Biographical Timeline of Robert Pirsig
author of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"
and "Lila, and Inquiry into Morals"

Part of the Pirsig Pages of Psybertron Blog by Ian Glendinning (contact) 

Last update Feb 15th, 2009.
(See footnotes for previous revisions, original publication, acknowledgements and other numbered notes.)

This timeline is presented as context to the life and work of Robert Pirsig, not as a comprehensive biography. 
More comprehensive content and references are being added progressively to the body of the timeline. Comments and contributions are always welcome, via the blog-comments and contact links above.

Year Bob's Age Chris' Age Doing What Where ?
  • Date & Event
1928 0  

Born, Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • 6th September 1928 - Bob is born - Robert Maynard Pirsig.
  • Bob's father is Maynard Pirsig. His wife, Bob's mother, is Harriet Marie Pirsig (nee Sjobeck), of Swedish descent. (His father, Bob's grandfather, was Gustav Pirsig,  and was probably the first Pirsig in the southern Minnesota / northern Iowa area. Gustav's brother is believed to have been Otto who farmed with his wife Anna in Blue Earth.)
... ...      
1932 3/4   Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Bob's father is at Harvard University Law School, preparing under Prof. Felix Frankfurter and Dean of Law, Roscoe Pound, for study in England, helping to create a new legal field called Judicial Administration.
1933 4/5   Starts school Hendon, London, England
  • The house in Hendon backs onto the aerodrome.
  • Bob begins school there, while his father studies at the Middle and Inner Temple Inns of Court in London, England.
  • Bob recalls his father having a motorcycle with side-car in which father, mother and son would travel at this time in England.
1934 5/6   Kindergarten & School, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Bob's father returns to teach law at University of Minnesota Law School.
    (Where he teaches until his retirement in 1970, being Dean from 1948 to 1955.)
  • Bob enters into kindergarten but, since he can already read and write quite well, is  moved up almost immediately to second grade. This creates a crisis in which, being the smallest child in the class, he is constantly picked upon and, being also forced to write with his right hand despite being naturally left handed, he begins to develop a stammer that makes it impossible to continue. 
... ...      
1936 7/8   Blake School, Minneapolis
  • Q3 39 - Bob receives a scholarship to Blake School (Lila p26), awarded to children of the University of Minnesota faculty members. He is transferred into a class of students his own age, is allowed to use his left hand, the bullying ends and within a few months so does the stammer.
1938 9/10   Blake School, Minneapolis
  • Bob scores IQ 170 aged 9 1/2 (Stanford-Binet Form M Test, a 1 in 50,000 result.) (Z25 p87 quotes this at age 14, but the 1961 letter from the University of Minnesota Institute of Child Development and Welfare confirms 1938, aged 9 1/2)
    (We and Bob discover much later, in 1949 and 1961, that Bob is being studied as an intellectual development research case, and subject to further testing over a long period of time.)
1939 10/11   High School, University of Minnesota
  • Bob transfers to University of Minnesota High School. There he is again accelerated by two years.
... ...      
1944 15/16   University, Minneapolis
  • During the summer of 1944 Bob starts and completes the Freshman Chemistry courses at the University of Minnesota still aged only 15. Phædrus is already emerging. "If Phædrus had entered science for ambitious or utilitarian purposes it might never have occurred to him to ask questions about the nature of scientific hypothesis as an entity in itself. But he did ask them, and was unsatisfied with the answers." (Z25 p113)
1945 16/17   University, Minneapolis
  • Bob is already planning to specialize in Biochemistry. (Z25 p ) 
1946 17/18   Army
  • Phædrus [Bob]  is expelled for failing grades, immaturity and inattention to studies. In a stunned state, starts a period of lateral drift. (Z25 p118 )
  • Bob joins the army and does his basic training at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, and after three months is sent to Korea (Z25 p122), where following the end of WWII, the US mission there is simply to take over from the Japanese occupation.
  • (Richard Rorty aged 15 goes to Chicago University to study Philosophy)
1947 18/19   Army, Korea
  • Bob experiences the local culture and writes letters. One particular Korean wall makes a deep and lasting impression. (Z25 p122) (Some of these letters may survive ?)
  • In the 2006 Guardian interview Bob says this "Most of the army guys were horrible to Koreans, they called them gooks and beat them up whenever they could. And we were hated in turn. It was kind of like Iraq in a way. I was assigned to malarial control in charge of all these local labourers. The caretaker was a kid about 16, and he spoke perfect English. I said: 'How in hell did you learn English that well?' And he said: 'I just picked it up.' This guy was another of these prodigies, you know, but he had no school. So I paid for him to go to school - $16. This changed my relationship with the Koreans. I started to teach them English. The Koreans and I became good friends and they gave me a Korean chess set. I told them one time the most marvellous thing about the English language is that in 26 letters you can describe the whole universe. And they just said: 'No'. That was what started me thinking. In the East, the basis of experience is not definable. That 16 bucks set me on the road to Zen."
1948 19/20   Army, returning to Seattle.
  • After 14 months in Korea as Private (first class) Bob returns to the US on a troopship where he reads F.S.C.Northrop's "Meeting of East and West".  (Z25 p123). Bob is honorably discharged. (This is all before the Korean war has started.)
  • Bob's lateral drift has ended. He's actively in pursuit of something now. (Z25 p124)
1948 19/20   University, Minneapolis
  • Bob goes back to University of Minnesota to study Philosophy.
1949 20/21   University, Minneapolis
  • Bob is studying Philosophy.
  • Whilst at the university, he takes an assessment according to "Miller's Analogy", with a raw score of 83 which puts him in the top 4% of graduate students entering.
1950 21/22   University, Minneapolis
  • Bob gains his BA in Philosophy
1951 22/23   University, Benares, India
  • Bob enrolls at Benares Hindu University, studying oriental philosophy for 1 1/2 years graduate study, funded by the GI Bill. [Quote] Nothing much happened ... He'd entered India an empirical scientist, and he left India an empirical scientist, not much wiser than he had been when he'd come. However, he'd been exposed to a lot and had acquired a kind of latent image that appeared in conjunction with many other latent images later on..... He became aware that the doctrinal differences among Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism are not anywhere near as important as doctrinal differences among Christianity and Islam and Judaism. Holy wars are not fought over them .... great value is placed on the Sanskrit doctrine of Tat tvam asi, "Thou art that," which asserts that everything you think you are and everything you think you perceive are undivided. To realize fully this lack of division is to become enlightened. [Unquote] (Z25 p143)
  • This period of study involves no specific course with any qualification. He also does some work for a tourist agency whilst he is there. It is intriguing given his cycle from "drifting" in 1946, to being in "active pursuit of something" in 1948, that at this point in 1951 he announces that "nothing much happened" and that he has "given up". We can only speculate as to why the Benares experience had this effect until such time as Bob decides to expand on this chapter of his life.
