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Alchemy at the Chalkface

Pirsig PhD

MOQ Textbook



Selections from the 1993 AHP transcript by Paul Turner

The 1993 AHP Transcript-Part 1

The 1993 AHP Transcript-Part 2

The 1993 AHP Transcript-Part 3

The 1993 AHP Transcript-Part 4

Art & the MOQ by Robert Pirsig

An Introduction to
 Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality

An MOQ Summary by Robert Pirsig

Pirsig Annotations on Copleston

David Buchanan's Oxford Lecture

David Buchanan's Art & Morality Paper

David Buchanan's 2006 Paper

Gavin Gee-Clough's "Brisbane Winter" Paper


Andrew Sneddon Thesis

- Part One


Sneddon Thesis - Part Two


An Open Letter to Sam Harris


Observer Interview

Notes on the tetralemma

The MOQ & Education

Pirsig & Pragmatism

David Granger's Aesthetics Paper

Evolution, Time & Order Paper

PhD Commentary

Chai at the Lazy Lounge



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







The Guidebook to ZMM!
































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On The Road with Robert Pirsig



A review of the original cut by Ian Glendinning, March 8th 2009



Today at last, I had a chance to watch Ant McWatt’s second documentary on the life and work of Robert Pirsig, “On the Road with Robert Pirsig“. (The first installment “Arrive Without Travelling” I reviewed when it came out around a  year ago, and it was a little difficult to disguise my disappointment, though relatively easy to blame that on the ordeal of watching my own excruciating contribution as well as the distracting psychedelic overlays in a rookie production effort.)


This second chapter is a great improvement over the first. It stands on its own as a documentary of Pirsig’s “project” in writing Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. There is less “on the road” than the title might suggest, and there is still that theme of 60′s Beatles & Beach Boys psychedelia in the links, but the production and editing is an order of magnitude higher quality than the first effort. The majority of the film is in fact a previously unpublished 2005 interview by Karen Whiteside, ranging from the relaxed and jovial to the intense and emotional, interspersed with contributions from John Sutherland and Ron DiSanto and clips from the Pirsig family archive.


One of several highlights for me personally is seeing Bob recall with much affection the contribution of “Sarah”, the seed crystal that worked its effect on Bob over several months beyond the single remark in the book. Bob should as he does receive the plaudits as the inspired writer of an inspiring rhetorical novel, but his feet are firmly on the ground when it comes to acknowledging the evolution of ideas through the minds of others.

I suspect the first documentary may remain a collectors item for hardcore “MoQ Fans” wishing to remember the first conference on the “Metaphysics of Quality” in Liverpool in 2005. This second On the Road with Robert Pirsig is however an eminently watchable documentary that should be considered a must for anyone with either an existing interest in Pirsig’s highly original Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or simply looking for a brief introduction – from the horse’s mouth – what all the fuss was about back in 1974.




Please note that this review plus a cornucopia of other Pirsig related material can be found at Ian Glendinning's website here:



Psybertron Asks







Further comments about On The Road with Robert Pirsig


We just finished your DVD and think it’s magnificent!  I predict it will have the same sort of commercial success ZMM has had and for the same reasons.  

From: Robert Pirsig
To: anthonymcwatt[at]
Subject: DVD
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2009 20:33:30 -0500  



It is truly a first class piece of work, deserving of a wide audience, which I hope it receives. Pirsig comes across as a truly enlightened being --- insightful, yet humble, unassuming, down to earth. [He's kept] center focus, as is right. The side-bar comments of others, the scenery, and the judiciously chosen music (at least per my taste) all enhance that focus. Splendid!'  


(Professor Ron DiSanto, April 3rd 2009)




Sent: 5 Feb 2009 10:27:47 -0500

The video is wonderful. You've done an excellent job. I've painted him on the motorcycle trip, at the 2005 Conference and as a little boy. [Pirsig] totally has my heart. I loved seeing the movies and stills from his growing up years.  And it was superbly put together.


