Saturday, July 17, 2004

Damn you Robert Pirsig

Damn you Robert Pirsig.  The world used to be a simple place.  I didn't have to think about anything, I just accepted everything for what it was.  Damn you three times! 
About 13 years ago I read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Pirsig.  I began to think in depth about the world around me, about the huge concepts that we just accept with out true definition, without true knowledge of what our acceptance means.  Concepts like freedom, life, justice, and of course the everpresent "quality."
I have spent sleepless weeks lying in bed, staring at the shadowy ceiling hoping that there was some answer to what I sought.  Generally there was not.  I came close to insanity, I think.  I've read "Zen..." about a dozen times since then.  It's always nice to rehash some of the basest thoughts that I've had, and compare them to Pirsig himself.  What's the point, you may ask.  The point is that I've never truly recovered from my intellectual "skinny dip" in the great ocean of underlying conceptual mystery.  There are times when I still lay awake, never finding answers to the questions which I have.  University professors don't help.  They are part of the problem, actually.  (refer to one of my earlier postings.)
Now I've taken the intellectual plunge and purchased "Lila."  Big mistake.  Damn you Robert Pirsig.  I read two or three pages and I cannot proceed until a few hours have passed.  My mind is awash with all sorts of inquiries into more and more concepts.  I have undefined concepts hunting me.  I may be going insane.  I think therefore I am.  I don't drink but if I did, I'd be drunk before I picked that book up to read it.  My head is spinning right now.  I am Phaedrus: he is me.  I live inside of both worlds, and though I see both worlds clearly in my mind, Pirsig seperates them and makes me choose one or the other.  Damn you three times!
The scientific method isn't objective.  It's as subjective as one can get.  There's no real way for a human being to be objective.  NONE AT ALL.  But we can't see that because we are still in "our" world.   I'm enraged.  I cannot explain myself due to the intricasies of my biased observations.  Because my observations are mine.  I can make myself write the words but the words only mean what we want them to mean.  It's like a musician being asked where the music comes from.  They cannot adequately explain it.  I cannot adequately explain myself, my reasoning, my insanity to anyone.  Damn you Robert Pirsig.
I cannot accept reality for itself.  Reality isn't reawl, it only appears real to me.  My reality doesn't belong to anyone but me.  It's all about perception.  But a person's perception doesn't really belong to them.  Perception is colored by your experiences and the wisdom that you have garnered along the way.  Perception and morals are the same thing.  They change the way one views the world.  I'm not saying that is a bad thing, neither am I saying that it is a good thing.  It just is.  I cannot place value judgements upon perceptions.  I cannot see the value in placing value upon someone else's world.  Damn you, Damn you, Damn you Robert Pirsig.
Who is to say what is good, what is bad?  Who is to say that one good outweighs another?  Who is to say that reality isn't just a bucket of shit mopped from the floor of a fly infested slaughterhouse?  Who is to say that these hand are real?  In reality the universe is something like 99.99999% space.  Atoms are almost 100% space.  Everything is made of atoms, with the exception of gravity, light and the event horizon of a black hole.  (We're not sure of the last one, but it stands to reason.)  So if I am almost 100% space, what am I doing walking, talking, consuming and exhausting? 
Oh and we don't know what life is yet either.  We can say, almost with certainty, that we are alive.  But we cannot define life in any acceptable way.  As it stands now, life is the fundamental difference between an object and an organism.  That isn't an acceptable definition.  But we have nothing else that will stand up to the passage of time.  Perception again.  Time changes perception.  Damn you Robert Pirsig for making me realize that despite what I know, I know nothing, yet I know everything.
There is an ideal world out there which has been closed to me.  A world which I can see, hear, smell and touch but cannot assimilate fully into.  A world where reality is real and concepts need no definitions.  Damn you Robert Pirsig for exiling me into the world in which everything has underlying form, and that underlying form proceeds function.  Damn you.

1 comment:

The Chief Executive Officer said...

Robert Pirsig is amazing. I loved Zen... but Lila didn't strike a chord so much with me.

I like your writing.