1951 22/23   Minneapolis
  • Bob returns to "his Midwest". In the remainder of the decade does odd jobs, living in Minnesota, Nevada and Mexico, working as a freelance technical writer and journalist, writing short stories, reading for pleasure and attempting to start writing a book. His pursuit of what has been called the ghost of reason had been given up.
1952 23/24   University. Minneapolis.
  • Early 52 he enrolls at the University to study Journalism and get a practical qualification, also funded by the GI Bill.
  • Bob does some work for the Minnesota Daily publication of the university.
1953 24/25   University, Tech-writing, & Editing. Minneapolis.
  • Bob attends creative writing seminars by Allen Tate at University of Minnesota. (Subjects included Henry James' Turn of the Screw, "winter afternoons early 50's" Tate started there in 1951.) (Z25 xii) 
  • May 53 to Sep 53 - Whilst still studying, Bob also works as technical editor on instruction manuals for machine tools at the Do-All Corporation Continental Machines Division.
  • Sep 53 to Dec 53 - Bob is co-editing The Ivory Tower edition of the Minnesota Daily, the literary magazine of the University of Minnesota, with Nancy Ann James. (Nancy is an undergraduate student at the school of journalism, already married but still funded by her parents. Her father is a building contractor from Janesville, Wisconsin.) 
1954 25/26   Odd-jobbing. Reno,
  • Bob leaves the journalism school in the winter of 1953/54 with Nancy. They go to Reno, Nevada, where she divorces her husband.
  • February to September - Bob and Nancy are working as dealers in the Nevada Club, Reno, in order to raise sufficient money to go to Mexico, where living would be cheaper, and Bob would hopefully have more opportunity to write.
  • 10th May 54 - Bob & Nancy obtain marriage license.
1955 26/27   Odd-jobbing, & Freelance Tech-Writing.
Mexico & Minneapolis
  • September 54 to May 55 - Living in Minatitlan on the Bay of Campeche in Mexico, he works on his writing, but also learns a lesson from an expensive, abortive attempt to have an ocean-going sailboat built, as a pilot project for a possible export venture. (Lila p198)
  • May 55 to Sept 55 - Bob does summer relief work for the United Press Service in Minneapolis.
  • Sept 55 to May 56 - Bob is employed writing educational booklets for 7th & 8th grade science students.
1956 27/28 0 Odd-jobbing, & Freelance Tech-Writing.
  • May 56 to Sept 56 - Bob is employed on production of a marketing education film for the Minneapolis Grain Exchange.
  • Sept 56 (to Apr 58) - Bob starts as contributing editor, writing articles about R&D for the General Mills Research Labs.
  • 28th November 56 - Chris is born.
1957 28/29 0/1 University & Tech-writing. Bethel, Minnesota.
  • Bob and Nancy, with the infant Chris, move to live in aged farm house in disrepair on 120 acres of marginal farmland at Bethel, Minnesota. They own a riding horse and two cars and Bob is starting to put on middle-aged weight.
  • Whilst still writing and editing technical articles for General Mills, Bob returns to the University of Minnesota to complete his Journalism studies, considering the need for the formal masters qualification and the desire to get out of commercial writing and into (something less commercial and more vocational, like) teaching and/or post-graduate research.
1958 29/30 1/2 University & Tech-writing. Bethel, Minnesota.
  • Theodore (Ted) born April 24th. (Ted was 16 when Chris was 17 at the book launch in 1974.)
  • Apr 58 - Bob leaves the job at General Mills and for the rest of his time at Bethel, works freelance on two books on the history of science in hospitals for fifth grade and junior high students, and on trade-journal advertising articles by Faber Advertising, for the Automatic Control Company of St. Paul.
  • Bob gains his MA in Journalism. His paper on the status of technical writers and technical writing was "Star" graded. (He subsequently cites professors M. V. Charnley and J. E. Gerald as referees.  There is no evidence any copies survive ?) (According to the Minnesota journalism college's own historical record "The student of the '50s who achieved widest recognition for his writing was Robert M. Pirsig, M.A. 1958.")
  • Bob applies for teaching posts. "He likes animals and children, especially his own." he says.
  • It's extremely important to notice that he really had given up on the "ghost of reason" in the 8 years since Benares, even though he remained in pursuit of writing "a great book". (Z25 p144)
  • Bob is impressed with Kerouac's "On The Road" on first reading and generally admires the pre-hippy "beats". Bob later recalls meeting Allen Ginsberg at an (unspecified) conference - he said: 'What do you know about Zen?' I said: 'Well, about as much as you do.' And he said: 'Who is your teacher?' And I said Katagiri Roshi. 'Oh, Katagiri,' he said, 'he's a great guy.'
1959 30/31 2/3 Teaching. Bozeman.
  • 18th August 59 - Bob and the family set off for Montana for the first time. (Same day as Hebgen Lake Earthquake.)
  • Fall 59 - Bob takes up post teaching English (rhetoric and advanced technical writing) to freshmen at Montana State College, Bozeman  .
  • Bob experiments with non-prescriptive, non-graded, teaching methods.
  • Sarah's "seed crystal" moment brings "Quality" into focus as the subject being taught. (Z25 p180)
  • His radical ideas bring conflict with college plans to achieve university status. (Later, Montana state governor has Bob [Phædrus] on a list of 50 radicals when killed in a plane crash. Z25 p105, See 1962 entry.) The college records confirm Pirsig's joke that it wasn't too difficult to be branded a radical in McCarthy's time, even Eleanor Roosevelt was banned.
  • (Bob's political activity in college education policy affairs are in fact documented in college archives, examined and described by Sven Lindqvist in his Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter articles in August 1994.)
