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UK hardback edition


Pirsig PhD Introduction


MOQ Textbook Introduction


Other MOQ Conference Papers:

Robert Pirsig's Welcome Speech

Dr McWatt's Handout

Henry Gurr's Handout

Ian Glendinning's Paper

David Buchanan's Paper

Mati Palm-Leis's Paper

Gavin Gee-Clough's Paper

Khoo Hock Aun's Paper


Other papers on this website:

The 1993 AHP transcript-Part One

PhD Commentary

An Open Letter to Sam Harris

Art & the MOQ by Robert Pirsig

An Introduction to
 Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality

An MOQ Summary by Robert Pirsig

David Buchanan's Art & Morality Paper

Pirsig Annotations on Copleston

Gavin Gee-Clough's "Brisbane Winter" Paper 


Sneddon Thesis

- Part One


Sneddon Thesis - Part Two

David Buchanan's 2006 Paper

Observer Interview

Selections from the 1993 AHP transcript

Notes on the tetralemma

The MOQ & Time

The MOQ & Education

Pirsig & Pragmatism

Chai at the Lazy Lounge





The Venture Grant Aeolian Harp taken by the power dam at the lake in Vaucluse, South Carolina.


Here is a Web version of the text & photos of Henry Gurr's talk given to The First Ever MOQ Conference.

This webpage is a "self-tour" web version adapted from my presentation given at the 2005 MOQ Conference. In this somewhat improved version, you will have to read and do most mouse clicks for yourself. (At the conference, the audience leaned back and relaxed while Ian Glendinning read aloud my words and Paul Turner clicked the computer mouse.)


Talk Summary:

In the Summer of 2002, I followed the route of travel described in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZMM), by Robert Pirsig (1974). I did my best to research and photograph all the places the ZMM Narrator reports seeing as he traveled from Minneapolis to San Francisco. My rather modest effort just to photograph the "Sights and Scenes" of "ZMM gradually morphed into a "field check-up" of the factual accuracy of the ZMM Narrative. In actual fact, the closer I looked for the physical evidence, the more and more the "ZMM Travel Narrative stood to factual test! Mr. Pirsig's book, detail after detail, to use his own words, held to Good old reality. I was amazed!! It is a great tribute to Mr. Pirsig as author that this much detail is weaved into ZMM Travel Narrative!

I did not expect to find this! Nor did many ZMM critics! They and I doubted the "total reality" of the ZMM scenery and places. Moreover, my own initial doubt resulted in my failure to find many ZMM locations. If I taken Pirsig's words as literal fact from the "get-go", I would have found many ZMM locations 'much, much, faster'!!

In this MOQ talk I will:

1) Say "Hello" to the MOQ Conference audience,

2) Give an introduction to myself, and then,

3) Show some of the more outstanding examples of Mr. Pirsig's factual precision. As you will see this webpage thus will be a good introduction to the remainder of my 800 ZMM Route Photos, displayed elsewhere on my site at:

Henry Gurr,
Professor of Physics at University of South Carolina,
Aiken South Carolina, USA.


Hello & Letter Of Greeting To the MOQ Audience.

Greetings to MOQ Enthusiasts!!

And congratulations to Dr. Anthony McWatt on receipt of his well earned PhD!!
I am disappointed not to be with you-all today, but thanks to Ian Glendinning's reading of my words, I can be with you in spirit.

I would address you as "Pirsig Pilgrims", but that is an "advanced degree" that has to be earned in a special school. Let me explain. Mr. Pirsig, in a June 2001 letter, discussing how he no longer desired to travel the West & the ZMM Route, added the following comment: "I have heard from Bozeman that there has been a steady trickle of what they call Pirsig Pilgrims who come through every summer following that route".

The term "Pirsig Pilgrim" raised my interest. Google, always found things I needed to know, but this time no leads on the term "Pirsig Pilgrim". So when I got to Bozeman on my research trip, I started asking if people had heard of it. The four Montana State University English Professors I interviewed, knew much history re: Mr. Pirsig, but were completely unaware of the term "Pirsig Pilgrims". In fact they had no awareness of hardly any visitors to their campus, inquiring about Mr. Pirsig or his book.

