It took me a long time to read this book, and I m not sure how much these disparate readings affected my overall impression of the book Pirsig doesn t have a narrative structure, he wanders And these wanderings tend to circle back around and all tie in to a greater point or idea he s trying to get to the root of Leaving the book for days or weeks at a time makes it hard to follow that strand and keep a sense of how the ideas you re reading about tie into the overall purpose of the book Zen i It took me a long time to read this book, and I m not sure how much these disparate readings affected my overall impression of the book Pirsig doesn t have a narrative structure, he wanders And these wanderings tend to circle back around and all tie in to a greater point or idea he s trying to get to the root of Leaving the book for days or weeks at a time makes it hard to follow that strand and keep a sense of how the ideas you re reading about tie into the overall purpose of the book Zen is one of my all time favorite books and had a profound impact on my person So I m not 100% certain what it was about this book that didn t work for me It could be that i m an olderdiscerning reader these days, and that maybe if I read Zen again today though I have re read it a handful of times in the past it wouldn t resonate as true with me either I am certainlyknowledgeable about certain matters of science that I wasn t on my first readings of Zen This was something that I noticed a few times earlier on in Lila I found myself disagreeing with some things Pirsig was saying and I questioned whether it was because he was wrong, or if it was something I just wasn t able to grasp yet This is what struck me as different about this book When reading Zen I found myself instantaneously agreeing with and seeing the truth of much of what Pirsig said, and the things which I didn t understand in the book I assumed I would in time, afterthought and reading which I have , because I thoroughly believed in the rest of the ideas i was reading In the case of Lila, I thought I understood , and found that I haddisagreements with Pirsig This was a first reading though, and having read Zen multiples times, I always getout of it with each subsequent read It may be a bit early to fully judge Lila I ve also wondered if Zen was simplyappealing to me because I love motorcycles and was able to instantly connect with that aspect of the book, whereas Lila herself and their story didn t really engage me in any way Pirsig s thoughts and ideas fascinate, but maybe the story he wrapped them in this time just had no appeal for me I was also really disappointed with the ending My problems with the actual ideas presented were twofold Certain ideas just rang false based on my understanding of the universe I m being vague, i know, but there s too much to respond to specifically Certain others I question the manner in which he comes to his conclusions Many of his ideas come to him in flashes He sees the truth of it, and then puts together all the pieces of the puzzle to explain it I wonder whether his reasoning is just a post hoc rationalization without any real merit That he is just finding things to fit his conclusions, which is what makes the simple brilliance of his ideas so right sounding to him and to the reader I will say that my thoughts did seem to change as the book went on I found his ideas about insanity really insightful And at some point all his talk of dynamic vs static quality, inorganic vs organic patterns, and biological, social, and intellectual patterns all started to make sense There seemed to be some sort of logical leap at the end though that jumped from the intellectual pattern being subservient to the mystic pattern which I think he equated with full dynamic quality.In the end, I think this is a worthwhile read, though it lacked the cohesion of Zen It purported to be an inquiry into morals and in my mind failed in a true exploration of that purpose But it further explores ideas in Pirsig s Metaphysics of Quality and even if many of the ideas he talks about don t all tie together neatly, they are all mostly fascinating in their own right For every idea I read which I disagreed with there were manythat I not only agreed with, but almost felt this great sigh of relief escape me because here finally someone was able to express in words thoughts I have not been able to do so for myself Because no matter how rational and logical my reasoning is, how much it is based on a deep scientific understanding of the universe, there is a point where certain ideas i have about morals and ethics and good come down to certain assumptions that I have no method or framework to explain At the base of all his writings Pirsig is trying to explain this same something and so I very much value his works Not only because I think he is mostly correct in his assertions, but because I believe he is mostly responsible and thoughtful in his methods I appreciate that his process of explanation incorporates his understanding of physics and biology, evolution and anthropology, eastern mysticism and personal experience, and that he weaves all these different ways of understanding the universe into one grand idea In societies that criminalize rather than attempt to understand mental illness, artists and philosophers may be the first to have the guts to discuss the topic publicly or sympathetically Such societies may first approach understanding mental illness through art rather than through education, medicine or philanthropy, let alone helpful treatment For women w mental illness, societal support toward a true understanding of mental health may be even slower coming than for men, if a male perspe In societies that criminalize rather than attempt to understand mental illness, artists and philosophers may be the first to have the guts to discuss the topic publicly or sympathetically Such societies may first approach understanding mental illness through art rather than through education, medicine or philanthropy, let alone helpful treatment For women w mental illness, societal support toward a true understanding of mental health may be even slower coming than for men, if a male perspective is the society s metric for truth sanity women s experience will always