This post contains excerpts from Robert Pirsig's book Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals.

The words are all his, the editing choices are all mine, the consequences of reading are all yours.

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Contrarians

Contrarians sometimes just seem to savagely attack every kind of static moral pattern they can find … as though … a kind of revenge … The Cheyenne had a whole society of contrarians to assimilate the phenomenon within their social fabric … [they] rode their horses sitting backward, entered teepees backward … Members seemed to enter the contrary society when they felt a great wrong, a great injustice, had been done to them and apparently it was felt that this was a way of resolving the injustice.

… When u add a concept of ‘Dynamic Quality’ to a rational understanding of the world, you can add a lot to an understanding of contrarians. Some of them aren’t just being negative toward static moral patterns, they are actively pursuing a Dynamic goal … negative contrarian streaks … sometimes it’s a degenerative negativism … sometimes an ego pattern … sometimes a static pattern of it’s own …

But sometimes it’s Dynamic, where your whole being senses that the static situation is an enemy of life itself. That’s what drives the really creative people … the feeling that if they don’t break out of this jail-house … they’re going to die. They’re way too energetic and aggressive to be decadent. They’re fighting for some kind of Dynamic freedom from the static patterns … It’s often confused with degeneracy but it’s actually a form of moral regeneration …

… in addition to the usual solutions to insanity … stay locked up or learn to conform … there was a third one, to reject all movies, private and cultural, and head for Dynamic Quality itself, which is no movie at all … evolution doesn’t take place only within societies, it takes place within individuals too … Sometimes the insane & the contrarians & the ones who are closest to suicide are the most valuable people society has … They have taken the burdens of the culture onto themselves, and in their struggle … they’re solving problems for the culture as well.

“Sometimes the insane and the contrarians and the ones who are closest to suicide are the most valuable people society has ...”