MoQ First Reference ?

I was reading the Christie Hefner interview with Robert Pirsig from summer 1975, published in “Oui” magazine in November that year, and noticed that he makes what must the first published reference to his “Metaphysics of Quality”. I’ve added a link in the 1975 entry in my Pirsig Timeline (July 2007 updates) [Note the link is a 1.6Meg PDF scanned file.]

Post Note : In response to David’s question in the comments below … the reference to “metaphysics of quality” is in the middle column of page 124, where he is describing the agenda of his next book, and says …

“If you can find the causes of the differences [between the value systems of different ethnic groups] you can also find the sources of cohesiveness. I’m applying the metaphysics of quality and trying to figure out what it is causes cultures to hate one another year after year.”

Not capitalized (by the interviewer), but in 1975 the first time the expression is recorded. The nearest thing in ZMM (1974) where Quality itself is mentioned ad infinitum, was in Chapter 28 …

“He had become so caught up in his own world of Quality metaphysics he couldn’t see outside it anymore, and since no one else understood this world, he was already done for.”

I interpret this here as the general subject of metaphysics wherever he can find relevance to quality, rather than the concept of “The” Metaphysics of Quality.

10 thoughts on “MoQ First Reference ?”

  1. I’ve scanned over it, I don’t see any MOQ reference? Also, I’d be curious to know when the levels of the MOQ came into fruition. I wonder if RMP knows.

  2. I cannot find this MOQ reference you mention? Also, looking at your timeline, it would be interesting to know when rmp came up with the levels.


  3. Hi David,
    Sorry for the delay, comments are moderated (I get 1000’s of spam per week) and I’ve been touring on vacation for a week.

    I’ll get back to you on the reference to MoQ.

  4. You’re right, I couldn’t find it on a quick scan either … so I’m re-reading carefully.

    I think I may have re-read the Mother Jones and/or Washington Post interviews the same day, and conflated the references in my mind …. I need to check. (Bodvar commented privately too.)

    I will own up and correct the error once I’ve double-checked 😉

  5. Hi David, no error, but it’s remarkable how hard it is to read closely something you’ve already read and accepted before. Your mind skips over the gist as you encounter it and we forget how much we’ve come to rely on electronic text tools to do this job.

    Anyway I’ve added the reference to the post itself.


  6. Hi Ian,
    Where did you get the

    “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.”

    information for the 1983 entry?

  7. I should also thank you for the information about the MOQ reference. Your right about how easy it is to skip over something once it is accepted…


  8. Hi David, that was really just my earlier statement of the facts – that he originally had “them pesky indians”, “the difference between indians and whites” as his explicit topic.

    He mentions (in Lila) his inability to conduct anthropological investigations directly (as Verne would have done) …. and later the book that actually emerges is in fact the Lila sail-boat trip.

    1983 is not significant as a date, and we can see from some of the more recently available contemporary interviews, how the story emerged.

    (Some of the original text in the timeline could do with an overhaul in the light of more recent inputs – I mention that Mark Richardson has a much more thorough biographical book in the pipeline – so I’ll probably wait until after that is published. Don’t want to steal his thunder.)


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