Pirsig Index Locorum

Lila's Child

Pagination to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is to the paperback version standard between the 20th, 25th, and 30th anniversary editions.

"And what is good, Phaedrus,
And what is not good—
Need we ask anyone these things?" (epigraph) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," I

"In this Chautauqua I would like not to cut any new channels of consciousness but simply dig deeper into old ones that have become silted in with the debris of thoughts grown stale and platitudes too often repeated. 'What's new?' is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow. I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question 'What is best?,' a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream. There are eras of human history in which the channels of thought have been too deeply cut and no change was possible, and nothing new ever happened, and 'best' was a matter of dogma, but that is not the situation now. Now the stream of our common consciousness seems to be obliterating its own banks, losing its central direction and purpose, flooding the lowlands, disconnecting and isolating the highlands and to no particular purpose other than the wasteful fulfillment of its own internal momentum. Some channel deepening seems called for." (8) -- "Short Pirsig Presentation"

"I could preach the practical value and worth of motorcycle maintenance till I'm hoarse and it would make not a dent in him. After two sentences on the subject his eyes go completely glassy and he changes the conversation or just looks away. He doesn't want to hear it." (11) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIfn15

"Laws of nature are human inventions, like ghosts. Laws of logic, of mathematics are also human inventions, like ghosts. The whole blessed thing is a human invention, including the idea that it isn't a human invention. 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." (36) -- "Short Pirsig Presentation"

"c. A copy of Thoreau's Walden . . . which Chris has never heard and which can be read a hundred times without exhaustion. I try always to pick a book far over his head and read it as a basis for questions and answers, rather than without interruption. I read a sentence or two, wait for him to come up with his usual barrage of questions, answer them, then read another sentence or two. Classics read well this way. They must be written this way." (41) -- "Notes on Mysticism"

"What you've got here, really, are two realities, one of immediate artistic appearance and one of underlying scientific explanation, and they don't match and they don't fit and they don't really have much of anything to do with one another. That's quite a situation. You might say there's a little problem here." (57) -- "Short Pirsig Presentation"

"A classical understanding sees the world primarily as underlying form itself. A romantic understanding sees it primarily in terms of immediate appearance. If you were to show an engine or a mechanical drawing or electronic schematic to a romantic it is unlikely he would see much of interest in it. It has no appeal because the reality he sees is its surface. Dull, complex lists of names, lines and numbers. Nothing interesting. But if you were to show the same blueprint or schematic or give the same description to a classical person he might look at it and then become fascinated by it because he sees that within the lines and shapes and symbols is a tremendous richness of underlying form." (70) -- "Short Pirsig Presentation"

"[Phaedrus'] kind of rationality has been used since antiquity to remove oneself from the tedium and depression of one's immediate surroundings. What makes it hard to see is that where once it was used to get away from it all, the escape has been so successful that now it is the 'it all' that the romantics are trying to escape. What makes his world so hard to see clearly is not its strangeness but its usualness. Familiarity can blind you too." (72-3) -- "The Rise of Buddhism in China"

"It was explained to me finally that 'You have a new personality now.' But this statement was no explanation at all. It puzzled me more than ever since I had no awareness at all of any 'old' personality. If they had said, 'You are a new personality,' it would have been much clearer. That would have fitted. They had made the mistake of thinking of a personality as some sort of possession, like a suit of clothes, which a person wears. But apart from a personality what is there? Some bones and flesh. A collection of legal statistics, perhaps, but surely no person. The bones and flesh and legal statistics are the garments worn by the personality, not the other way around." (87-8) -- "Short Pirsig Presentation"

"I've a vision of an angry continuing social crisis that no one really understands the depth of, let alone has solutions to. I see people like John and Sylvia living lost and alienated from the whole rational structure of civilized life, looking for solutions outside that structure, but finding none that are really satisfactory for long. And then I've a vision of Phaedrus and his lone isolated abstractions in the laboratory--actually concerned with the same crisis but starting from another point, moving in the opposite direction--and what I'm trying to do here is put it all together. It's so big--that's why I seem to wander sometimes." (115) -- "Philosophy, Metaphysics, and Common Sense"

"If all of human knowledge, everything that's known, is believed to be an enormous hierarchic structure, then the high country of the mind is found at the uppermost reaches of this structure in the most general, the most abstract considerations of all." (125) -- "Pirsig's Quest for Certainty"

"The trouble is that essays always have to sound like God talking for eternity, and that isn't the way it ever is. People should see that it's never anything other than just one person talking from one place in time and space and circumstance. It's never been anything else, ever, but you can't get that across in an essay." (172) -- "Reading Pirsig as a Philosopher"