Of course, while I was in Bozeman, I also interviewed Gennie DeWeese. Very early in the interview, she said that I reminded her of those one or two persons per year, who call her up, and ask to come see her: I asked her if she had invented the term "Pirsig Pilgrim". I had to practically pry it out of her. Finally, she modestly and very quietly and a wisp of a smile, admitted, "Yes ..... I'm the one".

ZMM travelers who get to Bozeman, of course, want to see Mrs. DeWeese's famous home and share discussions of Pirsig & ZMM. Her phone number is in the Bozeman phone directory and she clearly enjoys sharing her home and what she knows.... even with complete strangers!!! Mrs. DeWeese has apparently has done this for many years! Mrs. DeWeese is now quite elderly, and typically one of her two grown daughters will participate in the fun of the discussions. She says that without exception these "Zen visitors" are a good bunch of people! So, "y-all" pat yourself on the back, you are among good company!!

Thus it is, .... the Advanced Degree "Pirsig Pilgrim" ….. comes from Mrs. DeWeese herself, and your next educational challenge is to travel the entire ZMM Route yourself. That's when you earn the right to call yourself a "Pirsig Pilgrim"!


Now Lets Look At How ZMM Incorporates "The Factual" Into Its Travel Descriptions.

Instructions for Web Self-Tour:

For each of the following items, read the words and then click the associated link. After you have studied the photo and caption, close the "frame" you are looking at, and you will be automatically back to this document, so you may read the next item. NOTE: DO NOT GET DETOURED! Please always come back to this page so you will finish the tour.


A) Who Is Henry Gurr?

Click on link to view his picture. After this comes up, click at right of photo to see Dr. Gurr's home webpage where you can read his bio. (Close browser when ready to return to this page.)


B) The Aeolian Harp Is One of Henry Gurr's Pet Projects.

The Aeolian Harp (pictured above) was inspired by British author, poet, philosopher, and linguist Owen Barfield, who wrote an article called The Harp and the Camera. (Close browser when ready to return to this page.)

(A note concerning previous Aeolian Harp Photos: Mr. Barfield's article The Harp and the Camera inspired the creation, on my campus a Camera Obscura in addition to the Aeolian Harp you just saw. As Mr Barfield points out, the Aeolian Harp and the Camera Obscura were major stages of historical/literary development of our modern consciousness. Mr. Barfield's books will considerably extend MOQ'ers understanding of ZMM and Lila. I highly recommends them. Dr. McWatt and Ian Glendinning can vouch for the MOQ usefulness of Barfield's books.)


Now Lets Look At How Mr. Pirsig Incorporates "The Factual" Into the ZMM Travel Descriptions:

Practically every ZMM page has an example, but I will narrow it down to three examples:

C) Arrival at a town. D) Events at a Hotel and E) Experiences in the High Country. I will use the photos from my WebSite to illustrate these examples. (I must narrow it down just like Phaedrus told his writing student to vastly simplfy:

"Narrow it down to the front of one building on the Main Street of Bozeman. The Opera House. Start with the upper left-hand brick."!


C) The Town Of Three Forks, Montana Actually Exists, Just Where the Narrator Says It Is! We Also Note Pirsig's Metaphorical Use of This Town's Name.

The most obvious examples of accuracy is that the series of towns mentioned in ZMM are all there, as is the case for Three Forks! And often the name of the town is used to metaphorically support the current lecture Chautauqua. Here I have also chosen to show you the town of Three Forks, because it is a rather nice "Metaphoric-Bridge-Connection", between the Narrator's Chautauqua (lecture) and the Travel Description. This is Mr. Pirsig's stock-in-trade in both ZMM and Lila. (In many of my photo explanations I mention these connections,) At first, I was slow to catch on to these ”Metaphoric Bridge-Connections". It took me about four readings of ZMM, before I finally said "Hey, what is Pirsig doing here?" I started to watch for these "Connections", and was amazed to note, that at every abrupt switch between Chautauqua and the Travel Description, the "Metaphoric-Bridge-Connections" were always there! (Close browser when you are finished with this photo.)