1960 31/32 3/4 Teaching, Bozeman
  • Spring 60 -  Bob attends a Northern Cheyenne "peyote" session on Busby reservation (Lame Deer, Montana) with Verne Dusenberry, his first pursuit of Indian Anthropology. (Lila p38)(Lila p465) LaVerne Madigan of the Association of American Indians also visits with them. (Lila p465).
  • (Bob believed Madigan died some months after this in 1960, in a plane crash, an odd coincidence given the actual 1962 plane crash also first mentioned above. In fact she died in a riding accident involving her son, writer Fergus Bordewich.) (See also Verne Dusenberry's book "The Montana Cree".)
  • (Peyote or Mescal Buttons are the fresh or dried flowering tuberlces of the spineless dome shaped Peyote Cactus or Mescal (Lophophora genus, typically Williamsii species, related to Agave but quite different in appearance). This is a natural source of several alkaloids including Mescaline, which is itself named after Mescalero Apaches, just one among many Mexican and American Indian tribes that made use of it. Timothy Leary is in Mexico at exactly this time, being introduced to Psilocybin (Magic) Mushrooms (Psilocybe Mexicana, one of several Psilocybe species of the Agaric genus of fungus), and he first experiences LSD later in 1962. Mescaline and Psilocybin are distinct natural alkaloids that share similar "indole-amine" structures, as does the synthetic drug LSD, common to neurotransmitters like Serotonin and Norepinephrine, active in normal brain functioning. Strangely, whilst Mescaline and Psilocybin are distinct, they are so similar in physical form and effect, that both Mescal Buttons and Magic Mushrooms are often synonymous with Sacred Mushrooms. Detailed refs to be added.) 
  • The search for "Quality", is already leading Bob back to Greek philosophy. (Z25 p334)
  • Bob decides to find a PhD course related to Quality, to further his teaching career. His investigations find that Chicago University offers an "Analysis of Ideas and Study of Methods" program, and that the Chairman is a professor of ancient Greek. He seems to have found what he is looking for. (Z25 p335)
  • Bob applies, is interviewed by a Professor (possibly Silverstein ?), the program chairman being out of town at the time, and he is accepted to start on the course in the Autumn of 1961.
1961 32/33 4/5 Teaching, Bozeman
  • Early 1961 - Phædrus [Bob] is already thinking hard and exhibiting strange behavior. "We used to ride in the car to look for you ..." - Chris - "... you wouldn't even talk to us." (Z25 p175)
  • Spring 1961 - Bob is called for interview by the program Chairman (Richard McKeon), after acceptance on course, in order to discuss and agree his "substantive field". (Z25 p337)
  • June 1961 - Bob receives the results of series of adult intelligence tests. Although Bob is already aware of his 1938 IQ test score, this is the first time he is aware that he has been the subject of a "longitudinal" research study on intellectual development by the Minnesota Institute of Child Development and Welfare, (See 1938 and 1949 entries). The latest results reveal that in terms of general intelligence he continues to score in the top 1% of all adults.
  • Summer 1961 - He spends another summer in the mountains of Montana, contemplating his "substantive field" decision. Decides on philosophy, but then through conversations with other philosophy teachers, he is warned about McKeon and through research discovers that he is a notorious Aristotelian. (McKeon is in fact an authority since the publication of his compilation "The Basic Works of Aristotle" in 1941. The Aristotelian notoriety at Chicago University is also documented by Northrop in the book Pirsig read back in 1948. Rorty also makes reference.  ) Bob writes a megalomaniac letter to McKeon about his own anti-Aristotelian thesis. (Z25 p337/344)
  • End Summer 1961 - Bob receives a rejection letter just as he is departing Bozeman. He responds that he already has acceptance and travels to Chicago anyway. (Z25 p346)
1961 32/33 4/5 Teaching & Studying, Chicago
  • September 1961- On arrival, he takes up paid post teaching rhetoric at the University of Illinois (Navy Pier). His teaching timetable conflicts with the Chairman's Ideas and Methods course for which he is registered, so he enrolls on a Rhetoric course instead, thereby avoiding the Chairman. (Z25 p347/348)
  • September 1961 - "Of all the thousands of students who had studied the ancient Greeks, it is doubtful there was ever one more dedicated." (Z25 p348) In the first session an "innocent" student is told that his personal opinions are not the subject of the course and he doesn't return. (Z25 p361/362)
  • September 1961 - Phædrus was there solely to write a "Great Book" of his own. (Z25 p364)
  • September 1961 - The Professor of Rhetoric likens Bob to a wolf and suggests the name Lycias, from the character in the Phædrus dialogue. Bob misunderstands this and assumes the nick-name Phædrus itself, though it has subsequently been pointed out many times that Phædrus  has no connection with being wolf-like, meaning "one who shines brilliantly". Although Bob associates the origin of the Phædrus nick-name for his alter-ego with this period, and even uses the name when talking about his earlier periods (eg see 1944), in fact the character name is a narrative device introduced when editing the already completed ZMM draft. "He did not appear until the book was written." says Bob.
  • September / October 1961 - It seems the professor must have been made aware of Bob's prior knowledge and alternative views and he gives the impression that he considers Phædrus initially to be eccentric, then undesirable, slightly mad, and finally completely insane. (Z25 p75 and p361/393)
  • October 1961 - "Months" after the departure of the innocent student Phædrus ventures a personal opinion (Z25 p369) [Suggest in fact 7 or 8 weeks later in mid to late October.]
