Robert M. Pirsig

Robert M.
Pirsig
1928

American Writer and Philosopher best known for his book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values" and "Lila: An Inquiry into Morals"

Author Quotes

Who really can forget the past? What else is there to know?

Whole community of millions of living things living out their lives in a kind of benign continuum.

Why destroy aret‚? And no sooner had he asked the question than the answer came to him. Plato hadn't tried to destroy aret‚. He had encapsulated it; made a permanent, fixed Idea out of it; had converted it to a rigid, immobile Immortal Truth. He made aret‚ the Good, the highest form, the highest Idea of all. It was subordinate only to Truth itself, in a synthesis of all that had gone before.

Working on a motorcycle, working well, caring, is to become part of a process, to achieve an inner peace of mind. The motorcycle is primarily a mental phenomenon.

Yah-da, yah-da, yah-da, yah-da, yah, carburetor, gear ratio, compression, yah-da-yah, piston, plugs, intake, yah-da-yah, on and on and on. That is the romantic face of the classic mode. Dull, awkward and ugly. Few romantics get beyond that point.

You are never dedicated to something that you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kind of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.

You have all these fragments, like pieces of a puzzle, and you can place them together into large groups, but the groups don't go together no matter how you try, and then suddenly you get one fragment and it fits two different groups and then suddenly the two great groups are one. The relation of the mythos to insanity. That's a key fragment. I doubt whether anyone ever said that before. Insanity is the terra incognita surrounding the mythos. And he knew! He knew the Quality he talked about lay outside the mythos.

You look at where you're going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you've been and a pattern seems to emerge. And if you project forward from that pattern, then sometimes you can come up with something.

You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you?re always in a compartment, and because you?re used to it you don?t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You?re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You?re completely in contact with it all. You?re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it?s right there, so blurred you can?t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.

When it is known that Plato put his own words in Socrates' mouth (Aristotle says this) there should be no reason to doubt that he could have put his own words into other mouths too.

You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It's easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.

When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.

You?ve got to live right, too. It?s the way you live that predisposes you to avoid the traps and see the right facts. You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It?s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally. That?s the way all the experts do it. The making of a painting or the fixing of a motorcycle isn?t separate from the rest of your existence. If you?re a sloppy thinker the six days of the week you aren?t working on your machine, what trap avoidance, what gimmicks, can make you all of a sudden sharp on the seventh? It all goes together... The real cycle you're working in is a cycle called yourself. The machine that appears to be out there and the person that appears to be in here are not two separate things. They grow toward Quality or fall away from Quality together.

When one person suffers from the delusion, it is called poreme?eno??u mind. When many people suffer from the delusion, it is called religion.

Your common sense is nothing more than the voices of thousands and thousands of these ghosts from the past.

When somebody goes outside the cultural norms, the culture has to protect itself.

When you live in the shadow of insanity, the appearance of another mind that thinks and talks as yours does is something close to a blessed event. Like Robinson Crusoe's discovery of footprints on the sand.

When you look directly at an insane man all you see is a reflection of your own knowledge that he?s insane, which is not to see him at all. To see him you must see what he saw and when you are trying to see the vision of an insane man, an oblique route is the only way to come at it.

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?

The next time you have trouble getting started on a writing project, consider that it may not be the words that are blocked but your vision . Try looking hard at your subject--beginning with the upper left-hand brick.

The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure Nature hasn't misled you into thinking you know something you don't actually know. There's not a mechanic or scientist or technician alive who hasn't suffered from that one so much that he's not instinctively on guard. That's the main reason why so much scientific and mechanical information sounds so dull and so cautious. If you get careless or go romanticizing scientific information, give it a flourish here and there, Nature will soon make a complete fool out of you. It does it often enough anyway even when you don't give it opportunities. One must be extremely careful and rigidly logical when dealing with Nature: one logical slip and an entire scientific edifice comes tumbling down. One false deduction about the machine and you can get hung up indefinitely.

The world has no existence whatsoever outside the human imagination. It's all a ghost, and in antiquity was so recognized as a ghost, the whole blessed world we live in. It's run by ghosts. We see what we see because these ghosts show it to us, ghosts of Moses and Christ and the Buddha, and Plato, and Descartes, and Rousseau and Jefferson and Lincoln, on and on and on. Isaac Newton is a very good ghost. One of the best. Your common sense is nothing more than the voices of thousands and thousands of these ghosts from the past. Ghosts and more ghosts. Ghosts trying to find their place among the living.

To an experienced Zen Buddhist, asking if one believes in Zen or one believes in the Buddha, sounds a little ludicrous, like asking if one believes in air or water. Similarly Quality is not something you believe in, Quality is something you experience.

We keep passing unseen through little moments of other people's lives.

What the Metaphysics of Quality would do is take this separate category, Quality, and show how it contains within itself both subjects and objects. The Metaphysics of Quality would show how things become enormously more coherent--fabulously more coherent--when you start with an assumption that Quality is the primary empirical reality of the world. . . . . . . but showing that, of course, was a very big job.

Author Picture
First Name
Robert M.
Last Name
Pirsig
Birth Date
1928
Bio

American Writer and Philosopher best known for his book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values" and "Lila: An Inquiry into Morals"