"Now, as the first step of the crystallization process, he saw that when Quality is kept undefined by definition, the entire field called esthetics is wiped out . . . completely disenfranchised . . . kaput. By refusing to define Quality he had placed it entirely outside the analytic process. If you can't define Quality, there's no way you can subordinate it to any intellectual rule. The estheticians can have nothing more to say. Their whole field, definition of Quality, is gone." (214-5) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIfn28

"This [second, metaphysical wave of crystallization] was brought about in response to Phaedrus' wild meanderings about Quality when the English faculty at Bozeman, informed of their squareness, presented him with a reasonable question: 'Does this undefined "quality" of yours exist in the things we observe?' they asked. 'Or is it subjective, existing only in the observer?'" (231) -- "Pirsig's Quest for Certainty"

"A third rhetorical alternative to the dilemma, and the best one in my opinion, was to refuse to enter the arena. Phaedrus could simply have said, 'The attempt to classify Quality as subjective or objective is an attempt to define it. I have already said it is undefinable," and left it at that." (233) -- "Are There Bad Questions?"

"Why he chose to disregard this advice and chose to respond to this dilemma logically and dialectically rather than take the easy escape of mysticism, I don't know." (233) -- "Discussion with DMB"

"Perhaps he would have gone in the direction I'm now about to go in if this second wave of crystallization, the metaphysical wave, had finally grounded out where I'll be grounding it out, that is, in the everyday world. I think metaphysics is good if it improves everyday life; otherwise forget it." (250) -- "Philosophy, Metaphysics, and Common Sense"

"I like the word 'gumption' because it's so homely and so forlorn and so out of style it looks as if it needs a friend and isn't likely to reject anyone who comes along. It's an old Scottish word, once use a lot by pioneers, but which, like 'kin,' seems to have all but dropped out of use. I like it also because it describes exactly what happens to someone who connects with Quality. He gets filled with gumption." (310) -- "Pirsig's Quest for Certainty"

"The monkey reaches in and is suddenly trapped--by nothing more than his own value rigidity. He can't revalue the rice. He cannot see that freedom without rice is more valuable than capture with it. The villagers are coming to get him and take him away. They're coming closer . . . closer! . . . now! What general advice--not specific advice--but what general advice would you give the poor monkey in circumstances like this?" (320) -- "Pirsig's Quest for Certainty", "Are There Bad Questions?"

"Mu means 'no thing.' Like 'Quality' it points outside the process of dualistic discrimination. Mu simply says, 'No class; not one, not zero, not yes, not no.' It states that the context of the question is such that a yes or no answer is in error and should not be given. 'Unask the question' is what it says." (327) -- "Are There Bad Questions?"

"But most remarkable of all were the wondrous and unexplained proliferations of abstract categories that seemed freighted with special meanings that never got stated and whose content could only be guessed at; these piled one after another so fast and so close that Phaedrus knew he had no possible way of understanding what was before him, much less take issue with it." (348-9) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," II

"His second hypothesis was that the Chairman was a 'technician,' a phrase he used for a writer so deeply involved in his field that he'd lost the ability to communicate with people outside." (349) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," II

"No side doors, please. They were going to have to throw him out the front door or not at all. Maybe they wouldn't be able to. Good. He wanted this thesis not to owe anyone anything." (356) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIIfn27

"The mythos is a building of analogues upon analogues upon analogues. These fill the boxcars of the train of consciousness. The mythos is the whole train of collective consciousness of all communicating mankind. Every last bit of it. The Quality is the track that directs the train. What is outside the train, to either side--that is the terra incognita of the insane." (360) -- "The Necessity of Adapting to Present Circumstances"; "Philosophy, Metaphysics, and Common Sense"

"My personal feeling is that this is how any further improvement of the world will be done: by individuals making Quality decisions and that's all. God, I don't want to have any more enthusiasm for big programs full of social planning for big masses of people that leave individual Quality out." (367) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIIfn27

"Reason was to be subordinate, logically, to Quality, and he was sure he would find the cause of its not being so back among the ancient Greeks, whose mythos had endowed our culture with the tendency underlying all the evil of our technology, the tendency to do what is 'reasonable' even when it isn't any good." (368) -- "Are There Bad Questions?"

"Why destroy aretê? And no sooner had he asked the question than the answer came to him. Plato hadn't tried to destroy aretê. He had encapsulated it; made a permanent, fixed Idea out of it; had converted it to a rigid, immobile Immortal Truth. He made aretê 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." (388) -- "Notes on Mysticism"; "Philosophy, Metaphysics, and Common Sense"

"What I am is a heretic who's recanted, and thereby in everyone's eyes saved his soul. Everyone's eyes but one, who knows deep down inside that all he has saved is his skin." (412) -- "Short Pirsig Presentation"

"Trials never end, of course. Unhappiness and misfortune are bound to occur as long as people live, but there is a feeling now, that was not here before, and is not just on the surface of things, but penetrates all the way through: We've won it. It's going to get better now. You can sort of tell these things." (423) -- "Short Pirsig Presentation"

Pagination to Lila is first to the hardback edition and second to the paperback.

