Robert Pirsig Quality Quotes

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Absence of Quality is the essence of squareness.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
Care and Quality are internal and external aspects of the same thing. A person who sees Quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares. A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who’s bound to have some characteristic of quality.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
Programs of a political nature are important end products of social quality that can be effective only if the underlying structure of social values is right. The social values are right only if the individual values are right. The place to improve the world is first in one's heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
You’ve got to live right, too. It’s the way you live that predisposes you to avoid the traps and see the right facts. You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally. That’s the way all the experts do it. The making of a painting or the fixing of a motorcycle isn’t separate from the rest of your existence. If you’re a sloppy thinker the six days of the week you aren’t working on your machine, what trap avoidance, what gimmicks, can make you all of a sudden sharp on the seventh? It all goes together ... The real cycle you're working in is a cycle called yourself. The machine that appears to be "out there" and the person that appears to be "in here" are not two separate things. They grow toward Quality or fall away from Quality together.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
I like the word ‘gumption’ because it’s so homely and so forlorn and so out of style it looks as if it needs a friend and isn’t likely to reject anyone who comes along. I like it also because it describes exactly what happens to someone who connects with Quality. He gets filled with gumption. “A person filled with gumption doesn’t sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He’s at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what’s up the track and meeting it when it comes. That’s gumption. If you’re going to repair a motorcycle, an adequate supply of gumption is the first and most important tool. If you haven’t got that you might as well gather up all the other tools and put them away, because they won’t do you any good.
Robert M. Pirsig
If Quality were dropped, only rationality would remain unchanged.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
My personal feeling is that this is how any further improvement of the world will be done: by individuals making Quality decisions and that’s all.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
A person who sees Quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares. A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who's bound to have some characteristics of Quality
Robert M. Pirsig
The result is rather typical of modern technology, an overall dullness of appearance so depressing that it must be overlaid with a veneer of "style" to make it acceptable. And that, to anyone who is sensitive to romantic Quality, just makes it all the worse. Now it's not just depressingly dull, it's also phony. Put the two together and you get a pretty accurate basic description of modern American technology: stylized cars and stylized outboard motors and stylized typewriters and stylized clothes. Stylized refrigerators filled with stylized food in stylized kitchens in stylized homes. Plastic stylized toys for stylized children, who at Christmas and birthdays are in style with their stylish parents. You have to be awfully stylish yourself not to get sick of it once in a while. It's the style that gets you; technological ugliness syruped over with romantic phoniness in an effort to produce beauty and profit by people who, though stylish, don't know where to start because no one has ever told them there's such a thing as Quality in this world and it's real, not style. Quality isn't something you lay on top of subjects and objects like tinsel on a Christmas tree. Real Quality must be the source of the subjects and objects, the cone from which the tree must start.
Robert M. Pirsig
The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself. The machine that appears to be “out there” and the person that appears to be “in here” are not two separate things. They grow toward Quality or fall away from Quality together.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
You can’t really think hard about what you’re doing and listen to the radio at the same time. Maybe they didn’t see their job as having anything to do with hard thought, just wrench twiddling.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
May, will you please, kindly DIG it," he remembered one of them saying, "and hold up on all those wonderful seven-dollar questions? If you got to ask what IS it all the time, you'll never get time to KNOW.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
To discover a metaphysical relationship between Quality and the Buddha at some mountaintop of personal experience is very spectacular. And very unimportant. If that were all this Chautauqua was about I should be dismissed. What’s important is the relevance of such a discovery to all the valleys of this world, and all the dull, dreary jobs and monotonous years that await all of us in them.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
Quality ... you know what it is, yet you don't know what it is. But that's self-contradictory. But some things are better than others, that is, they have more quality. But when you try to say what the quality is, apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof! There's nothing to talk about. But if you can't say what Quality is, how do you know what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn't exist at all. But for all practical purposes it really does exist. What else are the grades based on? Why else would people pay fortunes for some things and throw others in the trash pile? Obviously some things are better than others ... but what's the betterness? ... So round and round you go, spinning mental wheels and nowhere finding anyplace to get traction. What the hell is Quality? What is it?
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
Writing it seemed to have higher quality than not writing it, that was all.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
I think that if we are going to reform the world, and make it a better place to live in, the way to do it is not with talk about relationships of the political nature… I think that kind of approach starts it at the end and presumes the end is the beginning. Programs of a political nature are important and products of social quality that can be effective only if the underlying structure of social values is right. The social values are right only if the individual values are right.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
These were the underdogs, the outsiders, the pariahs, the sinners of his system. But the reason he was so concerned about them was that he felt the quality and strength of his entire system of organization depended on how he treated them. If he treated the pariahs well he would have a good system. If he treated them badly he would have a weak one.
