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Book Title: Lila oder ein Versuch über Moral|
The author of the book: Robert M. Pirsig
Edition: S. Fischer
Date of issue: 1992
ISBN 13: 9783100619020
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 854 KB
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Reader ratings: 7.7
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It took me a long time to read this book, and I'm not sure how much these disparate readings affected my overall impression of the book. Pirsig doesn't have a narrative structure, he wanders. And these wanderings tend to circle back around and all tie in to a greater point or idea he's trying to get to the root of. Leaving the book for days or weeks at a time makes it hard to follow that strand and keep a sense of how the ideas you're reading about tie into the overall purpose of the book.
Zen is one of my all time favorite books and had a profound impact on my person. So I'm not 100% certain what it was about this book that didn't work for me. It could be that i'm an older more discerning reader these days, and that maybe if I read Zen again today (though I have re-read it a handful of times in the past) it wouldn't resonate as true with me either. I am certainly more knowledgeable about certain matters of science that I wasn't on my first readings of Zen. This was something that I noticed a few times earlier on in Lila. I found myself disagreeing with some things Pirsig was saying and I questioned whether it was because he was wrong, or if it was something I just wasn't able to grasp yet. This is what struck me as different about this book. When reading Zen I found myself instantaneously agreeing with and seeing the truth of much of what Pirsig said, and the things which I didn't understand in the book I assumed I would in time, after more thought and reading (which I have), because I thoroughly believed in the rest of the ideas i was reading. In the case of Lila, I thought I understood more, and found that I had more disagreements with Pirsig.
This was a first reading though, and having read Zen multiples times, I always get more out of it with each subsequent read. It may be a bit early to fully judge Lila. I've also wondered if Zen was simply more appealing to me because I love motorcycles and was able to instantly connect with that aspect of the book, whereas Lila herself and their story didn't really engage me in any way. Pirsig's thoughts and ideas fascinate, but maybe the story he wrapped them in this time just had no appeal for me. I was also really disappointed with the ending.
My problems with the actual ideas presented were twofold. Certain ideas just rang false based on my understanding of the universe (I'm being vague, i know, but there's too much to respond to specifically). Certain others I question the manner in which he comes to his conclusions. Many of his ideas come to him in flashes. He sees the truth of it, and then puts together all the pieces of the puzzle to explain it. I wonder whether his reasoning is just a post hoc rationalization without any real merit. That he is just finding things to fit his conclusions, which is what makes the simple brilliance of his ideas so right sounding to him (and to the reader).
I will say that my thoughts did seem to change as the book went on. I found his ideas about insanity really insightful. And at some point all his talk of dynamic vs. static quality, inorganic vs. organic patterns, and biological, social, and intellectual patterns all started to make sense. There seemed to be some sort of logical leap at the end though that jumped from the intellectual pattern being subservient to the mystic pattern which I think he equated with full dynamic quality.
In the end, I think this is a worthwhile read, though it lacked the cohesion of Zen. It purported to be "an inquiry into morals" and in my mind failed in a true exploration of that purpose. But it further explores ideas in Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality and even if many of the ideas he talks about don't all tie together neatly, they are all mostly fascinating in their own right. For every idea I read which I disagreed with there were many more that I not only agreed with, but almost felt this great sigh of relief escape me because here finally someone was able to express in words thoughts I have not been able to do so for myself. Because no matter how rational and logical my reasoning is, how much it is based on a deep scientific understanding of the universe, there is a point where certain ideas i have about morals and ethics and "good" come down to certain assumptions that I have no method or framework to explain. At the base of all his writings Pirsig is trying to explain this same something and so I very much value his works. Not only because I think he is mostly correct in his assertions, but because I believe he is mostly responsible and thoughtful in his methods. I appreciate that his process of explanation incorporates his understanding of physics and biology, evolution and anthropology, eastern mysticism and personal experience, and that he weaves all these different ways of understanding the universe into one grand idea.
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Read information about the authorRobert Maynard Pirsig was an American writer and philosopher, mainly known as the author of the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, (1974), which has sold millions of copies around the world.
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