Zen and the Art...
It gave me the opportunity to finish this book. I started it about a week ago and read it in bits and pieces on planes, where ever. It was very different from what I thought it would be. Slightly disturbing in some respects – but full of nice analogies. I agree with the recommendations to read this book. Two quotes from it caught my eye and since I was reading the electronic version – are easy to quote:
impact driver at this point. But suppose you're inexperienced and you attach
a self-locking plier wrench to the shank of your screwdriver and really
twist it hard, a procedure you've had success with in the past, but which
this time succeeds only in tearing the slot of the screw.
Your mind was already thinking ahead to what you would do when the
cover plate was off, and so it takes a little time to realize that this irritating
minor annoyance of a torn screw slot isn't just irritating and minor.
You're stuck. Stopped. Terminated. It's absolutely stopped you from fixing
This isn't a rare scene in science or technology. This is the commonest scene of all.
Just plain stuck. In traditional maintenance this is the worst of all moments,
so bad that you have avoided even thinking about it before you come to it.
The book's no good to you now. Neither is scientific reason. You don't need
any scientific experiments to find out what's wrong. It's obvious what's wrong.
What you need is an hypothesis for how you're going to get that slotless
screw out of there and scientific method doesn't provide any of these
hypotheses. It operates only after they're around.
This is the zero moment of consciousness. Stuck. No answer. Honked. Kaput.
It's a miserable experience emotionally. You're losing time. You're incompetent.
You don't know what you're doing. You should be ashamed of yourself.
You should take the machine to a real mechanic who knows how to
figure these things out.
a procedure you've had success with in the past,
says it all.
The other quote that grabbed me was about teaching – and how not to do it:
smugness of the professional academician. Did Aristotle really think his
students would be better rhetoricians for having learned all these
endless names and relationships? And if not, did he really think he
was teaching rhetoric? Phædrus thought that he really did. There was nothing
in his style to indicate that Aristotle was ever one to doubt Aristotle.
Phædrus saw Aristotle as tremendously satisfied with this neat little stunt
of naming and classifying everything. His world began and ended with this
stunt. The reason why, if he were not more than two thousand years dead,
he would have gladly rubbed him out is that he saw him as a prototype for
the many millions of self-satisfied and truly ignorant teachers throughout
history who have smugly and callously killed the creative spirit of
their students with this dumb ritual of analysis, this blind, rote,
eternal naming of things. Walk into any of a hundred thousand classrooms
today and hear the teachers divide and subdivide and interrelate and
establish "principles" and study "methods" and what you will hear is the
ghost of Aristotle speaking down through the centuries...the desiccating
lifeless voice of dualistic reason.
Now, I don’t agree 100% with all of this – I believe having a common taxonomy is important in discussion, but nothing should start and end with it. I learn new terms relating to our industry all of the time – and when I hear them, I ask “what does that mean”. Sometimes the discussion surrounding “what does that mean” can be very interesting as what I believe the term to have meant is not at all what the “user” of that term was trying to convey.
Anyway – all in all a pretty good read. A little deep at times, but lots of good stories within the story there. I liked it (and won’t give away the plot too much because it sort of caught me by surprise – if you haven’t read an outline about it, I suggest just getting it and reading it, you’ll be surprised by it).