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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).
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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.