"'Some of the anthropologists make big names for themselves in their departments,' Dusenberry said, 'because they know all that jargon. But they really don't know as much as they think they do. And they especially don't like people who tell them so . . . ." (32/36) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIfn10

"The directness and simplicity was in the way they spoke, too. They spoke they way they moved, without any ceremony. It seemed to always come from deep within them. They just said what they wanted to say. Then they stopped. It wasn't just the way they pronounced the words. It was their attitude--plain-spoken, he thought. . . . Plains spoken." (39/43-4) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIfn10

"But these well-mannered circumlocutions of aristocratic European speech are 'fork-tongue' talk to the Indian and are infuriating. They violate his morality. He wants you to either talk from the heart or keep quiet. This has been a source of Indian-white conflict for centuries and although the modern white American personality is a compromise of that conflict, the conflict still exists." (45/51) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIfn10

"To this day Americans are mistakenly characterized by Europeans as 'like children,' naïve, immature, and tending toward violence because they don't know how to control themselves. That mistake is also made about Indians. To this day white Americans are also mistakenly characterized by Indians as a bunch of snobs who think you are so stupid you can never see how phony they are. That mistake is also made about Europeans." (45-6/51) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIfn18

"Very formindable. First you say things our way and then we'll listen to you. Phaedrus had heard it before." (51/58) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIfn21

"This time it would not be just Indians versus whites, treated within a white anthropological format. It would be whites and white anthropology versus Indians and 'Indian anthropology' treated within a format no one had ever heard of yet. He would get out of the impasse by expanding the format." (58/66) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIfn21

"Mores, determinants, norms . . . these were the jargon terms of sociology into which they converted things they want to attack. That's how you know when you're within a walled city, Phaedrus thought. The jargon. They've cut themselves off from the rest of the world and are speaking a jargon only they can really understand." (60/68-9) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIfn21

"The term mystic is sometimes confused with 'occult' or 'supernatural' and with magic and witchcraft but in philosophy it has a different meaning. Some of the most honored philosophers in history have been mystics: Plotinus, Swedenborg, Loyola, Shankaracharya and many others. They share a common belief that the fundamental nature of reality is outside language; that language splits things up into parts while the true nature of reality is undivided." (63/72) -- "Notes on Mysticism"

"Historically mystics have claimed that for a true understanding of reality metaphysics is too 'scientific.' Metaphysics is not reality. Metaphysics is names about reality. Metaphysics is a restaurant where they give you a thirty-thousand-page menu and no food." (63/72) -- "Notes on Mysticism"

"The Metaphysics of Quality not only passes the logical positivists' tests for meaningfulness, it passes them with the highest marks. The Metaphysics of Quality restates the empirical basis of logical positivism with more precision, more inclusiveness, more explanatory power than it has previously had. It says that values are not outside of the experience that logical positivism limits itself to. They are the essence of this experience. Values are more empirical, in fact, than subject or objects." (66/75) -- "Discussion with DMB"

"But if Quality or excellence is seen as the ultimate reality then it becomes possible form more than one set of truths to exist. Then one doesn't seek the absolute 'Truth.' One seeks instead the highest quality intellectual explanation of things with the knowledge that if the past is any guide to the future this explanation must be taken provisionally; as useful until something better comes along. One can then examine intellectual realities the same way he examines paintings in an art gallery, not with an effort to find out which one is the 'real' painting, but simply to enjoy and keep those that are of value." (100/114) -- "Pirsig's Quest for Certainty"

"Or, using another analogy, saying that a Metaphysics of Quality is false and a subject-object metaphysics is true is like saying that rectangular coordinates are true and polar coordinates are false. A map with the North Pole at the center is confusing at first, but it’s every bit as correct as a Mercator map. In the Artic it’s the only map to have. Both are simply intellectual patterns for interpreting reality and one can only say that in some circumstances rectangular coordinates provide a better, simpler interpretation." (100/114-5) -- "Notes on Mysticism"; "Are There Bad Questions?"

