You are welcome to contact MOQ.org if you have any questions, but please take some time to read the Frequently Asked Questions first.
I have a question about Pirsig's philosophy, can you please tell me why ......?
The best way to get answers to your philosophical questions is to sign up for the MOQ_discuss Mailing List and post your question there where it will be sent out to over 100 other people who are interested in the MOQ.
How can I get in touch with Pirsig?
You can write to him via his publisher:
Can you give me his email address?
No. He has asked us not to give it out over the Internet.
What is Pirsig doing now?
He is living quietly in Portsmouth New Hampshire, USA. He admits to being a recluse, but says that it is not due to any bitterness: ".. even if everyone understood LILA I would be that way. The Buddhist monk has a precept against indulging in idle conversation, and I think the basis for that precept is what motivates me" (letter of Aug. 19. 1997 to Bodvar Skutvik).
How do you pronounce LILA?
According to Pirsig: "Lila is pronounced like "lilac". Actually it was the unsubtlety of the lilac odor and the hardiness of the bushes that helped suggest her name to me." (Letter to Bodvar Skutvik, July 7 1994).
What is a mailing list?
It's an email-based discussion group. In ordinary email you can just contact specific people, but when you email a mailing list your post gets distributed to all the other people who have subscribed to that group, so everyone joins in the conversation together. There are thousands of mailing lists on the Internet on every subject you could imagine. If you've never been a member of one before we suggest you check out this page on netiquette (ie Net-etiquette) which tells you the commonly accepted standards of behavior on mailing lists.
How do I subscribe/unsubscribe to your mailing lists?
The subscription procedure for both mailing lists is simple and automatic so that
members can subscribe and unsubscribe themselves.
How do I post to the lists?
After you've subscribed, all you have to do is send an email to the mailing list's email address exactly the same way as you would send an email to a friend. You can use any email program - Eudora, MS Outlook, Netscape mail etc. The list's email addresses are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Our computer will automatically add the prefixes MD or MF toyour post, you don't have to do that yourself. The prefixes are intended help you separate your MD and MF mail from the rest of your mail.
Why do you have two mailing lists on MOQ.org?
The MOQ.org mailing lists - MOQ_discuss (MD) and MOQ_focus (MF) - serve different purposes. MD is a straightforward discussion group. It is unmoderated and you are free to raise and discuss any topic related to the MOQ. MF is run as a series of workshops. Each month we take a single question and investigate it to the exclusion of all else. MF is moderated so if you send a post that is not directly related to the monthly PROGRAM then it will not be allowed into the discussion.
Think of MOQ.org as a giant online conference - in one room we have lectures, in another we have workshops and in another we have open dialog. By offering a variety of methods of communication we create a richer and more productive experience for all participants: you can send essays to the Forum, you can join the MOQ_discuss open area or the MOQ_focus workshops, you can enjoy private conversations with other members or you can just sit at the back and lurk if you want. We don't ask you to participate in everything, but we do ask that you respect the distinctions between the different areas of MOQ.org and help us make them all good in their own ways.
I have something to say that is relevant to both MOQ_discuss and MOQ_focus, can I post it to both?
Posting the same mail to two lists is known as cross-posting and is generally considered bad netiquette because it defeats the purpose of having two lists. If your post is relevant to the MF topic then post it there only and pursue it that topic in that forum for the rest of the month, after that you should continue the dialog on MD.
Can I talk about this month's MOQ_focus topic on MOQ_discuss?
Discussing the same topic in the open forum and the focus group at the same time can be disruptive and confusing as posts go back and forth between the two lists. In the interests of maintaining a high quality dialog in the MOQ_focus we ask that you refrain from discussing the topic of the month on MOQ_discuss for the duration of that month.
I've posted to the mailing lists several times and nobody has responded, why not and what should I do?
The lack of face-to-face interaction on the Internet means that it can be difficult to gauge other people's reactions to your posts. There may well be people reading and learning from your posts -- you just can't tell. Don't take it personally and keep on posting. Keep your posts relevant, well-informed and courteous and you'll soon win the respect of the group.