 As Is the Case In the Three Mathematical Geometrys, the Narrator Here Chooses Among the Three Roads and Rivers At Town of Three Forks, the One Best Road To Productive Fruitful Lands!  “And of course once that door was opened one could hardly expect the number of contradictory systems of unshakable scientific truth to be limited to two. A German named Riemann appeared with another unshakable system of geometry which throws overboard not only Euclid’s postulate, but also the first axiom, which states that only one straight line can pass through two points. Again there is no internal contradiction, only an inconsistency with both Lobachevskian and Euclidian geometries. .. According to the Theory of Relativity, Riemann geometry best describes the world we live in. .. At Three Forks the road cuts into a narrow canyon of whitish-tan rock, past some Lewis and Clark caves. East of Butte we go up a long hard grade, cross the Continental Divide, then go down into a valley.At Three Forks the road ... “  In distance is the town of Three Forks, MT. In ZMM Chapter 22, the Narrator takes up his Chautauqua about " .... an alarmingly deep crisis in the foundations of the exact sciences ... ". As he tells us, Mathematicians had found three contradictory major mathematical geometries, of which only one of the three has fruitful/practical application to our world. As this Chautauqua ends ...... sure enough ...... exactly on cue ..... the corresponding route of travel arrives at three forks of three major rivers plus a town also named Three Forks.. As ZMM Route approaches the town of Three Forks, it crosses several channels of the Madison River, before turning South on combined Rt2 & Rt287. As for the Mathematical Geometries, our road follows one of the three forks, the Jefferson, up into rich fruitful "valleys".  ************************************  (Photo = 109-0921c ...... ZMM Page = 235 ...... WayPt = 231w 4120)


D) The Narrator Tells Us Very Accurately About Their Hotel In The Town Of Laurel, Montana. (Six Photos.)

Study the photo and the captions for this and next 5 photos. Just as the Narrator tells us, you will see the communal wash room at the back end of, a long hallway, with creaky wood floor, window by the wash room, and second level porch. (Close browser when you are finished with all six photos.)

The common washroom at end of the corridor, to the right  “  …..  and so with razor and soap I go to a common washroom …..“ Hotel Hurzler, Laurel MT  This series of three sinks gets the job done! They and the surrounding room are simple, unadorned, and effective. This description fits most other parts of the Hurzler. This “Spartan style”, no doubt, is because the Hurzler was originally constructed as a Rail Road Employee Dormitory. The Hurzler had most recently had been used for low cost housing for the elderly, which explains many of the furnishings seen in various of its rooms, especially the cooking and kitchen type equipment you saw in the previous photo of the lobby and stairway. A small fire from a lightning strike several years ago and water used to extinguish it, together with rain getting in the damaged roof, caused sufficient overall structural and water damage that the Hurzler was closed.  ************************************  (Photo = 105-0579 ...... ZMM Page =104 ...... WayPt = 119q)


E) ZMM Narrator's Factual Experiences in the Montana Mountainous High Country Are the My Final Examples. (Eighteen Photos.).

As you read the ZMM passages in italics that go with these photos, study how the Narrator gives us a full, realistic, and enthusiastic description of what he calls the "High Country". You should especially note how these descriptions closely track the scenery as follows: Stunted trees; details of a roadside rest area and look out point, then no trees, just grass; then grass and flowers and lichens; they go into the first snow field, then between banks of snow, back to grass, flowers, mud, melt-water. Then a second heavy snowfield, and finally the highest twin walled tunnel of snow, As described, the travelers are at actually at the factual "summit", where they encounter a second rest area and then they are on their way back down to lower elevations. (Close browser when you are finished with all 18 photos.)

 Into the Snow Fields  “ Soon we are between banks of old snow, …. “  Snow Fields, Beartooth Pass Highway, MT. Only after I got around the switch-back shown in the next photo, did I realize I had passed by this graphic scene My notes say “went back for snow bank”. My mental dialog at that time: ‘OK. Forget my normal practice of keeping my car or highway out of the picture. ‘Car and highway are now a required part of the photo. ‘The car must be positioned to show the relative size of the drifts. ‘Turn around in the middle of the highway. ‘Watch it! ‘Don’t go over the edge!‘There’s no berm on either side of the pavement! ‘Don’t get stuck in the snow or mud. ‘Don’t get hit by another car. ‘Do two complete “three point turns" so the car is pointed in the direction of the ZMM Route. ‘Don’t cause an accident. ‘Cars rounding the corner can’t see. ’Find a safe spot. 'Don’t obstruct the highway. ‘Steep slope! ‘Don’t forget to set transmission in park and lock parking brakes. ‘Everything OK? ‘Be sure another car doesn’t hit me when opening the door! ‘Slog down the deep snow. ‘Position the shot. ‘Don’t forget to be sure the camera actually took the picture and look at display screen to see pix is OK. ‘Don’t forget to take the GPS reading and double check it is saved. ‘Don’t forget to make extra pictures "just in case". ‘Etc. Etc, Etc Etc. This is a somewhat extreme example of my usual mental dialog when taking photos!   ************************************   
(Photo = 106-0624 ...... ZMM Page = 110 ...... WayPt = 140k)


