Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Lila: An Inquiry into Morals
Early on in our study group, we took on metaphysics. We where not disappointed with Lila by Robert Pirsig, better known for his earlier Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. While ZMM is still a great read, we all though 'Lila' the deeper work. Folowing is a brief description from Amazon, and a longer review by Carl Davidson is in the comments.
Sex, Drugs, and Metaphysics
February 2, 2002
Reviewed by "austlander" (Germany)
Phaedrus is back. Not satisfied with naming the unameable, he now must subdivide that which cannot be subdivided. The thrust of this book is a devlopment of a 'metaphysics of Quality." Quality is that nameless indirectly percievable reality Pirsig went to great lengths to show us in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZAMM)..."
I am not the intellectual giant that Pirsig is. Before reading Lila, I didn't even know what a metaphysics was; so don't let that stop you. Like ZAMM, "Lila" is a full blown book on philosophy intertwined with a novella, the plot of which serves to drive the orations of the author, and provide case study-like material for the reader.
Phaedrus, having abandoned his motorcycle for a sailboat, is sailing for Mexico and pondering his next book which will be a "metaphysics of Quality" or maybe about Indians. At any rate, at a port bar he picks up a woman that you and I would not consider exactly a "high class" individual. Between Lila and her acquantances, Pirsig offers us an illustration of the different types of Quality. Dynamic versus Static patterns, social versus biological versus intellectual. He weaves a metaphysics that if not true, at least throws everything from quantum mechanics and artificial intelligence to social reform and madness into a strange new light. A light which on the surface seems to illuminate things very clearly. The downside is that the path to this illumination is a bit harder to follow than in his previous book. Consequently, I had to "just accept" some points as opposed to "really digging" them. And that has left a feeling that maybe something is missing in this philosophy. But my gut says it's me that is broke, not the book. Probably just means I need to read it again, which I intend to do.
Pirsig's writting is still beautiful. Can't describe why. It just feels good in your brain when you read his words. They flow together, and he has a talent with developing characters you can really feel. After finishing the book I carried it around for a couple of days, thinking it was kind of like an old friend.
So, in conclusion I must say that Lila is very good. It carries a grand concept that ties love, quarks, and madness with the same strings. So important is this book, that I have added it to my list of required reading for total cosmic understanding. Other members of that list are, "A Brief History of Time"-Hawking, "Chaos-A Foundation of a New Science"-Glieck, and "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maitenance"-Pirsig's first contribution. This pool of literature is guaranteed to put you in your place in the universe. What you might find however, is that "getting drunk, picking up bar girls, and writing books about metaphysics" are all just a part of life.
Posted by Carl Davidson at 10:00 AM