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.
Quality doesn’t have to be defined. You understand it without definition, ahead of definition … it is a direct experience… Quality is indivisible, undefinable and unknowable in the sense that there is a knower and a known, but a metaphysics must be divisible, definable and knowable … it is a kid of dialectical definition … this means that a “Metaphysics of Quality” is essentially a contradiction in terms, a logical absurdity …
he himself had insisted … that Quality cannot be defined. Yet here we was about to define it. Was this some kind of sell-out? … the minute you open your mouth to say one thing about the nature of reality you..have a whole set of enemies who’ve said reality is something else … ‘Ahh, do it anyway, it’s interesting.’ this was the intellectual part that didn’t like undefined things … To the intellect, the process of defining Quality has a compulsive quality of its own … produces a certain excitement … that leaves a hangover
Writing a metaphysics is, in the strictest mystic sense, a degenerate activity … avoidance of degeneracy is a degeneracy of another sort … Purity identified ceases to be purity…objections to pollution are a form of pollution … The only person who doesn’t pollute the mystic reality of the world … is a person who hasn’t yet been born… The rest of us have to settle for something less pure … Getting drunk and picking up bar-ladies and writing metaphysics is a part of life.