Additional notes to help appreciate the degree of accuracy of author Pirsig.

On photos you just finished viewing:

On several of these photos I placed clickable links on the waypoint number (lower right). One of these links to a topo map of the landscape of the photo. This map shows what is not evident from either the ZMM Narrative or my photos: The highway, between the two snow fields, runs along a south facing slope which has sun warmth for the flowers. And then goes through a low area (10736 feet) which of course would have melt water channels. This accounts for the flowers and small streams immediately prior to the "tunnel of snow" mentioned on ZMM. This topo map also confirms that the Narrator's "Summit" is indeed the factual highest of his travel over what is called Beartooth Pass. Here the highway maxes-out at a “bench mark” (BM = 10947 feet), just nine feet higher than the previous highway maximum encountered just after the first snowfield. Link to photo that has the clickable waypoint number mentioned above:



You have seen just a few of the more interesting examples of the factual accuracy of ZMM. Practically every one of my 833 ZMM Route Sights and Scenes Photos on my WebSite, will reveal more this Factual Narrative Accuracy. I hope you will the near future study my photos and further explore this topic of Mr. Pirsig's landscape accuracy. Please go to the Second Album at:


But All This Still Begs a Few Questions: How (& Why) Is ZMM So Accurate?..

1) How did Mr. Pirsig keep all this 'accuracy' in mind?
2) Did he take notes during the time of his travel in 1968?
3) How much information was obtained from maps?
4) Or were there a great number of photographs, so most ZMM travel details were extracted from the photos?
5) Is this why we see so much correspondence with practically every one of his 12 photos we already have?
6) Or was his writing of ZMM all from memory?
7) Beyond this, why was the ZMM authoring Travel narrative held to such strict accuracy?
8) Finally: Why would Mr. Pirsig include so much specific travel detail in ZMM? And especially so, when we consider that the ZMM Travel Narratives are not the most important parts of ZMM? In other words: Why such travel accuracy, when the ZMM central focus is the Chautauqua Lectures propounding the Metaphysics of Quality?

I can think of six imperatives for accuracy. Because time does not permit, they are presented in my MOQ Conference "hand-out" below.



My research concerning Mr. Pirsig's Travel Narrative demonstrates that he did achieve his own stated criterion; He held his book to "Good old reality."

To quote Professor Robert Nelson "[ZMM's] plot remain consistently responsible to the topography of the physical landscape through which the protagonist moves ".

Yes indeed, "Good old reality." frames our very existence.






Hand-out to Accompany Professor Henry Gurr's Presentation.

MOQ Conference


(Thursday July 7th 2005 at the Department of Philosophy, University of Liverpool.)




Tao de Ching: 25th Anniversary Edition. [RELIGION AND EASTERN STUDIES]
Translated by Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English (March 97, Vintage Publishers.)

The Tao Te Ching. the esoteric but infinitely practical book written most probably in the sixth century B.C. by Lao Tsu, has been translated more frequently than any work except the Bible. This translation of the Chinese classic, which was first published twenty-five years ago, has sold more copies than any of the others. It offers the essence of each word and make Lao Tsu’s teaching Immediate and alive.

The philosophy of Lao Tsu is simple: Accept what is in front of you without wanting the situation to be other than it is, Study the natural order of things and work with it rather than against it, for to try to change what is ..... only sets up resistance. Nature provides everything without requiring payment or thanks and also provides for all without discrimination — therefore let us present the same face to everyone and treat all men as equals, however they may behave. If we watch carefully, we will see that work proceeds more quickly and easily if we stop "trying," if we stop putting in so much extra effort, if we stop looking for results. In the clarity of a still and open mind, truth will be reflected. We will come to appreciate the original meaning of the word "understand," which means to stand under" We serve whatever or whoever stands before us, without any thought for ourselves. Te—which may be translated as “virtue” or "strength"—lies always In Tao, or "natural law." In other words: Simply be.


