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 – Timeless)

Click Here for Latest Pirsig News

Click for #ZMM50th


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

Since 2002, 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] below). 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.

The books 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 first described in my 2005 conference paper and presentation slides (and newly annotated in 2023). 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 in 2002, were 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]

April 2024 – The RPA is up and running with members and a team of volunteers running the show. The plan is that these pages will be retired and/or archived once content considered valuable to the future of the RPA is migrated over. An eventful time as we enter approach the #ZMM50th anniversary and the summer dates of the #ZMM50thRide. Subscribe to news updates from the RPA at

October 2023 – Robert Pirsig Association and #ZMM50th – As a result of collaborations involved in planning and supporting events to mark the 50th Anniversary of the publication of ZMM (#ZMM50th) in 2024 it was decided to immediately create the Robert Pirsig Association (RPA) at as a vehicle to coordinate and promote Pirsig general and ZMM50th activities.

Click for #ZMM50th

[As a consequence all subsequent “Pirsig News” will switch primarily to that RPA channel and will be shared directly via free email subscription to RPA and via social media channels including ZMMQuality on Facebook.]

June 2023 – Plans for 50th Anniversary of ZMM in 2024 Henry and David over at ZMMQuality on Facebook have taken the initiative in inviting suggestions for their plans to mark the 5oth anniversary next year. I have a page here capturing what is public so far, updated as things change (See Oct 2023 Update)

March 2023 – 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. (See Oct 2023 Update)

[Note (Superseded by Oct 2023 Update): 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 – 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, hat-tip to Wendy Pirsig (with the help of son Ted Pirsig). (* Literally “video” technology. My brief review here.)

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 – (a single archive entry only during Covid limitations – POST NOTE: now comprehensively indexed under “Collection Organisation”, with links to related collections).

October 2020 – A piece by Matt Crawford in The Smithsonian Magazine  – “Why Robert Pirsig’s ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ Still Resonates Today – The author’s meditation on technology treads a whole new path in the modern, digital world.”

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. (See also sale via Sotheby’s)

November 2017 – NPR re-publish Connie Goldman interview with Robert Pirsig at his home in St. Paul Mn, shortly after ZMM was published in 1974.

September 2017Robert Pirsig & His Metaphysics of Quality
by Dr Anthony McWatt in Philosophy Now.

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. Tim kindly acknowledges that many older historical details and quotes were sourced from the Robert Pirsig Biographical Timeline (below):

Pre-2006See the Robert Pirsig Biographical Timeline

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]