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Quality in Writing

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Brian Rasnow

on 11 February 2013

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Transcript of Quality in Writing

Brian Rasnow
2013 Quality in Writing Is Quality real if you can’t define it?

The philosophic school called “realism” offers an answer
"A thing exists if a world without it can't function normally. If we can show that a world without Quality functions abnormally, then we have shown that Quality exists, whether it's defined or not."

Phaedrus asked what would our world look like without Quality?
Fine arts, music, poetry, … would disappear without “good” and “bad”
Sports, dining, movies, parties, … would vanish

He concluded that pure science, mathematics, and particularly logic would be largely unchanged.
Wow!! Does that mean there is no Quality in Science?! The metaphysical Shall we continue? “The allegory of a physical mountain for the spiritual one that stands between each soul and its goal is an easy and natural one to make. Most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships. Some travel into the mountains accompanied by experienced guides who know the best and least dangerous routes by which they arrive at their destination. Still others, inexperienced and untrusting, attempt to make their own routes. Few of these are successful, but occasionally some, by sheer will and luck and grace, do make it. Once there, they become more aware than any of the others that there's no single or fixed number of routes. There are as many routes as there are individual souls.”

– Robert Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” Example of
Quality in Writing? Are you learning as much as you can from our Readings and Reading Reflections?

Unfortunately I don't have time to grade and write comments on all of your writings

So how do you get feedback to improve? Grading Brian Rasnow
2013 Quality in Writing You’re going to work harder on creating Quality in your writings …
You will improve with rigorous practice …
Visit the Library Writing Center for either of the next 2 assignments (they will stamp your paper for credit)
It should only take 10,000 hours …
May you live another half million hours What next? If we ‘define’ Quality as ‘what you like’
It is subjective by definition
So Science, Math, etc. lack Quality because they are what they are, they are defined absolutely by Nature, completely independent of what you like.
Their lack of subjectivity is synonymous with their lack of Quality

So maybe that’s the answer to the grading …
I can objectively grade the science and technical facts of your paper, as those facts are what they are, vs. what you like them to be
The other stuff is subjective
Make sure your paper is based on facts … Quality is subjective Once Phaedrus defined Quality for his students, he wasn't teaching anymore, he was just indoctrinating.

What about using the subjective “definition” that “Quality is what you like”?

That way you know what Quality is.
I don’t need to – I can’t – teach you that …

Can I grade your paper objectively?
How can I like what you like? What happened? “The school was what could euphemistically be called a "teaching college." At a teaching college you teach and you teach and you teach with no time for research, no time for contemplation, no time for participation in outside affairs. Just teach and teach and teach until your mind grows dull and your creativity vanishes and you become an automaton saying the same dull things over and over to endless waves of innocent students who cannot understand why you are so dull, lose respect and fan this disrespect out into the community. The reason you teach and you teach and you teach is that this is a very clever way of running a college on the cheap while giving a false appearance of genuine education.”

– Robert Pirsig (1974) “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” College will teach you? What is this paragraph about?
What’s its message?
Is it an example of Quality in writing?
Why or why not?
Discuss it for a few minutes … In small groups explore … And how should you develop (discover?) Quality?
Discuss it among yourselves for 5 minutes. What is
“Quality in
writing”? As you read, look at the writings at a meta-level
Do you like it?

Is there an emergent Quality in the writing?
Can you reduce or deduce where It emerges from?

Can you learn to write using such Quality?

Are there other ways you can improve
your writing ?
… Quality Look at your earlier Reading Reflections and papers
Do you see (feel) significant improvement?
How might you accelerate your improvement?
Do you want to work to improve it?

What should your criteria or rubric be? Grade yourself! Read articles every week and write about them
Study what other authors and fellow students are writing – their styles, content, tricks, …

Reread your works and revise them
Reread your works and revise them
Reread your works and revise them

Work together on group projects

But you have to take advantage of these things …
No pain, no gain … Can you
teach yourself? A major learning objective in this class is to improve your writing skills and practice

The best way to learn writing is to practice
Read and write and reflect
Read and write and reflect …

How can I teach you writing?
I don't have time to check and critique all your practice
Is scribbling red marks on your work very effective anyway?
Writing It helps you think!!

Your brain can deal with much more complex (rich) ideas in written vs. mental form

And it helps you communicate too Why is writing
important? Shall we continue exploring the allegorical Scientific mountains?

For more Metaphysics of Quality: Robert Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. An Inquiry into Values” What next? What happened?
How does this compare to our class? The next few slides tell a story of what a very famous teacher known as Phaedrus did (just before going insane)

Read a paragraph in a loud voice, and someone else continue What can I do to help you? With 10,000 hours of practice according to this book
Not overnight
Never, if you don’t practice aggressively

Are YOU willing to study as hard as this dancer trains? How can you write like that? Which means??
Full transcript