Thinking solo, thinking in groups

Reading in Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance I came across a long conversation he has with people he is staying with, after a dinner party. I find myself wondering when I have ever had such a conversation where we go really deep into a subject. Perhaps in college once or twice (but I did not feel part of the conversations, usually) and once or twice with Michael Herman in the evenings of some open space events. It occurred to me that most conversations do not go as deep as even the writing I am doing on these pages, let alone the depth of a Buber book or Pirsig. Pirsig raises the question in his soliloquy of getting to the roots of logic, rather than its branches, to create whole new ways of thinking. It occurred to me then that conversation is that root: we can evolve new ways of thinking, to say nothing of new kinds of people. So going a step further, I saw that we have need of both kinds of thinking: solo and together. The together kind grafts the ideas together that they might bear fruit; the solo kind allows us to go deeper and have some real meat and nourishment to the ideas; then we go together again to help us bridge the gaps and cross the chasms and obstacles on the way. It is a kind of respiration, perhaps. Thinking solo we can go deep and wide; small groups can help us go wider (but often not as deeply) and also focus the ideas to the realm of working together—what is possible, practical, exciting; large groups can help us transfer the excitement and see bigger pictures.

Is this all there is to be said of the matter? For one thing, we need not then worry so much that conversation does not go deep. It will go more deeply, it will connect more, if we open ourselves to that possibility, if we speak what is on our hearts and minds. We need to see it for what it offers and work within that: connecting people and ideas; bridging gaps and obstacles; viral activity.

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on February 18th, 2007 | No Comments »

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