Robert M. Pirsig (Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals)
The dictum that Science and its offspring, technology, are “value free,” that is, “quality free,” has got to go.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
An egoless acceptance of stuckness is a key to an understanding of all Quality.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
Quality is just the focal point around which a lot of intellectual furniture is getting rearranged.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
the track of Quality preselects what data we’re going to be conscious of, and it makes this selection in such a way as to best harmonize what we are with what we are becoming.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
The mythos that says the forms of this world are real but the Quality of this world is unreal, that is insane!
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
Now there was an alternative explanation: people disagreed about Quality because some just used their immediate emotions whereas others applied their overall knowledge.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
These false images are deflated so rapidly and completely you’re bound to be very discouraged very soon if you’ve derived your gumption from ego rather than Quality.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
Quality is a characteristic of thought and statement that is recognized by a nonthinking process. Because definitions are a product of rigid, formal thinking, quality cannot be defined.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
But if Quality or excellence is seen as the ultimate reality then it becomes possible for more than one set of truths to exist, Then one doesn’t seek the absolute “Truth.” One seeks instead the highest quality intellectual explanation of things with the knowledge that if the past is any guide to the future this explanation must be taken provisionally; as useful until something better comes along. One can then examine intellectual realities the same way he examines paintings in an art gallery, not with an effort to find out which one is the “real” painting, but simply to enjoy and keep those that are of value. There are many sets of intellectual reality in existence and we can perceive some to have more quality than others, but that we do so is, in part, the result of our history and current patterns of values.
Robert M. Pirsig (Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals)
But the biggest clue seemed to be their expressions. They were hard to explain. Good-natured, friendly, easygoing...and uninvolved. They were like spectators. You had the feeling they had just wandered in there themselves and somebody had handed them a wrench. There was no identification with the job. No saying, "I am a mechanic." At 5 P.M. or whenever their eight hours were in, you knew they would cut it off and not have another thought about their work. They were already trying not to have any thoughts about their work on the job.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
The man who suffers a heart attack and is taken off the train at New Rochelle has had all his static patterns shattered, he can’t find them, and in that moment only Dynamic Quality is available to him. That is why he gazes at his own hand with a sense of wonder and delight.
Robert M. Pirsig (Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals)
Quality is the continuing stimulus which causes us to create the world in which we live. All of it. Every last bit of it.” Religion isn’t invented by man. Men are invented by religion. Men invent responses to Quality, and among these responses is an understanding of what they themselves are.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
Sometime look at a novice workman or a bad workman and compare his expression with that of a craftsman whose work you know is excellent and you’ll see the difference. The craftsman isn’t ever following a single line of instruction. He’s making decisions as he goes along. For that reason he’ll be absorbed and attentive to what he’s doing even though he doesn’t deliberately contrive this. His motions and the machine are in a kind of harmony. He isn’t following any set of written instructions because the nature of the material at hand determines his thoughts and motions, which simultaneously change the nature of the material at hand. The material and his thoughts are changing together in a progression of changes until his mind’s at rest at the same time the material’s right.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
Peace of mind isn’t at all superficial to technical work. It’s the whole thing. That which produces it is good work and that which destroys it is bad work. The specs, the measuring instruments, the quality control, the final check-out, these are all means toward the end of satisfying the peace of mind of those responsible for the work. What really counts in the end is their peace of mind, nothing else.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
the reality of the Good, represented by the Sophists, and the reality of the True, represented by the dialecticians, were engaged in a huge struggle for the future mind of man. Truth won, the Good lost, and that is why today we have so little difficulty accepting the reality of truth and so much difficulty accepting the reality of Quality, even though there is no more agreement in one area than in the other.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
to keep himself amused, starts to look for options of Quality, and secretly pursues these options, just for their own sake, thus making an art out of what he is doing, he’s likely to discover that he becomes a much more interesting person and much less of an object to the people around him because his Quality decisions change him too. And not only the job and him, but others too because the Quality tends to fan out like waves.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
What the classical formalists meant by the objection “Quality is just what you like” was that this subjective, undefined “quality” he was teaching was just romantic surface appeal. Classroom popularity contests could determine whether a composition had immediate appeal, all right, but was this Quality? Was Quality something that you “just see” or might it be something more subtle than that, so that you wouldn’t see it at all immediately, but only after a long period of time?
