In Memorium – Robert Maynard Pirsig
I met Robert Pirsig in 2005 at the world’s first MoQ Conference in Liverpool – I had the chance to talk with him several times over a couple of days. He had come over especially to be present at my friend Dr. Anthony McWatts’s PhD presentation and reception. The worlds’s first MoQ PhD!
Over the next couple of days I would get to know Robert Pirsig a little better. The first thing that was quickly disposed of was calling him Mr Pirsig – he became Bob Pirsig or just ‘Bob’!
The first meeting was at the Bear and Billet pub in Chester, Cheshire. Bob arrived to be greeted by the collected 20 or so souls there to meet him. The event was being filmed for a future documentary so there were filmed conversations and ‘ordinary’ conversations. He was generous with his time and his patience in answering any questions.
After an hour or so we made our way to the river for a planned boat trip and further conversations, food and drink being provided by Anthony.
The trip ended all too soon and we made our way back to our respective hotels back in Liverpool.
The next day was memorable for two things – the conference proper and the news that several bombs had gone off in London in a terrorist attack. The date was 7th July 2005.
The conference went well and in the breaks there was more chatter. At one point I was sat with Bob in the ‘No.5 Cafe’, next to the Liverpool Uni. Faculty of Arts Building, while Bob admired a picture of a horse, given to him as a gift by Khoo Hock Aun. The imagery wasn’t lost on him.
The thing that struck me at that moment was that, although Bob’s hearing was a touch poor, his mind was still as sharp as a new pin. Age had done little, if anything to affect his mind in any way.
The conference finished at about 6:30pm and Bob and Wendy went back to their hotel to freshen up for the final party at The Everyman Bistro.
I didn’t stay too long at the party, as I had a long drive home, but I got to have a last chat with Bob and then said my goodbyes to both him and Wendy and all the others.
It was great to meet Bob Pirsig, he was kind, gracious and generous with his time and compliments. A Good Man
The Guardian (UK)
His motorcycle served as metaphor; the Sutherlands cannot attempt to understand the technology of their bike, but Pirsig insists that the “godhead resides quite as comfortably … in the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower”
The Independent (UK)
“But some things are better than others, that is, they have more quality,” he wrote. “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.”
The New york times (USA)
“The near-cult popularity of “Zen,” though, puzzled him for years before he came up with a theory. Writing in an afterword to the 10th-anniversary edition in 1984, he used a Swedish word (it was his mother’s native language) to describe the phenomenon. “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” he wrote, was a “kulturbarer,” or culture-bearer.”