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-1991)
The Metaphysics of Quality (MoQ)

Click Here for Latest Pirsig News


[Introduction] [Timeline] [News] [More] [Links] [Top] [Blog]

There are a number of pages and blog posts by Ian Glendinning 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

[Introduction] [Timeline] [News] [More] [Links] [Top] [Blog]

On Hold – Proposal to create the “Robert Pirsig Association” in order to exchange information about and maintain future access to Pirsig-related resources – philosophical, rhetorical and physical.

[Note: In recent years, since his death, successful efforts have been made to secure his archives with important institutions (see other news items below). Also a number of Pirsig scholars, clustered originally around the Lila Squad and the MoQ.Discuss Forum, have continued to correspond and some continue to maintain their own on-line Pirsig projects (see external Pirsig links below). The proposal is that the RPA be a properly constituted non-profit entity with elected trustees. Several possible entity and domain names have been secured (below). We will be seeking expressions of interest in creating the RPA constitution, acting as RPA trustees and supporting the RPA through membership. In the meantime treat the “ZMM Quality” Facebook Page/Group curated by David Matos as the clearing house for all things Pirsig.]

December 2022 – WOW! WOW! A newly digitised video(*) from 20th May 1974, Robert Pirsig talking at the Minneapolis College of Art just a month or so after publication of ZMM, courtesy of son Ted Pirsig, hat-tip to Wendy Pirsig. (* Literally “video” electronic technology.)

October 2022 – A New Yorker piece by Jay Caspian Kang – revisiting ZMM in the light of Wendy Pirsig’s “On Quality”.

April 2022 – “On Qualitypublished and reviewed. As noted last year (below) Wendy Pirsig’s selection of Bob’s writing “On Quality” is now published. My review here and Wendy interviewed in the (UK) Spectator magazine.

January 2022 – Meet The Guys @ ZMMQualityinterview with Professor Henry Gurr and David Matos about the active Pirsig-related web-pages they run.

August 2021Harper Collins announce publication of “On Quality: An Inquiry into Excellence: Selected and Unpublished Writings” by Robert and Wendy Pirsig for 26 April 2022.

February 2021Harvard University announce receipt of the full Robert Pirsig archive of papers and correspondence, donated by Wendy Pirsig in late 2020. To be curated by the Harvard “Hollis” on-line service alongside the William James collection in the Houghton Library – currently  a single archive entry (during ongoing Covid limitations).

December 2019The Smithsonian accepts the original Honda CB77 350cc Superhawk restored by Bob, and associated tools, artefacts and archive materials, donated by Wendy Pirsig.

      • Paul F. Johnston of The Smithsonian publishes “Chrome, Black and Dusty” in the International Journal of Motorcycle Studies (Vol.17, 2021).
      • Paul F. Johnston of The Smithsonian publishes “Bikes, Boats and Robert Pirsig” in Sea History (Vol.173, Winter 20/21).
      • And a different version of the latter Paul F. Johnston of The Smithsonian If Boat is Going Down with more photographs and images of Pirsig artefacts.

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

24th April 2017Robert Pirsig dies at his home in Maine after a period of failing health.

    • RIP Robert Pirsig – Ian Glendinning’s personal notes and obituary links on hearing of his death.
    • Pirsig Meets Foucault – Ian Glendinning’s retrospective round-up of posthumous correspondence.
    • After the Fireworks – Ian Glendinning’s further retrospective on the anniversary of the ZMM Road Trip.

7th/8th/9th December 2012 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:

External Pirsig Links

[Introduction] [Timeline] [News] [More] [Links] [Top] [Blog]

More Pirsig Content on Psybertron

[Introduction] [Timeline] [News] [More] [Links] [Top] [Blog]

The Psybertron Blog & Pirsig Pages have been curated by Ian Glendinning since 2001/2002. Their content includes:

[Introduction] [Timeline] [News] [More] [Links] [Top] [Blog]

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