  • 13th October 61 - Bob's paper "Quality in Freshman Writing" is delivered to the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association in Bozeman, by Professor John Parker of the Bozeman faculty while Bob is in Chicago. (GBZ p356)
  • October / November 1961- The Professor is absent (mysteriously ill) for several weeks. (Z25 p382/384)
  • Early November 1961- The first snow of winter. (Z25 p383) Both teaching and studying hard for 20 hour days "in an effort to outflank the whole body of western academic thought" Phædrus is becoming exhausted. (Z25 p384)
  • 2nd Week November 1961- After 4 weeks the Chairman (McKeon) turns up to take over the course. (Z25 p385) At the very first session the Chairman is undermined by Phædrus' contributions. Rhetoric 2 : Dialectic 0 (Z25 p385/390)
  • 3rd Week November 1961- At the second session with the Chairman, Phædrus is deferential, but the Chairman is dismissive and Phædrus switches off. (Z25 p392)
  • 3rd Week November 1961- At his next teaching session at Navy Pier (University of Illinois), which has been going very well to date, Phædrus is non-communicative. (Z25 p393)
  • November 1961- Thanksgiving comes (Z25 p393)
1961 32/33 4/5 Clinically Insane, Chicago
  • End November 1961 - "He begins to walk the streets, his mind spinning …. on the third day he turns a corner at an intersection of unknown streets and his vision blanks out ..... when it returns he has the vague impression of having been lying on the sidewalk .... on another occasion, driving with Chris in the car, he gets lost ..... after that he does not leave the apartment. .... stares at the wall .... cross-legged on the floor ..... no way back. .... three days and three nights, Phædrus stares at the wall .... his wife asks if he is sick, and .... he becomes angry, .... he tells his wife to leave with the children, to consider themselves separated. .... Nancy calls for help..... Phædrus begins to come apart." (Z25 p393/396)
  • Catatonic schizophrenia or hard Zen enlightenment ? Bob is ambivalent with hindsight.
  • December 1961 - Phædrus is taken into the University of Chicago mental hospital, where he spends Christmas 1961. (Z25 p75)
1962 33/34 5/6 Clinically Insane, Chicago & Downey, Illinois
  • January 1962 - The psychiatrist assigned to Bob interviews McKeon to try to get Bob reinstated at the University of Chicago, but McKeon refuses. The psychiatrist tells Bob he's not previously met anyone like McKeon and that he will be doing something further about it. He goes to the president of the University of Chicago and McKeon is overruled so that Bob is actually reinstated. When Bob meets with the Professor of Rhetoric he advises Bob to "Just write something."
  • 25th January 62 - Montana governor Donald Nutter is one of six killed when their plane crashes in a snowstorm near Wolf Creek. The governor has Pirsig [Phædrus] on a list of 50 radicals. (Z25 p105) Bob is not aware at the time, and learns this much later, probably from Verne Dusenberry.
  • 1962 Dusenberry gets his Anthropology PhD in Stockholm
  • January 1962 - Bob also returns to teaching at the University of Illinois, Navy Pier and is assigned a (relatively undemanding) Freshman course in business letter writing.
  • February 1962 - "If nothing else could do it, that broke my spirit, so I quit. I had no job, no future in philosophy, my wife was mad at me, we had two small kids, I was at this midlife point. I was 34. I would never get a job teaching again. The world looked pretty bleak." A huge depression sets in so severe that Bob voluntarily commits himself to a state run mental hospital at Downey, Illinois.
  • Physically separated from his family in the Illinois institution, he is seen only from the other side of a glass door. Images that leave Chris, aged "about 6", with nightmares. (Z25 recurring.)
  • Spring 62 - After " some months" Bob discharges himself and returns with the family to Minneapolis, to a house across the street from his parents on Clarence Avenue, Minneapolis, where it is hoped he will recover and resume a normal life. In fact, things actually get worse. Nancy cannot understand why Bob doesn’t want to be "normal" like everyone else. The contrast between Bob's head full of the "Quality" thoughts that are eventually to become ZMM and Lila, and the fact that no one else can see him as anything but a broken down English teacher is now really driving Bob crazy.
1963 34/35 6/7 Clinically Insane, Minneapolis
  • Bob recalls "Things got worse and worse and worse with my wife and I was getting dangerous, really hostile; I was swinging at people. I was capable of homicide.  I hadn't shot anyone; Yet. I had pointed the gun ... One policeman came to the front door and one to the back, and they knew I had a gun."
  • It is Bob's father who signs a court order to commit him to incarceration at the Veterans hospital in Minneapolis, where the therapy will immediately include include EST (Electro-Convulsive Shock Therapy)
  • Later, Nov 22, 1963 (The day of JFK's assassination) will be one of twenty-eight occasions on which he receives EST, which eventually ends Phædrus (to reappear 5 years later on July 24th 1968) "He was dead. Destroyed by order of the court, enforced by the transmission of high-voltage alternating current through the lobes of his brain. Approximately 800 mills of amperage at durations of 0.5 to 1.5 seconds had been applied on twenty-eight consecutive occasions, in a process known technologically as Annihilation ECS. A whole personality had been liquidated without a trace in a technologically faultless act that has defined our relationship ever since. I [Pirsig] have never met him [Phædrus]. Never will." (Z25 p91)(See Numbered Footnote 1)
  • Bob mentions in the Guardian interview, that Nancy, perhaps unsurprisingly, asked for a divorce during this period, whilst clearly she is wrestling with supporting Bob and loyalty to the family of two young boys. Bob of course already suggested they should consider themselves separated during his breakdown before hospitalisation in 1961. (They do not finally separate until 1976, and divorce in 1978.)
  • The start of Bob's recovery. After the shock treatments Bob sees that further direct pursuit of the Metaphysics of Quality will commit him institutionally for life, so he finally caves in and adopts his role as the narrator of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. (Bob has spent over two years in and out of of mental hospitals. (1974 NYT Interview). "What I am is a heretic who's recanted, and thereby in everyone's eyes saved his soul. Everyone's eyes but one, who knows deep down inside that all he has saved is his skin." )
1964 35/36 7/8 Writing Minneapolis
  • Bob concerns himself with the archaeology of Phædrus life. Thinking again about writing a book, still apparently with anthropology and plains Indians as his subject.
  • Bob takes up freelance science and technical writing again, doing occasional work on magazine and trade journal articles  on agricultural and electromechanical machines, but mainly doing abstracts of papers for "Modern Medicine".  One of the subjects he writes about is "mortuary cosmetics".
1965 36/37 8/9 Writing Minneapolis
  • Bob takes a better paid full-time job with FMC Corporation, Northern Ordnance Division, as a Project Technical Author preparing training and instruction manuals for guided-missile launch systems at the Great Lakes Naval Training School. During this employment Bob also supervises and trains at least one other technical writer.
  • Dusenberry visits Bob in Minneapolis. Dusenberry already feeling "strange". (Lila p56)
  • Bob acquires small motorcycle (6.5hp / 45mph), and takes abortive trip north towards Canada with Chris aged about 8, getting as far as just north of Lake Mille-Lacs. (Z25 p28/30)
1966 37/38 9/10 Writing Minneapolis
  • Bob and the family are now living at the 458 Otis Avenue address.