Somebody has made a nasty, sarcastic reply to one of my posts, what should I do?
This is a philosophy discussion group and there's really no need for this kind of behaviour, but still, it happens. Don't waste your energy on it. Either reply calmly asking for clarification, or ignore it and devote your time to something more constructive instead.
How can I send an essay for the Forum on the MOQ.org website?
Send it to email@example.com, preferably in plain text in the body of an email. Please don't use any fancy formatting unless essential because we'll just have to undo it all to convert it to HTML for publishing on the web.
How can I send a bio for the Members page on the website?
Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, as above.
What is the copyright situation regarding posts and essays?
MOQ.org retains the right to publish all posts submitted to our mailing lists in our archives only and the right to publish essays submitted to our Forum on our website only. We will not use your contributions in any other publication or media without your written consent. All contributors will retain copyright over their own work. That means you are free to sell it to other publishers if you wish, and if anyone plagiarises your work or reproduces it without your permission it will constitute a breach of copyright.
How can I help you develop MOQ.org?
If you've only just joined we suggest you hang around for a few weeks and get to know us. If you understand what we've done in the past and what we're doing now you'll be able to contribute more effectively. If, after the honeymoon period is over, you're still interested, think of what you can do constructively to develop MOQ.org. If you can't think of anything specific but you still want to help, email us because we have a long list of things that we would like to do but never get round to.
Has Pirsig written any books other than Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and LILA?
No. But we live in hope.
What are the sales of Pirsig's two books?
It is well known that ZMM was a formidable success. How many copies that were sold is not known (it still sells), but it is millions. In an interview he told that the rights for the paperback version earned him two hundred and ten thousand (1975) dollars! LILA had an initial boom shortly after it was published in 1991, but the sales fell off after a while. Then they picked up again and in 1995 sales tripled in Japan for instance, and the same year the book was published in Chinese, (Taiwan) and later also mainland China.
How much of LILA is autobiographical?
This is always hard to tell. Phaedrus is obviously only a lightly camouflaged Robert Pirsig, as he was in the ZMM. The trip down the Hudson River is authentic in the sense that Pirsig brought his boat "Arete" from the Big Lakes to New York City before the trip across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe in 1980 (?). The "Cleveland Harbour" episode also reflects his sailing experience on the Big Lakes. The hotel episode with Robert Redford may well have occurred as the rights for filming the ZMM was negotiated for a period (re. his letter to Redford in the Steele and DiSanto "Guidebook to ZMM").
Why did Pirsig write LILA?
He wrote it to promote the enlarged version of the Quality idea that had been present in his first book Zen, and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. At first LILA had been planned as an anthropological study which would demonstrate the Dynamic/Static division by contrasting the nomadic North American Indians to the white European settlers, but he soon realized that it would not do. He would neither be accepted by the scientific establishment nor understood by the public. Partly for his lack of anthropological credentials, but mostly because the metaphysical presuppositions of the subject-object metaphysics would mess up his message, so he finally understood that he had to go to the root -- to metaphysics itself.
What is the public reaction to these books?
The reaction to the first book in 1974 was overwhelmingly positive, as the sales indicate. ZMM is usually regarded as the better novel and LILA as a not so successful sequel, but philosophically it is another story. The first book is the stirring story of how he came to conceive the basic quality idea and what that cost him, LILA -- even if written along similar outlines -- is a presentation of the fully fledged philosophical system and necessarily a more difficult book, and for that reason not so popular. The reader who wants to be entertained doesn't always see the importance of what he is reading.
What do other philosophers think of his work?
The reaction that he
foresaw for his anthropological venture has more or less been fulfilled by
LILA too. Academic philosophers seemingly don't want to look into his Quality
idea. Usually new ideas or paradigms are supposed to start within the
academic circles and spread into society, not the other way round. The few
reviews published have been overwhelmingly negative -- outright vicious --
and far too violent for a "mere" philosophical idea. Perhaps the
unheard of magnitude of what Pirsig is saying and the frustration over not
finding the weak point of his MOQ is the reason.