"In the Metaphysics of Quality 'causation' is a metaphysical term that can be replaced by 'value.' To say that 'A causes B' or to say that 'B values precondition A' is to say the same thing. The difference is one of words only. Instead of saying 'A magnet causes iron filings to move toward it,' you can say "Iron filings value movement toward a magnet.' Scientifically speaking neither statement is more true than the other. It may sound a little awkward, but that's a matter of linguistic custom, not science." (103-4/119) -- "What Pragmatism Is

"Should reality be something that only a handful of the world's most advanced physicists understand? One would expect at least a majority of people to understand it. Should reality be expressible only in symbols that require university-level mathematics to manipulate? Should it be something that changes from year to year as new scientific theories are formulated? Should it be something about which different schools of physics can quarrel for years with no firm resolution on either side? If this is so then how is it fair to imprison a person in a mental hospital for life with no trial and jury and no parole for 'failing to understand reality'? By this criterion shouldn't all but a handful of the world's most advanced physicists be locked up for life? Who is crazy here and who is sane?" (103/118) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIfn10

"But he realized that sooner or later he was going to have to stop carping about how bad subject-object metaphysics was and say something positive for a change. Sooner or later he was going to have to come up with a way of dividing Quality that was better than subjects and objects. He would have to do that or get out of metaphysics entirely. It's all right to condemn somebody else's bad metaphysics but you can't replace it with a metaphysics that consists of just one word." (107/123-4) -- "Are There Bad Questions?"

"If you're going to talk about Quality at all you have to be ready to answer someone like Rigel. You have to have a ready-made Metaphysics of Quality that you can snap at him like some catechism. Phaedrus didn't have a Catechism of Quality and that's why he got hit." (108/124) -- "Are There Bad Questions?"

"Trying to create a perfect metaphysics is like trying to create a perfect chess strategy, one that will win every time. You can't do it. It's out of the range of human capability. No matter what position you take on a metaphysical question someone will always start asking questions that will lead to more positions that lead to more questions in this endless intellectual chess game. The game is supposed to stop when it is agreed that a particular line of reasoning is illogical. This is supposed to be similar to a checkmate. But conflicting positions go on for centuries without any such checkmate being agreed upon." (108/125) -- "Pirsig's Quest for Certainty"; "Are There Bad Questions?"

"Phaedrus had once called metaphysics 'the high country of the mind'--an analogy to the 'high country' of mountain climbing. It takes a lot of effort to get there and more effort when you arrive, but unless you can make the journey you are confined to one valley of thought all your life. This high country passage through the Metaphysics of Quality allowed entry to another valley of thought in which the facts of life get a much richer interpretation. The valley spreads out into a huge fertile plain of understanding." (149/172) -- "Pirsig's Quest for Certainty"

"Philosophology is to philosophy as musicology is to music, or as art history and art appreciation are to art, or as literary criticism is to creative writing. It's a derivative, secondary field, a sometimes parasitic growth that likes to think it controls its host by analyzing and intellectualizing its host's behavior." (322/370) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," II; "Pirsig Institutionalized," IIfn28

"Phaedrus, in contrast, sometimes forgot the cart but was fascinated by the horse. He thought the best way to examine the contents of various philosophological carts is to first figure out what you believe and then to see what great philosophers agree with you." (323/372) -- "Pirsig's Quest for Certainty"

"Man is always the measure of all things, even in matters of space and dimension. Persons like James and Einstein, immersed in the spirit of philosophy, do not see things like squirrels circling trees as necessarily trivial because solving puzzles like that are what they're in philosophy and science for. Real science and real philosophy are not guided by preconceptions of what subjects are important to consider." (326/375) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," III

"You remember that you said Lila has quality," Rigel said.
"That's right."
"Would you mind telling me just how you came to that conclusion?"
Oh for God's sake, Phaedrus thought. "It wasn't a conclusion," he said. "It was a perception."
(390/446) -- "Are There Bad Questions?"

Pagination to Lila's Child is so far standard between all editions.

"This term, philosophology, is one I find myself using all the time to make a point that most academic philosophers seem unaware of: that when they speak of the ideas of such famous philosophers as Plato or Hegel they are giving us a history of philosophy, an 'ology' of philosophy, not philosophy itself. Philosophy itself is opinions of the speaker himself about the general nature of the world, not just a classification [of] someone else's opinions." (vii) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," II

"The real chess is the game you play with your neighbor. Real chess is 'muddling through.' Real chess is the triumph of mental organization over complex experience. And so is real philosophy." (viii) -- "Pirsig's Quest for Certainty"; "Are There Bad Questions?"

"Letter to Paul Turner"

"Intellectuality occurs when these customs as well as biological and inorganic patterns are designated with a sign that stands for them and these signs are manipulated independently of the patterns they stand for. "Intellect" can then be defined very loosely as the level of independently manipulable signs. Grammar, logic and mathematics can be described as the rules of this sign manipulation." (para. 4) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," II, fn6

"Perhaps you can pass all this along to the Lila Squad with the caveat that this is not a Papal Bull, as some would have it, or just plain bull, as others will see it, but merely another opinion on the subject that it is hoped will help." (para. 8) -- "Pirsig Institutionalized," III