  • March 66 - Bob leaves the FMC job to work for Fabritek, a firm making computer memory devices. He is writing manuals for a small educational computer and peripheral equipment. 
  • Bob drives by car to visit Dusenberry in Calgary, Alberta where he is the museum curator and director of the Indian Studies Institute of the Glenbow Foundation. Bob already now knows Dusenberry is terminally ill with "brain cancer". (Lila p56)
  • Bob acquires 1964 Honda CB77 305cc Superhawk motorcycle. ("Bought 2 years before" at the time of the ZMM trip in 1968.) (GZ p226)
  • December 16th 1966 - Verne Dusenberry, Associate Professor, English Department Montana State College, dies as a result of a brain tumor, Calgary, Alberta. (Lila p32)
1967 38/39 10/11 Writing Minneapolis
  • Bob is writing essays - including a lighthearted essay for John Sutherland with whom he shared oriental philosophic interests, eg in Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery, but opposing views on Motorcycle Maintenance. (Z25 Readers Guide p431/432).
  • Bob leaves Fabritek to take up contract writing for Century Publications (owned by Stuart Cohen) which, as well as providing freedom from corporate politics, actually offers better pay too.
  • Bob is planning and thinking about writing his book, and draft outlines of early thoughts. He already has the working title Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZMM) from his essay written for John. (Unless John knows different, Bob says no copies of this specific essay exist. It was never actually complete, and was effectively one of the early draft manuscripts that eventually developed into the book itself.)
1968 39/40 11/12 Writing Minneapolis
  • 6th June 68 - Bob writes to 122 publishers (including John C Wiley of William Morrow & Co.) advising his intent to write the book and indicating the title Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, including a couple of sample pages and asking for expressions of interest. (Z25 Readers Guide p421/427)
  • 10th June 68 - James Landis of William Morrow's responds with positive interest. Initially 22 publishers expressed interest in fact. Landis was to correspond with Bob throughout the creation of ZMM, and became its biggest advocate for publication in 1973, a year before that finally happened.
1968 39/40 11/12 ZMM trip in July 68 across Mid-West
  •  Mon 8th July 68 - Bob sets off on his Honda with Chris, and with John and Sylvia Sutherland on their BMW, on the motorcycle trip from Minnesota (Minneapolis) via the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon to California (San Francisco). The journey that forms the narrative of ZMM. (See ZMM Route Map for details. See better map by Gary Wegner.)
  • Wife Nancy is not mentioned in the real-time narrative in ZMM. Bob says she was on another vacation at the time (in Europe with friends), and Ted was staying with a relative.
  • Approaching Breckenridge and heading through to Oakes, ND on the first day, Bob "sees a ghost" and experiences a metaphorical thunderstorm, as he faces the reality that he is retracing routes he travelled many times between Minneapolis and Bozeman in the difficult period of his life from 1959 to 1963.
  • Sat 13th / Tue 16th - They visit Robert and Gennie DeWeese in Cottonwood Canyon, Bozeman.
  • Wed 17th / Thur 18th - Bob & Chris go backpacking in the mountains near Bozeman.
  • Fri 19th / Wed 24th - Bob & Chris continue the motorcycle trip to San Francisco
1968 39/40 11/12 Writing Minneapolis
  • Working on ZMM. He is to work on it for over four years. He had started to keep notes on "Zen" before the trip, and he is already compiling these as index cards (a process described in the later book Lila.)
1969 40/41 12/13 Writing Minneapolis
  • Continuing to work on ZMM.
1970 41/42 13/14 Writing Minneapolis
  • He writes one complete draft and throws it away after two years of work. He gives up the whole project for three months and then starts again. "When I had the first chapter written for the second time I knew I was on the right path." 
1971 42/43 14/15 Writing Minneapolis
  • Except for the last five chapters, the book is written mostly from 2am to 6am in the Minneapolis office of of Century Publications before he begins his regular work. He is going to bed about 6pm, which is hard on his family at this time. 
  • Beverly White, a friend of Bob's who had studied Zen Buddhism in Japan in the 50's, knowing the subject of the book he is working on, suggests he join a Zen group. Bob agrees and joins this informal group at least partly "to keep his backside covered". On hearing his title, another member of the group suggests, quite accurately, that he is "walking on very thin ice".  (Nancy and the family also join, but more than a year later, after a Japanese Zen master comes from California to head the group.)
1972 43/44 15/16 Writing Minneapolis
  • He writes the final five chapters in a two month period in the early spring of 1972. To avoid interruptions he acquires a camper and drives to a commercial campground that is closed for the winter, just north of Two Harbors, Minnesota, on the north shore of Lake Superior.  He lives and works in the camper, working while there is natural sunlight because lights in the camper are not adequate. (He remains under contract to Century publications through this period, until the book's success brings him the Guggenheim Fellowship grant in 1974.)
  • During the process some 600,000 words have been drafted in creating ZMM, though the draft offered for publication seems to have been perhaps 230,000 edited down to around 200,000.
1973 44/45 16/17 Writing Minneapolis
  • January 73 - Landis confirms his support to get ZMM published in its final form, and the internal and external marketing effort this will take. "The book was sold to Morrow in January 1973". 
  • April 73 - Landis makes his formal recommendation to the William Morrow editorial board, ending with the statement "This book is brilliant beyond belief, it is probably a work of genius, and will, I'll wager, attain classic stature." (Z25 Readers Guide p427)
  • Bob becomes a Board Member and Vice-President at the incorporation of a new Minnesota Zen Meditation Centre.
  • July / August 73 - Landis involves George Steiner as a reviewer. Steiner compares ZMM to Dostoyevsky, Broch, Proust and Bergson. Steiner recommends to the New Yorker that a review should support its publication. Landis considers Steiner's "stellar reputation" as very influential. (Landis 2nd Aug 1973, Z25 Readers Guide p429)
  • After 121 rejections, you only need one acceptance says Bob. (Z25 Readers Guide p432)
1974 45/46 17/18 ZMM Published
  • April 74 - ZMM is eventually published, to both critical and popular acclaim. "Profoundly important, Disturbing, Deeply moving, Full of insights, A wonderful book".
  • Bob's mysterious recluse persona is created when the book is published without his photo, and despite a heavy marketing campaign behind what they believed was going to be a best seller, the publisher withdraws Bob from a promotional tour with other new authors.
