Quality: Something to Look at Later

From Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:

“He’d been speculating about the relationship of Quality to mind and matter and had identified quality as the parent of mind and matter. This Copernican inversion of the relationship of quality to the objective world could sound mysterious if not carefully explained, but he didn’t mean it to be mysterious. He simply meant that at the cutting edge of time, before an object can be distinguished there must be a kind of non-intellectual awareness, which he called awareness of quality. You can’t be aware that you’ve seen the tree and between the instant of vision and between the instant of awareness there must be a time lag. We sometimes think of the time lag as unimportant. But there’s no justification foor thinking that the time lag is unimportant – none whatsoever.

The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality. The time lag, is always in the past and therefore unreal. Any intellectually conceived object is always in the past and is therefore unreal. Reality is always the moment of vision before the intellectual initialization 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 pre-intellectual reality, Quality is the parent, the source of all subjects and objects.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is, in the words of the author himself, not much on Zen nor much on Motorcycle Maintenance. It is this middle ground that explores quality that seeks to merge these two seemingly distant fields – Zen and Motorcycle Maintenance. The reference to Phaedrus is to the author himself before he was admitted to a mental institution.

Robert Pirsig enjoys a sort of cult status in the United States.

The reference to the Copernican inversion in this passage comes from an earlier part of the book, where he says:

” “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 sub-ordinate to them in any way. It has created them. They are sub-ordinate to it.”

After reading the whole book, I personally felt that this was the crux of the whole book. But, have to think about how the transition happens sometime soon.

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