In Lila, we get a great deal of description of the process Bob Pirsig used to manage his thoughts whilst creating ZAMM, and he gives us an insight into his trunkful of 3000 4″ x 6″ slips (index cards) in his letter of January 5th 1969 to his publisher James Landis. He mentions it again on page 129 of the 25th anniversary edition of ZAMM, and on page 189 he says …
Later, when I developed more confidence in my immunity to [the affliction of seeing every thought as archeological debris of some overall design], I became interested in the debris in a more positive way, and began to jot down the fragments amorphically, that is without regard to form, in the order in which they occurred to me. Many of these amorphic statements have been supplied by friends. There are thousands of them now.
I know how he feels – think I said in my intial review that the main thought to strike me was how much I identified with Bob / Phaedrus. I’ve just finished a third read of ZAMM, and I’m still amazed that I had never read it before the manifesto that started this quest. In fact I’d never read anything approaching philosophy before I read Pirsig either. It deserves some proper analysis because, like it or not, together with Lila, it certainly covers every thread of my blog. I think I shall create an analytical essay simply to capture and make some sense of the thousands of annotations and links I’ve made.
Since early 2002 I’ve had on my blog links to two Pirsig sites, MOQ and Quantonics. I’ve never interacted closely with these communities, despite being convinced Pirsig was onto something very important since the 50’s/60’s. I think the reasons for this were, and are, twofold. Firstly, I baulk at the almost religious zeal with which so many followers, nay disciples, seem to approach Pirsig. Secondly, if your aim is to establish MOQism through discourse ahead of any other “ism” and Pirsig ahead of any other philosopher, then be my guest, you will not be alone. My aim, like Pirsig’s I believe, is much more pragmatic.
Throughout ZAMM, he uses the recurring metaphor of looking and travelling up towards “heights” of one form or another, and on each occasion returning to earth or the ocean. In one of the climactic episodes [ch20 p244] when he decides not to complete the hike to the summit with his son Chris, there are questions and suggestions about his lacking the courage to do so [ch21 p255]. I’m sure achieving the rarefied heights of establishing a philosophy for philosophers to debate was never on his agenda. In fact fixed objectives are almost anathema to his dynamical / process view of reality – how many times does he use the aphorism of being better to travel than to arrive – he always returns to his comfort zone of the craftsman and the job in hand. As he says [Quote ch25 p297] Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle. I think what I have to say has more lasting value. [Unquote] Fix a motorcycle ? How about help any kind of organisation to create and deliver any kind of product or service. That’ll do me.