Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. An Inquiry into Values.”

“The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself.”

One more completely misrepresented book in our world. This book is typically described as a “travel book”, meaning that it contains a travel description, which it is anything but. This is, au contraire, a philosophical treatise explaining the intellectual path to the enlightenment and the state of human “grown-up”. And as the first quote rightly sums it up, the book is about working on yourself and not about motorcycles.

Pirsig claims that he took the name Phaedrus accidentally, meaning to take the Greek word for “wolf” but ending with “bright” by accident. With all due respect, I don’t believe in accidents. “Phaedrus” stands for “enlightened” and that is who he is. The book contains interesting allegories that explain well how the human awareness comes to existence, how we perceive the world, and how we do it all wrong.

We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.

The book has a lot in common with other philosophical and mystical books in that it also describes the path to the enlightenment that a person must take. The path that results in discarding of ego, discarding the very idea of who you are and unlearning everything you learned to start understanding the world.

He wanted to free himself from his own image. He wanted to destroy it because the ghost was what he was and he wanted to be free from the bondage of his own identity. In a strange way, this freedom was achived.

And all of the wisdom is described in a very natural (for our culture) “scientific” language that rings true to the ears of the modern man. The examples are everyday things that one can easily relate to and analogies have true meaning for the man of today. This scores a lot of points when compared to somewhat cryptic Eastern books or works of Carlos Castaneda.

One of the important things that the book mentions is a clear distinction between the glorified self-interest and the true growing-up, the true desire of enlightenment. That self-glorification is the disaster of the today’s world.

Any effort that has self-glorification as its final endpoint is bound to end in a disaster. […] When you try to climb a mountain to prove how big you

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Quality of shit

Have you noticed that their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff? God! And you say, “Get that shit off of there and let me put my stuff down!” — George Carlin

Have you noticed how more and more of the stuff becomes shit? A super easy example. I left a bread cutting board in the kitchen sink overnight. No, it is not what you thought. The sink was empty. It was damp, all right, but there was not actually any water in it. Look what happened to the board.

That is something that would never happen to my grandma’s bread board. Ok, you might get it warped if you left it in water for the night, although I think that happened on more than one occasion and did not cause so much damage. This is just shit. A little bit of moisture and off it went. Nonsense.… -->

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Quality of teaching

How would one go about determining a quality of teaching? Or, rather, the quality of a teacher? Say, you have a teacher in your school, you want to know if he is good or not, so you can replace him or keep him. What do you do?

It seems a difficult question and it seems that judging the quality of work the teacher does is really hard, especially if harmonious personality development is much higher on your agenda than getting end-year tests passed. Some thoughts on the matter include:

  • Participating in a class (what if you do not understand the subject completely and cannot judge?)
  • Reading through class plans, trying to figure how much effort the teacher puts into preparation
  • Interviewing pupils or students for both their feeling and their understanding of the subject
  • Setting independent tests (problems with tests are huge and numerous, so this may not quite work)

But there must be already some methods that work… Aren’t there?… -->

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