Robert M. Pirsig on getting narrow

“Phaedrus found that rhetoric at the University level was taught as a branch of reason alone. He was also having trouble with students who had nothing to say. Especially one girl, who was a serious, disciplined, and hardworking student. She wanted to write an essay about the United States. Phaedrus told her to narrow it to Bozeman but she couldn’t think of anything to say. Phaedrus told her to narrow it down to the main street of Bozeman. Still nothing. He then said “Narrow it down to the front of one building on the main street of Bozeman. The Opera House. Start with the upper left-hand brick.”The next day she returned with a 5,000 word essay on the front of the Opera House on the main street of Bozeman, Montana.

We get blocked from our own creativity because we just repeat what we have already heard. Until we really look at things and see them freshly for ourselves, we will have nothing new to say. “For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses. The more you look the more you see.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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