June 07, 2005

Lila: An inquiry into morals/ Robert M. Pirsig

This isn't a sequel from Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It's a totally different story, although it does make extensive reference to Pirsig's earlier work. I think this book might make more sense if you read the earlier book, but even if you don't, you won't lose too much. I can't help but think this book is even more of an autobiography of Pirsig.

cover
NLB Call No.: PIR
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Chapter 3, P.33: Starts talking about a Professor Verne Dusenberry (there was such a person) who studied Native American Indian culture. The thesis (I think Pirsig's) was that modern (White) American culture and values (like "freedom") arose from Native American Indian values. Intriguing. I thought this part was like Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, in that it brought on an "intellectual hyperbole" of sorts.

P.34 - 35: Seems to me that Pirsig suggests there is no need, or one is unable, to have "objectivity in anthropological studies. Like saying that it's the same in Journalism . Somehow it reminds me of Carol C. Kuhlthau's Information Seeking Behaviour (see here or here).

Chapter 4, P.55 - This chapter provides that continuity from Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It reinforced that the Phædrus character was a reference to mean Persig 'cos it says Phædrus published a successful book and Lila picks up the story 6 years later. Also mentions that Phædrus/ Pirsig had "enormous problems" (the death of Pirsig's son?), and that the book was on the subject of Quality.

P.66 - More references to Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Chapter 6: Switches from narrative from Phædrus' point of view to 3rd person "the author" - a literary device perhaps... Later I realised chapter 6 was written from the character Rigel's point of view. A bit disorienting but quite an interesting literary device.

p.91 - Rigel admonishes the message in Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Pirsig taking a dig at himself? Or mocking his critics?)

p.116 - Interesting point made on the Platypus -- that when the Platypus was discovered, scientists said it was a paradox. But Pirsig's point was it was never a paradox or an oddity. It didn't make sense only to the scientists because they viewed the nature of animals according to their own classification, when nature did not have any.

p.164: Quote:
A thing doesn't exist because we have never observed it. The reason we have never observed it is because we have never looked for it. And the reason we have never looked for it is that it is unimportant, it has no value and we have other better things to do.

p.185 - Quote:
Just as it is more moral for a doctor to kill a germ than patient, so it is more moral for an idea to kill a society than it is for society to kill an idea.

Chapter 20: p.286 - Pirsig makes reference to his schizophrenia.

p.312: Mentions background to the John Scopes "Monkey Trial" (1925), made into a movie "Inherit the Wind".

p.317: Quote:
Morals have no objective reality. You can look through a microscope or telescope or oscilloscope for the rest of your life and you will never find a single moral. There aren't any there. They are all in your head.

P. 331: A glimpse into the root of Lila's neurosis.
See also chapter 30.
End of chapter 31: The link between Rigel and Lila becomes clear... you have to read the book.

P. 342: A discourse on the development of Philosophy.

P.355 - That you cannot deal with crime by talking crime to death. Quote:
Intellectual patterns cannot directly control biological patterns. Only social patterns can control biological patterns. The instrument of conversation between society and biology has always been a policeman or a soldier and his gun. All laws of history... all the Constitutions... are nothing more than instructions to the military and police. If the military and police can't or don't follow these instructions properly they might as well have never been written.

P.442: Quote:
In cultures without books, ritual seems to be a public library for teaching the young and preserving common values and information.

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