Robert M. Pirsig quote

"It's normal at this point for the fear-anger syndrome to take over and make you want to hammer on that side plate with a chisel, to pound it off with a sledge if necessary. You think about it, and the more you think about it the more you're inclined to take the whole machine to a high bridge and drop it off. It's just outrageous that a tiny little slot of a screw can defeat you so totally."

Robert M. Pirsig

Born: September 6, 1928

Occupation: Writer

Comment

More quotes of Robert M. Pirsig

Robert M. Pirsig

Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle. I think that what I have to say has more lasting value.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

If someone's ungrateful and you tell him he's ungrateful, okay, you've called him a name. You haven't solved anything.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

We have artists with no scientific knowledge and scientists with no artistic knowledge and both with no spiritual sense of gravity at all, and the result is not just bad, it is ghastly.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Who really can face the future? All you can do is project from the past, even when the past shows that such projections are often wrong. And who really can forget the past? What else is there to know?

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

What the Metaphysics of Quality would do is take this separate category, Quality, and show how it contains within itself both subjects and objects. The Metaphysics of Quality would show how things become...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

In the high country of the mind one has to become adjusted to the thinner air of uncertainty...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The more you read, the more you calm down.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Now he began to see for the first time the unbelievable magnitude of what man, when he gained power to understand and rule the world in terms of dialectic truths, had lost. He had built empires of scientific...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain, or in the petals of a flower. To...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

We always condemn most in others that which we most fear in ourselves.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

When you live in the shadow of insanity, the appearance of another mind that thinks and talks as yours does is something close to a blessed event.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

It's so hard when contemplated in advance, and so easy when you do it.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Now the stream of our common consciousness seems to be obliterating its own banks, losing its central direction and purpose, flooding the lowlands, disconnecting and isolating the highlands and to no particular...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Schools teach you to imitate. If you don't imitate what the teacher wants you get a bad grade. Here, in college, it was more sophisticated, of course; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

I argued that physical discomfort is important only when the mood is wrong. Then you fasten on to whatever thing is uncomfortable and call that the cause. But if the mood is right, then physical discomfort...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Of course, the laws of science contain no matter and have no energy either and therefore do not exist except in people's minds. It's best to be completely scientific about the whole thing and refuse to...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The only Zen you can find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Even in the presence of others he was completely alone.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

To live for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The truth knocks on the door and you say, go away, I'm looking for the truth, and it goes away. Puzzling.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

We keep passing unseen through little moments of other people's lives.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Metaphysics is a restaurant where they give you a thirty thousand page menu, and no food.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The solutions all are simple - after you have arrived at them. But they're simple only when you know already what they are.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Traditional scientific method has always been at the very best, 20 - 20 hindsight. It's good for seeing where you've been. It's good for testing the truth of what you think you know, but it can't tell...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

If you stare at a wall from four in the morning till nine at night, and you do that for a week, you are getting pretty close to nothingness.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

One geometry cannot be more true than another; it can only be more convenient. Geometry is not true, it is advantageous.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Quality is a direct experience independent of and prior to intellectual abstractions.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The funny thing about insane people is that it is kind of the opposite of being a celebrity. Nobody envies you.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

One of the most moral acts is to create a space in which life can move forward.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Logic presumes a separation of subject from object; therefore logic is not final wisdom.This is Zen. This is my motorcycle maintenance.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

And what is good, Phaedrus, And what is not good— Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

You are never dedicated to do something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

If your mind is truly, profoundly stuck, then it might be much better off than when it was loaded with ideas

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

If you don't generalize you don't philosophize.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

It's paradoxical that where people are most closely crowded, in the big coastal cities of the East and West, the loneliness is the greatest...The explanation is that the physical distance between people...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

How are you going to teach virtue if you teach the relativity of all ethical ideas? Virtue, if it implies anything at all, implies an ethical absolute. A person whose idea of what is proper varies from...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

It's better not to see than to see wrongly.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The pencil is mightier than the pen.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you actually don’t know.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The idea that the majority of students attend a university for an education independent of the degree and grades is a hypocrisy everyone is happier not to expose. Occasionally some students do arrive for...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The only zen thoughts you can find on a mountain summit are those you brought yourself.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Anxiety is sort of the opposite of ego. You're so sure you'll do everything wrong you're afraid to do anything at all. It results from over-motivation- leading to errors that lead to an underestimation...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The most moral activity of all is the creation of space for life to move around.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Science values static patterns.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