be a bit aberrant suspect Pirsig differentiates Lila s madness from Ph drus in his first book and proposes a new way forward.In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance An Inquiry Into Values the narrator protagonist, like the author himself, is diagnosed characterized as schizophrenic and institutionalized He receives electric shock treatments but the treatment is no cure just a means to an end, a way of going back into hiding in plain sight Like Pirsig, Ph drus eventually is able to leave institutionalized mental care not because he is cured but because he elects to behave as he expects the staff want a healing patient to behave, by speaking as the staff hope he will etc From Lila He saw that the sane always know they are good because their culture tells them so Anyone who tells them otherwise is sick, paranoid, and needs further treatment To avoid that accusation Ph drus had had to be very careful of what he said when he was in the hospital He told the sane what they wanted to hear and kept his real thoughts to himself In Lila, as he considers options for ways forward for this female character heading toward insanity, the Ph drus character recalls his own previous non cure In time this strategy had brought Ph drus enough smiles to get out It made him less honest and it made himof a conformist to the current cultural status quo but that is what everyone really wanted It got him out and back to his family and a job and a place in the world again and this new personality of a conforming, role playing, ex mental patient who knew how to do as he was told without protest became a sort of permanent stage personality that he never dropped It wasn t a happy solution, to always role play with people he had once been honest with It made it impossible to ever really share anything with them Now he wasisolated than he had been in the insane asylum but there was nothing he could do about it Her second alternative, he thought, would be to cave in to whatever it was she was fighting, and learn to adjust She d probably go into some kind of cultural dependency, with recurring trips to a psychiatrist or some kind of social counselor for therapy, accept the cultural reality that her rebellion was no good, and live with it In this way she d continue to lead a normal life, continuing her problem, whatever it was, within conventional cultural limits The trouble was, he didn t really like that solution much better than the first And Lila s battle is everybody s battle, you know Sometimes the insane and the contrarians and the ones who are the closest to suicide are the most valuable people society has They may be precursors of social change They ve taken the burdens of the culture onto themselves, and in their struggle to solve their own problems they re solving problems for the culture as well Pirsig posits that a new way of conceptualizing mental health is necessary The way to really deal with insanity, he thought, is to turn the tables and talk about truth instead Insanity s a medical subject that everyone agrees is bad Truth s a metaphysical subject that everyone disagrees about There are lots of different definitions of truth and some of them could throw a whole lotlight on what was happening to Lila than a subject object metaphysics does He goes on to argue that The Metaphysics of Quality suggests that in addition to the customary solutions to insanity conform to cultural patterns or stay locked up there is another one This solution is to dissolve all static patterns, both sane and insane, and find the base of reality, Dynamic Quality, that is independent of all of them This notion of Dynamic Quality Pirsig s consideration and definition of the concept is where Lila An Inquiry Into Morals purports to take the readernow 25 years later in an era when discussions of mental health arelikely to be about insurance coverage, access, and Rx s rather than talk therapy, when only the rich or the convicted criminal are likely to find themselves in an institution unless they re there for addiction how does Lila read Does Pirsig s way forward still look like a door people are likely to open 1 The story is compelling Post post midlife crisis man meets younger voluptuous woman They travel down the river together The convention is quite cheap But he never saves her or she him and neither victimizes the other either That s good It s not really sensual except for one scene And the self portrait of the narrator is absolutely unsparing as is his portrait of the girl She s not a waif or a femme fatale, but a complicated damaged person and him too 2 The philosophy is narrativ 1 The story is compelling Post post midlife crisis man meets younger voluptuous woman They travel down the river together The convention is quite cheap But he never saves her or she him and neither victimizes the other either That s good It s not really sensual except for one scene And the self portrait of the narrator is absolutely unsparing as is his portrait of the girl She s not a waif or a femme fatale, but a complicated damaged person and him too 2 The philosophy is narratively compelling I really don t know how Pirsig manages this It s his thing, isn t it Somehow even if substance vs quality metaphysics sounds like a big hobby horse to you, you will want to find what the protagonist is searching for Clearly it means something to him and I, as a reader, found that absolutely compelling There s a particular scene about three quarters of the way through the book in which the narrator meets Robert Redford briefly in a hotel room to discuss selling the rights to his previous book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanence where the drama of the story and the drama of the narrator s evolving ideas are particularly well integrated The scene is so lonely and absurd The juxtaposition of Robert Redford and all that meeting him ought to imply and the anonymous hotel room in NYC in the winter and the narrator s own crushingly lonely and solitary quest creates this huge tension, demand for an explanation What could this possibly mean In the end, even the superficial purpose of the meeting is rendered meaningless as the narrator gives Redford permission to go ahead while privately noting that he can always reverse his