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.

Table of Contents | How This Happened | Download PDF

Definitions

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.

“Getting drunk and picking up bar-ladies and writing metaphysics is a part of life.”