  • 12th April 74 - Local news report of publication of ZMM, and awarding of Guggenheim Fellowship.
  • 14th April 74 - Routine local newspaper review of ZMM
  • 15th April 74 - George Steiner's review in the New Yorker "Uneasy Rider". [QUOTE] Told by the blurb that we have here "one of the most unique and exciting books in the history of American letters," one bridles both at the grammar of the claim and at its routine excess. The grammar stays irreparable. But I have a hunch that the assertion itself is valid. . . . the analogies with Moby Dick are patent. Robert Pirsig invites the prodigious comparison. [UNQUOTE]
  • 23rd April 74 - Rave review and interview in local newspaper.
  • In an interview, Nancy describes how they, and their son Ted, are practicing Zen Buddhists. Every morning, rising early, they start the day together in their dining room. They move out the furniture and sit on cushions on the floor where they meditate in silence. Then they have tea and talk. After that they go for a long walk along the river near their home. While they have been Orientalists and have been interested in Zen Buddhism for a long time, they have been practicing this Japanese religious philosophy for (only) three years (See 1971 entry).
  • Bob receives award of Guggenheim Fellow ("Robert Pirsig, Writer, Portsmouth, NH", according to Guggenheim Foundation records.) (In fact Pirsig didn't move to NH before 1985 ?)
  • May 74 - George Gent interview in the New York Times.
  • 12 July 74 - NPR Radio Interview with Connie Goldman at Bob's home.
  • Now doing interviews about his best-seller, Bob becomes a "celebrity". Seeking seclusion, he makes trips in his RV / camper van back to the mountains near Bozeman, where the ideas for his new writing project can "develop their own momentum". 
  • 5th August 1974 - Interview in Bozeman by Tom Zito in the Washington Post. We learn that the working title for his next book he is already working on is "Them Pesky Redskins"
1975 46/47 18/19 Writing. Montana & Minneapolis
  • Spring 75 - Bob makes a trip to the Cheyenne reservation (Lame Deer, Montana) where they had known Dusenberry as a "good" man. (Lila p56 and p466)
  • Bob is researching anthropology but is already forming the view that it would be difficult for him to write about anthropology with any peer credibility, and anyway unlike Dusenberry "he didn't have the knack" to elicit information naturally from conversation with the Indians. (Lila p56 and p63)  (This is consistent with Lila p55, except for "6 years later" which would need to be "8 years later" ?) By the time he leaves Montana, he has already collected notebooks and trays full of 4" by 6" slips. (Lila p63)
  • 1975 Bob receives US Friends of Literature Award and University of Minnesota, Outstanding Achievement Award.
  • 5th April 75 - Bob speaks at building fund benefit for the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, Minneapolis of which he is currently Vice-President.
  • 8th June 75 - Bob writes a review for New York Times Book review. ( July 18th - His review draws one particularly critical reaction). Bob is unaware until much later of this vehement catholic defensive response of Andrew Greeley, but despite feeling justified and honest in his review, Bob is never tempted to write another. It reminds him of an occasion when, looking at a deer he has shot at close range, now lying dead in front of him, he felt "Now whatever did I do that for ? I didn't need to do that."
  • June / July 75 - Bob and Nancy start learning to sail over 3-day weekends. ("We got the bug all of a sudden" says Nancy). They acquire $60,000 cutter-rigged Westsail-32 sailboat.
  • Summer 75 (sometime before he sets sail) Bob is interviewed by Christie Hefner at home in Minneapolis for a piece published in "Oui" magazine in November 1975. [1.6 Meg PDF copy online, no text version yet.] Interestingly in this interview he confirms again the subject of the new book he is already working on involves the cultural differences between whites and native "Indians", and more significantly refers to the "Metaphysics of Quality" (Is this the first reference ? In ZMM he discusses both Quality and metaphysics, and even refers to being "caught up in his own world of Quality metaphysics" but he never gives it a name until Lila is published.)
  • Mon 11th August 75 - Bob sets sail (with a volunteer student from the Zen centre and his girlfriend as crew) from Bayfield, Wisconsin (Lake Superior). Nancy is planning to join (soon) for the three week trip through the Great Lakes. They are "planning" a round the world trip. Bob is intending to take the boat on through the Erie Canal / Mohawk River route of the NY State Waterways, into the Hudson to New York City and on down to Florida  to leave the boat to return home in time for Christmas, before he and Nancy rejoin the boat in Florida for the round the world trip. There is no evidence that Nancy joined the boat until after Florida, in fact not until after Ted and Bob had taken the boat across to the US Virgin Islands - see 1976 entry. (Note the date from the "last Monday" line in the linked interview with Nancy is exactly consistent with the date in Lila p145).
  • Bob is working on his second book, and it seems he still has plans to be "about Indians in general, their differences from whites and their different values, which are not minor but very significant" says Nancy. This has been his theme since meeting Dusenberry. (Lila various)
  • 8th October 75 - 9 weeks later, Bob calls Nancy from the Hudson River, though not clear where precisely). (Nancy's loyalty in the 1975 interviews, and the fact that there is no Nancy in Lila, the autobiographical record of this boat trip, sadly belies the fact that the distancing and breakdown which will lead to their divorce and destructive break-up of the family in 1978, has already begun. Bob mentions in the Guardian interview that he believed Nancy had first requested a divorce back in 1963 during the violent breakdown and hospitalization, though he himself referred to "separation" before that.)
1975 46/47 18/19 The Lila Sailboat Trip
  • October 75 - When the Lila narrative starts they are on the Hudson, already  south of Albany and Castleton, moored for the night near Kingston on a small side creek (the end of an old canal that leads off behind New Jersey via the Delaware into the Atlantic). He and the others he meets first became aware of each other back at Rochester, which is Lila's hometown. Though Bob is in no real hurry other than his tentative plan to reach Florida before the winter, he and several other vacationing boat parties have been delayed several weeks by problems with the locks on the Oswego section, then through Rome and Amsterdam, and down through the steep locks into the Hudson at Troy. 