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
If you have a high evaluation of yourself then your ability to recognize new facts is weakened. Your ego isolates you from the Quality reality. When the facts show that you’ve just goofed, you’re not as likely to admit it. When false information makes you look good, you’re likely to believe it. On any mechanical repair job ego comes in for rough treatment. You’re always being fooled, you’re always making mistakes, and a mechanic who has a big ego to defend is at a terrific disadvantage
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
He singled out aspects of Quality such as unity, vividness, authority, economy, sensitivity, clarity, emphasis, flow, suspense, brilliance, precision, proportion, depth and so on; kept each of these as poorly defined as Quality itself, but demonstrated them by the same class reading techniques. He showed how the aspect of Quality called unity, the hanging-togetherness of a story, could be improved with a technique called an outline. The authority of an argument could be jacked up with a technique called footnotes, which gives authoritative reference. Outlines and footnotes are standard things taught in all freshman composition classes, but now as devices for improving Quality they had a purpose. And if a student turned in a bunch of dumb references or a sloppy outline that showed he was just fulfilling an assignment by rote, he could be told that while his paper may have fulfilled the letter of the assignment it obviously didn’t fulfill the goal of Quality, and was therefore worthless.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
If your mind is truly, profoundly stuck, then you may be much better off than when it was loaded with ideas. The solution to the problem often at first seems unimportant or undesirable, but the state of stuckness allows it, in time, to assumes its true importance. It seemed small because our previous rigid evaluation which led to the stuckness made it small. But now consider the fact that no matter how hard you try to hang on to it, this stuckness is bound to disappear. Your mind will naturally and freely move toward a solution. Unless you are a real master at staying stuckk you can't prevent this. The fear of stuckness is needless because the longer you stay stuck the more you see the Quality-reality that gets you unstuck every time. What's really been getting you stuck is the running from the stuckness through the cars of your train of knowledge looking for a solution that is out in front of the train. Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
DeWeese asks, 'Does this tie in with what you were doing on "Quality?"' 'It's the direct result of it,' I say. I remember something and look at DeWeese. 'Didn't you advise me to drop it?' 'I said no one had ever succeeded in doing what you were trying to do.' 'Do you think it's possible?' 'I don't know. Who knows?' His expression is really concerned. 'A lot of people are listening better these days. Particularly the kids. They're really listening... and not just at you- to you... to you. It makes all the difference.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
Quality...you know what it is, yet you don't know what it is. But that's self-contradictory. But some things are better than others, that is, they have more quality. But when you try to say what the quality is, apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof! There's nothing to talk about. But if you can't say what Quality is, how do you know what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn't exist at all. But for all practical purposes it really does exist. What else are the grades based on? Why else would people pay fortunes for some things and throw others in the trash pile? Obviously some things are better than others...but what's the betterness? ...So round and round you go, spinning mental wheels and nowhere finding anyplace to get traction. What the hell is Quality? What is it?
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
I think that if we are going to reform the world, and make it a better place to live in, the way to do it is not with talk about relationships of a political nature, which are inevitably dualistic, full of subjects and objects and their relationship to one another; or with programs full of things for other people to do. I think that kind of approach starts it at the end and presumes the end is the beginning. Programs of a political nature are important end products of social quality that can be effective only if the underlying structure of social values is right. The social values are right only if the individual values are right. The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there. Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle. I think that what I have to say has more lasting value.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
Mu means “no thing.” Like “Quality” it points outside the process of dualistic discrimination. Mu simply says, “No class; not one, not zero, not yes, not no.” It states that the context of the question is such that a yes or no answer is in error and should not be given. “Unask the question” is what it says.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
whatever dull job he’s stuck with—and they are all, sooner or later, dull—and, just to keep himself amused, starts to look for options of Quality, and secretly pursues these options, just for their own sake, thus making an art out of what he is doing, he’s likely to discover that he becomes a much more interesting person and much less of an object
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
But now we have with us some concepts that greatly alter the whole understanding of things. Quality is the Buddha. Quality is scientific reality. Quality is the goal of Art. It remains to work these concepts into a practical, down-to-earth context, and for this there is nothing more practical or down-to-earth than what I have been talking about all along—the repair of an old motorcycle.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
If you want to build a factory, or fix a motorcycle, or set a nation right without getting stuck, then classical, structured, dualistic subject-object knowledge, although necessary, isn't enough. You have to have some feeling for the quality of the work. You have to have a sense of what's good. That is what carries you forward. This sense isn't just something you're born with, although you are born with it. It's also something you can develop. It's not just "intuition,'' not just unexplainable "skill'' or "talent.'' It's the direct result of contact with basic reality, Quality, which dualistic reason has in the past tended to conceal.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
It's the style that gets you; technological ugliness syruped over with romantic phoniness in an effort to produce beauty and profit by people who, though stylish, don't know where to start because no one has ever told them there's such a thing as Quality in this world and it's real, not style. Quality isn't something you lay on top of subjects and objects like tinsel on a Christmas tree. Real Quality must be the source of the subjects and objects, the cone from which the tree must start.