It's normal at this point for the fear-anger syndrome to take over and make you want to hammer on that side plate with a chisel, to pound it off with a sledge if necessary. You think about it, and the...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

There is a perennial classical question that asks which part of the motorcycle, which grain of sand in which pile, is the Buddha. Obviously to ask that question is to look in the wrong direction, for the...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

When analytic thought, the knife, is applied to experience, something is always killed in the process.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The bones and flesh and legal statistics are the garments worn by the personality, not the other way around.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The TV scientist who mutters sadly, "The experiment is a failure; we have failed to achieve what we had hoped for," is suffering mainly from a bad script writer. An experiment is never a failure solely...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The range of human knowledge today is so great that we're all specialists and the distance between specializations has become so great that anyone who seeks to wander freely between them almost has to...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

…the doctrinal differences between Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism are not anywhere near as important as doctrinal differences among Christianity and Islam and Judaism. Holy wars are not fought over...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Absence of Quality is the essence of squareness.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

If you have a high evaluation of yourself then your ability to recognize new facts is weakened.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen struggle for billions of years to organize themselves into a professor of chemistry? What's the motive?

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

When you look directly at an insane man all you see is a reflection of your own knowledge that he's insane, which is not to see him at all.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

It was the ghost of rationality itself ... This is the ghost of normal everyday assumptions which declares that the ultimate purpose of life, which is to keep alive, is impossible, but that this is the...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

When a shepherd goes to kill a wolf, and takes his dog to see the sport, he should take care to avoid mistakes. The dog has certain relationships to the wolf the shepherd may have forgotten.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

This inner peace of mind occurs on three levels of understanding. Physical quietness seems the easiest to achieve, although there are levels and levels of this too, as attested by the ability of Hindu...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

(What makes his world so hard to see clearly is not its strangeness but its usualness).Familiarity can blind you too.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

I've wondered why it took us so long to catch on. We saw it, and yet we didn't see it. Or rather we were trained not to see it. Conned perhaps into thinking that the real action was metropolitan and all...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The world comes to us in an endless stream of puzzle pieces that we would like to think all fit together somehow, but that in fact never do.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

A person filled with gumption doesn’t sit about stewing about things. He’s at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what’s up the track and meeting it when it comes. That’s...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Art is anything you can do well. Anything you can do with Quality.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

It is always good policy to tell the truth unless of course you are an exceptionally good liar. Jerome K. Jerome It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, go away, I'm looking for...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Even though quality cannot be defined, you know what quality is.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The more you look, the more you see.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

I think present-day reason is an analogue of the flat earth of the medieval period. If you go too far beyond it youre presumed to fall off, into insanity. And people are very much afraid of that. I think...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Cultivate peace of mind which does not separate one's self from one's surroundings. When that is done successfully, then everything else follows naturally.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

You look at where you're going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you've been and a pattern seems to emerge.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the physic predecessor of all real understanding.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It's easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Sometimes it's a little better to travel than to arrive

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

We want to make good time, but for us now this is measured with the emphasis on "good" rather than on "time"....

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The real cycle you're working on is a cycle called yourself.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Is it hard?' Not if you have the right attitudes. Its having the right attitudes thats hard.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Care and Quality are internal and external aspects of the same thing. A person who sees Quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares. A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

For me, a writer should be more like a lighthouse keeper, just out there by himself. He shouldn't get his ideas from other people all around him.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The way to see what looks good and understand the reasons it looks good, and to be at one with this goodness as the work proceeds, is to cultivate an inner quietness, a peace of mind so that goodness can...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Although motorcycle riding is romantic, motorcycle maintenance is purely classic.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality. The tree that you are aware of intellectually, because of that small time lag, is always in the past...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

I go on living, more from force of habit than anything else.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Like those in the valley behind us, most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Mental patterns do not originate out of inorganic nature. They originate out of society, which originates out of inorganic nature. And, as anthropologists know so well, what a mind thinks is as dominated...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the...

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

To speak of certain government and establishment institutions as 'the system' is to speak correctly . . . They are sustained by structural relationships even when they have lost all other meaning and purpose....