  • At Kingston he meets Lila, and Bob confirms he's on his way to New York City, expecting to reach Florida in a month. (In fact though the journey and all the locations are real, "Lila M. Blewitt" and her acquaintances are a fiction created to exemplify Bob's theses on Quality and Morals, more specifically sexual infidelity. "Does Lila Have Quality ?" is the koan to which the only answer can be "Mu" - no thing, forget it, no answer possible. Given that Bob's alter-ego is named Phædrus, "one who shines brilliantly" it is interesting also to note that the other main fictional characters in Lila are lawyer "Rigel" and his younger companion "Capella". Bob doesn't meet the real Wendy until a year later - see below.)
  • The trip continues past Poughkeepsie, West Point (Worlds End), Nyack, to Manhattan and a couple of days in downtown NYC. In the narrative he meets Robert Redford there, to discuss the potential project of turning ZMM into a movie. (In reality, whilst Bob did meet Redford twice to discuss the ZMM film project, these events during the Lila trip are a fictional pastiche. Bob liked Redford, and Redford made three separate offers for the film rights - see letters in GBZ - but they couldn't agree on the right price and terms. Bob has since suggested Wendy could sell the rights after his death.)
  • Then on to Sandy Hook, Horseshoe Cove, Highlands of Navesink, Atlantic Highlands, and who knows where after that. (In fact, this is where the book ends, but Bob's sailing adventures have only just begun, continuing immediately to Florida via the intra-coastal waterway.)
1976 47/48 19/20 Writing and Cruising, Caribbean, Bermuda & East Coast US to Florida
  • Ted joins Bob on the boat in Florida and, together with the crewman, they sail to Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands.
  • Nancy joins them there and Ted goes back, before they sail on to Bermuda, back to New York then New Haven (Connecticut). There Bob spends time researching and working on his book in the Yale University Library. (Labor Day - first Monday in September 76 - Bob and Nancy are interviewed by Ed Zuckerman on their boat in Boston Harbor. Already Bob refers to the fact that his current writing project is using the 1975 Hudson boat trip as its narrative basis. Already Bob refers to his ZMM "cult" followers as "Pirsig Pilgrims" visiting such locations as the MSU building in Bozeman.) At the "end of the summer" of 76, they set sail down the intra-coastal waterway, and reach Annapolis, Maryland before Nancy and Bob finally separate. 
  • Bob continues single-handed towards Miami, Florida. On another boat en-route, he meets Wendy Kimball, a freelance journalist who wants to interview him.
  • From Autumn 76 until Spring 78 Bob and Wendy live on the boat moored at Dinner Key anchorage off Coconut Grove, just south of Miami, Florida, where Bob continues to work on his book, and Wendy continues to work as a reporter for a newspaper in Hollywood, Florida.
1977 48/49 20/21 Writing on the boat in Florida
  • Bob is living with Wendy on the boat in Florida.
  • May 77 - Writes "Cruising Blues and Their Cure" for Esquire magazine, clearly speaking from his direct experience, about the stress of boredom and claustrophobia, living in close proximity with loved ones in the confines of a boat.
  • May 77 - The Ed Zuckerman interview from September 76 is published in "Mother Jones".
1978 49/50 21/22 Writing and Cruising. Florida, Bahamas, New Hampshire & Maine.
  • Spring 78 - Bob and Wendy sail to Great Abaco in The Bahamas.
  • Early Summer 78 - Bob and Wendy escape the summer heat by sailing back to Block Island, Rhode Island, then on to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, not far from Wendy's origins.
  • Late Summer - Bob and Wendy sail on to Maine, and anchor in Soames Sound, Mount Desert Island.
  • August 78 - Bob and Nancy's divorce is complete.
  • Winter 78 - Bob and Wendy moor the boat at nearby Southwest Harbor, and spend the winter in the house of another sailor who is away for the winter.
  • 28th December 78 - Bob and Wendy marry in Tremont, Maine. Sailing friends John and Helena Gannon attend the wedding, and a few days later both Chris and Ted pay a visit.
1979 50/51 22/23 Writing and Cruising. North Atlantic & England
  • 1979 - Bob receives American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award.
  • Summer 79 - Bob and Wendy set sail for England, by way of Nova Scotia, past Newfoundland and across the North Atlantic.
  • 13th and 14th August 1979 - The fast but rough crossing climaxes in a storm 300 miles off the coast of England, responsible for the catastrophic deaths of 15 yachtsmen involved in the annual Fastnet Race, from Cowes, Isle of Wight, around the Fastnet Rock off the south coast of Ireland, returning for a second crossing of the Western Approaches to finish in Plymouth. Bob and Wendy shelter in the Isles of Scilly for a few days.
  • They sail on to anchor in the Helford River, near Helston, Cornwall, England, and a few days after that they move round to Falmouth Harbour. Barring a single trip to London by train, and the one return flight to the US (see next entry) this is where they are to moor and live for the rest of that winter, spending most of their time in Cornwall.
1979 50/51 22/23 Writing on the boat in England
  • Saturday 17th November 79 - Chris is murdered by stabbing near Haight / Octavia in San Francisco, after leaving the Zen centre where he lived and studied, just two weeks before his 23rd birthday. (Z25 Afterword p415) (Photo of Chris taken during his time in SF - Carol Geary "Caroling" at WholeoBlog has records of a retreat shared with Nancy and Chris, including photos by Nancy. Carol is an artist, who was in Minneapolis back in 1961.)
  • Bob returns for Chris' funeral and takes his belongings to "his grandfather's house" in Minnesota. (That's paternal grandfather Maynard, Also implies neither Bob nor Nancy has the 458 Otis Avenue, St.Paul address any longer.)
  • When Katagiri Roshi gave the funeral address tears were just running down his face. He suffered almost more than Bob did.
1980 51/52   Writing and Cruising. Holland / Belgium
  • Spring 80 - With their UK visa now expired, Bob and Wendy sail up the English Channel and over to Holland, where they moor on the canal between Terneuzen (On the Westerschelde in Holland) and Ghent (in Belgium).
  • Bob continues to work on his second book.
  • Nell is conceived, giving Bob doubts about fatherhood in his 50's
1981 52/53 Nell's Age Writing. Holland / Belgium
  • Nell is born, "filling a hole left by Chris in the pattern of things". (Z25 Afterword)
  • Wendy is keeping a journal of their travels, and Bob has suggested she might be the "authoritative" biographer one day.