Robert M. Pirsig
The difference between a good mechanic and a bad one, like the difference between a good mathematician and a bad one, is precisely this ability to select the good facts from the bad ones on the basis of quality.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
If you want to build a factory, or fix a motorcycle, or set a nation right without getting stuck, then classical, structured, dualistic subject-object knowledge, although necessary, isn’t enough. You have to have some feeling for the quality of the work. You have to have a sense of what’s good.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
What is quality in thought and statement?" [Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance]
Dan Glover (The Art of Caring: Zen Stories)
Quality is the response of an organism to its environment’ [he used this example because his chief questioners seemed to see things in terms of stimulus-response behavior theory]. An amoeba, placed on a plate of water with a drip of dilute sulfuric acid placed nearby, will pull away from the acid (I think). If it could speak the amoeba, without knowing anything about sulfuric acid, could say, ‘This environment has poor quality.’ If it had a nervous system it would act in a much more complex way to overcome the poor quality of the environment. It would seek analogues, that is, images and symbols from its previous experience, to define the unpleasant nature of its new environment and thus ‘understand’ it. “In our highly complex organic state we advanced organisms respond to our environment with an invention of many marvelous analogues. We invent earth and heavens, trees, stones and oceans, gods, music, arts, language, philosophy, engineering, civilization and science. We call these analogues reality. And they are reality. We mesmerize our children in the name of truth into knowing that they are reality. We throw anyone who does not accept these analogues into an insane asylum. But that which causes us to invent the analogues is Quality. Quality is the continuing stimulus which our environment puts upon us to create the world in which we live. All of it. Every last bit of it. “Now, to take that which has caused us to create the world, and include it within the world we have created, is clearly impossible. That is why Quality cannot be defined. If we do define it we are defining something less than Quality itself.” I remember this fragment more vividly than any of the others, possibly because it is the most important of all. When he wrote it he felt momentary fright and was about to strike out the words “All of it.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
And because without objects there can be no subject-- because the objects create the subject's awareness of himself-- quality is the event at which awareness of both subjects and objects is made possible.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance)
stylized cars and stylized outboard motors and stylized typewriters and stylized clothes. Stylized refrigerators filled with stylized food in stylized kitchens in stylized houses. Plastic stylized toys for stylized children, who at Christmas and birthdays are in style with their stylish parents. You have to be awfully stylish yourself not to get sick of it once in a while. It’s the style that gets you; technological ugliness syruped over with romantic phoniness in an effort to produce beauty and profit by people who, though stylish, don’t know where to start because no one has ever told them there’s such a thing as Quality in this world and it’s real, not style.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
It’s this understanding of Quality as revealed by stuckness which so often makes self-taught mechanics so superior to institute-trained men who have learned how to handle everything except a new situation.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
But if you can’t say what Quality is, how do you know what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn’t exist at all. But for all practical purposes it really does exist.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who's bound to have some characteristic of quality.
Robert M. Pirsig
Quality is what you like
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance and Siddhartha 2 Books Collection Set)
If you want to build a factory, or fix a motorcycle, or set a nation right without getting stuck, then classical, structured, dualistic subject-object knowledge, although necessary, isn’t enough. You have to have some feeling for the quality of the work.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
that Quality was the effect of subjects and objects. It was not! He brought out his knife. “The sun of quality,” he wrote, “does not revolve around the subjects and objects of our existence. It does not just passively illuminate them. It is not subordinate to them in any way. It has created them. They are subordinate to it!
