it is the first reality that I can identify with - my aesthetic reaction to the sounds I am hearing, and NOT the reality behind the sounds.

Displayed in red, this image shows the spectacular filamentary structures that appear in centimeter radio wavelengths, apparently.

There is a tension at work here between, on one hand, the immediate artistic appearance and, on the other, the one of underlying scientific explanation.

Pirsig expands on these two visions of reality to divide human understanding into two kinds - classical understanding and romantic understanding. A classical understanding sees the world primarily as underlying form itself. A romantic one sees it primarily in terms of immediate appearance.

I have zero interest in how a car works (the underlying form) but I use one to travel around. I don't want to know how the laser works on my CD player - I just want to listen to my CD.

My brother and I very different in this regard. When we were growing up Ross and I were given various toys. Ross would pretty much take them apart and put them back together to see how they worked (not a conscious thought at the time I don't think). I had no interest in seeing the mechanisation behind anything - I'd be off reading a book somewhere. In this regard Ross takes after my father, who made our first TV set and had many boxes of transistors and electronic devices. This has led us down different paths. I am an English teacher, Ross is a (very successful) software engineer. We're both very happy in those roles, too. It's just that we see (vision) the world in different ways.

I've just had a terrific experience talking on the radio (The Breeze) to my friend Jeanette Thomas (aka Jynette Harnish or Jyn). It's World Teacher Day and she rang me on air to say hi. Jyn was in my classes at Maclean's College in Auckland in 1988-1989. Wow - that's now 20 years ago!! She hasn't changed much over the years - still a huge ball of positive energy. She's on the Target TV programme and has a terrific family of her own. Bit weird saying 'she' all over the place cos she's been getting my blog updates like the rest of you. Loved talking to you Jyn!! You won't know this but dad always told me when he saw you in the Orewa foodmarket. You probably thought he was an elderly stalker! I think he loved the fact that he knew you vicariously through me.

Love and peace - Wozza

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