Robert M. Pirsig Resources

Pirsig and ZAMM on the Web


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values
The full text of Pirsig's classic first novel. From the Author's Note:

What follows is based on actual occurrences. Although much has been changed for rhetorical purposes, it must be regarded in its essence as fact. However, it should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It's not very factual on motorcycles, either.


Wikipedia :: Robert M. Pirsig
The Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia is an exquisite result of the internet. This is a brief Wikipedia page, in need of some filling out, refinement, clarification and, in some cases, correction (for example, in Lila, Pirsig sets out to define Quality by constructing the Metaphysics of Quality.)

Pirsig created the Metaphysics of Quality (MOQ) to explain the connection between quality and morality with reality. Both books claim that the topic they are exploring cannot be precisely defined because of our limited experience.
-- Wikipedia
Primarily a set of online forums for discussing the works of Robert M. Pirsig. Also provides a page of links. exists to provide a forum for discussion and study of the Metaphysics of Quality as proposed by Robert M Pirsig in his books Lila: An Inquiry into Morals and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Robert Pirsig
Primarily notable for a photogaph of Pirsig and his son astride the motorcycle. Has some links, many of which are broken, and the quote below.

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....

--from Lila: An Inquiry into Morals


Rhetoric and Madness: Robert Pirsig's Inquiry into Values
A lengthy (by web standards) academic treatise explores ZAMM's 'crises of reason' theme. With notes and a short bibliography.

Confronting crises of technological annihilation and personal madness, Robert Pirsig finds each to be a manifestation of a deeper crisis of Reason. In response) he suggests an alternative to our current paradigm of rationality, the "art of motorcycle maintenance." By showing that our understanding and performance derive from our emotional and evaluative commitments, he challenges the cultural commonplace which construes "subjective" states as distortions of "objective" reality. In so doing, he asserts that "wholeness" or sanity may be achieved only through "passionate caring," and an awareness and acceptance of how our emotions and values shape our experiences. Further, he shows that technology, a manifestation of our values, may be controlled only through emotional and moral commitment. A restorative rhetoric, on Pirsig's analysis is, then, one in which the passions and values are recognized as the very ground of being in and interpreting the world.


SeedWiki-MoQWiki-MetaphysicsOfQuality [unfortunately, defunct]
I'm still trying to figure out what a Wiki is, or how this site was created, or what its purpose is. It looks like an early experiment in hyper-knowledge--unstructured information spread over numerous sites without overseers or guidance. Whatever it is, there is useful information here for those willing to dig around.

Pirsig, as his own hero, is a big nosed, poor-postured, drifter who has clumsily written two mind-numbingly unclear books with great stylistic anxiety that are interlarded with heavy slabs of historical anthropological-philosophical ruminations which are worthless and rigorously unoriginal! His problems begin with his controversial arguments attacking subject-object metaphysics, a straw man position held by no one. His position is brittle and insubstantial and sounds like a good old-fashioned strict empiricist, a neo-Humean extremist, and a heavily hierarchical proto-Hegelian. He is surely wrong and I suspect a little mad.

But perhaps I am trapped in some dead theoretical outlook; perhaps Pirsig won't be properly understood for 50 years yet.

-- Galen Strawson


Robert Pirsig and quality management
An attempt to bring Pirsighian MoQ into the workplace. I'm not certain about the quality of the ideas it contains, but the quality of presentation is lacking. A summary appearing at the top of the page:

Robert Pirsig's revolutionary ideas on Quality can (also) help you in building a better quality management system. But they can do far more.


A page from Virtual School's A Project with Paradoxical Goals. Primarily useful for a large collection of quotes from ZAMM. The author cites ZAMM as an inspiration and there are some Pirsig links here (in addition to related links on quality) most of which are broken.

And that door leads to Sarah's office. Sarah! Now it comes down! She came trotting by with her watering pot between those two doors, going from the corridor to her office, and she said, "I hope you are teaching Quality to your students.". This is a la-de-da, singsong voice of a lady in her final year before retirement about to water her plants. That was the moment it all started. That was the seed crystal.

-- from ZAMM


Who is Robert Pirsig, and how can he change your life?
An enthusiastic 1977 review of ZAMM, and one which captures some of the mystical qualities I find in this book. The page contains several other interesting articles as well.

I have seen reviews which suggested that the philosophic arguments in the book are crude and naive, but as they were written by academic philosophers, these reviews can be considered to be biased. Speaking personally, the views expressed in Pirsig's book feel right. They are meaningful,and have great relevance to the problems of people struggling to have some kind of individual identity in this crazy world that Science and Technology have fashioned for us. The posturings of the 'philosophers' are nowadays so arcane and incomprehemsible, that their very credibility is suspect.

-- J.D.Owen


Pirsig and ZAMM in the Nomadic Spirit

Of Pirsig's two novels it is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZAMM) which continues to both move and confound me. It moves, simply, because 'it feels right' as one reviewer sums it up.

What confounds are the implications of Pirsig's attempt to define Quality in ZAMM's follow-up, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals. Lila objectifies Quality, quantifies it for all conditions and, as a result, completely undermines the mystical sensibility so appealing in ZAMM, the sensibility that made ZAMM feel so right.

In ZAMM, Quality was what I liked; Lila's undercover conclusion is that Quality is what Robert M. Pirsig likes.


The One.
I pick up ZAMM on the road, re-read it, and discover parallels between my journey and Pirsig's.
Back home
There's a ZAMM quote, down at the bottom of the page.
Desert Drag Strip
Pirsig's not mentioned by name, but this whole piece is a riff on the "You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other" bit Pirsig is famous for.
A Journey Within a Journey
An exploratory follow-up to Desert Dragstrip. Could be subtitled: The Trouble with Lila.
That sinking feeling...again.
This entry begins with ZAMM, and ends with a ZAMM quote.
In the margins.
On that indefinite quantity, Quality. Another take on the failings of Lila.