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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Sanity

‘What makes people sane?’ … the way to really deal with insanity … is to turn the tables and talk about truth instead. If objects are the ultimate reality then there’s only one true intellectual construction of things: that which corresponds to the objective world.

But if truth is defined as a high-quality set of intellectual value patterns, then insanity can be defined as just a low-quality set of intellectual value patterns, and you get a whole different picture of it. When the culture asks ‘Why doesn’t this person see things the way we do?” you can answer that he doesn’t see them because he doesn’t value them. He’s gone into illegal value patterns because the illegal patterns resolve value conflicts that the culture’s unable to handle.

… In a subject-object world trance and hypnosis are big time platypi. That’s why there’s this prejudice … They’re best nudged as close as possible to the empirical trash heap called ‘the occult’ … But since they do exist, what you have is an empirically observable case of empiricism being overthrown.

The irony is that there are times when the culture actually fosters trance and hypnosis to further its purposes. When you enter a movie theatre you know that all you are going to see is 24 shadows per second … an illusion of moving people & objects. Yet despite this knowledge you laugh when the 24 shadows per second tell jokes and cry when the shadows show actors faking death. You know they are an illusion yet you enter the illusion and become part of it and while the illusion is taking place you are not aware that it is an illusion. This is hypnosis. It is trance. It’s also a form of temporary insanity. But it’s also a powerful force for cultural reinforcement …

… in the case of permanent insanity the exists to the theater have been blocked, usually because of the knowledge that the show outside is so much worse … the insane person is running a private unapproved film which he happens to like better than the current cultural one. If you want him to run the film everyone else is seeing, the solution would be to find ways to prove to him that it would be valuable to do so.

“... the insane person is running a private unapproved film which he happens to like better than the current cultural one ...”