decision later Oddly thestrange the scene feels theI felt that something important must be going on and would give Pirsig s Metaphysics of Quality a chance to explain it all And 3 His ideas are genuinely interesting People who are into philosophy or lit crit will probably dismiss what he has to say as unsophisticated or uninformed basically, amateurish but for those who naively wonder about whether the world might not be constituted of subjects and object, or are merely willing to take Pirsig on his own terms for what insights he might have to offer his philosphizing is amazingly clear and powerful Robert Pirsig s previous book ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE is a profoundly influential book in my own life I have probably given copies of it as gifts topeople than any other book except my own It is a powerful examination of the meaning of life in a pseudo novelistic framework that makes the philosophical explorations bothpalatable andunderstandable Pirsig s sequel, LILA, is an attempt to follow up and expand on the discoveries of the first book While it is no Robert Pirsig s previous book ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE is a profoundly influential book in my own life I have probably given copies of it as gifts topeople than any other book except my own It is a powerful examination of the meaning of life in a pseudo novelistic framework that makes the philosophical explorations bothpalatable andunderstandable Pirsig s sequel, LILA, is an attempt to follow up and expand on the discoveries of the first book While it is not an unsuccessful book, it is in large far less compelling, far less easily understood, and far less magical than ZEN The philosophy Pirsig explores is deeply complex and intricate, something that the first book managed to overcome In LILA, there is some very rough slogging The novelistic approach, in which the philosophy is presented as it bears on a presumably fictional story of a mentally ill young woman who falls into the company of the author s alter ego, Phaedrus, on a boat journey down the Hudson River But only in the latter stages of this book does that story become fascinating, and in the meantime a great deal of effort must be made by minds noadvanced than mine to parse and come to grips with the ruminations on Pirsig s ideas about the Metaphysics of Quality Pirsig wants to create a new understanding of morality, of good, and his arguments are often convincing, if confusing Occasionally, some of his insights are riveting, as when he explains the real meaning and ramifications of Victorian morality But for all its intelligence and eloquence, I fear this will be something of a disappointment to all but the most intellectual fans of ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE, which, still, 30 years after I first read it, is one of the most meaningful books in my life This was a fantastic read There were two mind blowing branches in this book The first centers around evolution and morality among the three basic forces biology, society, and intellectualism The second talks about morality and ties into quality in terms of metaphysics and having quality be a scientific metric to judge things This was a great bookaccessible than its predecessor to me and caused me to think quite a bit. What is quality Is it a noun or a verb Why is quality so important These are deep questions that affect everyone Pirsig follows up his Zen book with a smoother,sophisticated, and clearer book that may not be as mystifying and haunting, but is certainlymature This book made me rethink myself, my relationships with everyone I know, my professional behavior, and much about my research By my limited understanding of Lila, I am aeffective father, friend, son, brother, teacher, What is quality Is it a noun or a verb Why is quality so important These are deep questions that affect everyone Pirsig follows up his Zen book with a smoother,sophisticated, and clearer book that may not be as mystifying and haunting, but is certainlymature This book made me rethink myself, my relationships with everyone I know, my professional behavior, and much about my research By my limited understanding of Lila, I am aeffective father, friend, son, brother, teacher, scientist, leader.Without a doubt, Pirsig is one of the masterful philosophers of our time And maybe all time If anyone from the 20th century deserves to stand alongside Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and Confucius, that would be Robert Pirsig I bought this book in Amsterdam, accidentally, for 0.5 It was lying on an old book shelf that stood right in the street I was walking past the book shelf after a meditation session and saw the word lila on the cover I was in the right mood, so purchased this book as a part of inspiration I haven t read Pirsig s first book, but had heard good opinions of it before It was quite interesting to read Lila for most part of the book It isa philosophical reflection rather than a novel per I bought this book in Amsterdam, accidentally, for 0.5 It was lying on an old book shelf that stood right in the street I was walking past the book shelf after a meditation session and saw the word lila on the cover I was in the right mood, so purchased this book as a part of inspiration I haven t read Pirsig s first book, but had heard good opinions of it before It was quite interesting to read Lila for most part of the book It isa philosophical reflection rather than a novel per se The protagonist discusses his philosophy the Metaphysics of Quality I found these reflections to be stimulating at times, while quite outdated at other times The protagonist s views are highly evolutionary, and here they coincide with, for instance, Integral philosophy of Ken Wilber Pirsig writes about biological, social, and intellectual stages levels of evolution, where each subsequent stage tried to differentiate from the previous one and in a way negate it To compare, biological view roughly correlates with the Red altitude worldview and below of Wilber s developmental model, which is egocentric and archaic, social corresponds to the Amber altitude worldview Blue in terms of Spiral Dynamics vMEMEs , which is ethnocentered and is all about conventional norms, while the