 From: Andre Broersen (

Sent: 23 February 2009 20:08:48


I cannot express in words the delight I felt when finding the DVD in my mailbox, the joy I felt watching it and the lasting experience it is giving me.  This is wonderful stuff and again Pirsig is refreshing... I am full of admiration for the man. His basic shyness and awkwardness in social situations are obvious to me but these characteristics are so endearing and disarming from someone who has given the world so much.

I have come across this 'stance' in China very often... this... humility... Even the statement that he didn't really write the book... he was just the medium through which DQ could reveal itself...  A very remarkable man.


From: david buchanan (

Sent: 24 February 2009 23:13:44

I watched "On The Road" yesterday. It was a thrill to see Pirsig telling the story behind the story...  the split screen thing you did with the Sutherland interview is a real nice touch and  the way he and Pirsig talk about each other (as buddies) adds a certain warmth that I didn't expect. Nice editing choice there…

It was pretty cool to see the actual places they encountered along the road. As far as I know, you just can't see this anywhere else. The film is not just a nostalgia trip down memory lane, however [and] best of all, I didn't see an ivory tower anywhere. It's philosophy on the street, where it belongs.




Amazon Reviews for the “On The Road with Robert Pirsig” DVD


Robert Pirsig is Alive and Well, April 30, 2009

By Edward H. Cole Jr. (Detriot, MI USA) - See all my reviews  

This DVD provides an excellent re-introduction to Robert Pirsig for the millions of readers who were changed by reading his classic "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", and a worthy addition to those thousands of us who appreciated the value of his second book, "Lila." Interviews of Pirsig are the core of this piece, as he reflects on his life, the events that led him to his insights on Quality, and the process of writing his books.  

It's well known that Pirsig received many letters from readers who had questions for him about his books and his life. McWatt's DVD provides just the sort of extra glimpse of him that so many have wished for. Artfully mixed with road trip videos and remarks from his traveling companion John Sutherland, "On the Road with Robert Pirsig" is a high-quality piece. It may inspire you to hit the back roads and do some serious thinking... or at least pull one of Pirsig's great books off the shelf for another read.


Thank you, Dr Mc Watt., April 29, 2009

By Dell'utri Antonio "antokindness" (aosta, Italy)  

This DVD leads us towards the understanding of how any masterpiece comes to life. Mr Pirsig embodies the meaning of his philosophy: his plain speaking and his noble humility and his ever-useful thoughts are the treasure of this DVD.

Travelling "On the road" you will finally arrive to LILA, his second book, as one who reaches an apparent FINISH line, which represents just the STARTING point of a new life actually.

So thank you, Dr McWatt for this artistic film.


 A Philosophy of Quality, April 29, 2009

By Brunnhild (Connecticut) 

'On The Road with Robert Pirsig' is a wonderful, artful documentary. Mr. Pirsig, the beautiful and intelligent author, describes his 1968 motorcycle road trip and how the idea of Quality developed. The interview is interspersed with magnificent images of the Rocky Mountains, photographs from Mr. Pirsig's childhood and music of the Beatles, all high quality. There is an insightful explanation of the meditation experience at a Zen sesshin, and much more. 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' and 'LILA' are books that change lives for the better, so to hear the author talk on the subject of Quality is inspiring. This documentary well represents a philosophy of Quality.



This DVD is for sale at $29.99 (or the euro or sterling equivalent)








The Pirsig Letters PDF

Compiled by Dr Anthony McWatt

A 180 page compilation of the correspondence between Dr Anthony McWatt and Robert Pirsig from 1993 to 1998. This gives a unique insight into the MOQ when the primary mode of written communication across the Atlantic was by airmail.  This is a comment from one recent reader, Dr Knoxley Greaves:

I have been meaning to give you some feedback on the Pirsig Letters DVD. It is excellent. More food for thought, it has got me reading again: 'Zen in the Art of Archery' and 'Buddism: Plain and Simple'; the latter is a real gem.  

Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2011

The Letters DVD is for sale for $16 (or £10 sterling):

(payment by dollars)  

          (£10 sterling)     




Purchasing this PDF file?  Please note there is usually a delay of a few hours between the time of purchase and the time the PDFs are sent out as e-mail attachments.  The Pirsig Letters CD and video DVDs are sent out from the UK by first class post or airmail.  If in the UK, expect a delivery time of about two to three days, if continental Europe, about a week, if outside Europe, two weeks.  (If you require a quicker delivery time, please e-mail me: anthonymcwatt(at sign) )





The MOQ at Oxford DVD


This is Robert Pirsig's assessment of this compilation from 2010:


"We  have just watched your film and think it’s exceptionally professional. No one else could have done it because they wouldn’t have known what to select and what to leave out the way you do. I think it will have a long life. There is no doubt about its Quality."  


It is priced at $25/£16 for all regions. Postage and packing free!


(payment with dollars)

(payment by sterling)





On The Road with John Sutherland DVD


The final DVD in the MOQ DVD Series.  Recognised as probably the best film - as a documentary - out of the four!  Originally released in August 2010, this primarily features a full length interview with John Sutherland recalling how he met Robert Pirsig and the piece of writing which was eventually to become "Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"!  The DVD also includes some brief previously unseen clips of Robert Pirsig filling in some gaps of John’s recollections and an in-depth interview with Professor Ron DiSanto, the co-author of the “Guidebook to Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.

John’s candid, though often humorous, interview concentrates on the era from Pirsig’s breakdown in the early 1960s to the publication of ZMM in 1974 while Professor DiSanto’s perceptive interview includes his recollections of his meetings with both Pirsig and John Sutherland in the mid-1980s (when he was compiling the ZMM Guidebook with Tom Steele), the relationship of insanity with enlightenment and the use of Pirsig’s books as teaching aids. 


Below is Robert Pirsig’s brief comment on an early version of the DVD from 2011:


"I think the John Sutherland interview, which we just looked at, will be a valuable part of the record. He has some opinions about me and 'Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' that will help fill things in."


The DVD is for sale just for $20/£12.99 for all regions. Postage and packing free!


(payment by dollars)

(payment by sterling)




"Arrive Without Travelling" DVD


This was the first ever DVD to feature Robert Pirsig on film.  Using professional quality footage and excerpts from Pirsig's own home movies, here you will find him in conversation with students of his work and in more informal moments filmed largely during his visit to Liverpool in 2005.


This is the first film of four in the authorized DVD series about Robert Pirsig's life and work (but is NOT featured in the above Boxset - being more an Art film rather than a documentary):


"Anthony's DVD 'Arrive without Travelling' is brilliant and delightful in ways that you'll need to see...  It's a great video, Anthony!  It's an art piece."

(Tina DeWeese, January 2013)  


To illustrate Tina's point, a part of this film can be seen via the following link:


Orpheus as a rock star!



This DVD is for sale at $29.99 (or the euro or sterling equivalent): 




(N.B. A discount is available for universities, libraries and college undergraduates in regard to any DVD or PDF book sold directly through this website; please contact me for further details).








The MOQ DVD Boxset contains the "On The Road with Robert Pirsig", "The MOQ at Oxford" &  the "On The Road with John Sutherland" DVDs.  It now includes the McWatt-Pirsig Letters DVD as a bonus disc (which includes ten PDF books & articles related to the MOQ).


Subject: Re: Pirsig PhD & MOQ Textbook PDF attachments 


Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2013 07:56:24 -0400 


Thanks so much, Anthony. I'm looking forward to reading this. I just finished reading Thomas Nagel's Mind and Cosmos and it seemed to me that there was much in there that related to Pirsig, particularly in Nagel's discussion of Value. Not being in academic philosophy, I am not schooled in how contemporary philosophers are tackling the issues that Pirsig did, so I'm eager to read your dissertation and other pieces that discuss Pirsig within the more-accepted academic philosophy writings.

By the way, the Pirsig documentary in your box set was excellent. I had my ZMM book discussion group view it towards the end of our sessions and it was very well-received. Thanks for all this good material!


The Boxset is for sale at $69/£40 for all regions.  Postage & packing free. 


($69 or sterling equivalent)





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