[About this translation]
No one has done better in conveying Lao Tsu's simple and laconic style of writing , so as to produce an English version almost as suggestive of the many meanings intended: this is a most useful, as well and beautiful, volume —and what it has to say is exactly what the world, in its present state, needs to hear." — ALAN WATTS




Note from Henry Gurr:


I discovered the above passage on the back of a Lao Tzu translation, some 5 months ago. And only then did I fully realize how much Robert Pirsig has written the principles of the Tao into in his book "Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". Like Lao Tzu's, Pirsig's Book is to practical guide life and living.... a hand book for "Westerners" to apply Lao Tzu. This is suggested as a meditative reading at the start of the MOQ session.




So why was the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Authoring Held to Such Strict Accuracy? I Can think of Six Pirsig Imperatives for Accuracy:


1) I think that being factually accurate is just the Scientist and the Mechanic coming out in Pirsig. This inevitably sets the tenor of his book..
2) Pirsig must make his book consistent with one of the ZMM's main messages: Scientist and the Mechanics must be truthful, to be successful, and besides a good idea any way, especially truth with one's self.
3) The MOQ, in ZMM, asserts that our minds create "the whole world", and "reality" is the only grounding that science, (and even all of humanity), will ever get!! We require "reality" to keep our minds straight. Ditto for any author in pursuit of Quality. 4) The mentally unstable Narrator says he depends on "Good old reality". And he repeatedly says (or implies) that he would "go off the deep-end", except for the ever present support of the surrounding ...... and beautiful...... physical world. Thus he must fully participate with (and report) his surroundings.
5) About the time ZMM was being written Pirsig said something like the following:
"For success, ZMM needed all the support it could get. He went on to say: For the reader to accept the overall central philosophic messages of ZMM, the story narrative must seem to the reader, absolutely real." For Pirsig, the way to achieve this, was to be both interesting and absolutely factual with his travel scenery.
6) And that, I believe, is why the travel narrative was added to ZMM in the first place.


This is my explanation for the ZMM accuracy I found on my ZMM Route Research Trip. I should like to hear your ideas.


I can also think of several likely methods of achieving this accuracy in ZMM. Several places in ZMM the Narrator refers to the use of maps on their 1968 trip. These maps, with perhaps travel notes added during the actual trip, may have been saved, and later used as a memory device during the writing of ZMM. Mr. John (ZMM) Sutherland mentioned in my DVD interview, that he remembered such maps on his 1968 ZMM trip with Mr. Pirsig. He said Mr. Pirsig held folded road maps to the Honda gas tank with several stretched screen-door springs, and constantly referred to them. This fact is also mentioned in ZMM (page 21) where in Minnesota, they missed the turn-off just prior to going over the Interstate. Also is it very likely Pirsig himself used "topo maps" to plan their "Bozeman Mountain Climb". ZMM indicates such maps (page 36) were with them on their trip to be used during a hoped for camping expedition. In addition the Narrator mentions his use of planned routes in the Bozeman mountain climb (and descent), even if they these plans did not work out as anticipated. So we have indications in ZMM that Pirsig depended on various maps, and thus these maps, with all their marks from usage would be a boon to Pirsig's writing accuracy. Also there is the possibility of accuracy from Pirsig using his photos taken on the trip, as well as those of John Sutherland', plus possible travel notes.




More ZMM Information Is Available. I am anxious to share what I have.

My research notes contain a wealth of additional information. Interested persons, most especially biographers, may contact me. Moreover, if any one of you wishes to travel the ZMM Route, please contact me. I have a hankering to go again and might go with you. We might even coax John and Sylvia Sutherland of the ZMM book, to go with us!! I am highly desirous for them to reveal their memories of specific places and events on that original ZMM Trip. But I need some help in convincing them to go. (NOTE: Some of Mr. Sutherland's recollections are already on a DVD for any one interested.)


