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"Zen was published in 1974, after being rejected by 121 publishing houses...then Pirsig lived reclusively and worked on his second book Lila for 17 years before its publication in 1991."

"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."

I'm a huge fan of ZMM and I enjoyed Lila - where he elucidates a metaphysics of quality. His writing is brilliant, but my theory is that he may have experienced mental distress, in part, because quality is actually _subjective_, not objective. He attempts to elucidate and objectify something that fundamentally depends on a point of view / perspective.

And his son (Chris in the book) was murdered in San Francisco!

While it's not a 'spoiler', I do think it's a bit crass to bring it up. You'll note that the NPR obituary does not mention his son's death.

It was in reply to a comment mentioning how much the author has struggled, and my comment points that he had even more to deal with, with the tragic death of his son. Why is it crass, genuinely?

Your comment should have a spoiler alert.

His son's death wasn't a plot device, but a tragedy. It's not part of the book. It's not intended to have any meaning. Calling it a 'spoiler' is a strange mixup of categories, and somewhat insensitive.

His son Chris was murdered long after the book was published, there is nothing spoiled unless you're really into the plot of postscripts of later editions.

EDIT: (And, yeesh, it was forty years ago. What "spoiler"? BTW, Vader is Luke's father.)

Jeez, chill man. For some of us, the fact that we knew about this changed the book. Why be insulting just because you don't agree?

I don't think you understand spoilers.

It's completely heartbreaking, but how is that a spoiler for the book? The book ends long before that tragedy.

But now I have to read it in the context of someone who is to be murdered. It's not exactly a spoiler but it will alter the reading.

Read it in the context of someone who would now be old enough to have died through a variety of causes, be it a motorcycle accident, cancer, or a heart attack. You also now have to read it in the context of (spoiler alert) the author being dead as well.

You don't, because it has no bearing on subsequent events. It might be interesting to consider that on a subsequent reading (ZAMM certainly stands up to multiple readings) but you're just as apt to mislead yourself by projecting your incomplete knowledge of his eventual end onto his behavior and utterances in the book; so you might find yourself reading it and thinking 'oh, this element in his character no doubt played into his murder' when iirc the circumstances of his death were essentially random.

My experience of the book certainly ends with my reading wave being affected by that postscript in the book. Pirsig allowed for it to be in the book itself, which means it became part of his text too.

Chris may have been murdered long after the events of the book itself, but in the reading timeline, it's mere moments after finishing the main text.

Personally, I wish no one had mentioned it here.

I read the book about 5 years back, it interested me so much, and I ofcourse wanted to research the father/son's present day life. Well it was heart breaking. So I get what you are saying.

I have upvoted your comment, regardless of the technical accuracy of your wording. In the edition of the book that I first read, Pirsig included this information in an afterword and although it wasn't a core part of the original narrative it certainly was expressed as an update or continuation. And having travelled the journey with father, son and ghost until that point, it was a heartbreaking epilogue.

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