Psybertron’s Pirsig Pages

Robert M Pirsig (6 Sept 1928 – 24 Apr 2017)

Author and creator of
“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” (ZMM-1974)
“Lila – an Enquiry into Morals” (Lila-1992)
The Metaphysics of Quality (MoQ)

 Introduction

[Last updated January 2020]

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There are a number of pages and blog posts on Psybertron that are related directly or indirectly to the work of Bob Pirsig and his Metaphysics of Quality. (See [More]) When the Psybertron project started in 2001, there was little indication of the philosophical activist turn it would take, nor that two earlier books I hadn’t yet read would become significant.

My initial reaction and review on reading ZMM in early 2002 are here.

They remain significant, not because Bob’s are the last words on the subject, nor are they necessarily entirely original ideas – after all, ideas evolve. However, Psybertron acknowledges the contribution of Pirsig, ZMM, Lila and MoQ to the thought journey. That journey was described in my 2005 conference paper and presentation slides. In many ways Bob was my “seed crystal” – whatever the specific content of his thought and work, reading his words catalysed the confluence of many confused threads of my own thought.

Of lasting significance, in summary, are three things:

  • The MoQ as a synthetic view – synthesizing, rather than simply analyzing. The historically recurring dichotomy between things objective, physical & scientific and things subjective, mystical & romantic. We really do “murder to dissect”.
    • Careful with that knife, Aristotle !
    • Careful with that razor, Occam!
  • The MoQ as an evolutionary framework – recognizing that synthesis of the physical and the mental, as the evolution of special patterns through dynamic interaction over time.
    • Careful with that meme, Eugene !
  • Man and ideas as inseparable and “co-creative” – consistent with the evolutionary process perspective and picking-up on an earlier idea (from Jorn Bargerthe original blogger) that any subject of significance and complexity should be presented as a timeline, I created a biographical timeline of Bob’s life. That timeline stands as a biographical resource in its own right, but the process of creating and maintaining it reinforced the view that the context with which to understand a man’s ideas, is the man’s life and motivations. Where was he coming from when he wrote this stuff?
    • Careful with that idea, Man !

 Latest Pirsig News

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December 2019Wendy Pirsig donates the original Honda CB77 350cc Superhawk restored by Bob, and associated archive materials to the Smithsonian.

March 2018Montana State University acquire McWatt’s Pirsig correspondence archives.

24th April 2017Robert Pirsig dies at his home in Maine after a period of failing health. Thoughts are with Wendy and the rest of the family.

7th/8th/9th December 2012 there was the Pirsig Chautauqua 2012 organized by Chas Pinkava at Montana State University, Bozeman. Notable premiere of Lee Glover’s film “Meridian” and a lot more besides.

23rd June 2012 – saw the first broadcast of Peter Flannery’s dramatization of ZMM on BBC Radio4‘s Saturday Drama. [My review here.]

2008 & 2009

2006 – Tim Adams of The Observer interviews Bob in Boston on what he claimed would be [and now turns out to have been] his last interview. It was published in three parts:

Older historical milestones can be found in The Pirsig Timeline.

 Pirsig Content on Psybertron

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 External Pirsig Links

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  • David Harding’s “Good Metaphysics” – High quality web pages dedicated to Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality in the context of our all-prevailing “subject-object-metaphysics”. (Current and active in 2018 also via Blog and Twitter.)
  • Henry Gurr’s “ZMM Quality” – dedicated primarily to locations, details and photos of the ZMM journey – and a gold-mine of interesting information and links. (Current and active in 2018, inc FB Page ZMMQuality.)
  • Dr McWatt’s “robertpirsig.org” – dedicated to academic philosophical research into Pirsig’s MoQ, a documentary film project and linking to new publications. (Fallen into disuse. Domain secured in 2019 as holding pages at robertpirsig.org and themoquniversity.org as part of attempts to create “The Robert Pirsig Association” for posterity. QUESTION: pirsig.org is still out there with some of McWatt’s material from 2016 and has been renewed – by someone? – as recently as 2019 although McWatt apparently has no access to update dead links etc. Can you help track down that someone?)
  • “MoQ.org” – the original “Lila Squad” / MoQ-Discuss (MD) on-line resource for discussing and interpreting Pirsig’s work  – not for the faint-hearted; (almost) no-holds barred – moderated by the ever patient “Horse”. (Currently inactive in 2018.)
  • “Lila’s Child” – web-site of the book by Dan Glover of the original Lila Squad collaborating with the author to elaborate on the MoQ. (Live but infrequently active in 2018.)
  • Gary Wegner’s “ZMM Route Map”the definitive detailed Google Maps version of the ZMM Route complete with GPS waypoints. (Map live and current in 2018. Other content dead.)
  • Matt Kundert’s “Affliction” – a blog with many long thoughtful essays relating Pirsig to modern pragmatists, and in particular Richard Rorty. (Live but infrequently active in 2018. Last MD related post in 2010.)
  • Paul Turner’s “Twelvelinks” – a blog specializing on interpreting Zen (and other) Buddhist aspects of Pirsig’s work. (Inactive since 2008Paul’s later essays can be found at robertpirsig.org currently also inactive.)
  • Sam Norton’s “Elizaphanian” – a blog originating in Pirsig interests,  but focussing on relating the Reverend’s day-job to the big issues of the day. (Still active in 2018, but few recent Pirsig references.)
  • Caryl Johnson’s “Meta-Q” – a blog dedicated to the furtherance of MoQ, with many excellent essay-length posts. (Inactive since 201o.)
  • Mark Richardson’s “Zen & Now” – promoting his book “Zen & Now”. (Inactive since 2008.)
  • Doug Renselle’s “Quantonics” – Some of the earliest on-line Pirsig-related material including author correspondence. Idiosyncratic attempt at new language of MoQ. (Live in 2018 and active on many political and ethical topics.)
  • Wikipedia on MoQ – Make of it what you will, literally.
  • The MoQ Wiki – Ditto, make of it what you will.
  • And, the original Psybertron Pirsig Pages contain many more such links. [These pages are kept as a matter of record only, and a number of other links on that page and in the blog side-bar have being re-organised onto these pages.]

 

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