As I was posting my photos for the "Pirsig and Chris Bozeman Mountain Climb", I deduced, with the help of topo maps, a probable route. These are stated on my ZMM Part III photos .I hope you, and the mountain climbing clubs, will verify my guesses as to this possible "Pirsig and Chris mountain climb route".


All of us should urge Mr. Pirsig to archive (or museum preserve) all possible ZMM and Lila related physical materials for posterity.


You too should travel "The ZMM Route"!

The Ghost of Phaedrus will be your guide for every step!

Mr. Pirsig clearly choose the ZMM route for its natural beauty and wonder of the western USA. Indeed it is a fantastic voyage!! There are many sights & wonders never even hinted at in ZMM!! I never expected this from all my readings of ZMM. Why these are ignored, is another intriguing topic covered in my photo albums. You should travel this route yourself!! Your travel Will be so full of the Memories of Chris and Narrator! It will an immensely meaningful experience! I guarantee it! "Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive."

How can you experience, first hand, the Sights and Scenes of the book you know so well?


1) Eat at restaurant in Ellendale ND, Recall the varnished lobby floor of John Sutherland's "Chicken Man" skit.
2) Take in the wide expanse & solitude of the Northern Planes, & think of Sylvia's statement; "Its so beautiful"!
3) Find the old A & W Root Beer Place in Mobridge SD, and have your own hamburger and soda.
4) Travel the Main Street of Miles City MT, Western Town Extraordinaire. All its old buildings are still there!
5) On the Montana State University Campus, trod with Phaedrus the old stone steps of Montana Hall, and Phaedra's hand will reach for the handle as you pull open the heavy oak door and enter the musty interior.
6) Ponder boring fine points of “Gumptionology 101”, as you travel the mountains & deserts of Idaho &Oregon.
7) Experience the vistas and twisty roads along cliffs and ocean beaches of the Northern California Coast. You will think about the Narrator's long sought goal (Cliffs and Vistas of Pacific Ocean), as well as you own.
8) On the high cliffs off California's Caspar Bay, you will stand quietly and remember; Pirsig and Chris's dramatic break-through at the fog enshrouded ZMM Climax Scene,
9) You will arrive in triumph, as did the ZMM Narrator, at the San Francisco. "Its going to get better now!




Google will always find my pages using my Name [Henry Gurr]. But just in case here are some entry points: Professor Henry Gurr Aeolian Harp ZMMQuality Text Pages. Pirsig 1968 Photos & All Albums

=album08&id=109_0921c Three Forks Montana

=album07&id=105_0567c Hotel Hurzler, Laurel Montana.

=album07&id=106_0612_IMG Heading Up to the High Country, Beartooth Pass Highway, Montana




Just In Case You Are Not Already Convinced, Here Are More Photos Showing Detailed ZMM Accuracy!

[Place the following photo #'s in the "Search", Upper Right of ZMMQuality pages at: ]

All albums page =

Photo = 105-0584c Narrator mentions they walk down the street, to a near-by restaurant

Photo = 112-1208 And soon thereafter go under a railroad underpass on their way out of town.

Photo = 105-0590 This is in the next town of Red Lodge. "The dark ominous mass of the mountain dominates the buildings".

Photo = 105-0599 The photo, mentioned in ZMM, is still there &
Photo = TomEgens Shows a better view of the giant colored photograph of the switch-backs of the Narrator's 108 Degree Fare height heat wave, in EXACTLY this same area, IS confirmed in the 9 July 1968 upcoming Montana Mountain Pass.

Photo = 104-0473 The facts do fit Pirsig’s writing concerning the narrator’s “scorcher” heat wave. An 108 Degree Fare height heat wave, in EXACTLY this same area, IS confirmed in the 9 July 1968 weather record! Sometime I will check the weather data for the California Coast on dates of ZMM.


********** END & Many Thanks for Your Attention **********




If you enjoyed this paper, please visit Henry's website via this link:


Historical site information on ZMM route


This website includes the original photographs taken by Robert Pirsig on his 1968 trip as well as nearly 1300 photos taken of the route by Professor Gurr in 2002 and 2006 where he attempts to find and photograph the actual places described in the book. Gurr goes into some detail so making this website an invaluable resource for anyone planning to travel the original '68 route for themselves.