intellectual level in the book involves both Orange rationalistic and scientifically minded and Green pluralistic that s the parts of the book where the protagonist criticizes some of the limitations of cultural relativists.Pirsig also puts a strong emphasis on states of consciousness without naming them as such , specifically the ones related to what in meditative traditions is known as nonduality His idea of the Dynamic Quality which is contrasted to static patterns apparently, draws a lot from Whitehead whose philosophy maintained that each moment is a creative thrust into novelty Dynamic Quality seems to be analogous to Wilber s Eros, which in itself to a significant degree draws upon the Platonic tradition In overall, the book provides food for an integratively thinking mind however, after Ken Wilber s philosophy it seems a bit outdated while beingadvanced than all positivistic and reductionistic ideas, still rampant in our cultures, so instrumental to various destructive sociocultural processes Pirsig would have benefited enormously, had he encountered the notion of quadrants or primordial perspectives of reality in Wilber s Integral AQAL framework but the book had been written and published before Wilber made this famous discovery Pirsig still would have had the chance, had he studied carefully the Platonic lineages, especially Russian religious philosophy, which clearly differentiated and integrated the Big Three of the Good, the Beautiful, and the True The author s and protagonist s thinking would be much clearer if a clear grasp of the difference between an individual holarchy and a social holarchy were present.Still, lots of interesting thoughts from the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance An Inquiry into Values that was his previous book the first one he wrote, while this one was his second I don t think that the reflections on values per se were useful, at least to me, but all the picturesque verbal philosophical reflections around Dynamic Quality were energizing to read Some good intuitions and descriptions of mystical states are included as well In this best selling new book, his first in seventeen years, Robert M Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, takes us on a poignant and passionate journey as mysterious and compelling as his first life changing work Instead of a motorcycle, a sailboat carries his philosopher narrator Phaedrus down the Hudson River as winter closes in Along the way he picks up a most unlikely traveling companion a woman named Lila who in her desperate sexuality, hostility, and oncoming madness threatens to disrupt his lifeIn Lila Robert M Pirsig has crafted a unique work of adventure and ideas that examines the essential issues of the nineties as his previous classic did the seventies There are some really interesting ideas in this book Here are my favorites in my own words mostly Darwin s Theory of Evolution fails to account for improvement the author posits that it s not about survival, it s about striving towards Quality There are 2 kinds of Quality Static and Dynamic Dynamic Quality allows for change that creates improvement Static Quality prevents backsliding Too much Static Quality leads to stagnation Too much Dynamic Quality leads to chaos Cells are only int There are some really interesting ideas in this book Here are my favorites in my own words mostly Darwin s Theory of Evolution fails to account for improvement the author posits that it s not about survival, it s about striving towards Quality There are 2 kinds of Quality Static and Dynamic Dynamic Quality allows for change that creates improvement Static Quality prevents backsliding Too much Static Quality leads to stagnation Too much Dynamic Quality leads to chaos Cells are only interested in survival In their scale of time, mind is just some ephemera that arrived a few moments ago, and will probably pass away in a few momentsIt s as foolish to think of a city or a society as created by human bodies as it is to think of human bodies as a creation of the cells Societies are not inventions of man but higher organisms Being crazy is like being a culture of one What makes you crazy is simply that no on agrees with you.There are a tonreally interesting ideas in this book that are all pulled together by the idea of Metaphysics of Quality It s very thought provoking and showed me perspectives I hadn t considered before Lila An Inquiry into Morals I m not smart enough to review this book Robert Pirsig is a certified genius his I.Q at age 9 was 170 I read his first book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, back in the 1970s when it was released, and found that, much to my surprise, I enjoyed the philosophy presented in it as much as I enjoyed the story I d like to read it again His second book, Lila An Inquiry Into Morals, is a muchdifficult read.I didn t know about this book until arou Lila An Inquiry into Morals I m not smart enough to review this book Robert Pirsig is a certified genius his I.Q at age 9 was 170 I read his first book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, back in the 1970s when it was released, and found that, much to my surprise, I enjoyed the philosophy presented in it as much as I enjoyed the story I d like to read it again His second book, Lila An Inquiry Into Morals, is a muchdifficult read.I didn t know about this book until around 2004 I was in the library in Auburn, GA and saw that they had a used book sale going on Someone handed me this book and told me who the writer was For a dollar, I snapped it up Since then, I ve read it about three or four times, and each time, I learn a littleabout what he s trying to say I ll probably read it again It does bog down a little when the character has an extended philosophical monologue with himself, and I tend to zone out when it comes to philosophy, but when I pay attention I find a quotable paragraph on almost every page, a revelation that astonishes me.He is a fine writer His characters come to life in a realistic way that s hard to equal And while this book may not follow every rule of fiction writing, the story is interesting, and the philosophy riveting I m giving it 5 out of 5 stars because no matter how many times I read it, it always makes me think