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
He noted that although normally you associate Quality with objects, feelings of Quality sometimes occur without any object at all. This is what led him at first to think that maybe Quality is all subjective. But subjective pleasure wasn’t what he meant by Quality either. Quality decreases subjectivity. Quality takes you out of yourself, makes you aware of the world around you. Quality is opposed to subjectivity.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality. The tree that you are aware of intellectually, because of that small time lag, is always in the past and therefore is always unreal. Any intellectually conceived object is always in the past and therefore unreal. Reality is always the moment of vision before the intellectualization takes place. There is no other reality. This preintellectual reality is what Phaedrus felt he had properly identified as Quality. Since all intellectually identifiable things must emerge from this preintellectual reality, Quality is the parent, the source of all subjects and objects.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
Romantic Quality always correlated with instantaneous impressions. Square Quality always involved multiple considerations that extended over a period of time. Romantic Quality was the present, the here and now of things. Classic Quality was always concerned with more than just the present. The relation of the present to the past and future was always considered. If you conceived the past and future to be all contained in the present, why, that was groovy, the present was what you lived for.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
In a sense, he said, it’s the student’s choice of Quality that defines him. People differ about Quality, not because Quality is different, but because people are different in terms of experience.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
The easiest intellectual analogue of pure Quality that people in our environment can understand is that ‘Quality is the response of an organism to its environment’ [he
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
The nature of our culture is such that if you were to look for instruction in how to do any of these jobs, the instruction would always give only one understanding of Quality, the classic. It would tell you how to hold the blade when sharpening the knife, or how to use a sewing machine, or how to mix and apply glue with the presumption that once these underlying methods were applied, “good” would naturally follow. The ability to see directly what “looks good” would be ignored. The result is rather typical of modern technology, an overall dullness of appearance so depressing that it must be overlaid with a veneer of “style” to make it acceptable. And that, to anyone who is sensitive to romantic Quality, just makes it all the worse. Now it’s not just depressingly dull, it’s also phony. Put the two together and you get a pretty accurate basic description of modern American technology: stylized cars and stylized outboard motors and stylized typewriters and stylized clothes. Stylized refrigerators filled with stylized food in stylized kitchens in stylized houses. Plastic stylized toys for stylized children, who at Christmas and birthdays are in style with their stylish parents. You have to be awfully stylish yourself not to get sick of it once in a while. It’s the style that gets you; technological ugliness syruped over with romantic phoniness in an effort to produce beauty and profit by people who, though stylish, don’t know where to start because no one has ever told them there’s such a thing as Quality in this world and it’s real, not style. Quality isn’t something you lay on top of subjects and objects like tinsel on a Christmas tree. Real Quality must be the source of the subjects and objects, the cone from which the tree must start.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
Squareness may be succinctly and yet thoroughly defined as an inability to see quality before it’s been intellectually defined,
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
The ultimate test is always your own serenity. If you don’t have this when you start and maintain it while you’re working you’re likely to build our personal problems right into the machine. The machine responds to your personality. It’s just that the personality that it responds to is your real personality, the one that genuinely feels and reasons and acts, rather than any false, blown up personality images your ego may conjure up. These false images are defaulted so rapidly and completely you’re bound to be very discouraged very soon if you’ve derived your gumption from ego rather than Quality. The real machine you’re working on is a cycle called yourself. The machine that appears to be out there and the person that appears to be in here are not 2 separate things. They grow toward Quality or fall away from Quality together.
Robert M. Pirsig
Quality isn’t something you lay on top of subjects and objects like tinsel on a Christmas tree. Real Quality must be the source of the subjects and objects, the cone from which the tree must start.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
Dialectic, which is the parent of logic, came itself from rhetoric. Rhetoric is in turn the child of the myths and poetry of ancient Greece. That is so historically, and that is so by any application of common sense. The poetry and the myths are the response of a prehistoric people to the universe around them made on the basis of Quality. It is Quality, not dialectic, which is the generator of everything we know. The
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
Normally screws are so cheap and small and simple you think of them as unimportant. But now, as your Quality awareness becomes stronger, you realize that this one, individual, particular screw is neither cheap nor small nor unimportant. Right now this screw is worth exactly the selling price of the whole motorcycle, because the motorcycle is actually valueless until you get the screw out. With this reevaluation of the screw comes a willingness to expand your knowledge of it.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
Quality isn’t a substance. Neither is it a method. It’s outside of both. If one builds a house using the plumb-line and spirit-level methods he does so because a straight vertical wall is less likely to collapse and thus has higher Quality than a crooked one. Quality isn’t method. It’s the goal toward which method is aimed.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))