The Future Approaches from Behind

Picked-up this collection of quotes from Tim O’Reilly via Sean Murphy, cross-linked because he refers to this quote from Pirsig talking about his ZMM, (and he uses a link to my Pirsig pages and bio timeline).

This book has a lot to say about Ancient Greek perspectives and their meaning but there is one perspective it misses. That is their view of time. They saw the future as something that came upon them from behind their backs with the past receding away before their eyes.

When you think about it, that’s a more accurate metaphor than our present one. Who really can face the future? All you can do is project from the past, even when the past shows that such projections are often wrong. And who really can forget the past? What else is there to know?

Ten years after the publication of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance the Ancient Greek perspective is certainly appropriate. What sort of future is coming up from behind I don’t really know. But the past, spread out ahead, dominates everything in sight.

The past, spread out ahead, dominates everything in sight; Plus ca change; ‘Twas ever thus.

The other quote I liked is from John Andrew Holmes

“It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.”

2 thoughts on “The Future Approaches from Behind”

  1. Yours was the best page (and collection of pages) on Pirsig that I could find, which is why I referenced it for background on Pirsig. One quibble: my firm name is SKMurphy, I do my personal blogging over at my brother’s site

    But you’ve clearly put a lot of effort into supplying a valuable context to Pirsig’s writings, and I thank you for that.

    Sean Murphy

  2. Thanks for the feedback Sean.

    I’ll link to you by name, but the quotes are on your SKMurphy page (yes ?). I’ll check out your personal pages too.

    You must let me know a little bit about your interest in Pirsig ?

    Regards, Ian

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