1982 53/54 0/1 Writing and Cruising. Norway
  • Spring 82 - Bob, Wendy and Nell are "kicked-out" of their moorings in Holland / Belgium, and sail around the North Sea to Tananger, near Stavanger, Norway.
  • Bob continues researching and writing his book.
1983 54/55 1/2 Writing and Cruising. Sweden
  • Bob, Wendy and Nell sail round to Frilesas, Sweden. (Sweden is the origin of Bob's mother's ancestors.)
  • The book Bob is drafting mutates from being specifically about Indian anthropology into his second work on the Metaphysics of Quality, "Lila - An Enquiry Into Morals", woven around the story of the Hudson sailboat trip in 1975.
1984 55/56 2/3 Writing. Sweden
  • Living on the boat in Sweden, the afterword referring to Chris' death is added to all new editions of ZMM.
  • Bob is still working on writing Lila.
1985 56/57 3/4 Writing. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • Spring 85 - Bob and Wendy repatriate to the US with Nell, soon to be starting nursery school aged 4,  after they notice Nell missing out on English-speaking peers.
... ...      
1991 62/63 9/10 Writing. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • November 1991 - "Lila - An Inquiry Into Morals" published. (First published as a Bantam Hardback. Although as publishers of ZMM, William Morrow had first refusal on publishing Lila, they did not offer the asking price.)
1992 63/64 10/11 Writing. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
1993 64/65 11/12 Writing. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
1994 65/66 12/13 Writing. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • August 1994 - Sven Lindqvist publishes his series of articles in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter describing his retracing the ZMM journey, and reviewing Pirsig's ideas in the process. Contains additional biographical material from Linqvist's researches at the college in Bozeman. Offline English translations are available. The original essay is included in a collection soon to be published by Lindqvist (2006)
1995 66/67 13/14 Writing. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • 1st June 1995 - Presents Subjects, Objects, Data and Values (SODV) at the "Einstein meets Magritte" conference (17:00 - 18:00, Plenary session 11, Thursday, June 1, 1995, Robert M Pirsig, from "England") (Ref, Link) (Although the paper seems to be well received, Bob is not tempted to write and publish or present any further papers. Note Francis Heylighen of VUB, University of Brussels, was one of the organisers of this conference, and he cites Pirsig in his ongoing work in epistemology.)
... ...      
1997 68/69 15/16 Living very privately.
  • 5th February 1997 - Bob's father, Maynard Pirsig, then of New Brighton, dies at the age of 95.
  • 17th February 1997 - Memorial service held in the auditorium of the William Mitchell College of Law, St.Paul.
  • Recounting meeting the retired Maynard Pirsig in the university law school library, one student recalled how they were mystified at how, whilst not being a member of staff, he seemed to have a key to the library. When challenged, he explained "First you have to graduate top of your class, then you must join the law school faculty, then you must be elected dean of the school, and finally when you retire, becoming professor emeritus, then they give you one of these keys."
1998 69/70 16/17 Living very privately.
  • Searches attribute Bob contributing the "1998 Cumulative Supplement" to his father's legal reference work "Pirsig on Minnesota Pleading". (Presumably this is an editorial supplement concerning the fact that Maynard Pirsig is recently deceased and therefore unable to continue future editions and supplements. In any event Bob has no involvement with this, and the attribution is simply a confusion over their names.)
1999 70/71 17/18 Living very privately.
  • ZMM 25th Anniversary Edition is published.
... ...      
2003 74/75   Living very privately.
  • Lila's Child published by the MoQ Lila Squad, with commentary / annotation by Bob.
2004 75/76   Living very privately.
  • 30th Anniversary of ZMM publication.
  • Spring 2004 - Nell graduates from college.
  • Summer 2004 - "After 19 years dormant in their backyard", renovation of their boat is finally complete and, with Wendy and Nell, Bob takes her out "onto the rolling swells of the North Atlantic once again". 
2005 76/77   Conference
  • 7th July 2005. The first ever conference on Robert M Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality is organized by Dr Anthony McWatt at Liverpool University, England, to coincide with his awarding of the first ever academic PhD specifically concerned with the subject. [Conference papers here.] [Report and photographs here.]
  • The conference is filmed as part of a possible documentary project. (See 2008 entry)
2006 77/78   Living very privately.
2007 78/79      
2008 79/80    
  • January 2008 - First part of Ant McWatt ’s Pirsig film documentary project “Arrive Without Travelling” released on DVD. Includes footage of the 2005 conference as well as interviews with Pirsig and others "on location".
  • July 2008 is the 40th anniversary of the original 1968 motorcycle trip around which ZMM is written.
  • 6th September 2008 - Bob's 80th Birthday
  • 9th September 2008 - Publication of Mark Richardson’s book “Zen and Now”. The story of Mark's own motorcycles trip(s) across the ZMM route, interwoven with as yet unpublished biographical detail. Published in Hardback by Random House / Knopf


(A) Revision history

(B) Acknowledgement of sources and references

(Further editorial changes to be made on this section to complete references and links.)

NOTE - In arriving at and expounding his metaphysics, Pirsig did not follow the route of conventional philosophers and philosophological discourse. The purpose of this timeline is to get inside "where was Pirsig coming from" in order to better understand his intent by relating his recalled narratives, to any other available documented evidence. This raises two points;

Firstly - That neither Pirsig's words nor those of other sources represent any objective truth, in fact in Pirsigian terms, real quality is more likely to lie in the difference, and

Secondly - it is important to recognise that this study of Pirsig's life, whilst clearly associated with a somewhat mystical metaphysics, is not mis-represented as personality cult or celebrity in any shape or form. Bob is a fallible human, like the rest of us. His "metaphysics" is nevertheless a pragmatic world-view.

(C) Specific Numbered Footnotes

(1) This note added Feb 2009, after publication of Mark Richardson's "Zen & Now" in Sept 2008.
 IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE that the explicit passage quoted here is FACTUALLY INACCURATE in referring to the Phaedrus character (and implicitly Pirsig's memories of it) being annihilated, totally and permanently destroyed by the (real, repeated, involuntary) ECT. As already noted in the biographical entry above, further reading of ZMM reveals Pirsig re-evaluating and positively coming to terms with these conflicted aspects of his psyche. This is quite independent of the fact that the naming of the Phaedrus psyche was a rhetorical device added late in the writing and editing process of a distinctly rhetorical work.