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

Sanity is not truth. Sanity is conformity to what is socially expected. Truth is sometimes in conformity, sometimes not.

Read more


Robert M. Pirsig

I have money, fame, a happy wife, our daughter Nell.

Read more



Related quote

Robert M. Pirsig

It's normal at this point for the fear-anger syndrome to take over and make you want to hammer on that side plate with a chisel, to pound it off with a sledge if necessary. You think about it, and the...

Read more


Barbara De Angelis

When you're used to getting just a piece of bread for a meal, you don't realize that you can ask for a plate of pasta. You have never seen a plate of pasta. You don't even know it exists. So, to ask for...

Read more


Larissa Ione

The pretty nurse had just injected her with something that totally rocked, and if she wanted to think about boinking a bronzed, tattooed, impossibly handsome doctor who was so far out of her league she...

Read more


Candace Bushnell

I know I have to do the right thing. And the sooner you do the right thing, the better. You get it over with, and you don't have to worry about it anymore. But who does that in real life? Instead, you...

Read more


Eddie Rickenbacker

I believe that if you think about disaster, you will get it. Brood about death and you will hasten your demise. Think positively and masterfully with confidence and faith, and life becomes more secure,...

Read more


Chase Twichell

The Failure of Will theory is equally popular with people who are not depressed. Get out and take your mind off yourself, they say. You're too self-absorbed. This is just about the stupidest thing you...

Read more


Tony Abbott

I also think that if you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax? Why not ask motorists to pay more, why not ask electricity consumers to pay more and then at the end of the...

Read more


Elizabeth Gilbert

Problem is, you can’t accept that his relationship had a real short shelf life. You’re like a dog at the dump, baby – you’re just lickin’ at the empty tin can, trying to get more nutrition out...

Read more


Bill Maher

I want to just take a moment to thank the Teabaggers. Thank you so much for helping us pass health care, for resurrecting the Obama presidency. I know they're saying, 'Why are you thanking me? I was so...

Read more


Olivia Munn

I know a lot of people have a hard time talking dirty - they dont know what to say, how to start, or when to end it. Also, at first they will think they sound ridiculous. And they might. But let me just...

Read more


Christopher Paul Curtis

. . . people use tricks to get you to think the way they do or take away something you have that they want. One way they do that is to interrupt your normal way of thinking and take you by the hand and...

Read more


Gavin MacLeod

Love exciting and new, come aboard, hes expecting you. If you listen to the lyrics its all about Jesus. Its a whole new approach to that song. I do that whenever I get into a group of believers, because...

Read more


Sergei Lukyanenko

There is no abstract Evil; you have to understand that! Its roots are here, all around us, in this herd that goes on chewing and having a good time only an hour after a murder! That's what you have to...

Read more


Mother Angelica

You want to do something for the Lord...do it. Whatever you feel needs to be done, even though youre shaking in your boots, youre scared to death -- take the first step forward. The grace comes with that...

Read more


Kai Greene

It’s therapy. It’s just something to do so you’re not lost in your own not-so-nice thoughts, and it’s an opportunity to think about something a lot nicer and to do something that’s with more...

Read more


Mary Gaitskill

Writing is.... being able to take something whole and fiercely alive that exists inside you in some unknowable combination of thought, feeling, physicality, and spirit, and to then store it like a genie...

Read more


Nicholas G. Carr

You can take a book to the beach without worrying about sand getting in its works. You can take it to bed without being nervous about it falling to the floor should you nod off. You can spill coffee on...

Read more


Nick Hornby

The truth about autobiographical songs, he realized, was that you had to make the present become the past, somehow: you had to take a feeling or a friend or a woman and turn whatever it was into something...

Read more


Steven Pinker

The more you think about and interact with other people, the more you realize that it is untenable to privilege your interests over theirs, at least not if you want them to listen to you. You can’t say...

Read more


Sabrina Jeffries

I suppose if you were inclined to misbehave, you wouldn't exactly tell me the truth anyway." "Darling, you have a brother fond of holding a gun on me, a sister who can shoot anything that moves, two other...

Read more


Cormac McCarthy

But this man had set down with a hammer and chisel and carved out a stone water trough to last ten thousand years. Why was that? What was it that he had faith in? It wasn't that nothin' would change. Which...

Read more


“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

― Dr. Seuss